Thermal shock (stress) can lead to excessive thermal gradients on materials, which lead to excessive stresses. These stresses can be comprised of tensile stress , which is stress arising from forces acting in opposite directions tending to pull a material apart, and compressive stress , which is stress arising from forces acting in opposite directions tending to push a material together. These stresses, cyclic in nature, can lead to fatigue failure of the materials. Thermal shock is caused by nonuniform heating or cooling of a uniform material, or uniform heating of nonuniform materials. Suppose a body is heated and constrained so that it cannot expand. When the temperature of the material increases, the increased activity of the molecules causes them to press against the constraining boundaries, thus setting up thermal stresses.
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