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Constance Tipper

Constance Fligg Elam Tipper
BornFebruary 6, 1894
New Barnet, Hertfordshire
DiedDecember 14, 1995
Penrith, Cumbria
EducationNewnham College, Cambridge
SpouseGeorge Tipper

Constance Fligg Elam Tipper (February 6, 1894 – December 14, 1995) was a British metallurgist and crystallographer.

Constance Tipper specialized in the investigation of metal strength and its effect on engineering problems. During the Second World War, she investigated the causes of brittle fracture in Liberty Ships. These ships were built in the United States between 1941 and 1945, and were the first all-welded pre-fabricated cargo ships.

Tipper established that the fractures were not caused by the welding but were caused by the steel itself. She demonstrated that there is a critical temperature below which the fracture mode in steel changes from ductile to brittle. Because ships in the North Atlantic were subjected to low temperatures, they were susceptible to brittle failure.

In 1949 Tipper was appointed Reader and became the only woman to be a full time member of the Faculty of Engineering of Cambridge University.

She was the first person to use a scanning electron microscope (SEM) to examine metallic fracture faces. She used a scanning electron microscope built by Charles Oatley and his team, the second SEM ever built.

She retired in 1960 and her 100th birthday was celebrated by Newnham College with the planting of the Tipper Tree, a sweet chestnut.


  • "The Production of Single Crystals of Aluminium and their Tensile Properties" (with H. C. H. Carpenter). Proceedings of the Royal Society of London(1921).
  • Deformation of Metal Crystals (1935).
  • The Brittle Fracture Story (1962).


  • Charles, Jim and Gerry Smith. "Constance Tipper: her life and work", Materials World (1996).
  • Hayes, Evelyn. "Dr. Constance Tipper: testing her mettle in a materials world", Advanced Materials & Processes (1998).
  • Cathcart, Brian. " No dinner, but a nice box of chocs", The New Statesman (2004). Retrieved on May 27, 2007.
  • Hetzel, Phyllis. Obituary, The Independent (1995). Retrieved on May 27, 2007.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Constance_Tipper". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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