Although Freddie Mercury and David Bowie were Under Pressure, real-life applications of pressure often require moving from the U.S. Standard pounds per square inch (lb/in2) to the megapascal (MPa).

    Then there's kPa, millibar, and other common use expressions. For a hand when conversions get tough, try our free MPa unit calculator.

    For those just learning, we have prepared the ultimate Q&A. We cover the definition of MPa, the history of MPa, applications and more.


    What does the abbreviation MPa stand for?

    MPa stands for Megapascals, which is a measurement unit of pressure.

    The SI unit for internal pressure, stress, and tensile strength is the pascal (Pa).

    One pascal is equal to one newton of pressure evenly applied to one square meter. But this unit is inconveniently small for many uses.

    1 MPa= 1,000,000 Pa

    Engineers tend to use the MPa expression of pressure due to the pascal representing a very small quantity.

    However, other disciplines may use the gigapascal or terapascal to represent pressure.

    What Is Pressure?

    Pressure is defined as force per unit of area. If the same force is applied to two areas, a smaller and a larger one, the pressure is greater for the smaller area.


    A girl that is wearing stiletto heels will inevitably sink into the grass. Meanwhile, an identical girl that is wearing ballet flats can walk safely across the lawn.

    How do you convert from MPa to other pressure units?

    With simple multiplication, a value in megapascals can be converted into its equal value in an alternative pressure unit. Luckily, we have given you this handy calculator to help you learn how to convert.

    Common Conversion Factors

    1 MPa = 1000000 Pa = 145.038 psi = 10 bar = 9.869 atm

    1 Pa = 1 newton per square meter = 1 N/m⋅s2 = 1 J/m3

    Doing The Math

    Write down your calculations with base units for accuracy. Make sure you are using the correct conversion factors throughout your equation. When converting from MPa to psi, for example, you'll multiply your initial value by 145.038.

    And don't forget to check your answer with your favorite conversion calculator. A simple rounding or decimal error can make all the difference.

    Conversion Table

    What is MPa used for?

    MPa is used for engineering and higher range pressure measurement. It is a convenient scale for hydraulic systems and gauges.

    Bar and psi are the most common units used, even though MPa are an efficient means to limit the number of digits.

    Other Pressure Examples

    Air pressure is still measured in atmospheres (atm) or bar.

    Blood pressure is recorded in millimetres of displaced mercury. Scientists studying the Earth's crust use an even larger scale.

    Mixing up or confusing these scales leads to unfortunate events like building or bridge collapse. For this reason, ASTM (International Standards Organization) uses psi and ksi as its standard.

    What types of devices use MPa?

    Hydraulic systems, such as lifts, airplane controls, and brakes often use MPa to communicate pressure and tensile strength values.

    For example, the pressure in a steam locomotive is around 1 MPa, a pressure washer generates around 10 MPa, 25 MPa is a typical diesel brakes system.

    400 MPa is the chamber pressure inside a machine gun.

    Applications In Health

    Dentists and medical professionals use MPa to communicate tensile strength of cured resins for tooth and bone repair.

    Your chipped front tooth needs to withstand the pressure of 1 MPa, or about 145 psi.

    The dental crown of your back molar needs to withstand much, much more. The resin used for your back teeth must be rated to withstand 6 MPa, or about 900 psi.

    Applications In Engineering

    Construction and tank manufacturers use MPa or ksi to communicate tensile strength for platforms or tanks. Correct calculation of objects under load is critical to safety.

    Recent high profile bridge collapses in Florida and Genoa, Italy put engineering documents into the spotlight. The news media is rife with speculation that engineering flaws caused the collapses.

    For more information on practical uses of MPa and pressure scales, several engineering publications and industry guides are available.

    Try looking at sensor manufacturers and construction documents for more real-life examples.

    When were MPa units created?

    The official SI (Systeme International d'Units) unit of pressure of newton/meters squared was named after Blaise Pascal in 1971. Blaise Pascal was a noted scientist and philosopher of the 17th century.

    The pascal has not gained universal acceptance among researchers, because of the awkwardness of use.

    Scientists must often use the gigapascal (1 GPa = 10,000 bars) or terapascal (1 TPa = 10,000,000 bars) to describe high-pressure results.

    We hope these cool facts and our easy MPa unit converter have been useful to you. For quick access, save this conversion calculator to the home screen of your smartphone.

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