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Measuring Toughness – Impact Tests

Charpy testAs was written, toughness can be measured by the Charpy test or the Izod test. These two standardized impact tests, the Charpy and the Izod are used to measure the impact energy (sometimes also termed notch toughness). The Charpy V-notch (CVN) technique is most commonly used. Both of these tests use a notched sample of a defined cross-section. We use notch toughness for these dynamic loading conditions and when a notch is present. The location and shape of the notch are standard. The points of support of the sample and the impact of the hammer must bear a constant relationship to the location of the notch.

Charpy testThe tests are conducted by mounting the samples as shown in the figure and allowing a pendulum of known weight to fall from a set height. The height from which the pendulum fell, minus the height to which it rose after deforming the specimen, multiplied by the weight of the pendulum is a measure of the energy absorbed by the specimen as it was deformed during the impact with the pendulum. The greater the amount of energy absorbed by the specimen, the smaller the upward swing of the pendulum will be and the tougher the material is.

Indication of toughness is relative and applicable only to cases involving this type of sample and method of loading.

charpy impact test
Charpy Impact Test. Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Material Science. DOE Fundamentals Handbook, Volume 1 and 2. January 1993.

A sample of a different shape will yield an entirely different result and notches confine the deformation to a small volume of metal that reduces toughness. The Izod impact test is similar to the Charpy impact test but uses a different specimen arrangement. The Izod impact test differs from the Charpy impact test in that the sample is in a cantilevered beam configuration instead of a three-point bending configuration.


Materials Science:
  1. U.S. Department of Energy, Material Science. DOE Fundamentals Handbook, Volume 1 and 2. January 1993.
  2. U.S. Department of Energy, Material Science. DOE Fundamentals Handbook, Volume 2 and 2. January 1993.
  3. William D. Callister, David G. Rethwisch. Materials Science and Engineering: An Introduction 9th Edition, Wiley; 9 edition (December 4, 2013), ISBN-13: 978-1118324578.
  4. Eberhart, Mark (2003). Why Things Break: Understanding the World by the Way It Comes Apart. Harmony. ISBN 978-1-4000-4760-4.
  5. Gaskell, David R. (1995). Introduction to the Thermodynamics of Materials (4th ed.). Taylor and Francis Publishing. ISBN 978-1-56032-992-3.
  6. González-Viñas, W. & Mancini, H.L. (2004). An Introduction to Materials Science. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-07097-1.
  7. Ashby, Michael; Hugh Shercliff; David Cebon (2007). Materials: engineering, science, processing, and design (1st ed.). Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 978-0-7506-8391-3.
  8. J. R. Lamarsh, A. J. Baratta, Introduction to Nuclear Engineering, 3d ed., Prentice-Hall, 2001, ISBN: 0-201-82498-1.

See above: