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Impact Testing - Yesterday and Today



Enrico Lucon, Christopher N. McCowan


The Charpy impact test is a standardized high strain rate mechanical test which determines the amount of energy absorbed by a material during impact fracture. This test is widely applied in industry, since it is easy to prepare and conduct, and results can be obtained quickly and cheaply. Historically, the roots of impact testing date back to the end of the 19th century, when engineers in many countries were struggling to find an explanation for the causes of fracture and the effect of rapid loading on material behavior. At the dawn of the 20th century, the Congress of Materials held in Budapest in 1901, and engineers and material scientists like Bent Russell in the USA and Georges Charpy in France, were working to understand and measure the process of fracture under impact loading. The principle of the ballistic pendulum, described by Benjamin Robins as early as 1742, was adapted by both Russell and Charpy to construct machines that would allow the energy causing sample failure to be measured accurately.


Impact testing, Charpy, rapid loading, material behavior


Lucon, E. and McCowan, C. (2011), Impact Testing - Yesterday and Today (Accessed May 28, 2024)


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Created November 13, 2011, Updated February 19, 2017