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Impact Testing

Impact Testing: A Comprehensive Guide to Ensuring Product Excellence


Impact tests measure the material's resistance to impact, which can cause deformation or fracture. The two most common types of impact tests are Charpy and Izod tests. These tests differ mainly in the way the specimen is mounted and struck but serve a similar purpose in determining the material's impact strength or toughness.


Significance of Impact Testing

The main significance of impact testing lies in its ability to simulate real-life sudden impact or shock conditions that materials might face during their service life. Understanding how materials respond to such conditions is crucial for designing safer and more durable products.

Standardized Testing Methods

  • Charpy Impact Test (ASTM E23, ISO 148-1): Involves striking a notched specimen placed horizontally and supported at both ends (simply supported beam) with a pendulum hammer. The absorbed energy is measured.
  • Izod Impact Test (ASTM D256, ISO 180): Involves striking a vertically clamped notched specimen with a pendulum hammer. The difference in the pendulum’s height before and after impact determines the absorbed energy.

Specimen Preparation and Dimensions

Specimens for impact testing are typically prepared with a notch to create a stress concentration point that promotes brittle fracture. The notch’s shape, size, and position are standardized to ensure consistent and comparable results. The dimensions of the specimen vary based on the specific test standard and material being tested.

Test Report Components

An impact test report typically includes:

  • The type of test conducted (Charpy or Izod),
  • The temperature at which the test was performed,
  • The notch type and dimensions,
  • The absorbed energy in Joules or foot-pounds,
  • The appearance of the fracture (ductile, brittle, mixed),
  • Any anomalies observed during the test.

Implications of Testing Data

Impact test results are crucial for material selection, especially in applications where resistance to shock or impact is critical. Low impact energy absorption indicates brittleness, making a material less suitable for applications involving dynamic loads or low temperatures. Conversely, high energy absorption indicates ductility and toughness, desirable traits for many structural applications.

Other Considerations

  • Temperature: Impact properties can vary significantly with temperature. Materials may become more brittle at low temperatures, which is critical for applications in cold environments.
  • Strain Rate: Impact testing involves high strain rates (rapid deformation), affecting the material’s response compared to slow loading conditions.
Impact Testing in Plastic: Ensuring Strength and Reliability


Impact testing provides vital information on a material's toughness and ability to withstand sudden impacts. By following standardized testing methods, engineers can better understand material behavior under extreme conditions, leading to the development of safer and more reliable products.


  1. Why is a notch included in the impact test specimen?

    • A notch is included to concentrate stress at a specific point, promoting brittle fracture and providing a measure of the material’s resistance to crack propagation.
  2. How does temperature affect impact test results?

    • Temperature significantly affects impact test results. Materials may exhibit more brittle behavior at lower temperatures, resulting in lower energy absorption.
  3. Can impact testing predict material behavior in all shock-loading scenarios?

    • While impact testing gives a good indication of material behavior under sudden loads, it may not perfectly predict performance in all scenarios due to differences in loading conditions, specimen geometry, and environmental factors.
  4. Is there a direct correlation between impact strength and material hardness?

    • No direct correlation exists; materials can be hard but brittle, having high hardness but low impact strength. Conversely, some materials may have lower hardness but exhibit high toughness, absorbing more energy before fracturing.