ASTM C1341

Standard Test Method for Flexural Properties of Continuous Fiber-Reinforced Advanced Ceramic Composites

Flexural strength is determined in three-point or four-point bending on bars of rectangular cross-section. Testing of ten specimens per type/brand is recommended by ASTM.

$520 per test of 10 specimens


Significance and Use

5.1 This test method is used for material development, quality control, and material flexural specifications. Although flexural test methods are commonly used to determine design strengths of monolithic advanced ceramics, the use of flexure test data for determining tensile or compressive properties of CFCC materials is strongly discouraged. The nonuniform stress distributions in the flexure test specimen, the dissimilar mechanical behavior in tension and compression for CFCCs, low shear strengths of CFCCs, and anisotropy in fiber architecture all lead to ambiguity in using flexure results for CFCC material design data (1-4). Rather, uniaxial-forced tensile and compressive tests are recommended for developing CFCC material design data based on a uniformly stressed test condition.

5.2 In this test method, the flexure stress is computed from elastic beam theory with the simplifying assumptions that the material is homogeneous and linearly elastic. This is valid for composites where the principal fiber direction is coincident/transverse with the axis of the beam. These assumptions are necessary to calculate a flexural strength value, but limit the application to comparative type testing such as used for material development, quality control, and flexure specifications. Such comparative testing requires consistent and standardized test conditions, that is, test specimen geometry/thickness, strain rates, and atmospheric/test conditions.

5.3 Unlike monolithic advanced ceramics which fracture catastrophically from a single dominant flaw, CFCCs generally experience u201cgracefulu201d fracture from a cumulative damage process. Therefore, the volume of material subjected to a uniform flexural stress may not be as significant a factor in determining the flexural strength of CFCCs. However, the need to test a statistically significant number of flexure test specimens is not eliminated. Because of the probabilistic nature of the strength of the brittle matrices and of the ceramic fiber in CFCCs, a sufficient number of test specimens at each testing condition is required for statistical analysis, with guidelines for sufficient numbers provided in 9.7. Studies to determine the exact influence of test specimen volume on strength distributions for CFCCs are not currently available.

5.4 The four-point loading geometries (Geometries IIA and IIB) are preferred over the three-point loading geometry (Geometry I). In the four-point loading geometry, a larger portion of the test specimen is subjected to the maximum tensile and compressive stresses, as compared to the three-point loading geometry. If there is a statistical/Weibull character failure in the particular composite system being tested, the size of the maximum stress region will play a role in determining the mechanical properties. The four-point geometry may then produce more reliable statistical data.

5.5 Flexure tests provide information on the strength and deformation of materials under complex flexural stress conditions. In CFCCs nonlinear stress-strain behavior may develop as the result of cumulative damage processes (for example, matrix cracking, matrix/fiber debonding, fiber fracture, delamination, etc.) which may be influenced by testing mode, testing rate, processing effects, or environmental influences. Some of these effects may be consequences of stress corrosion or subcritical (slow) crack growth which can be minimized by testing at sufficiently rapid rates as outlined in 10.3 of this test method.

5.6 Because of geometry effects, the results of flexure tests of test specimens fabricated to standardized test dimensions from a particular material or selected portions of a component, or both, cannot be categorically used to define the strength and deformation properties of the entire, full-size end product or its in-service behavior in different environments. The effects of size and geometry shall be carefully considered in extrapolating the test results to other configurations and performance conditions.

5.7 For quality control purposes, results from standardized flexure test specimens may be considered indicative of the response of the material lot from which they were taken with the given primary processing conditions and post-processing heat treatments.

5.8 The flexure behavior and strength of a CFCC are dependent on its inherent resistance to fracture, the presence of fracture sources, or damage accumulation processes or combination thereof. Analysis of fracture surfaces and fractography, though beyond the scope of this test method, is highly recommended.

1. Scope

1.1 This test method covers the determination of flexural properties of continuous fiber-reinforced ceramic composites in the form of rectangular bars formed directly or cut from sheets, plates, or molded shapes. Three test geometries are described as follows:

1.1.1 Test Geometry Iu2014A three-point loading system utilizing center point force application on a simply supported beam.

1.1.2 Test Geometry IIAu2014A four-point loading system utilizing two force application points equally spaced from their adjacent support points with a distance between force application points of one half of the support span.

1.1.3 Test Geometry IIBu2014A four-point loading system utilizing two force application points equally spaced from their adjacent support points with a distance between force application points of one third of the support span.

1.2 This test method applies primarily to all advanced ceramic matrix composites with continuous fiber reinforcement: uni-directional (1-D), bi-directional (2-D), tri-directional (3-D), and other continuous fiber architectures. In addition, this test method may also be used with glass (amorphous) matrix composites with continuous fiber reinforcement. However, flexural strength cannot be determined for those materials that do not break or fail by tension or compression in the outer fibers. This test method does not directly address discontinuous fiber-reinforced, whisker-reinforced, or particulate-reinforced ceramics. Those types of ceramic matrix composites are better tested in flexure using Test Methods C1161 and C1211.

1.3 Tests can be performed at ambient temperatures or at elevated temperatures. At elevated temperatures, a suitable furnace is necessary for heating and holding the test specimens at the desired testing temperatures.

1.4 This test method includes the following:





Referenced Documents




Summary of Test Method


Significance and Use






Precautionary Statement


Test specimens




Calculation of Results




Precision and Bias




CFCC Surface Condition and Finishing

Annex A1

Conditions and Issues in Hot Loading of Test specimens into Furnaces

Annex A2

Toe Compensation on Stress-Strain Curves

Annex A3

Corrections for Thermal Expansion in Flexural Equations

Annex A4

Example of Test Report

Appendix X1


1.5 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as the standard in accordance with IEEE/ASTM SI 10 .

1.6 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

Copyright Notice

Extracted, with permission, from ASTM C1341 Standard Test Method for Flexural Properties of Continuous Fiber-Reinforced Advanced Ceramic Composites, copyright ASTM International, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, West Conshohocken, PA 19428. A copy of the standard may be purchased from ASTM International, phone 610-832-9555, e-mail:, website:

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