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ASTM C1161Standard Test Method for Flexural Strength of Advanced Ceramics at Ambient Temperature

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


This test method may be used for material development, quality control, characterization, and design data generation purposes. This test method is intended to be used with ceramics whose strength is 50 MPa (~7 ksi) or greater.

The flexure stress is computed based on simple beam theory with assumptions that the material is isotropic and homogeneous, the moduli of elasticity in tension and compression are identical, and the material is linearly elastic. The average grain size should be no greater than one fiftieth of the beam thickness. The homogeneity and isotropy assumption in the standard rule out the use of this test for continuous fiber-reinforced ceramics.

Flexural strength of a group of test specimens is influenced by several parameters associated with the test procedure. Such factors include the loading rate, test environment, specimen size, specimen preparation, and test fixtures. Specimen sizes and fixtures were chosen to provide a balance between practical configurations and resulting errors, as discussed in MIL-STD 1942 (MR) and Refs (1) and (2). Specific fixture and specimen configurations were designated in order to permit ready comparison of data without the need for Weibull-size scaling.

The flexural strength of a ceramic material is dependent on both its inherent resistance to fracture and the size and severity of flaws. Variations in these cause a natural scatter in test results for a sample of test specimens. Fractographic analysis of fracture surfaces, although beyond the scope of this standard, is highly recommended for all purposes, especially if the data will be used for design as discussed in MIL-STD-1942 (MR) and Refs (2-5) and Practices C 1322 and C 1239.

The three-point test configuration exposes only a very small portion of the specimen to the maximum stress. Therefore, three-point flexural strengths are likely to be much greater than four-point flexural strengths. Three-point flexure has some advantages. It uses simpler test fixtures, it is easier to adapt to high temperature and fracture toughness testing, and it is sometimes helpful in Weibull statistical studies. However, four-point flexure is preferred and recommended for most characterization purposes.

This method determines the flexural strength at ambient temperature and environmental conditions. The flexural strength under ambient conditions may or may not necessarily be the inert flexural strength.

Note 7-time dependent effects may be minimized through the use of inert testing atmosphere such as dry nitrogen gas, oil, or vacuum. Alternatively, testing rates faster than specified in this standard may be used. Oxide ceramics, glasses, and ceramics containing boundary phase glass are susceptible to slow crack growth even at room temperature. Water, either in the form of liquid or as humidity in air, can have a significant effect, even at the rates specified in this standard. On the other hand, many ceramics such as boron carbide, silicon carbide, aluminum nitride and many silicon nitrides have no sensitivity to slow crack growth at room temperature and the flexural strength in laboratory ambient conditions is the inert flexural strength.


1.1 This test method covers the determination of flexural strength of advanced ceramic materials at ambient temperature. Four-point- ¼ point and three-point loadings with prescribed spans are the standard. Rectangular specimens of prescribed cross-section sizes are used with specified features in prescribed specimen-fixture combinations.


Extracted, with permission, from ASTM C1161 Standard Test Method for Flexural Strength of Advanced Ceramics at Ambient Temperature, 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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