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Polymer Testing 18 (1999) 407414

Test Method

The Iosipescu test method as a method to evaluate the tensile strength of brittle materials
J.R.M. dAlmeidaa,*, S.N. Monteirob
Materials Science and Metallurgy Department, Ponticia Universidade Catolica do Rio de Janeiro, Rua Marques de Sao Vicente, 225 Rio de Janeiro, 22453-900 RJ, Brazil b Science and Technology Center, Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense, Av. Alberto Lamego, 2000 Campos, 28015-620 RJ, Brazil

Received 1 April 1998; accepted 16 June 1998

Abstract Composite materials with varying toughness levels were tested using the Iosipescu shear test method. The failure modes were analyzed and classied into brittle, mixed or shear modes. It is shown that the tensile strength of the composites showing brittle failure can be determined directly from the load values obtained by the Iosipescu shear test. The advantages of the use of this test method in relationship to the common tensile or exure test methods usually used to determine the tensile strength of brittle materials are discussed. 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction The measurement of mechanical properties in brittle materials can pose many challenges [1,2]. In principle, the simple uniaxial tension test should be avoided due to the many experimental difculties that have to be overcome. For example, one has to take care of how to hold the specimens in order to avoid their premature failure inside the grips. Also, it is not easy to manufacture or machine the specimens to the shape and dimensions required by the tension test. Therefore, the tensile strength of brittle materials is usually given as the modulus of rupture, i.e., the strength value measured by a three- or four-point bending test [1]. Although the bending test is widely
* Corresponding author. 0142-9418/99/$ - see front matter 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. PII: S 0 1 4 2 - 9 4 1 8 ( 9 8 ) 0 0 0 4 3 - 9


J.R.M. dAlmeida, S.N. Monteiro / Polymer Testing 18 (1999) 407414

used, the specimens are not submitted to a single stress state in either the three- or four-point bending tests, as demonstrated in introductory books of solid mechanics [3]. Components of normal and shear stress are present and, as a function of the specimen geometry, the test can favor normal or shear failure [4]. In fact, for brittle laminated composites the presence of a shear component of stress in the three-point bending test is used to measure interlaminar shear stresses by reducing the specimens length, and so favoring the shear stress component [46]. The evaluation of the deformation at rupture and elastic constants, as for example the Young modulus, also has to be carefully done in the bending test due to the inuence of shear deection on the overall specimens deection [7,8]. It is also worth mentioning that the strength values obtained from the three- and four-point bending test can be very different if the material under test shows brittle behavior. For brittle materials the failure events are governed by the Weilbull statistics [911] and the strength values are dependent on the volume of the material under stress. Therefore, smaller stresses are usually obtained with the four-point bending test because of the larger volume of the specimen that is submitted to the maximum tensile stress [8]. A simple test that can, in a very convenient way, overcome the experimental drawbacks just described is the Iosipescu shear test [12]. This test method was developed in the early 1960s for isotropic materials [12]. Nowadays, it is being used to determine the shear stressshear strain behavior of orthotropic composite materials [1315]. In this article it is shown that the Iosipescu method can also be used to condently determine the tensile strength of brittle materials.

2. The Iosipescu test method The geometry of the Iosipescu specimen is shown in Fig. 1(a). It consists of a straight beam with two sharp, 90 notches machined mid-length at the edge of the specimens. By applying two force couples that generate two counter acting moments, a pure and uniform shear stress state is generated at section ab, Fig. 1(a), between the notch roots [12]. The resulting shear and moment diagrams are shown respectively in Fig. 1(b) and (c) [13]. As shown in Fig. 1(b), the shear stress has a maximum value at the plane ab given by:

P bt


where P is the load, b is the width between the notch tips and t is the thickness of the specimen [12]. Fig. 2 shows the Mohr circle diagram corresponding to the resulting stress state acting at the specimens [12,13]. The principal normal stresses lay on a plane making 45 to the plane comprised between the notch tips, i.e., the normal stresses act parallel to the lateral surface of the notches. A failure occurring perpendicular to this direction is, therefore, caused by a pure normal stress state and the value of stress derived by Eq. (1) could be used to evaluate the tensile strength. The analysis of the fracture mode of the specimens will, therefore, be a direct tool to separate brittle failures from mixed mode or shear failures [16].

J.R.M. dAlmeida, S.N. Monteiro / Polymer Testing 18 (1999) 407414


Fig. 1. (a) Geometry of the test specimen and loading conguration for the Iosipescu test. (b) Shear diagram. (c) Moment diagram.

3. Experimental procedures and materials In order to verify the feasibility of the Iosipescu test method to determine the tensile strength of brittle materials, two types of composites were fabricated and tested. A brittle, resin matrix properties dominated, glass microspheres epoxy composite and a tougher short glass ber reinforced epoxy composite. Moreover, the epoxy matrix properties were tailored by varying the hardener to resin ratio. The epoxy matrix used was a difunctional diglycidyl ether of bisphenolA resin and the hardener was the aliphatic poliamine triethylene tetramine. The basic composites were fabricated with the stoichiometric blend of 13 parts of hardener, in weight, per 100 parts of resin. An epoxy rich blend, that forms a very brittle matrix [17], was formulated using only 7 parts of hardener per 100 parts of resin. A more compliant matrix was formulated using excess of hardener [17]. This blend was done with 21 parts of hardener per 100 parts of resin. All the fabricated composites had a nominal volume fraction percentage of the dispersed phase of 20 3%. The glass microsphere composites were fabricated by casting while the randomly oriented short glass ber composites were fabricated by a hand lay-up and compression molding


J.R.M. dAlmeida, S.N. Monteiro / Polymer Testing 18 (1999) 407414

Fig. 2. The Mohr circle showing the stress distribution acting on the plane between the specimens notch, plane ab.

method. Due to the variation of the glass microspheres properties as a function of their mean diameter size [18], the glass microspheres composites were fabricated using only microspheres > 53 m. More details on the fabrication of these with a selected mean diameter of 74 > composites can be found in Ref. [19]. Table 1 summarizes the differences in the matrix formulation for the different groups of composites fabricated. Besides the Iosipescu test all the composites were also tested in tension. The tests were conducted on a mechanically driven test machine with 100 kN of capacity. The geometry and dimensions of the tensile specimens are shown in Fig. 3. As recommended by the ASTM standard D 3039, the specimens for the ber composites were not dog-boned. For the Iosipescu test an apparatus of the Wyoming type was used to x the specimens and impose the required loading [13]. The Iosipescu test specimens were 51 mm long, 12.5 mm wide and 2.2 mm thick. The distance between the notch tips was 8 mm. Fig. 4 shows the test xture used in this work. A minimum of 10 specimens for the Iosipescu tests and 5 specimens for the tension tests were used per group of composite analyzed.

Table 1 Specication of the composites fabricated with the different resin to hardener ratios Resin matrix (epoxy to hardener ratio) Composite Glass microspheres Stoichiometric (100/13) Epoxy rich (100/7) Hardener rich (100/21) X X X Short glass ber X X X

J.R.M. dAlmeida, S.N. Monteiro / Polymer Testing 18 (1999) 407414


Fig. 3. Geometry and dimensions of the tensile specimens. (a) Glass microsphere composite. (b) Random short glass ber composite.

Fig. 4. The Iosipescu test apparatus.

4. Experimental results and discussion The experimental results obtained for the glass microspheres and short glass ber composites are shown in Tables 2 and 3, respectively. One can see that for the brittle glass microspheres epoxy composite the values obtained from the Iosipescu test are, within a condence level of 95%, identical to those obtained from the tension test. In fact, the specimens of all the three groups of glass microspheres composites have a pure tension failure. This can be attested by the failure mode of the specimens. For all the matrix formulations used, the observed fracture surface


J.R.M. dAlmeida, S.N. Monteiro / Polymer Testing 18 (1999) 407414

Table 2 Experimental results of the tensile strength, Matrix

(MPa). Glass microspheres epoxy composite

Test method Tension test Iosipescu test 35.3 23.8 32.7 2.9 3.1 1.0

Stoichiometric Epoxy rich Hardener rich

32.7 25.0 30.8

6.7 4.0 1.5

Table 3 Experimental results of the tensile strength, Matrix

(MPa). Short glass ber reinforced epoxy composite

Test method Tension test Iosipescu test 99.4 100.7 103.0 9.4 6.1 5.8

Stoichiometric Epoxy rich Hardener rich

115.2 91.4 121.5

4.9 7.4 4.0

is perpendicular to the main normal stresses, as shown in Fig. 5(a). Therefore, the value of shear stress determined by Eq. (1) can be equated to the normal tensile strength, i.e.,
xy xx


It is worth mentioning that the more brittle glass microspheres composite group, the one with the matrix formulated with excess of epoxy monomer, presented, by far, most of the problems in performing the tension tests. It was not possible to hold these specimens in the common mechanical action grips because the specimens broke at the grips during the tests or just on mounting. Reliable data could only be obtained using pneumatic grips. The validity of Eq. (2) is completely veried only for the glass microsphere composites. For the short glass ber reinforced composites the experimental values determined by the tension test are of the same order of magnitude of those determined by the Iosipescu test. Nevertheless, the differences between the values are higher than those obtained for the glass microsphere composites and the failure of these composites did not occur by a single failure mode. The analysis of the macroscopic failure of these composites shows that a complex mixed tensile and shear failure mode actuated, as shown in Fig. 5(b). The failure characteristics observed for these composites are due to the presence of the bers, that bridge the fracture surfaces [20] and, therefore, modify the single fracture paths observed for monolithic conventional materials, such as metals, and for isotropic particulate composite materials, such as the glass microsphere composites analyzed here. This bridging effect is a source of toughness for a composite material [20] and ber reinforced composites are usually much tougher than particulate composites. Therefore, the basic assumption to validate Eq. (2) is not completely satised in this case. In fact, as shown in Table 3, only when the short glass ber composites are made more brittle due to the resin matrix formulation with

J.R.M. dAlmeida, S.N. Monteiro / Polymer Testing 18 (1999) 407414


Fig. 5. Failed specimens. (a) Pure tensile, brittle, failure commom to all glass microspheres composites. (b) Mixed, b.1, and near pure shear, b.2, failure observed for the short glass ber composites. The failure shown at b.2 is more common to the hardener rich formulated composites, i.e., the more compliant material of the short glass ber composite set.

excess of epoxy monomer, phr 7, is the difference between the results obtained from both tests reduced.

5. Conclusions As demonstrated by the experimental results, the geometry and the uniform stress state generated at the central part of the Iosipescu specimen are suitable to induce tensile failure on brittle materials. Therefore, the Iosipescu test method can be used with advantage over the common tensile or exure methods to determine the tensile strength of brittle materials. The advantages of this method over the other tests include the use of small specimens, the avoidance of grips to hold the specimens during the test and, mainly, the existence of a uniform stress state.

Acknowledgements This work was partially supported by the State Foundation for the Development of the North Region of the Rio de Janeiro State (FENORTE) and by the National Council of Scientic and Technological Development (CNPq).


J.R.M. dAlmeida, S.N. Monteiro / Polymer Testing 18 (1999) 407414

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