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What is a Bending Test?

By Jessica Reed
Updated May 17, 2024
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A bending test, also known as a bend test, is used to determine the strength of a material by applying force to the item in question and seeing how it reacts under pressure. Typically the bend test measures ductility, the ability of a material to change form under pressure and keep that form permanently. In certain cases the bending test can determine tensile strength. When using the bend test for this purpose, testers examine which side of the material breaks first to see what type of strength the material has. It also lets them know what kinds of pressure it holds up against and what kinds it doesn't.

Ductility describes how well a material, usually metal, can be stretched and keep its new shape. Steel, for example, is highly ductile. If pressure is applied that stretches the steel into a new shape, it will keep this shape even after the pressure has been removed. This characteristic is referred to as ductility and is a desirable characteristic for metals and other building materials.

To determine how ductile a material is, a bending test is used. Force is applied to a piece of the material at a specific angle and for a specific amount of time. The material is then bent to a certain diameter using force. After the bending test is over, the material is examined to see how well it held its shape once the pressure was removed, and whether or not the material cracked when pressure was applied.

This test can also determine tensile strength. The test may be used when more brittle materials need to be tested. These brittle materials may not hold up well under a normal test for tensile strength, therefore a bending test is used. It is applied the same way as normal, by bending the material while applying force, and then the results are examined. If the material shows cracks on the bent side, this shows the material holds up better against compression than tension.

Welding is an area where the bend test is popular. A guided bend test is used to determine how strong a weld is after it has been created. A special machine is used to perform the guided bend test. The material must be able to bend up to a specific angle, such as 180 degrees for example, without any cracks appearing. If this happens, the weld has passed the test.

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Discussion Comments
By Hamze — On Oct 02, 2013

I am doing a project that will shape metallic objects. So, I wanted to know the least force ( in newtons ) that a aluminum can walls needs to bend? So my question is, is there machine that can do that?

By SuperJD — On Jun 27, 2011

I am a welder, and another bending test that we use to test our alloys is a wrap around bending test. My company uses it because it is easy to use, so we can test a lot of material in a short period of time.

Not only is it easy, but the machinery involved in a wrap around bending test is inexpensive, and it does not take up a lot of space in our work areas.

Thanks for this article, it is informative and accurate.

By epiphany5 — On Jun 24, 2011

@drhs07 - Yes, we still use the three point flexural test as a bending test in our labs. I am a current engineering undergrad, and I am quite familiar with the machinery used in this bending test.

I think the reason that using this method is favored in my school is because it does not take a long time to prepare the specimen for testing. You just load the material on top of the two metal rests, lower down the middle part the bends the material, and watch it break. It is also pretty easy to add more force to the object.

I never thought I would have so much fun watching wood crack and steel bend. I have learned so much about the properties of building materials by using a bending test.

By drhs07 — On Jun 22, 2011

Reading this article takes me back to my college days. I was a civil engineering student so I am quite familiar with bending tests and which materials hold up better than others.

What always shocked me was the tensile strength of wood. You would think that wood would not be able to stand one hundred pounds of force pulling it apart, but it can. It is a pretty light material in comparison to steel or concrete, but using it has its advantages.

I am curious to know if students today still use the same tests I did as an undergrad. The three point flexural test was a favorite of my professors, so we used it often.

By anon68915 — On Mar 05, 2010

what is a rebending test?

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