Uniaxial tensile testing is a method used throughout the world to measure the strength and ductility of materials. An important aspect of uniaxial tensile testing which often goes unrecognized is test system alignment. Poor alignment can significantly influence test results at small strains, especially the fracture strengths of materials in a brittle state. The purpose of this review paper is to enable a reader to identify sources of misalignment, recognize the effects of misalignment on tests results, evaluate the extreme surface bending strains and stresses, and become acquainted with some techniques for reducing misalignments to within tolerable limits. Numerous references are made to the literature which describes how misalignment may be influenced by couplings in the loading train and by specimen design. A quantitative assessment of the devices and techniques discussed in this literature is made in those cases where sufficient data have been provided. The literature surveyed indicates that misalignment in carefully designed and precisely machined testing systems ranges between 3 and 15% bending. The need for reporting the misalignment at which a given test result is obtained is pointed out.
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