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A charpy test is a standardized material test often performed in the lab that tests a material’s ability to absorb energy or “toughness”.  Using a specially prepared material specimen and a calibrated swinging impact head we can calculate how much energy is absorbed by the material. The operator will calibrate the equipment first and then bring the impact head to a certain pre-determined height in order to add energy to the system from gravity. When released the head will gain speed on the way down, hit the material then swing back up to a certain height. This height is measured and the difference between the starting height and the finished height is essentially the energy absorbed by the material (after accounting for friction).

Here is a fantastic video on Charpy impact testing: