The experimental method of caustics was applied to the study of asymmetric bending of isotropic cracked plates and to the determination of the complex stress intensity factors (S.I.F’s) at the crack tips. It was shown that the method of reflected caustics is convenient for detecting and evaluating both KI and KII stress intensity factors. Based on the singular approximation of the elastic solution around the crack tip, the theory of formation of the caustics was developed and related to the evaluation of both components of stress intensity factors. It was also shown that the generalized method of caustics, known as the method of pseudocaustics, is a potential and simple method for determining S.I.F’s in cracked plates submitted to bending. Experimental evidence with specimens made either of optically inert materials, such as plexiglass, or of any opaque material like steel, and elastically loaded, has corroborated the theoretical results.

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