Dynamic SEM studies of plastic flow in a uni-axial tensile test requires that the loading stage possess more than an ability to apply large loads to the test specimen. In such a test, observations of the details of the fracture processes are feasible only if the transfer of stored energy from the test system to the test specimen is minimal. This requires careful choice of test system compliance. This paper discusses system-specimen interactions and identifies the key criteria to be met for the design of satisfactory SEM tensile stages. The design and use of such a new stage is described. Preliminary results from a 0.08 percent carbon steel sheet tensile specimen are presented to demonstrate the utility of rigid tensile stages. The relevance of such tests, particularly for the characterization of the fracture resistance of test materials, is indicated.

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