A new computerized method using a thin, flexible sensor to measure stress distribution during loading and unloading of gaskets is disclosed. Stress measurement is achieved by a change in the sensor's electrical resistance as a function of load. Each sensor has many electrical pressure responsive contact points that give a map of stress. The unloading of a gasket due to hydrostatic end forces, thermal motions, and external loads can be observed and measured without modifying the flange environment. Use of this new technology permits better and faster gasket and flange design optimization. Monitoring of gasket stress during unit operation is also possible in some cases.The system uses a personal computer operating specially developed graphics software. It provides visual two and three dimensional dynamic stress distribution representations as well as total compressive force, on the sensor, in real time.