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1.

General Notes on Hardness Testing


Among the different kinds of measurements that are carried out in a laboratory, hardness
testing is one of the most complex ones.
On the one hand, there are different measurement procedures; on the other hand, it is
necessary to measure large, small, hard, soft, thin or thick metal parts.
Considering the different procedures and the large number of scales, it is understandable that
even very experienced persons can be challenged by hardness testing tasks.
As in so many other areas of application, electronic development has led to a significant
simplification of hardness testing. With computer-aided hardness testers, a higher precision
during result readout, data storage and the possibility of data processing to statistics, graphic
representations, documentation, etc. have become a matter of course.

However, electronics are still only used for results readout (and, if necessary, automation of
the measuring / drive), while the different mechanic testing results are still applicable.

Although later we will be talking about definitions, advantages and disadvantages of the
Rockwell, Brinell, and Vickers procedures, it is still beneficial to deal briefly with the most
important features that should be considered before buying such a device, here in the
introduction:

1. Total test load
On the one hand, there is the general rule to use a test load as high as possible. This
allows for higher accuracy (because the measurement is less sensitive to the surface
texture with a higher test load).

On the other hand, the indentation should not be deeper than 1/10 of the thickness of
the specimen or the hardened surface.

The degree of homogeneity of the material is also an important criterion: a typical
example is cast iron, which is usually only tested with a high total load, except in the
ranges where it has been induction hardened, e.g. machine tool bases.

2. Hardness range
Above a hardness of approximately 650 HB/30, a diamond penetrator should be used;
below that value it is also possible to use a penetrator made of steel or hard metal.

The Brinell method, which does not allow diamond penetrators, cannot be used for
hardened steel.

The Rockwell method is more universal, because it allows for the used of diamond
cone and steel ball penetrators.

The Vickers method, which only allows for a diamond pyramid penetrator, can be
employed in the entire hardness range. However, it is most suitable for tests in
laboratories compared to tests in workshops.

3. Accuracy
The precision of the measurement is heavily dependent on the accuracy employed by
the operator. This also includes well-ground surfaces, sufficient measurement periods
and frequent revisions of the testing device with reliable test plates.
If possible, the use of static systems should be preferred to dynamic systems.
Using very low testing loads is a particular restriction to the precision of the
measurements

4. Flexibility of the device with regard to forms and dimensions of specimens
The specimen can be put on the device, or the device can be put on the specimen. The
first case describes stationary devices, which have enough capacity to hold the
specimen. Stationary devices are, thus, primarily suitable for tests on small and
medium-sized specimens.

Portable devices can be clamped to the specimens (clamping jaw, chain, etc) or
when testing large or bulky specimens just put on the specimens.

Portable devices can only be dynamic when using high testing loads. When the testing
loads are smaller, they can also be static. It is possible to find customer-specific
solutions for special cases.

5. Economic aspects
This includes the following elements:
- the purchase price of the device,
- the universalism of the application,
- the measurement period, and
- the qualification needed to operate the device.

The first two aspects are important when specimens of different forms and with
different surface treatments are tested. This is usually the case in technical companies
and in small-scale industries.

In companies that do their tests serially the quickness of the measurements and the
possibility to employ unskilled staff are very important. Here, such devices are
preferred that do not need special clamping equipment.
2. The Rockwell method
For a better understanding, the sequence of the Rockwell method, which is described below,
is also shown in the numbered images below (figure 1). The meter, which is connected to the
penetrator and displays the penetrators shifts on a larger scale, is also included in the figure.




1. The tested surface is exposed to the penetrator and the first test load Fo (preload) is
applied. A small indentation appears. At this point, the meter is set to zero.

2. Slowly and without shocks the load F1 is applied additionally. Together with the
preload this is defined as total test load F. With this load the penetrator enters the
material more or less deep, depending on the hardness of the material. This position
needs to be kept to reach the final penetration (when testing hard materials the
penetration is almost immediate; with soft materials it is necessary to wait for a
number of seconds). The penetration procedure can also be observed on the indicator
of the meter.


3. When the indicator of the meter finally stops moving, the additional load F1 is
removed until the preload is applied respectively. This way, the penetrator remains in
the imprint and all elastic deformations, which were caused by the application of the
total test load, are eliminated; thus, the meter only shows the remaining penetration
depth (as difference between preload and total test load).
The penetrator, preloads, test loads, and the units are standardised in the Rockwell method
and can be divided into two groups: standard Rockwell (method N) and superficial Rockwell
(method T).

2.1 Standard Rockwell
The standard Rockwell procedure is intended for the use of one single diamond cone
penetrator of 120 with a rounded off peak of 0.2 mm radius (see figure 2), or different ball
penetrators made from hard metal with diameters of 1/16"; 1/8"; 1/4"; 1/2" (inch).


Figure 2 - profile of the Rockwell penetrator with diamond cone
The preload is unchanging: 98.07 N.The total test loads are (preload + additional load): 588.4
N; 980.7 N; 1,471 N.The measuring unit in standard Rockwell corresponds to 0.002 mm
penetration.The hardness value increases with the hardness of the material, but at the same
time the penetration difference between the preload and the total testing load decreases the
harder the material is. Thus, Rockwell hardness values are calculated by subtracting the
penetration depth (per 0.002 mm) from 100 (when using the diamond penetrator) or from 130
(when using any ball penetrator).
Example:
with a diamond penetrator and a penetration depth of 0.082mm this makes
100 0.082/0.002 = 59 Rockwell;
the same penetration depth measured with a ball penetrator makes
130 0.082/0.002 = 89 Rockwell
When using analogue devices with dial gauges, which usually have 100 partitions (one
rotation = 0.2 mm), the Rockwell values can be read directly from the dial. The dial then
usually has 2 series of numbers: the black ones are for diamond penetrators and the red
numbers are made for ball penetrators. For the zero position always use the black 0 (or the
red 30). When using a digital device, the data are displayed after the complete measuring
cycle was run through. Due to the different combinations of penetrators and test loads, there
is a great number of scales, which are labelled with different letters (see Table 1).






HR SCALE

Penetrator:

Diamond
Cone

Ball 1/16"
1,5875mm

Ball 1/8"
3,175mm

Ball
1/4
*

Ball 1/2"
*

Numbers:

black

red

F=1471N

C

G

K

P

V

F=980,7N

D

B

E

M

S

F=588,4N

A

F

H

L

R

Table 2 superficial Rockwell scales, F=total test load (Newton) *) W, X, Y are not
standardised
The ERNST devices NR3SR, AT130ASR and T130DSR all work with the superficial
Rockwell procedure.

2.2 Superficial Rockwell
Although the superficial Rockwell method uses the same penetrators as the standard
Rockwell procedure, the method requires a more precisely shaped diamond cone penetrator.
This regards not only the conicity of the 120 cone peak, but also its rounding off of 0.2 mm.
With this method, smaller total loads are used to create smaller indentations, so that the
smallest shape defects on the peak would falsify the measuring results.The preload is
unchanging: 29.42 NThe total test loads are (preload + additional load): 147.1N; 294.2N;
441.3 NThe measuring unit in superficial Rockwell corresponds to 0.001 mm penetration
depth. In contrast to standard Rockwell, the zero point is set to 100 (0 on the dial gauge) in
the superficial Rockwell procedure (both with the diamond penetrator and with the ball
penetrator). The dial only has one series of numbers and 100 partitions. One rotation of the
index equals 0.1 mm.
Example:
With a diamond or ball penetrator and a penetration depth of 0.082mm this makes 100
0.082/0.001 = 18 superficial Rockwell. Due to the different combinations of penetrators and
test loads, there is a great number of superficial Rockwell scales, which are labelled with
different letters. The respective letter is also preceded by a number which indicates the total
load used in the test (see Table 2).

HR Scale

Penetrator

Diamond
Cone

Ball 1/16"
1,5875mm

Ball 1/8"
*

Ball 1/4"
*

Ball 1/2"
*

F=441,3N

45 N

45 T

45 W

45 X

45 Y

F=294,2N

30 N

30 T

30 W

30 X

30 Y

F=147,1N

15 N

15 T

15 W

15 X

15 Y

superficial Rockwell scales, F=total test load (Newton)
*) W, X, Y are not standardised
The ERNST devices NR3SR, AT130ASR and AT130DSR all work with the superficial
Rockwell procedure.

2.3 Fields of application with different Rockwell scales
As we have seen, there is a considerable number of Rockwell-scales. Which scale to choose
is a question depending on the hardness of the material, and the thickness of the specimen or
hardened surface (in cases where there have been surface treatments such as carburisation,
nitriding etc.).The hardness of the material determines the choice of the penetrator: diamond
cone or ball.
The diamond cone is solely used for tempered or hardened steel and hard metal. It is not
recommendable for steel with a solidity below 785 N/mm2 (20 HRC, 230 HB/30).
The steel ball penetrator is used for softer materials. The softer the material, the larger should
be the diameter of the ball and / or the smaller should be the total test load. For instance, the
materials that can be tested with the HRB scale (ball 1/16" total test load 980.7N) are
harder than the materials tested with the HRL scale (ball 1/4 "- total test load 588.4N).
The large balls are solely used for the testing of plastics and materials alike. Flowing plastics
can be measured as well, if certain steps are taken, with the help of the total test load.
Again, we would like to mention that the HR hardness testing also requires a minimum
thickness of the sample. However, there is no hard rule for this minimum thickness. It is
usually estimated by calculating 10 x the penetration depth (see Table 3). This principle is
also valid for hardened surfaces (carburisation etc.), which are usually measured with the
smallest total test load (scale HRA).

F

HRC

20

30

40

50

60

70

147,1N

0.41

0.33

0.26

0.19

0.14

0.09

294,2N

0.69

0.58

0.47

0.36

0.26

0.17

441,3N

0.91

0.77

0.63

0.50

0.37

0.25

588,4N

1.0

0.9

0.8

0.7

0.6

0.5

1471N

1.8

1.6

1.4

1.2

1.0

0.8
Table 3 - measurable minimum thickness for Rockwell tests with diamond penetrators
Most frequently used are the following Rockwell scales:
1. HRC (diamond cone - 1471N)
HRC is the most characteristical Rockwell scale for testing hardened, tempered and
carburised samples.
When talking about "Rockwell hardness" in general, this usually means the HRC scale. This
might cause a certain confusion, because sometimes a hardness of the HRC scale is ordered,
although the small dimensions of the sample make tests with a total test load of 1471 N
impossible. In such cases, other Rockwell scales or other measuring procedures are used to
determine the hardness, which is then revalued to HRC with the help of charts.
As we will see later, those revaluation tables can only give approximated values. That is why
it is recommended to use only hardness values that can be measured in reality when entering
them into drafts, orders, etc.
2. HRA (diamond cone 588.4N)
Mainly used for carburised materials and hard metals, whose high carbide hardness might
damage the diamond.
3. HRB (ball 1/6" 980.7N)
In Europe, this scale is usually used for copper alloys (brass, bronze etc.); in the U.S., it is
also used for steel up to approx. 686 N/mm.
4. Rockwell N and T (superficial Rockwell)
The scales HR 15N, HR 30N, HR 45N (diamond cone) are used for samples with thin
carburisation; the scales HR 15T, HR 30T, HR 45T (ball 1/16") are used for thin metal
sheets. The general notes concerning the choice of the total test load always have to be
attended to.

2.4 Tests on cylindric and spherical surfaces
It is clear that the conditions for hardness measurements on cylindric or spherical surfaces are
different from those on flat surfaces. The differences are not as crucial with larger diameters
because then the bending of the surface is small and approximates a flat.
When working with smaller diameters (with higher bending) it is necessary to keep in mind
that
the penetrations get an oval shape (for cylinders) when viewed from above and that the
vertical
profile of the penetrated area has different thicknesses. That is why the tester has to add
correction
values to the results, which depend on the hardness and the diameter of the sample (see Table
4).
Cylindric sample surfaces

Hardness scales and
read off hardness

Cylinder diameter d in mm

3

6,5

9,5

11

12,5

16

19

Hardness
HR
A-C-D
diamond
cone

80

0,5

0,5

0,5

0

0

0

0

70

1,0

0,5

0,5

0,5

0,5

0

0

60

1,5

1,0

0,5

1,0

0,5

0

0

50

2,5

1,5

1,0

1,5

0,5

0,5

0,5

40
-
2,0

1,0

2,0

1,0

0,5

0,5

30
-
2,5

1,5

2,5

1,0

1,0

0,5

20
-
-

2,0

3,5

1,5

1,0

1,0

Hardness scales and read off hardness

Cylinder diameter d in mm

3

5

6,5

8

9,5

11

12
Hardness HR
B - F - G
Ball penetrator

90

4,0

3,0

2,0

1,5

1,5

1,5

1,0

80

5,0

3,5

2,5

2,0

1,5

1,5

1,5

70
-
4,0

3,0

2,5

2,0

2,0

1,5

60
-
5,0

3,5

3,0

2,5

2,0

2,0

50
- -
4,0

3,5

3,0

2,5

2,0

40
- -
4,5

4,0

3,0

2,5

2,5
Spherical sample surfaces

Hardness scales and read off
hardness

Ball diameter d in mm

4

6,5

8

9,5

11

15

25
Hardness HRC
Diamond cone

65

5,2

3,2

2,6

2,2

1,9

1,4

0,8

60

5,8

3,6

2,9

2,4

2,1

1,5

0,9

55

6,4

3,9

3,2

2,7

2,3

1,7

1,0

The correctional value delta-H, which needs to be added to the
measured value, can be calculated with the values from this
table and the following formula:


Table 4 correctional values for Rockwell measurements on cylindric and spherical surfaces
with diamond and ball penetrators. (The correctional values must be added to the values on
the display or the dial gauge.)

2.5 Pros and cons of the Rockwell procedure

Among the known hardness testing procedures Rockwell is the only one that allows
for the direct reading of the hardness value without optical measuring. Thus, this
procedure is not only quicker, it is also the only hardness testing procedure that can be
automated completely.

Hardness testing devices that work according to the Rockwell procedure are the most
widespread. The most important advantages are: deviations due to personal
estimations are avoided; it is less sensitive to rough surfaces (even though the
standard says that surfaces have to be flat and carefully abraded).

The most important limits of the application range are the possible total test loads.
The minimum is 147.1N (HR15N / HR15T) and the maximum is 1,471N. However,
workshops or foundries often require test loads of 10N or less, or of up to 30,000N.
There is no Rockwell scale for tests on cast iron, nor is there one for steel sheets
thinner than 0.15mm. In order to close this gap, there are devices that work with the
Rockwell procedure (with pre- and total test loads), but with much larger (or smaller)
and thus non-standardised test loads.

While there are many scales, a different solution has been established for some
materials (e.g. untreated steel). They are usually tested with a Rockwell device, which
is equipped with a Brinell penetrator and uses Brinell testing loads (in this regard refer
to chapter 3.4).

2.6 Variations of the Rockwell procedure
A profound disadvantage of the traditional Rockwell devices is that the accuracy of the
measurement is mainly based on the perfect contact between the test specimen and the
contact surface.
When using the Rockwell procedure (Fig. 1, point 3; removal of additional test loads and
return to preload), the only deformation displayed on the dial gauge should be the indentation
itself.
However, this is only the case if the specimen is supported perfectly. If the supporting surface
is polluted with an oil film, grease or other contaminants, there is a plastic deformation when
the test load is applied and the result of the indentation measurement is falsified. This is an
obvious limitation for workshops and hardening shops, because, of course, they cannot
guarantee to work under ideal conditions for those devices.
In order to solve this problem, new devices have been developed that work according to the
Rockwell procedure. Their penetrators are surrounded by a ferrule which allows for another
contact with the specimens surface as the reference for the measurement (see Fig. 3). Thus, a
possible resilience of the specimen, the spindle or other moveable parts of the stand cannot
influence the result. In this regard, the advantages are the same as if one would use the
Brinell or Vickers procedures (as we will see later).

Figure 3 variation of the Rockwell procedure (ferrule

0: exchange of specimens: in rest position, the point of the penetrator (a) pokes out of
the ferrule (b).

1: Both the penetrator and the ferrule lower down on the specimen and the penetrator
recedes because of the applied load. The zero position is set automatically.

2: The total test load is applied.

3: The total test load is released and the displacement (intrusion) of (a) compared to
(b) is determined.
If the specimen yields, the relation between (a) and (b) stays unchanging and the possibility
of the typical Rockwell error is eliminated. This procedure can also be applied with
superficial Rockwell tests.
Some ERNST-hardness testers include a third element which should not be confused with the
ferrule (b). This element is called clamping hood and it can be found in devices with a stand.
It is used to clamp specimens so that no extra tools are necessary to fix the specimens. It is
also very easy to remove that clamping hood if it is not needed for tests.
Portable devices also have an element similar to this, which is called measuring foot. It can
be exchanged and helps to get an optimum contact.
3. The Brinell method
The Brinell method involves ball penetrators of different diameters (always in mm, in
contrast to the Rockwell dimensions in inch), which are pressed with a certain load onto a
smooth and even surface for a certain amount of time (10 to 15 seconds).
The emerging indentation, which has the shape of a spherical cup, is measured with optical
devices (microscope or projector).
Figure 4 - hardness testing according to Brinell
The Brinell hardness (HBW) is determined by the relation between the applied testing load
and the surface of the spherical cup. This is the formula:

where F is the test load in N , D is the diameter of the ball penetrator in mm and d is the
diameter of the indentation in mm.In practice, tables are used that give the Brinell hardness
values subject to the test load, ball diameter and the diameter of the indentation.Usually, the
Brinell method uses the following standardised ball penetrators:
Ball diameter: 10mm 5mm 2,5mm 1mm
The standard test loads are:

Abbreviation
HBW 10

Ball diameter

Test load
(N)

Abbreviation
HBW 5

Ball diameter

Test load
(N)
HBW 10/3000
10 mm
29420 HBW 5/750
5 mm
7335
HBW 10/1500
10 mm
14710 HBW 5/250
5 mm
2452

HBW 10/1000

10 mm
9807 HBW 5/125
5 mm
1226
HBW 10/500
10 mm
4903 HBW 5/62,5
5 mm
612,9
HBW 10/250
10 mm
2452 HBW 5/25
5 mm
245,2
HBW 10/100
10 mm
980,7

Abbreviation
HBW2.5

Ball
diameter

Test
load
(N)

Abbreviation
HBW 1

Ball
diameter

Test
load
(N)
HBW 2,5/ 187,5
2,5 mm
1839 HBW 1/30
1 mm
294,2
HBW 2,5/ 62,5
2,5 mm
612,9 HBW 1/10
1 mm
98,07
HBW 2,5/ 31,25
2,5 mm
306,5 HBW 1/5
1 mm
49,03
HBW 2,5/ 15,625
2,5 mm
153,2 HBW 1/2,5
1 mm
24,52
HBW 2,5/ 6,25
2,5 mm
61,29 HBW 1/1
1 mm
9,807
Table 5 Brinell abbreviations, ball diameter and test loads (see ISO 6506-1)
The following points have to be considered for the Brinell method:
1. The standard (EN ISO 6506-1) requires the diameter of the indentation to be between
0.24 and 0.6 of the diameter of the ball penetrator.
In order to meet this requirement there has to be a certain degree of loading. If a small
ball penetrator is pressed on a soft material with a high load, the indentation will be to
deep, of course. Then again, if a larger ball penetrator is pressed on a hard material
with a small load, the indentation might be smaller than 0.24 of the ball diameter. It is
thus, almost illegible and not admissible.

2. For the Brinellmethod there is a basic formula to determine the degree of loading:
1.02 F/D between test load (N) and diameter (mm) of the ball penetrator squared.
The harder the material, the higher must the degree of loading be.
Degree of loading: 1.02 F / D

30

15*

10

5

2,5

1
Table 6 degree of loading

*) The degree 15 is only standardised for HBW10/1500, all the other degrees of loading can
be used for all tests
The degree of loading 1.02F/D is important because there are different results depending on
which degree of loading was used. For example: a Brinell hardness value determined with a
10 mm ball and 9,807N (degree of loading 10) for a material is different from the hardness
value determined with a 10 mm ball and 4,903N (degree of loading 5). However, if the same
material is measured with a 2.5 mm ball and a total test load of 612,9N (degree of loading 10)
the resulting hardness value is the same as in the first measurement because the degree of
loading is the same (provided that the material is homogeneous and has no layers of different
hardnesses).
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3.1 The labelling of Brinell tests
The abbreviation HBW stands for Brinell hardness. The Brinell hardness stands before the
abbreviation and is followed by the ball diameter in mm, the test load according to the table
and the testing time in seconds, if it differs from the standard time (10-15 seconds).
Example: 305 HBW 2.5 / 187.5: Brinell hardness 305, determined with ball penetrator
2.5mm, 1,839N test load and 10-15 seconds load application time

Example: 305 HBW 2.5 / 187.5 / 20: Brinell hardness 305, determined with ball penetrator
2.5mm, 1,839N test load and 20 seconds load application time
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3.2 Different applications of Brinell tests
As mentioned before, it is the hardness of the material which determines the degree of
loading that is applied. When the most suitable degree is chosen, the test load is chosen
according to the following elements:
1. the thickness of the tested specimen; because the considerations mentioned in the
Rockwell chapter, which say that the minimum thickness should be 10x the depth of
the indentation, also apply for Brinell tests (see table 7).

Ball
D in
mm
Centered indentation diameter

0,5

1,0

1,5

2,0

3,0

4,0

5,0

6,0

1

0,54


2

0,25

1,07


2,5

0,83

2,00


5

0,92

1,67

4,00


10

1,84

3,34

5,36

8,00
Table 7 - measurable minimum thickness for Brinell tests (see ISO 6506-1)
2. the homogeneity of the material; because for less homogeneous materials it is
recommended to use high test loads.

3. convenience of the readout; because the determination (either with a microscope or
projector) of the indentations diameter is easier with large indentations.
For the following materials there are standard Brinell tests:
Steel: almost always HBW x | 3000 (x=ball diameter).
For steel, the Brinell method is very important because there is a constant, quite accurate
relation between the Brinell hardness and the tensile strength (with a ratio of 3.53 for carbon
steel, chromium steel and chromium-manganese steel; for chromium-nickel steel it is 3.33).
Example: 225 HBW x | 3000 225 x 3.53 = 794.3 N/mm (see DIN 50150)
This is the only possibility to determine the tensile strength of steel non-
destructively.However, the Brinell method cannot be used for hardened steel. As there is no
diamond penetrator intended for the Brinell procedure, tests on treated steel with more than
1765 N/mm are not possible. Soft iron is usually tested with HB x | 3000, although the
indentation diameter exceeds 0.6 of the ball diameter.
Cast iron: always use HBW x | 3000. Due to the smaller homogeneity, it is recommended to
use the highest total test load of 29,420 N.
Light metal: usually HBW x | 10 or HBW x | 5; for very soft alloys it is also possible to use
HBW x | 2.5. The fact that it is possible to use different degrees of loading for medium
hardness values might easily cause confusion. Thus, it is important to indicate the kind of test
exactly (opposed to ferrous alloys, for which HBW x | 30 is always used).
Copper alloys: For bronze use HBW x | 10 (if it is very hard, use HBW x | 30), and HBW x |
10 or HBW x | 5 for brass. Apart from that, also consider the principles mentioned for light
metals.
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3.3 Pros and cons of the Brinell procedure
The main advantage of the Brinell method is that it uses very high test loads generated
by relatively simple and robust devices.
Furthermore, the indentation can be measured with the help of a simple microscope or
even with a measuring magnifier.
Measurements can also be carried out when the conditions are not ideal, because
(contrary to the Rockwell method) a possible drawback of the specimen does not
influence the result.
The Brinell value can be multiplied with a certain coefficient, which is specific for
every material, to determine the materials tensile strength.
One of the most serious disadvantages of the Brinell method is the fact that the
indentation is measured optically, which includes the danger for measuring errors.
Modern, automatic image evaluation computer systems reduce this source of errors
significantly.
Although high test loads are used, the surface must be well prepared in order to
achieve the high accuracy needed for the measurement of the indentation.
Thus, Brinell testing is not a quick task and not suitable for routine tests. To avoid this
disadvantage, the Rockwell method is often used with Brinell penetrators and Brinell
test loads (see next chapter).
Tests on cylindrical surfaces are not possible. If such specimens need to be testes, the
surface must be prepared so that an even area is produced for the measurement (10).
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3.4 Rockwell tests with Brinell loads and Brinell penetrators
In order to avoid the different disadvantages and to find as much applications for the
Rockwell devices as possible, these devices are often used with Brinell penetrators and test
loads.

Most of these devices also offer the loads 612.9, 1226 and 1839 N, apart from the usual
Rockwell loads. Thus, they are suitable for Brinell tests. But they measure hardness
according to the Rockwell method, with the depth of the indentation and not by measuring
the diameter.
The result can be read off a Rockwell dial gauge or displayed immediately. With the help of
tables this result can then be converted to the Brinell value.
However, this relatively quick method cannot be considered a genuine Brinell test.

As a matter of fact, the converted results are not the same for each material (for instance, the
conversion for steel is not the same as that for cast iron). This method should be preferred for
routine tests or when there is no possibility for optical measurements. It also offers the
advantage that the surface must not be prepared as well as for optical analysis. And the
tensile strength for steel can be measured reliably.

To achieve better accuracy during routine tests, the ERNST-devices offer the possibility to
calibrate the Brinell scale beforehand with an optical test measurement.
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4. The Vickers method
(NOTE! Some of the details in this chapter are out of date! It is being revised.)This method is
similar to the Brinell method, but it uses a diamond penetrator in the shape of a pyramid with
a square base and an angle of 136. Thus, the indentation looks like a concave (negative)
pyramid with a square base. The length of the two diagonals of the indentation is measured
(mean value).

Figure 5 - principle of hardness testing according to Vickers (see ISO 6507-1, -2, -3)
Similar to the Brinell method, the Vickers hardness value HV is determined by the ratio
between the applied test load and the surface of the indentation.The test loads most often used
are: 9.81, 19.62, 49.05, 98.10, 294.30 N. It is also possible to use test loads below 9.81 N,
which means entering the domain of micro hardness and applications in metallographical
laboratories.The Vickers hardness is calculated with the following formula, whereas d is the
mean value of the indentations diagonals (accuracy: +/- 0.002 mm):

The labelling for Vickers tests is HV (H= hardness, V = Vickers), then the test load and the
test time. The test load is indicated in the usual kp numerical values. That is why the actual
test load must be divided by 9.81 to get the Vickers label (e.g. HV50: 50 = 490.5N / 9.81).
Thus, a Vickers hardness value might look as follows:
210 HV50/30 Vickers hardness 210, test load 490.5N, test time 30 seconds
Usually, the test load is applied within 15 seconds and effective for another 30 seconds. Soft
materials require longer test times, steel with a hardness of 140 HV or more requires only 10
seconds.
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4.1 Applications of different Vickers test loads
The values obtained with different test loads are comparable because the Vickers method
allows for only one penetrator and the Vickers value is the specific test load per mm of the
surface.For instance, when a material is tested with a test load of 294.30N and then a second
time with 9.81N the results are the same (of course, only if the material is homogeneous and
without layers of different hardness values).The Vickers method is also suitable for materials
with different layers. Increasing test loads are applied subsequently to determine the
thickness of certain surface layers, e.g. after nitration hardening.Apart from that, all the rules
mentioned above for the other methods (minimum thickness = 10 x indentation depth) also
apply to Vickers. In other words, the diagonal must not be longer than 2/3 of the specimen
thickness.The Vickers method is especially suitable for tests of small and thin parts or
components with any kind of surface treatment, i.e. for tests with low test loads.However, the
Vickers method should not be used for inhomogeneous materials, like cast iron.
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4.2 Pros and cons of the Vickers procedure
The biggest advantage of Vickers is its scale, which comprises the smallest and the
highest hardness values in one scale. It is thus very suitable for laboratory tests.
Most of the disadvantages of Vickers are based on the long duration of the whole
procedure because the indentation must be measured optically (with the help of a
miscroscope or projector). This, of course, also is a source for measuring errors.
However, modern, automatic image evaluation computer systems reduce this source
of errors significantly.
The surface must be well prepared and the penetrator must be applied evenly.
Otherwise, the smallest inclination would cause irregularities in the indentation. Thus,
the Vickers procedure is not suitable for routine tests.
The indentation is not well readable on some materials because of the irregular
distribution of the load (more load on the edges than on the sides of the pyramid).
To put it in a nutshell, the Vickers procedure is more suitable for applications in laboraties
than in workshops.ERNST devices offer possibilities to read Vickers hardness values quicker
and more direct so that some of these limitations can be overcome.
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5. Other hardness testing procedures
5.1 The Shore procedure (for metals)
This methods is based on the principle that a ball (or a shaft with ball point) is dropped on the
specimen and rebounds more or less, dependingon the hardness of the material and the drop
height. However, this method is used seldomly because the precision of the results is very
much depending on the mass of the specimen and on the perfectly vertical falling axis. The
hardness values are then given in Shore points and are only standardised for big, dressed to
size cylinders (calenders).
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5.2 The Knoop method
This procedure is similar to Vickers, with a pyramid-shaped diamond penetrator and a
rhombical base area (diagonals at a ratio of 1 : 7.), and it is only used in laboratories with a
few grammes as total test load.
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6. Umwertungstabellen und Hrtevergleichsplatten
6.1 The use of revaluation tables
As there is no mathematical interrelationship between the different hardness scales, the
revaluation tables had to be compiled with the help of empirical tests. There are different
tables which might have considerable differences. Usually, the tables also offer the tensile
strength in N/mm for steel.The values taken from the revaluation tables must be considered
an orientation; they are not absolute.
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6.2 The use of hardness comparison plates
Usually, the equipment of a hardness tester includes one or more hardness comparison plate.
They must be made from very homogeneous and appropriately treated materials. To achieve
the highest possible accuracy they should only be evaluated on one side. It is very important
to test the hardness testing device regularly with the help of the comparison plates to ensure
that it works properly.
The distance between two indentations on one plate is measured between the middle of each
indentation or between the middle of an indentation and the edge of the specimen. It should
be no less than the following:
for Rockwell tests: min. 4 x the indentations diameter; not less than 2 mm
(edge distance: min. 2.5 x the indentations diameter; not less than 1 mm)

for Brinell: min. 3 x the indentations diameter
(edge distance: min. 2,5 x the indentations diameter

for Vickers: min. 3 x the indentations diameter
(edge distance: min. 3 x the indentations diameter
When there are so many indentations that the surface is covered with them, do not grind them
to re-use the plate. The structures of the layers below the indentations (approximately 8x the
indentation depth) are usually altered because of the load application and thus, measuring
results would not be accurate.