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EXPERIMENT: HARDNESS TEST Hardness and strength are related to bonding

forces on the atomic level. Therefore, it should be
OBJECTIVES: expected that hardness and strength are somehow
related. A theoretical relationship, which needs to
consider the complex mechanisms involved when
(1) Make Rockwell and Brinell hardness a hardness indentation is made, is not practical.
measurements on different steel specimens. However, various relationships have been
(2) Compare trends in hardness with other experimentally observed and empirically defined.
material properties. Usually the relationships are found in tabular
form. It is important to note that the relationships
INTRODUCTION: may be somewhat different for different
Two types of hardness tests will be performed on
three steel samples. The three samples, originally Since the methods used to increase the strength of
cut from the same bar, have been subjected to a material (such as heat treating, alloying, or
different heat treatments. Tensile strengths will mechanical working) also increase the hardness
be predicted based on the hardness measurements of the material, hardness measurements can
and compared to the actual strengths obtained provide a quick and easy means to check if a
from tensile testing. given strength has been obtained through a
particular process.
This experiment will include both Rockwell and
Hardness can be defined as resistance to Brinell tests which measure resistance to
penetration, resistance to abrasion, resistance to penetration. The amount of deformation that
scratching , or resistance to cutting. These are occurs when a small, hard steel ball or diamond
related in that they all require plastic flow of the point is pressed into a material surface at some
material. A variety of tests for hardness are in designated load is the measure of the hardness of
use, depending on which of the above situations the material.
is of most interest.
Material properties, such as hardness can be The penetrators for the Rockwell hardness tester
altered to desired levels by various heat treatment range from 1/2-inch diameter steel balls to very
procedures. Heat treatments affect the small diamond (brale) tips (points). The smaller
microstructure of the metal. Detailed descriptions points are used for harder materials that have a
of the changes to the microstructure can be found greater resistance to indentation. There are
in material science textbooks (Reference; various force scales used for various materials.
Material Science in Engineering, Callister). The Rockwell B and Rockwell C scales will be
Students will not be responsible for used for this experiment. The Rockwell B scale is
understanding the characteristics of the suitable for soft engineering metals, and the
microstructure for various heat treatments. Rockwell C scale is appropriate for hard
However, students should become familiar with engineering metals. Each scale requires a
how heat treatments affect the material specified tip and load. The B scale uses a 1/16-
properties. inch diameter hard steel ball and a 100-kg load.
The C scale uses a conical diamond point and a
150-kg load. If one examines the table in


Appendix B, one will find that there is a range of

tensile strengths for which there are no Rockwell The relationship between Rockwell and Brinell
B numbers and likewise a range where there are hardness numbers and predicted tensile strengths
no Rockwell C numbers. In these ranges, the can be found in Appendix B. With these
specific Rockwell tests are not valid. relationships, either hardness number can be used
to predict tensile strength.
To perform the Rockwell tests, the penetrator is
pressed against the specimen with an initial 10-kg READING THE TABLE IN THE APPENDIX B:
preload to properly seat the penetrator. The One can use the table to predict strength from
remaining load is applied gradually after the dial hardness numbers for any of the tests by locating
on the hardness tester has been zeroed. After the the hardness number and reading the
penetrator has stopped moving into the specimen, corresponding predicted tensile strength.
the final position of the dial pointer indicates the Likewise, one can predict the results of the
Rockwell hardness number that is related to the remaining tests if the results of one test is known.
depth of penetration. For example, if a Brinell test measured a BHN of
229, one would expect Rockwell B to be
BRINELL HARDNESS TEST: somewhere in the range of 94-104.
The Brinell test for this experiment uses a 10-mm
diameter steel ball which is pressed into a MATERIALS TO BE TESTED:
specimen by a 3000-kg load that is maintained for Three steel specimens will be tested in this
15 to 30 seconds. (A 500-kg load is used for laboratory experiment. All three specimens were
softer, non-ferrous materials.) cut from the same bar of cold-rolled steel. One
specimen will be tested in the cold-rolled state.
The Brinell hardness number (BHN) is the ratio The remaining two specimens were subsequently
of the load (kilograms) to the impressed area heat-treated. Both specimens were heated to
(square millimeters), and is calculated by: 17500F (9540C) and cooled. One specimen was
{ [ (
BHN = P (πD 2) D − D 2 − d 2 )
]} slowly cooled to room temperature, resulting in
an annealed state. The other specimen was cooled
rapidly, or quenched. These three conditions will
Where: P: test load [kg] be referred to as:
D: diameter of the ball [mm]
d: diameter of indentation [mm] 1. Cold rolled
2. Annealed
Since the Brinell number is based on the area of 3. Quenched.
indentation, the diameter of the indentation must
The three specimens are distinguishable by
be measured. This is done with a microscope. The
colored bands painted on their ends.
scale seen through the microscope is in
millimeters. The larger diameter indentation
corresponds to a softer material and lower Brinell EQUIPMENT TO BE USED:
number. The Brinell hardness number can be Rockwell Hardness Tester
used to predict the tensile strength of the material.
Brinell Hardness Tester
20 kip MTS Testing Machine
The relationship between the Brinell number and
the tensile strength can be found in reference PROCEDURE:
handbooks (refer to Appendix B, Table 1),
therefore calculations are not generally required.

PRELIMINARY CALCULATIONS: with the microscope and the average of these

No preliminary calculations are required for this readings should be used to obtain the Brinell
experiment. number.

SPECIMEN PREPARATION: Appendix B should be used to obtain tensile

strength predictions based on the hardness tests.
In preparation for hardness measurements,
The actual strengths of the three specimens
scaling on the surface of the annealed and
should then be measured using the 55kip MTS
quenched specimen must be removed in the area
testing machine.
where the test is to be conducted. Removal of
surface scaling should be accomplished with a
wire brush and/or metal file. A sample of a MTS SET-UP
prepared surface will be provided at the test area. 1.) Follow Start- up Procedures
Station Manager hardness
The cross-sectional area of each of the steel MPT hardness.000
specimens must be determined prior to testing. 2.) Turn hydraulics on.
3.) Make sure 'MANUAL OFFSET' = 0 for
The hardness measurements for all three samples 4.) Adjust 'SET POINT'' to 0.0
should be taken prior to the tensile tests. Since
5.) 'AUTO OFFSET' Load.
the tensile strength of the specimens will be
measured, all hardness readings should be made
at the ends of the specimens. A minimum TESTING PROCEDURE:
distance of 1/2 inch should be maintained 1.) Create specimen file hard*.
between measurement locations. All
measurements should be done on one side of the 2.) Install Specimen in upper and lower grips.
specimen. 3.) Start the scope.
The testing procedures for the Rockwell and 4.) Lock MPT and select specimen.
Brinell testers can be found in the equipment 5.) Press 'RUN'. Let the test proceed until
section of this manual and are also located at the failure occurs.
testing machines.
6.) Press 'STOP' once failure occurs.
7.) Remove specimen pieces from grips.
Three measurements should be taken on each
specimen for both the Rockwell B and Rockwell 8.) Unlock MPT and adjust SET POINT to 0.0.
C tests. These measurements can then be 9.) Repeat procedure for additional specimens
averaged to obtain the hardness value for the 10.) Turn hydraulics off.
specimen. The student will need to insert the
16.) Copy data files to diskette.
correct tip and change the amount of load applied
for the Rockwell tests. The Rockwell B scale uses c:\em327data\hard*\specimen.dat
a 1/16-inch diameter hard steel ball and a 100-kg 17.) Delete specimens hard*.
load. The C scale uses a conical diamond point
and a 150-kg load.
Only one Brinell measurement needs to be made
on each of the three samples. However, each lab REPORT:
group member should make a diameter reading


(6) Is a hardness test normally employed

The report outline found in Appendix A should because the property of hardness is desired?
be used. Explain.
(7) Can a satisfactory comparison of two
REPORT REQUIREMENTS: dissimilar materials be obtained from
(1) Develop tables of Rockwell and Brinell hardness numbers?
hardness numbers and predicted tensile
strengths for the three specimens.
(2) Compare the predicted tensile strengths of
all three specimens with the actual strengths
obtained from the tensile tests.
(3) Summarize, in words, the results of the
testing. Comment on the accuracy of using
the Brinell Hardness test to predict tensile
strength of the three steel specimens. In
addition, comment on the effect of the two
heat treatments on hardness.
(4) Comment on appropriateness of various
hardness tests for the different specimens.

(1) Why do the instructions specify the period
during which the pressure is to remain on the
Brinell ball?
(2) Is the Brinell indentation truly spherical?
(3) In a Brinell test why is a polished specimen
surface more important for harder materials?
(4) Will side bulging resulting from a Brinell
impression taken too close to the edge of a
specimen result in a hardness number greater
or less than the value obtained by a correct
(5) Why is a minimum thickness of at least ten
times the depth of the impression required in
the Brinell test? How should the value
obtained be influenced by specimens which
are too thin assuming they are tested on a
heavy anvil which is:
(a) harder than the specimen?
(b) softer than the specimen?