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Material Hardness Lab Report

Sam Sweeney
Aim:
The aim of the experiment is to measure the hardness values of three materials: steel, cast
iron and aluminium using the Leeb method. Once these values are discovered, they will be
converted into two other methods as a cross reference, such as Vickers, Brinell or Rockwell.
Some background information on the testing methods will be provided along with the
equipment setup, calibration process, the procedure and results, conversion information,
conclusion and error report.
Background Information on the various hardness tests available:
Leeb
This method was created in 1975 by leeb and brandestini and was designed with the aim of
providing portable hardness testing for metals. It is commonly known as Leeb rebound and
was originally an alternative to more complicated methods available at the time.
It works by creating an indentation on the surface of the material, using a probe and
an indenter of specific geometry and size. The hardness value is derived from the energy
loss of an impact body on a metal sample, using voltages to calculate the velocity as it
proceeds through the measuring coil and when it rebounds.
Positives:

Small indentation of only 0.5mm

Quick test time of around 2 seconds

Portability

Negatives:

Parts must have a good finish and minimum weight of 5kg.

Must be perpendicular to surface, although can be used at different angles.

Brinell
Originally proposed in 1900 by Swedish engineer Johan August Brinell, it was the first widely
used and standardised hardness test in engineering and metallurgy. It works by calculating a
scale of indentation on a material test-piece. Typically a 10mm diameter steel ball is used
whereas tungsten carbide may be used for harder materials.
Positives:

First widely used to provide standardised results

Negatives:

Slow and not useful on hardened steel

Large indenter size which could damage a test-piece

Vickers
This method was created in 1921 by Robert L Smith and George E Sandiland at Vickers Ltd
as an alternative to Brinell. It works, as with other methods, by measuring a materials ability
to resist plastic deformation, or indentation, from a standard source. The unit is called the
Vickers pyramid number (HV) or diamond hardness (DPH)
Positives

Can be used on all materials irrespective of hardness.

Can be used on all metals and has the widest scale margin.

Negatives

More time required for test surface preparation and the exact measurement of the
test impression.

Rockwell
Patented in 1914 by Hugh and Stanley Rockwell, it is a popular method which works by
measuring the depth of penetration of an indenter under a large load compared to a preload.
Different scales are denoted by a letter such as A, B or C (abbreviated to HRA, HRB, HRC)
based on different loads and indenters used. A minor load is applied followed by a major,
and the depth of penetration is noted as a difference between them, producing a direct
hardness value from a dial. Harder materials will give a higher value.
Positives:

Requires no additional calculations to gain a value

It is quick, reliable and produces a small indentation.

Negatives:

Test piece must be at least 10x the depth of indentation or anvil error may occur,
where the hardness of the surface below comes into play

Must be taken on flat perpendicular surfaces as convex give lower readings, although
a correction factor can be utilised.

Leeb Hardness Testing Equipment


Low Carbon
Steel
Low
Carbon
Steel
Vernier
Vernier
Callipers
Callipers

Cast iron
Cast Iron
Block

Clamps

Aluminium
Aluminium
Block
Block

LeebLeeb
Computer
Computer

Calibrating
Block
Calibrating
Block
Measuring
Probe
Measuring Probe

Calibration
*

Place calibrating block onto work surface

Make sure Leeb computer is set to the correct material

Pull down the charging shaft release

Press button on top to release the ball

Repeat process three times for a total of 3 readings

Record readings and average readings making sure they correlate with the reference
set point values

Experimental Procedure:
*

Ensure Leeb machine is set to the material being tested

Place material onto surface block

Place the leeb prob on top of the work piece perpendicular to it

Pull down charging shaft and release

Press button to release the ball

Record hardness reading

Move probe slightly to a different position and repeat the previous 3 steps

Record 3 readings in total and calculate average reading

Tidy away equipment into its appropriate place

Experimental results:

Material
Cast Iron
Aluminium
L C Steel

HL1
486
414
370

HL2
480
414
400

HL3
496
424
383

AVERAGE
487
417
384

Error %
2.9
3.21
5.44

Hardness Results
Leeb
600
500

486 480 496


370

Material

400

400 383

414 414 424

300
200
100
0
Cast Iron

Low Carbon Steel


Leeb Value

Aluminium

Column 1
Column 2
Mean (Column 2)
Column 3

Conversions:
Material
Cast Iron
Aluminium
LC Steel

Brinell
206
150
130

Rockwell
94
81
72

Conclusion
It was found during the experiment that cast iron was consistently the
hardest material to test. Aluminium was noted to be the second hardest
with Low carbon being the softest of the three tested materials. These
results are not in line with expectations due to an error with the testing
surface detailed later. Low carbon should in fact be harder than
aluminium.

Errors:
The main errors that occurred were due to the fact that the cut side of LC
Steel was tested and compared with the finished side of LC aluminium.
This gave a false reading for low carbon steel, appearing much lower than
its comparative hardness on the finished side.If someone else has been
using the equipment then it is possible they may make mistakes with the
calibration process.
The surface of the test piece material may be treated which will not give
an accurate hardness rating for the material being tested.
It would also be possible to be using the wrong material type on the
computer and errors could occur from converting between each hardness

scale as they are not exactly convertible. Great care must be taken to
reduce the likeliness of these errors occurring.