CONTENTS

1. CONSIDERATIONS ON HARDNESS TESTING 2. WHAT IS HARDNESS TESTING? 3. ROCKWELL HARDNESS TEST 4. ROCKWELL SUPERFICIAL HARDNESS TEST 5. THE BRINELL HARDNESS TEST 6. VICKERS HARDNESS TEST 7. MICROHARDNESS TEST 8. HANDHELD TESTERS 9. CONVERSIONS AND COMPARISONS OF HARDNESS VALUES

Reproduced with kind permission of Gordon England

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1. CONSIDERATIONS ON HARDNESS TESTING
WHAT TYPE OF TESTER SHOULD I USE?
The more the operator can be removed from the test process, the better the result will be. A portable device should therefore only be used if the use of a bench tester is not going to be possible. Bench testers offer greater stability, rigidity and consistency of operation. If your test piece is capable of being placed in a bench tester, or if you can take a sample for testing in a bench tester, then this will be the best option. Better still are the digital and motorised machines that take out operator error by either instructing the user when to carry out each stage of the test, or remove any operator input apart from loading the sample and pressing “start”. Portables are becoming very accurate, but they still require an operator to hold them in the correct orientation, and the relative low load is susceptible to any surface or material faults. Portable testers that can fit in stands or rigid frames will produce better results than free hand operation – although sometimes a portable machine is the only way a test can be carried out. If the component needs to be measured accurately to HV/10 for example, then the best option is to use a machine that can test to HV/10. Comparative tests are possible, but as mentioned in section 9, they can leave room for errors. It is possible to make test samples to compare a bench test to a portable test to help reduce this problem.

ROCKWELL, VICKERS, BRINELL, LEEB, KNOOP, MICRO, MACRO, UCI, BENCH, PORTABLE...?
The amount of machines and methods available can be confusing. The important thing to do is choose the test method that bests suits your component. For example, a Brinell 3000kg load behind a 10mm ball will be of no use for testing thin case hardness, and likewise a Micro-Vickers or Knoop test will be no good on coarse grained materials with a poor surface finish. Using this guide will help you start to understand hardness testing, and go some way into helping you select the method that could be best suited for. Bowers Metrology can help walk you through the various testers and methods to help you select the set up that will best suit your purpose.

Reproduced with kind permission of Gordon England

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and Rockwell. Hardness of materials has probably long been assessed by resistance to scratching or cutting. If the file slides without biting or marking the surface. An example would be material B scratches material C. the term hardness may also refer to resistance to bending. Reproduced with kind permission of Gordon England Page 3 . defined by a combination of applied load and indenter geometry. material A scratches material B slightly and scratches material C heavily. Similar methods of relative hardness assessment are still commonly used today. MEASUREMENT OF HARDNESS: Hardness is not an intrinsic material property dictated by precise definitions in terms of fundamental units of mass. WHAT IS HARDNESS TESTING? WHAT IS HARDNESS? Hardness is the property of a material that enables it to resist plastic deformation. For practical and calibration reasons. Relative hardness of minerals can be assessed by reference to the Mohs Scale that ranks the ability of materials to resist scratching by another material. the test material would be considered harder than the file. the test material would be Digital considered softer than the file. each of these methods is divided into a range of scales. There are three principal standard test methods for expressing the relationship between hardness and the size of the impression. these being Brinell. Hardness Tester 600BD The above relative hardness tests are limited in practical use and do not provide accurate numeric data or scales particularly for modern day metals and materials.2. The usual method to achieve a hardness value is to measure the depth or area of an indentation left by an indenter of a specific shape. but not material A. abrasion or cutting. Alternatively. Vickers. scratching. However. with a specific force applied for a specific time. length and time. An example is the file test where a file tempered to a desired hardness is rubbed on the test material surface. usually by penetration. If the file CV Rockwell Basic bites or marks the surface. A hardness property value is the result of a defined measurement procedure.

Eseway® Premium Closed Loop Rockwell Hardness Tester EW6000 Hardness Test Blocks CV Portable Digital Hardness Tester 3. an indicating device. the additional major load is removed but the preliminary minor load is still maintained. When equilibrium has been reached. 1C). so reducing the depth of penetration (Fig. 1B). 1A) usually 10 kgf. 130 units for steel ball indenter HR = Rockwell hardness number D = diameter of steel ball Reproduced with kind permission of Gordon England Page 4 . The indenter is forced into the test material under a preliminary minor load F0 (Fig. resulting from the application and removal of the additional major load is used to calculate the Rockwell hardness number. While the preliminary minor load is still applied an additional major load is applied with resulting increase in penetration (Fig. ROCKWELL HARDNESS TEST The Rockwell hardness test method consists of indenting the test material with a diamond cone or hardened steel ball indenter. When equilibrium has again been reach. The permanent increase in depth of penetration. which follows the movements of the indenter and so responds to changes in depth of penetration of the indenter is set to a datum position.e F0 = preliminary minor load in kgf F1 = additional major load in kgf F = total load in kgf e = permanent increase in depth of penetration due to major load F1 measured in units of 0.002 mm E = a constant depending on form of indenter: 100 units for diamond indenter. HR = E . Removal of the additional major load allows a partial recovery.

1.Rockwell Principle Reproduced with kind permission of Gordon England Page 5 .Fig.

ROCKWELL HARDNESS SCALES Scale Indenter Minor Load F0 kgf 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 Major Load F1 kgf 50 90 140 90 90 50 140 50 140 50 90 140 50 90 140 Total Load F kgf 60 100 150 100 100 60 150 60 150 60 100 150 60 100 150 Value of E A B C D E F G H K L M P R S V Diamond cone 1/16" steel ball Diamond cone Diamond cone 1/8" steel ball 1/16" steel ball 1/16" steel ball 1/8" steel ball 1/8" steel ball 1/4" steel ball 1/4" steel ball 1/4" steel ball 1/2" steel ball 1/2" steel ball 1/2" steel ball 100 130 100 100 130 130 130 130 130 130 130 130 130 130 130 TYPICAL APPLICATION OF ROCKWELL HARDNESS SCALES Reproduced with kind permission of Gordon England Page 6 .

CV Rockwell Basic Digital Eseway Premium Hardness Tester 600BD Rockwell Hardness Tester EW650 Reproduced with kind permission of Gordon England Page 7 .Advantages of the Rockwell hardness method include the direct Rockwell hardness number readout and rapid testing time. Disadvantages include many arbitrary nonrelated scales and possible effects from the specimen support anvil (try putting a cigarette paper under a test block and take note of the effect on the hardness reading! Vickers and Brinell methods don't suffer from this effect).

1B). 1A) usually 3 kgf.4.e F0 = preliminary minor load in kgf F1 = additional major load in kgf F = total load in kgf e = permanent increase in depth of penetration due to major load F1. measured in units of 0.001 mm E = a constant of 100 units for diamond and ball indenters HR = Rockwell hardness number D = diameter of steel ball Reproduced with kind permission of Gordon England Page 8 . resulting from the application and removal of the additional major load is used to calculate the Rockwell Superficial hardness number. Removal of the additional major load allows a partial recovery. While the preliminary minor load is still applied an additional major load. e. HR = E . an indicating device that follows the movements of the indenter and so responds to changes in depth of penetration of the indenter is set to a datum position. The indenter is forced into the test material under a preliminary minor load F0 (Fig. 1C). ROCKWELL SUPERFICIAL HARDNESS TEST The Rockwell Superficial hardness test method consists of indenting the test material with a diamond cone (N scale) or hardened steel ball indenter. so reducing the depth of penetration (Fig. the additional major load is removed but the preliminary minor load is still maintained. When equilibrium has again been reach. The permanent increase in depth of penetration. When equilibrium has been reached. is applied with resulting increase in penetration (Fig.

Fig.Rockwell Superficial Principle ROCKWELL SUPERFICIAL HARDNESS SCALES Scale Indenter Type Minor Load F0 kgf 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 Major Load F1 kgf 12 27 42 12 27 42 12 27 42 12 27 42 12 27 Total Load F kgf 15 30 45 15 30 45 15 30 45 15 30 45 15 30 Value of E 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 HR 15 N HR 30 N HR 45 N HR 15 T HR 30 T HR 45 T HR 15 W HR 30 W HR 45 W HR 15 X HR 30 X HR 45 X HR 15 Y HR 30 Y N Diamond cone N Diamond cone N Diamond cone 1/16" steel ball 1/16" steel ball 1/16" steel ball 1/8" steel ball 1/8" steel ball 1/8" steel ball 1/4" steel ball 1/4" steel ball 1/4" steel ball 1/2" steel ball 1/2" steel ball Reproduced with kind permission of Gordon England Page 9 . 1.

HR 45 Y 1/2" steel ball 3 42 45 100 TYPICAL APPLICATION OF ROCKWELL SUPERFICIAL HARDNESS SCALES Eseway® Premium Closed Loop Rockwell Hardness Tester EW6000 Reproduced with kind permission of Gordon England Page 10 .

and looks like this. particularly those materials with heterogeneous structures. THE BRINELL HARDNESS TEST The Brinell hardness test method consists of indenting the test material with a 10 mm diameter hardened steel or carbide ball subjected to a load of 3000 kg. A well structured Brinell hardness number reveals the test conditions. The Brinell harness number is calculated by dividing the load applied by the surface area of the indentation. This method is the best for achieving the bulk or macro-hardness of a material. The full load is normally applied for 10 to 15 seconds in the case of iron and steel and for at least 30 seconds in the case of other metals. Reproduced with kind permission of Gordon England Page 11 . which will more accurately account for multiple grain structures and any irregularities in the uniformity of the material. "75 HB 10/500/30" which means that a Brinell Hardness of 75 was obtained using a 10mm diameter hardened steel with a 500 kilogram load applied for a period of 30 seconds. the Brinell ball makes the deepest and widest indentation. On tests of extremely hard metals a tungsten carbide ball is substituted for the steel ball. Compared to the other hardness test methods. The diameter of the indentation left in the test material is measured with a low powered microscope. so the test averages the hardness over a wider amount of material. F= Force (Kgf) B= Ball diameter (mm) D= Diameter of Indentation The diameter of the impression is the average of two readings at right angles and the use of a Brinell hardness number table can simplify the determination of the Brinell hardness.5. For softer materials the load can be reduced to 1500 kg or 500 kg to avoid excessive indentation.

‘King’ Brinell Portable Hardness Tester CV Brinell Digital Hardness Tester 3000JDB Reproduced with kind permission of Gordon England Page 12 .

The two diagonals of the indentation left in the surface of the material after removal of the load are measured using a microscope and their average calculated.6. d1 and d2 in mm HV = Vickers hardness Reproduced with kind permission of Gordon England Page 13 . VICKERS HARDNESS TEST The Vickers hardness test method consists of indenting the test material with a diamond indenter. The Vickers hardness is the quotient obtained by dividing the kgf load by the square mm area of indentation. The full load is normally applied for 10 to 15 seconds. F= Load in kgf d = Arithmetic mean of the two diagonals. in the form of a right pyramid with a square base and an angle of 136 degrees between opposite faces subjected to a load of 1 to 100 kgf. The area of the sloping surface of the indentation is calculated.

50 and 100 kgf and tables for calculating HV. 10. There is now a trend towards reporting Vickers hardness in SI units (MPa or GPa) particularly in academic papers. HV/30) value should normally be expressed as a number only (without the units kgf/mm2). To convert a Vickers hardness number the force applied needs converting from kgf to newtons and the area needs converting form mm2 to m2 to give results in pascals using the formula above. The advantages of the Vickers hardness test are that extremely accurate readings can be taken. SI would involve reporting force in newtons (compare 700 HV/30 to HV/294 N = 6. this can cause confusion.87 GPa) which is practically meaningless and messy to engineers and technicians.807 To convert HV to GPa multiply by 0. 30. The Vickers hardness should be reported like 800 HV/10. was obtained using a 10 kgf force. but is more convenient to use conversion tables. and just one type of indenter is used for all types of metals and surface treatments. and PC based systems have reduced the operator optical error to almost zero. 2. To convert HV to MPa multiply by 9. which means a Vickers hardness of 800. Newer TV based optical systems have now made this less of a problem. different operators can get different readings for the same indentation due to personal optical variations.g. Vickers hardness (e. Unfortunately.When the mean diagonal of the indentation has been determined the Vickers hardness may be calculated from the formula. The disadvantage of this type of test is that when using manual optical measuring devices. Most Vickers hardness testing machines use forces of 1. Rigorous application of SI is a problem. which is much better than the arbitrary changing of scale with the other hardness testing methods. Several different loading settings give practically identical hardness numbers on uniform material. 5.009807 Reproduced with kind permission of Gordon England Page 14 .

7. MICROHARDNESS TEST The term microhardness test usually refers to static indentations made with loads not exceeding 1 kgf. the smaller the load used. Also with the same observer differences of +0.2 micrometres can usually be resolved. The indenter is either the Vickers diamond pyramid or the Knoop elongated diamond pyramid. these usually have a magnification of around X500 and measure to an accuracy of +0. P (kgf) to the unrecovered projected area A (mm2) KHN = F/A = P/CL2 Where: F = applied load in kgf A = the unrecovered projected area of the indentation in mm2 Reproduced with kind permission of Gordon England Page 15 . be added that considerable care and experience are necessary to obtain this accuracy. the higher the surface finish required. however.5 micrometres. The surface being tested generally requires a metallographic finish. except that it is done on a microscopic scale with higher precision instruments. Precision microscopes are used to measure the indentations. The procedure for testing is very similar to that of the standard Vickers hardness test. It should. KNOOP Knoop Hardness Indenter Indentation The Knoop hardness number KHN is the ratio of the load applied to the indenter.

When measuring the Knoop hardness. only the longest diagonal of the indentation is measured and this is used in the above formula with the load used to calculate KHN.07028 = Constant of indenter relating projected area of the indentation to the square of the length of the long diagonal. Tables of these values are usually a more convenient way to look-up KHN values from the measurements. MICRO-VICKERS Vickers Pyramid Diamond Indenter Indentation The Vickers Diamond Pyramid harness number is the applied load (kgf) divided by the surface area of the indentation (mm2) Where: F= Load in kgf d = Arithmetic mean of the two diagonals.L = measured length of long diagonal of indentation in mm C = 0. The depth of indentation is about 1/30 of its length. d1 and d2 in mm HV = Vickers hardness Reproduced with kind permission of Gordon England Page 16 . The Knoop indenter is a diamond ground to pyramidal form that produces a diamond shaped indentation having approximate ratio between long and short diagonals of 7:1.

10. Unfortunately. SI would involve Reproduced with kind permission of Gordon England Page 17 . Tables of these values are usually a more convenient way to look-up HV values from the measurements. 30. 2. 5. both diagonals of the indentation are measured and the mean of these values is used in the above formula with the load used to determine the value of HV. VICKERS Comparing the indentations made with Knoop and Vickers Diamond Pyramid indenters for a given load and test material: • • • • • • • Vickers indenter penetrates about twice as deep as Knoop indenter Vickers indentation diagonal about 1/3 of the length of Knoop major diagonal Vickers test is less sensitive to surface conditions than Knoop test Vickers test is more sensitive to measurement errors than knoop test Vickers test best for small rounded areas Knoop test best for small elongated areas Knoop test good for very hard brittle materials and very thin sections There is now a trend towards reporting Vickers and Knoop hardness in SI units (MPa or GPa) particularly in academic papers. Vickers hardness (e. Rigorous application of SI is a problem.g. 50 and 100 kgf and tables for calculating HV. KNOOP VS. The depth of indentation is about 1/7 of the diagonal length. Most Vickers hardness testing machines use forces of 1. HV/30) value should normally be expressed as a number only (without the units kgf/mm2). this can cause confusion. When calculating the Vickers Diamond Pyramid hardness number.The Vickers Diamond Pyramid indenter is ground in the form of a squared pyramid with an angle of 136o between faces.

The scale of the rebound is arbitrarily chosen and consists on Shore units. onto the test specimen. which falls inside a glass tube under the force of its own weight from a fixed height. divided into 100 parts. the harder the material.reporting force in newtons (compare 700 HV/30 to HV/294 N = 6. Vickers and Rockwell. It uses a spring loaded carbide ball hammer rather than the gravity system of the Scleroscope. The Shore Scleroscope measures hardness in terms of the elasticity of the material and the hardness number depends on the height to which the hammer rebounds. The scale is continued higher than 100 to include metals having greater hardness.807 To convert HV to GPa multiply by 0. Leeb testers are portable and CV Portable Hardness Tester TH-160 Reproduced with kind permission of Gordon England Page 18 . The height of the rebound travel of the hammer is measured on a graduated scale. An electronic sensor measures the velocity of the hammer as it travels toward and away from the surface of the material being tested. In normal use the shore scleroscope test does not mark the material under test. The Leeb test is a modern version of the Scleroscope. To convert HV to MPa multiply by 9. which represent the average rebound from pure hardened high-carbon steel.87 GPa) which is practically meaningless and messy to engineers and technicians. The obtained figure is a Leeb hardness that can be related to other hardness scales as such a majority of Leeb testers have the inbuilt ability in their electronics to convert to more common hardness scales such as Brinell. the higher the rebound.009807 8. The Scleroscope is a difficult tester to use and has largely been superseded by the Leeb style tester. HANDHELD TESTERS THE SCLEROSCOPE AND LEEBS TEST (REBOUND HARDNESS TESTING) The Scleroscope test consists of dropping a diamond tipped hammer. LEEB VALUE = HAMMER REBOUND VELOCITY / IMPACT VELOCITY x 1000 The main limitations are that the items to be tested must have a certain mass and thickness to ensure correct readings. To convert a Vickers hardness number the force applied needs converting from kgf to newtons and the area needs converting form mm2 to m2 to give results in pascals using the formula above.

They can be used at different angles as long as they are perpendicular to the test surface. as many testers have inbuilt angle correction.can cover a wide range of material test circumstances. Reproduced with kind permission of Gordon England Page 19 .

The most popular testers are the Model A used for measuring softer materials and the Model D for harder materials. these testers can be used in any orientation. The operation of the tester is quite simple. which is in turn attached to the end of a resonating probe. Vickers and Rockwell. DIRECT LOAD METHOD This mechanical system uses a direct load of about 150N onto an indenter. The reading of the indenter depth is then registered on either an analogue or digital display. The advantage to these instruments is the accuracy. The material is subjected to a definite pressure applied by a calibrated spring to an indenter that is either a cone or sphere and an indicating device measures the depth of indentation. The machine is operated by pressing fully down on the handles on either side of the tester.although the test sample has a smooth surface and be at least 12mm thick. portability and range of materials that can be tested . Due to the mechanical construction and operation. although they require a stable CV Portable Digital Hardness Tester Reproduced with kind permission of Gordon England Page 20 .THE DUROMETER The Durometer is a popular instrument for measuring the indentation hardness of rubber and rubber-like materials. Vickers Portable Hardness Tester 'Ultramatic' CV-HV400 The results are electronically converted to other hardness scales such as Brinell. This change is measured and can be related to the depth of penetration of the Vickers indenter into the sample. CV Instrumatic Portable Analogue Hardness Tester Some of these direct load handheld testers have the ability to convert to several different scales. CV Digital Durometer and Stand THE UCI METHOD The Ultrasonic Contact Impedance (UCI) hardness test method uses a spring to a set load to a Vickers indenter. As the probe and Vickers indenter penetrate the test sample the frequency of vibration changes in the probe.

different shape of indenters. The Vickers test fails to penetrate the hardened surface and therefore only measures the hard top surface. Reproduced with kind permission of Gordon England Page 21 . 9. as the material is even throughout. Problems can occur though. but a comparison can be made from HV/10 or HR15T to HRC.sample surface to work correctly. The HV test may give a comparative reading of 601HV/10 – 55. cold working properties and elastic properties all complicate the problem.4HRC. For more accurate readings and for measuring smaller components a light weight portable bench stand can be used. The HRC indenter penetrates the surface hardened layer and measures into the softer material below. The HV test may give a comparative reading of 880HV/10 – 66. All tables and charts should be considered as giving approximate equivalents. For example. In the diagram below the HRC and Vickers test on the sample with no surface hardness should give a good comparison. The surface hardened example though demonstrates why it is always best (where possible) to use the correct hardness test for the material in question. homogeneity of specimen. a thin item may not stand up to HRC testing. The second test shows a poor comparison: The HRC test may give a comparative reading of 59HRC 680HV/10. CONVERSIONS AND COMPARISONS OF HARDNESS VALUES Hardness conversion between different methods and scales cannot be made mathematically exact for a wide range of materials.3HRC. particularly when converting to a method or scale which is not physically possible for the particular test material and thus cannot be verified. The first test shows a good comparison: The HRC test may give a comparative reading of 55HRC . Different loads.602HV/10.

Rockwell C Hardness Scales (hard materials) Estimated Hardness Equivalent Chart .Rockwell B Hardness Scale (soft metals) Hardness Conversion Chart .Rockwell C and Vickers (hard materials) Hardness Conversion Table .Rockwell B Hardness Scale (soft metals) Hardness Charts with Calculators for Hardness and Depth (.HARDNESS CONVERSION TABLES AND CHARTS Hardness Conversion Table Hardness Scale Relationship Chart Rockwell Hardness Comparison Chart Brinell and Vickers Hardness Scale and Tensile Strength Equivalents Brinell Hardness.xls file) Reproduced with kind permission of Gordon England Page 22 . Vickers Hardness and Tensile Strength Equivalents Hardness Conversion Table .Rockwell C Hardness Scale (hard materials) Hardness Conversion Chart .

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