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Why Use a Hardness Test?

Easy to perform Quick - 1 to 30 seconds Relatively inexpensive Non-destructive Finished parts can be tested - but not ruined Virtually any size and shape can be tested Practical QC device - incoming, outgoing

Brinell Hardness Testing

Hardness is resistance of material to plastic deformation caused by indentation. Sometimes hardness refers to resistance of material to scratching or abrasion. In some cases relatively quick and simple hardness test may substitute tensile test. Hardness may be measured from a small sample of material without destroying it. Principle of any hardness test method is forcing an indenter into the sample surface followed by measuring dimensions of the indentation (depth or actual surface area of the indentation).

Hardness is determined by taking the mean diameter of the indentation and calculating the Brinell hardness number (BHN or HB) by dividing the applied load by the surface area of the indentation according to following formula :

where P is load in kg; D ball diameter in mm; and d is the diameter of the indentation in mm.

The Brinell hardness number followed by the symbol HB without any suffix numbers denotes standard test conditions using a ball of 10 mm diameter and a load of 3,000 kg (300 N) applied for 10 to 15 s. For other conditions, the hardness number and symbol HB are supplemented by numbers indicating the test conditions in the following order: diameter of ball, load, and duration of loading. For example, 75 HB 10/500/30 indicates a Brinell hardness of 75 measured with a ball of 10 mm diameter and a load of 500 kg applied for 30s.

For example: HV 300 corresponds to a Sigma-y of approximately 1000 MPa. An approximate relationship between the hardness and the tensile strength (of steel) is ,

Where HB is the Brinnell Hardness of the material, as measured with a standard indenter and a 3000 kgf load .

Rockwell Hardness Testing

In the Rockwell test the depth of the indenter penetration into the specimen surface is measured. The indenter may be either a hardened steel ball with diameter 1/16, 1/8 or a spherical diamond cone of 120 angle .
Loading procedure starts from applying a minor load of 10 kgf (3kgf in Rockwell Superficial Test) and then the indicator, measuring the penetration depth, is set to zero. After that the major load (60, 100 or 150 kgf) is applied. The penetration depth is measured after removal of the major load. Hardness is measured in different scales (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, K) and in numbers, having no units (in contrast to Brinell and Vickers methods).

There are two types of Rockwell tests: Rockwell :the minor load is 10 kgf, the major load is 60, 100, or 150 kgf . Superficial Rockwell :the minor load is 3 kgf and major loads are 15, 30, or 45 kgf . In both tests, the indenter may be either a diamond cone or steel ball, depending upon the characteristics of the material being tested Aluminum alloys, copper alloys and soft steels are tested with 1/16 diameter steel ball at 100 kgf load (Rockwell hardness scale B). Harder alloys and hard cast iron are tested with the diamond cone at 150 kgf (Rockwell hardness scale C). An example of Rockwell test result: 53 HRC. It means 53 units, measured in the scale C by the method HR (Hardness Rockwell).

VICKERS Hardness Testing

The impression, produced by the Vickers indenter is clearer, than the impression of Brinell indenter, therefore this method is more accurate.
All Vickers ranges use a 136 pyramidal diamond indenter that forms a square indent. The indenter is pressed into the sample by an accurately controlled test force . The force is maintained for a specific dwell time, normally 10 15 seconds. After the dwell time is complete, the indenter is removed leaving an indent in the sample that appears square shaped on the surface .

The size of the indent is determined optically by measuring the two diagonals of the square indent .The Vickers hardness number is a function of the test force divided by the surface area of the indent.

P HV (1.8544) 2 d
The constant is a function of the indenter geometry and the units of force and diagonal. The Vickers number, which normally ranges from HV 100 to HV1000 for metals, will increase as the sample gets harder. A typical Vickers hardness is specified as follows:

Where 356 is the calculated hardness and 0.5 is the test force in kg.

Knoop Hardness Testing

A diamond pyramid indenter with angles 130 and 17030 is used in this method. The Knoop Hardness Test is applied for testing soft material and thin coating, since the penetration depth is very small (about 1/30 of the impression length). The loading force in the Knoop method are usually in the range of 10 gf to 1000gf (micro-hardness range). The Knoop number (HK) is calculated by the formula: HK = 14.229*F/ D Where F-applied load, kg and D length of the impression, mm

Hardness Conversion Chart

Chart for converting various hardness scales. Note the limited range of most scales. Because of the many factors involved, these conversions are approximate.