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Index

Introduction ........................................................................................................................................ 4
Terminology ........................................................................................................................................ 5
Application .......................................................................................................................................... 5
Theoretical framework ........................................................................................................................ 6
What is hardness? ........................................................................................................................... 6
What is the definition of hardness testing? .................................................................................... 6
Definition of hardness testing loads ............................................................................................... 6
How do hardness tests work? ......................................................................................................... 7
How to select the test method ....................................................................................................... 7
Factors that influence hardness testing .......................................................................................... 8
Surface preparation requirements for hardness testing ................................................................ 9
Deformations ................................................................................................................................ 10
Indent spacing ............................................................................................................................... 11
The Rockwell hardness test........................................................................................................... 11
The Rockwell test calculation .................................................................................................... 12
Indenters ................................................................................................................................... 12
Surface preparation................................................................................................................... 12
Overview of typical applications for Rockwell scales ................................................................ 13
Vickers hardness testing................................................................................................................ 14
The Vickers hardness calculation .............................................................................................. 14
Surface preparation................................................................................................................... 15
Brinell hardness testing ................................................................................................................. 15
The Brinell hardness calculation ............................................................................................... 16
Surface preparation................................................................................................................... 16
Knoop hardness testing................................................................................................................. 16
The Knoop test calculation ........................................................................................................ 17
Surface preparation................................................................................................................... 17
Indent spacing ........................................................................................................................... 17
Standards .......................................................................................................................................... 18
Procedure .......................................................................................................................................... 18

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Example ............................................................................................................................................. 19
Acceptance or rejection criteria ........................................................................................................ 20
Requirements, recommendations and safety conditions. ................................................................ 20
Materials, tools and equipment for Vickers test............................................................................... 21

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Introduction
The hardness is a mechanical property of the materials consisting of the difficulty
that exists to scratch or create marks on the surface by micro penetration of a tip.
There are 4 different types of hardness tests, which are: Rockwell, Vickers, Brinell
and Knoop. However, we are going to focus on the Vickers hardness test.

In the Vickers hardness, a quadrangular diamond pyramid is used as the


penetration body. The footprint seen from above is a square. This procedure is
suitable for nitrided and cemented steels in its outer layer, as well as for thin-walled
pieces of steel or non-ferrous metals. The Vickers hardness (HV) is calculated
starting from the force in Newton and the diagonal in mm2 of the footprint of the
pyramid according to the formula: The diagonal (d) is the average value of the
diagonals of the footprint (d1) and (d2). This test, like the Brinell, is based on the
principle of calculating the hardness value by relating the force of application on
the surface of the impression in the material.

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Terminology
Indentation: a hole or mark on the surface of something

The elastic zone: It is when the material cannot return to the first form.

Vickers indenter: a square-based pyramidal-shaped diamond indenter with face


angles of 136°

Test Machine: It is the machine that will do the hardness test.

Load: Weight or source of pressure borne by someone or something.

Surface: The outside part or uppermost layer of something

Application
The applications for Vickers hardness test are the follow:

 Finished parts such as Bearings, valves, nuts, bolts, gears, pulleys, rollers,
pins, pivots, stops, etc.
 Cutting tools, such as saws, blades, chisels, scissors.
 Formation tools.
 Smelters and small slabs.
 Metal sheets.
 Large diameter wire.
 Electrical contacts
 Plastic sheets or parts.
 Cemented parts.
 Cemented carbides

Except where more accuracy or less penetration is required, as in:

 Cemented thin parts, from 0.005 to 0.010


 Thin materials, up to 0.005
 Parts of fine finish, in order to avoid a removal operation.

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 Thin sections, such as pipes.
 Weak structures
 Thickness of the veneer.

Theoretical framework

What is hardness?
Hardness is Resistance of a material to deformation, indentation, or penetration by
means such as abrasion, drilling, impact, scratching, and/or wear, measured by
hardness tests such as Brinell, Knoop, Rockwell, or Vickers. Since there is no
standard hardness scale, each test expresses its results in its unique (and
arbitrarily defined) measure. Hardness of pliable materials such as plastics and
rubbers is measured by instruments such as durometer.

What is the definition of hardness testing?


The application of hardness testing enables you to evaluate a material’s properties,
such as strength, ductility and wear resistance, and so helps you determine
whether a material or material treatment is suitable for the purpose you require.
The definition of hardness testing is ‘a test to determine the resistance a material
exhibits to permanent deformation by penetration of another harder material.’
However, hardness is not a fundamental property of a material. Therefore, when
drawing conclusions of a hardness test, you should always evaluate the
quantitative value in relation to:

 The given load on the indenter


 A specific loading time profile and a specific load duration
 A specific indenter geometry

Definition of hardness testing loads


Officially, hardness testing loads are expressed in Newton (N). However,
historically, loads were expressed in kilogram-force (kgf), gram-force (gf), or

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pond (p). The correlation between kgf, kp, and N is: 1.0 kgf = 1,000 gf = 1.0 kp =
9.81 N.

 The term micro hardness testing is usually used when indentation loads
are below or equal to 1 kgf
 The term macro hardness testing is used when loads are higher than 1 kgf

How do hardness tests work?


A hardness test is typically performed by pressing a specifically dimensioned and
loaded object (indenter) into the surface of the material you are testing. The
hardness is determined by measuring the depth of indenter penetration or by
measuring the size of the impression left by an indenter.

 Hardness tests that measure the depth of indenter penetration include:


Rockwell, Instrumented Indentation Testing, and Ball Indentation Hardness
 Hardness tests that measure the size of the impression left by the indenter
include: Vickers, Knoop, and Brinell

How to select the test method


The hardness test you choose should be determined by the microstructure – e.g.
the homogeneity – of the material you are testing, as well as the type of material,
the size of the part and its condition.
In all hardness tests, the material under the indent should be representative of the
whole microstructure (unless you attempting to ascertain the different constituents
in the microstructure). Therefore, if a microstructure is very coarse and
heterogeneous, you need a larger impression than for a homogeneous material.
There are four main hardness tests, each with their own set of benefits and
requirements. There are different standards for these tests, which explain the
procedures and application of the hardness test in detail.

When selecting a hardness test method, important considerations include:

1. The type of material to be hardness tested

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2. Whether compliance with a standard is required
3. The approximate hardness of the material
4. The homogeneity/heterogeneity of the material
5. The size of the part
6. Whether mounting is necessary
7. The number of samples to be tested
8. The required accuracy of the result

Factors that influence hardness testing


A number of factors influence hardness tests results. As a general rule, the lower
the load you use in the hardness test, the more factors that need to be controlled
to ensure an accurate conclusion of the hardness test.
Here are a few of the most important factors to consider to ensure an accurate
conclusion from a hardness test.

 External factors such as light, dirt, vibrations, temperature, and humidity


should be controlled
 The tester and stage should be secured on a solid horizontal table, and
the sample should be clamped or held in a holder or anvil
 The indenter should be perpendicular to the tested surface
 Illumination settings should be constant during the test when using
Vickers, Knoop, or Brinell
 The tester should be recalibrated/verified every time you change the
indenter or objective lens

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Surface preparation requirements for hardness testing

Before hardness testing of metallic materials or other materials, you must


prepare the surface. The required surface condition depends on the type of test
and load used. In general, the quality of surface preparation has a direct effect
on the hardness test result, so you should consider the trade-off between
surface quality and test result variation before deciding on an inferior surface
preparation.

 Macro hardness testing

A ground surface is usually sufficient, and sometimes no preparation is required.

 Micro hardness testing

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Due to the lower loads used during hardness testing, micro hardness testing
requires a polished or electropolished surface. It is important that the
borders/corners of an optically evaluated impression are clearly visible. This can
be performed mechanically, chemically, or electrochemically. It is important that
heating or cold working does not change the surface properties of the specimen.

Deformations

Cutting and grinding may introduce deformations. These must be removed by


polishing down to 6.0, 3.0, or 1.0 μm, depending on the hardness test load.

For small loads (less than 300 gf1) the surface needs to be completely free of
deformations, and the specimens require oxide or electrolytic polishing to obtain
a completely damage-free surface. You should also take into account that soft
and/or ductile materials (i.e. for HV less than 120-150) are more sensitive when
it comes to introducing preparation artefacts.

In the table below, you can see the surface preparation requirements for the
different hardness tests.

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Indent spacing

During hardness testing, the indentation will deform the surrounding material and
alter its properties. In order to avoid misinterpretations of the perceived
hardness, the standards prescribe a certain distance between multiple
indentations.

Examples of indent spacing in the Vickers hardness test for metallic materials

 For steel, copper, and copper alloys: Spacing between indents must be at
least three diagonal widths.
 For lead, zinc, aluminum, and tin: Spacing between indents must be at
least six diagonal widths.

The Rockwell hardness test

The Rockwell hardness test is a fast method, making it ideal for quick hardness
testing. We give a definition of the Rockwell hardness test, as well as practical
information of how to apply it in practice.

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The Rockwell test calculation

The Rockwell hardness test calculation (HR) is made by measuring the depth of
an indentation made with a diamond or tungsten carbide ball.

Indenters

The Rockwell hardness test utilizes 1 of 5 different indenters:

 Diamond cone
 Tungsten ball in sizes 1/16", 1/8", 1/4", or 1/2"

The Rockwell hardness test utilizes 1 of 6 different main loads:

 15 kgf, 30 kgf, 45 kgf, 60 kgf, 100 kgf, or 150 kgf

In total, this gives 30 different Rockwell scales. Each one is characterized by a


different combination of indenter type and main load, and is suitable for a
particular material or application (for example, HRA, HRB, HRC, HR30N).

 Sample thickness ASTM: At least 10 times the indentation depth for both
indenters
 Sample thickness ISO: Diamond indenter: At least 10 times the
indentation depth. Tungsten carbide indenter: At least 15 times the
indentation depth

Surface preparation

Before application of the Rockwell hardness test, you must prepare the surface of
the material to be tested. The required surface condition for the Rockwell hardness
test depends on the load used.

The Rockwell hardness test is used for macro hardness tests, which are generally
defined as tests that use indentation loads below or equal to 1 kgf. Therefore, a
ground surface is usually sufficient, and sometimes no preparation is required.

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Overview of typical applications for Rockwell scales

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Vickers hardness testing
The Vickers hardness test is a versatile hardness test method, used for both
macro and micro hardness testing. It has a broad load range, and is suitable for
a wide range of applications and materials.

The Vickers hardness test is often regarded as easier to use than other
hardness tests: The process can be performed on a universal or micro hardness
tester; the required calculations are independent of the size of the indenter; and
the same indenter (a pyramidal diamond) can be used for all materials,
irrespective of hardness.

The Vickers hardness calculation

The Vickers Hardness (HV) is calculated by optically measuring the diagonal


lengths of the impression left by the indenter. The measurements are converted
to HV using a table or formula.
𝑃
𝐻𝑉 = 1.8544
𝑑2

 Load range: From 10 gf up to 100 kgf

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Surface preparation

Before placing the sample material in the micro hardness testing machine, you
should ensure it is correctly prepared.

The required surface condition for the Vickers hardness test depends on the load
used.

Macro hardness testing (loads higher than 1 kgf)

• Surface should be ground

Micro hardness testing (loads below or equal to 1 kgf)

• Surface should be mechanically polished or electropolished

Brinell hardness testing


The Brinell hardness test was originally developed in the late 1800s by the
Swedish engineer of the same name. He wanted to find a method to control the
quality/hardness of steel. His solution was to press a railway wheel-bearing ball
into the material and then measure the size of the mark it left. The method
proved reliable and in 1900 the Brinell hardness test was officially born.
Today, the Brinell test is performed using a Brinell hardness test unit. The
machine presses a tungsten carbide ball into the sample, and then optically
measures the diameter of the impression.

 Indenter sizes: 1, 2.5, 5 and 10 mm


 Loads: From 1 kgf to 3000 kgf
 Maximum hardness: 650 HBW
 Indentation time: 10-15 seconds

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The Brinell hardness calculation

The Vickers Hardness (HV) is calculated based on the area of the indentation
performed and the load applied, using the next formula:

𝑃
𝐻𝐵 = 𝜋
2 2
2 𝐷(𝐷 − √𝐷 − 𝑑 )

Surface preparation

Before the sample material is placed in the Brinell hardness test unit, it must be
either:

 Machined
 Ground
 Lapped
 Polished

Knoop hardness testing

The Knoop hardness test is an alternative to the Vickers test in the micro
hardness testing range. This page describes the Knoop hardness test and gives
you practical information on how to apply it in practice.

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The Knoop test calculation

It is calculated in the same way as the vickers, the applied load divided on the
lateral surface of the indentation, the only thing that changes is the constant.

𝑃
𝐻𝐾 = 0.0124229
𝑑2

Surface preparation

Before application of the Knoop hardness test, you must prepare the surface of the
material to be tested.

The Knoop hardness test is used for micro hardness testing (loads below or equal
to 1 kgf) and so the surface of the sample material should be highly polished or
electropolished before it is introduced to the micro hardness tester.

Indent spacing

Regardless of the micro hardness tester you use, when you perform a
Vickers hardness test, your indentation will deform the surrounding material and
alter its properties. In order to avoid misinterpretations of perceived hardness,
the Vickers hardness testing standards prescribe a certain distance between
multiple indentations.

Steel and copper

 At least 3 diagonal widths between indentations

Lead, zinc and aluminum

 At least 6 diagonal widths between indentations

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Standards
 Rockwell – ASTM E18-18Standard Test Methods for Rockwell Hardness of
Metallic Materials
 Brinell - ASTM E10 - 10 Standard Test Method for Brinell Hardness of
Metallic Materials
 Vickers - ASTM E384 - 11e1 Standard Test Method for Knoop and Vickers
Hardness of Materials
 Knoop - ASTM E384 - 11e1 Standard Test Method for Knoop and Vickers
Hardness of Materials

Procedure
According ASTM E384 the procedure is the next:

1. Turn on the illumination system and power for the tester.


2. Select the desired indenter. If it is necessary to physically change indenters,
refer to the manufacturer's instructions.
3. Place the specimen on the stage or in the stage clamps, so that the
specimen surface is perpendicular to the indenter axis.
4. Focus the measuring microscope with a low power objective so that the
specimen surface can be observed.
5. Adjust the light intensity and adjust the apertures for optimum resolution and
contrast. Zero the measuring device according to the manufacturer’s
recommended method.
6. Select the area desired for hardness determination. Before applying the
force, make a final focus using the measuring objective.
7. Adjust the tester so that the indenter is in the proper place for force
application. Select the desired force.
8. Activate the tester so that the indenter is automatically lowered and makes
contact with the specimen for the normally required time period. Then,
remove the force either manually or automatically

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9. After the force is removed, switch to the measuring mode, and select the
proper objective lens. Focus the image, adjust the light intensity if
necessary, and adjust the apertures for maximum resolution and contrast.
10. Examine the indentation for its position relative to the desired location and for
its symmetry.
11. Measure the long diagonal of a Knoop indentation, or both diagonals of a
Vickers indentation, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instruction
manual.
12. Compute the Knoop or Vickers hardness number using the appropriate
equation in Section 3 or using tables supplied with the tester, respectively.
Modern testers usually give an automatic readout of the hardness after the
diagonal or diagonals have been measured.
13. Spacing of Indentations—Generally, more than one indentation is made on a
test specimen. It is necessary to ensure that the spacing between
indentations is large enough so that adjacent tests do not interfere with each
other

Example
A Vickers hardness test is applied to a piece of metal that is subjected to a load of
800 kgf during 15s, a diagonal length of the indentation diagonal length of the
indentation of 1.95 mm. Calculate its HV (Hardness Vickers).

𝑭
𝑯𝑽 = 𝟏. 𝟖𝟒𝟓𝟑
𝒅𝟐
𝟖𝟎𝟎𝒌𝒈𝒇
𝑯𝑽 = 𝟏. 𝟖𝟒𝟓𝟑
𝟏. 𝟗𝟓𝟐 388 HV 800/15
𝒌𝒈𝒇
𝑯𝑽 = 𝟑𝟖𝟖
𝒎𝒎𝟐

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Acceptance or rejection criteria
The purpose of this hardness test is not to know if the sample is accepted or
rejected, in this essay what we are looking for is to know if the piece has the
adequate characteristics for its purpose of use.

However, the test should be done following the steps correctly and the
corresponding cleaning instructions.

For the indentation to be accepted, it must have the following characteristics:

 The indentation must be well defined.


 There must be enough separation between each indentation.
 The indentation must break the elastic zone of the material
 The indentation must be far from the edge of the sample

Requirements, recommendations and safety conditions.


For all types of tests, it is always necessary to have personal protection equipment,
assess the seriousness of the hazard or do a risk analysis, although it is
perceptibly safe, there must always be a sense of safety in each activity or test to
perform.

In relation to the risks present for the members of the body, it is taken into account
to protect the most sensitive and vital areas such as the eyes and the hands,
because with such members the process can be manipulated clearly and precisely.

The cleaning habit should always be in each test, whatever the area of work, in this
way; there will be no complications or interruptions in the entire testing process.

These are some requirements, recommendations and safety conditions:

 Wear safety glasses.


 Wear gloves.
 Keep the area clean.
 Do not play while the test is doing.

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 Correctly place the specimen in the base of the durometer.

Materials, tools and equipment for Vickers test.


All that we use for hardness testing is:

 testing machine
 specimen
 vinckers indenter
 safety glasses
 gloves
 notebook
 pen or pencil

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