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Brinell Hardness Test

Dr. J. A. Brinell invented the Brinell test in Sweden in 1900. The oldest of the hardness test methods in common use today, the Brinell test is frequently used to determine the hardness of forgings and castings that have a grain structure too course for Rockwell or Vickers testing. Therefore, Brinell tests are frequently done on large parts. By varying the test force and ball size, nearly all metals can be tested using a Brinell test. Brinell values are considered test force independent as long as the ball size/test force relationship is the same. In the USA, Brinell testing is typically done on iron and steel castings using a 3000Kg test force and a 10mm diameter carbide ball. Aluminum and other softer alloys are frequently tested using a 500Kg test force and a 10 or 5mm carbide ball. Therefore the typical range of Brinell testing in this country is 500 to 3000kg with 5 or 10mm carbide balls. In Europe Brinell testing is done using a much wider range of forces and ball sizes. It's common in Europe to perform Brinell tests on small parts using a 1mm carbide ball and a test force as low as 1kg. These low load tests are commonly referred to as baby Brinell tests.

Brinell Test methods are defined in the following standards: y y ASTM E10 ISO 6506

Brinell Test Method
All Brinell tests use a carbide ball indenter. The test procedure is as follows: y y y y y 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 a round indent in the sample. The size of the indent is determined optically by measuring two diagonals of the round indent using either a portable microscope or one that is integrated with the load application device. The Brinell hardness number is a function of the test force divided by the curved surface area of the indent. The indentation is considered to be spherical with a radius equal to half the diameter of the ball. The average of the two diagonals is used in the following formula to calculate the Brinell hardness.

The Brinell number, which normally ranges from HB 50 to HB 750 for metals, will increase as the sample gets harder. Tables

3. Calculations have already been made and are available in tabular form for various combinations of diameters of impressions and load. Stanley P. One scale covers the entire hardness range. but the Brinell test is particularly useful in certain material finishes as it is more tolerant of surface conditions due to the indenter size and heavy applied force. After removal of the load.30 seconds) using a 5 or 10 mm diameter tungsten carbide ball. Another common hardness test type. 2. . Brinell and Scleroscope. Note. the Brinell test. Weaknesses 1. A wide range of test forces and ball sizes to suit every application. Brinell testing is typically used in testing aluminum and copper alloys (at lower forces) and steels and cast irons at the higher force ranges. Highly hardened steel or other materials are usually not tested by the Brinell method. The actual Brinell hardness (BHN) is calculated by factoring the indent size and the test force however it is not necessary to make the actual calculation for each test. He was a metallurgist for a large ball bearing company and he wanted a fast non-destructive way to determine if the heat treatment process they were doing on the bearing races was successful. 2. especially on his small parts. for a specified time (from 10 . A typical Brinell hardness is specified as follows: 356HBW Where 356 is the calculated hardness and the W indicates that a carbide ball was used.Previous standards allowed a steel ball and had an S designation. The main drawback of the Brinell test is the need to optically measure the indent size. although comparable results can only be obtained if the ball size and test force relationship is the same. In addition various forms of automatic Brinell reading devices are available to perform these tasks. Slow. The part size is only limited by the testing instrument's capacity. sample can normally be reused. Strengths 1. This requires that the test point be finished well enough to make an accurate measurement. Brinell testers are often manufactured to accommodate large parts such as engine castings and large diameter piping. consists of applying a constant load or force. Testing can take 30 seconds not counting the sample preparation time. The only hardness tests he had available at time were Vickers. The Vickers test was too time consuming. Nondestructive. The load time period is required to ensure that plastic flow of the metal has ceased. the Brinell test applies only a single test force. Applications Because of the wide test force range the Brinell test can be used on almost any metallic material. usually between 500 and 3000 Kgf. Rockwell invented the Rockwell hardness test. Brinell indents were too big for his parts and the Scleroscope was difficult to use. Steel balls are no longer allowed.are available to make the calculation simple. Similar to Knoop and Vickers testing. the resultant recovered round impression is measured across diagonals at right angles and is usually recorded millimeters using a low-power microscope or an automatic measuring device. Lower forces and smaller diameter balls are sometimes used in specific applications.

1/8. This simple sequence of test force application proved to be a major advance in the world of hardness testing. However. or 45 kgf.To satisfy his needs he invented the Rockwell test method. 2. 30. brass. There are 30 different scales. diameter steel ball indenters. 100. The hardness number is expressed by the symbol HR and the scale designation. Rockwell: the minor load is 10 kgf. an analysis should be made of the following factors that control scale selection: y y y y Type of material Specimen thickness Test location Scale limitations Principal of the Rockwell Test 1. Rockwell test methods are defined in the following standards: y y y ASTM E18 Metals ISO 6508 Metals ASTM D785 Plastics Types of the Rockwell Test There are two types of Rockwell tests: 1. The major load is applied for a specified time period (dwell time) beyond zero 4. A minor load is applied and a zero reference position is established 3. depending upon the characteristics of the material being tested. The major load is released leaving the minor load applied . with three different major loads for each. the increasing use of materials other than steel and brass as well as thin materials necessitates a basic knowledge of the factors that must be considered in choosing the correct scale to ensure an accurate Rockwell test. The majority of applications are covered by the Rockwell C and B scales for testing steel. Superficial Rockwell: the minor load is 3 kgf and major loads are 15. or 150 kgf. the major load is 60. Rockwell Scales Rockwell hardness values are expressed as a combination of a hardness number and a scale symbol representing the indenter and the minor and major loads. but also between the diamond indenter and the 1/16. and other metals. If no specification exists or there is doubt about the suitability of the specified scale. 1/4 and 1/2 in. In both tests. It enabled the user to perform an accurate hardness test on a variety of sized parts in just a few seconds. the indenter may be either a diamond cone or steel ball. Select image to enlargeThe indenter moves down into position on the part surface 2. The choice is not only between the regular hardness test and superficial hardness test.

3. Multiple test scales (30) needed to cover the full range of metal hardness. 2. Some parts with a critical hardness specification are tested 100%. The test can normally be performed in less than 10 seconds and the indent is usually small enough to allow the part to be used. Direct readout. Weaknesses 1. the Rockwell test can be used on almost any metal sample as well as some hard plastics. usually less than 10 seconds 2. Non-destructive. .The resulting Rockwell number represents the difference in depth from the zero reference position as a result of the application of the major load. Rapid test. part normally can be used. Strengths 1. With the two test ranges available. Samples must be clean and have a smooth test point to get good results. no questionable optical measurements required. 3. Conversions between scales can be material dependant.