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Hardness: has a variety of meanings. To the metals industry, it may be thought

of as resistance to permanent deformation. To the metallurgist, it means resistance
to penetration. To the lubrication engineer, it means resistance to wear. To the
design engineer, it is a measure of flow stress. To the mineralogist, it means
resistance to scratching, and to the machinist, it means resistance to machining.
Hardness may also be referred to as mean contact pressure. All of these
characteristics are related to the plastic flow stress of materials.

Hardness is the property of a material that enables it to resist plastic deformation,

usually by penetration. However, the term hardness may also refer to resistance to
bending, scratching, abrasion or cutting.

Tip that exerts pressure on the probe, is a ball of tempered steel of different
diameters. For the hardest materials tungsten carbide balls are used. In the typical
test, a steel ball 10 to 12 millimeters in diameter is used, with a force of 3,000

Hardness meter.
It is used for the fast determination of hardness of surfaces, the hardness meter is
suitable, according to type, for the measurement of hardness of metals, plastic,
rubber, textiles. The hardness is indicated either directly in Rockwell B, Rockwell C,
Vickers HV, Brinell HB, Shore HS, Leeb HL or in units of hardness according to

Static testing.
In this case an indenter is pressed against the test surface with a load that is
applied relatively slowly. In general, the measure of hardness in this type of test
results from the ratio of the applied load and the area of the trace left by the
indenter on the surface, as is the case of the Brinell, Vickers and Knoop method or
it is a measure Of the indentation depth as in the Rockwell trial.
Dynamic tests.
In general, the indentator is thrown on the surface to be tested with known energy
and the hardness value is obtained from the rebound energy of the penetrator after
impact on the sample, as in the Shore and Leeb method, Both known as rebound
hardness methods.

It is the cause able to modify the state of rest or movement of a body, can be
defined as the cause capable of producing deformations in the systems on which it
acts. Force is a vector magnitude.

Preliminary test force.

Force that is made or applied with anteriority and serves as preparation, for
example: 29.42N (3kgf), 98.07N (10kgf)

Magnitude that measures the force applied to a surface. It is the force that is
exerted In perpendicular form per unit area.

It consists in checking the deviations of indication of instruments and measurement
equipment by comparation with patterns with traceability nationality or international.

By means of the calibration results, the corrections to be applied in the indications

of the instruments can be determined. The calibration results are reflected in a
calibration certificate or report.

Test tube.
It is used to carry out a test of either tension, welding, hardness, etc. The test is
made with the measures and norms established according to the test that is
wanted to realize.

The Brinell hardness test consists of pressing the surface of the material to be
tested with a very hard steel ball or tungsten carbide producing the impression of a
spherical skullcap corresponding to the portion of the penetrating sphere. Standard
loads are defined as 500-3000 kg, increasing to 500 kg. During the test, the load is
kept constant for a time ranging from 10 to 30 seconds.

HB= Brinell number (Brinell hardness)
P= applied load (Kg)
D= penetrator diameter (mm)
d= Diameter of the footprint on the metal (mm)

Figure 1. Scheme of the Brinell hardness test.

The hardness is determined according to the degree of penetration of the piece to
be tested because of the action of the penetrator under a given static load.The
loads are less and the smaller penetrators so the impronta will be lower and less
deep. A load is applied of 10 Kg which causes a penetration initial that puts the
penetrator on the material and keeps it in position.The indicator of the machine is
set to zero, ie the reference line is taken from which the indentation shall be
measured and the additional load applied, The one that is generally 50 or 90 kg
when used as penetrator a steel ball and it is 140 kg when using the diamond
Figure 2. Schematic of the Rockwell trial.

A small charge is used and the penetrator is a diamond in the shape of a pyramid,
it is a method that makes it possible to measure hardness practically of all the
metallic materials irrespective of the state in which they are and their thickness.


HV= Vickers number (Vickers hardness)

P= applied load (Kgf)

h= depth of penetration
Figure 3. Schematic of the Vickers trial.
in Knoop microhardness a diamond penetrator is used. The hardness is
determined by the ratio of the applied load and the area of the impronta projected
on the surface that is tested and in which the elastic recovery of the material
should not be taken into account. However, the measurement of the surface
requires That the penetrator is removed and therefore the material produce the
elastic recovery and the consequent deformation of the impronta.

HK = Knoop hardness
P = load
L = length of the diagonal, varies from 5 to 1000 according to the load and the
hardness of the material.
Figure 4. Schematic of the Knoop test.
Comparison of the hardness by scratching with a scale of materials of ten degrees.
Is a ratio of ten materials ordered according to their hardness, from minor to major.
The scale ranges from 1 to 10. It is used as a reference for the hardness of a
substance. It was proposed by the geologist Friedrich Mohs and is based on the
principle that a hard substance can scratch to a softer substance, but it is not
possible the opposite.

Figure 6.- hardness according to Mohs.

Portable Brinell Test.
Portable Brinell testers generally apply the force by means of a hydraulic cylinder
equipped with both a pressure gage and a spring forceed relief value. With this
arrangement it is not possible to maintain the force at the point where the relief
valve opens for any appreciable time. Therefore bring up the forc several times to
the point where the pressure is released. It has been determined that for steel,
when testing with a 3000-kgf force, three force applications are equivalent to
holding the force 15 s as required in the standard method. For other materials and
other forces, make comparison tests to determine the number of force applications
required to give results equivalent to the standard method. Bring the force up
gradually each time without jerking

Portable Rockwell Type Test.

Portable Rockwell type testers generally apply the force through a calibrated spring
by means of a screw and are generally equipped with two indicators, one a dial
gage that measures deflection of the spring to indicate the force, and the other a
dial gage or micrometer screw to indicate the depth of penetration. Apply the
preliminary test force as shown by the force indicator. Set the index on the depth
indicator to the proper point. Then apply the total test force. Turn the loading screw
in the opposite direction until the preliminary test forc is again indicated on the
force dial. Then read the hardness on the depth indicator as the difference between
the readings at the minor force before and after application of the major force.
Bring the force up gradually without jerking. Exercise care not to exceed either the
preliminary or the total test forces.
The measurement cycle in a Rockwell hardness test, can be divided into 8 steps.
The speed of execution of each of them has influence on the value of the hardness
that is obtained. The factor affecting the measurement is as follows for each step:

1. speed of the indenter at the point of contact with the material being tested.

2. speed of application of the initial force.

3. residence time of the initial force. It is the time that the permanent permanent
force a constant value before the reference baseline of the identification sea taken.

4. The speed of application of the additional load.

5. Time of permanence of the total load. It is the time that remains the entire load
applied on the material being tested.

6. speed at which the additional load is removed.

7. Elastic recovery time of the material. It is the time between which the additional
load is removed and the depth of the indentation.

8. speed at which the initial load is removed.

Vickers Type Tester.

Portable Vickers type testers generally apply the force by means of a hydraulic
cylinder equipped with a pressure gage. Bring the indenter just in contact with the
test surface and check the zero reading of the pressure gage. Then bring the force
up to the required value as shown on the pressure gage. Bring the forc up
gradually without jerking and take care that the required force is not overrun.
Maintain the full force for at least 15 s, unless otherwise specified, and then
Leeb hardness.
During a hardness test, an impact body with a spherically shaped tungsten carbide,
silicon nitride, or diamond tip impacts under spring force, the test surface from
which it rebounds. The impact and rebound velocities are measured when the
impact body is approximately 1 mm from the test surface. This is accomplished by
means of a permanent magnet mounted in the impact body which, during the test,
moves through a coil in the impact device and induces an electric voltage on both
the impact and rebound movements. These induced voltages are proportional to
the respective impact and rebound velocities. The quotient of these measured
voltaje values derived from the impact and rebound velocities, multiplied by the
factor 1000 produces a number which constitutes the Leeb hardness value.

To perform a hardness test, the impact device is connected to the indicator device
and the instrument is turned on. The impact device, while not in contact with the
test piece, is held firmly with one hand and the charging tube is depressed with the
other hand until contact is felt. The charging tube is allowed to slowly return to the
starting position. The impact body is now in its loaded or locked position. After
placing the impact device on the test surface, trigger the impact body by exerting a
light pressure on the release button. The Leeb hardness value is read on the
indicator device.

The test is applicable to all types of metallic materials:

A) Soft. A tempered steel ball is used as a penetrator.

B) Hard. A diamond cone is used as a penetrator. Standard loads of 60, 100
and 150 kilograms are used.
C) Small thicknesses in soft or hard materials.

Portable hardness testers are used principally for testing articles that are too large
or unwieldy to be tested in the usual types of testing machines, for testing parts of
fixed structures, or for testing under any conditions which require that the indenting
force be applied in a direction other than vertical. In order that they may be
portable and also in order that the indenting forces may be applied in any direction,
these testers are designed in such a way that dead weights are not used in
applying or limiting the indenting force.

ASTM International is a globally recognized leader in the development and delivery
of voluntary consensus standards. Today, over 12,000 ASTM standards are used
around the world to improve product quality, enhance health and safety, strengthen
market access and trade, and build consumer confidence.

The following standards are involved in performing hardness tests, and present the
following information.


Reference documents.

Terminology and equations.


Procedure (material and equipment requirements, principles of testing, use and


Calibration of the device.

Precision and bias.

ASTM E110-82
Standard Test Method for Indentation Hardness of Metallic Materials by Portable
Hardness Testers. This test method establishes the standard procedures, including
the calibration, precision and bias of the apparatus used, for the determination of
indentation hardness of metallic materials by means of portable hardness testers.

ASTM A956-12

Standard Test Method for Leeb Hardness Testing of Steel Products. This test
method covers the determination of the Leeb hardness of steel, cast steel, and
cast iron, including the methods for the verification of Leeb hardness testing
instruments, and the calibration of standardized test blocks.
There are eight established types of impact devices for rebound hardness testers
according to the Leeb principle: D, DC, E, D+15, DL, C , S, and G. The impact
devices D and E have become industry standards for general purpose applications
since the first introduction of the D-device in 1975. The other types have been
added with the time for applications with special requirements.
The readings depend on the impact device type used. The main reasons for this
Different impact energies;
Different sizes and materials of the indenter;
Different stiffnesses of the impact bodies.

ASTM E18-11, E92-82 y E10-15

These standards provide the requirements of Rockwell, Vickers and Brinell

hardness testing equipment, respectively, and the procedures to be followed.

These three standards are related with the E110-82 which refers to all different
portable equipment for hardness testing, since portable instruments employ the
principles of these methods to perform tests on a regular basis, and the results are
then Perfectly acceptable as if they had been obtained with the original equipment.


Hardness measurements play an important role in determining the mechanical

characteristics of a material and it is common that these results are taken as the
basis for acceptance or replacement of finished parts.

When we select a material, it probably has a strength and a hardness slightly

higher than the acceptable minimum values.

The evaluation of the recorded readings must be done to determine their

acceptance or rejection, for which the values: maximum, minimum, average and
standard deviation (s) should be reported, in hardness.

Materials whose average hardness value exceeds the value of 97 HRB or

222 HBN are unacceptable.
Material readings whose difference between the maximum and minimum
HRB hardness value is greater than 10 are unacceptable.
The error in the measurement (E) must be calculated and HRB hardness
readings whose calculated error (E) is greater than 4.0 are unacceptable.

The error in any measurement of a particular quantity is the difference between the
measurement and the true value of this quantity. The error E in the performance
of a Rockwell hardness machine at each hardness level, relative to a standardized
scale, is determined as:


H = average of n hardness measurements H1, H2,, Hn made on a standardized

test block as part of a performance verification, and

HSTD = certified average hardness value of the standardized test block.

H) Requirements safety conditions and / or conditions

to perform the test.
Vibration of the test specimen may affect the results of the Leeb hardness test. It is
recommended that this test be performed with the test piece at rest. The
temperature of the test piece may affect the results of the test. In addition, this
effect may be different for different materials. Testing to this procedure shall be
performed with the temperature of the test piece between 40F (4C) and 100F
(38C). At temperatures outside this range, the user shall develop a temperature
correction for the specific material being tested.

The impact device is clean, and the spherical tip of the impact body is free from all
foreign matter (for example, dust, dirt, grease, scale, etc.). The tip of the impact
body is free from cracks or deformed areas.

The testing machine shall be verified at specific instances and at periodic intervals
as specified in ASTM, and when circumstances occur that may affect the
performance of the testing machine.
Verification Schedule for a Testing Equipment.

Verification procedure Schedule

Direct verification When a testing equipment is new, or when adjustments,
modifications or repairs are made that could affect the
application of the test forces or the measuring system.
When a testing equipment fails an indirect verification.
Indirect verification Recommended every 12 months, or more often if
Shall be no longer than every 18 months.
Daily verification Required each day that hardness tests are made.
Recommended whenever the indenter or test force is

All instruments used to make measurements required shall be calibrated traceable

to national standards when a system of traceability exists, except as noted

There are testing conditions that may require that the indenter contact velocity
exceed the recommended maximum stated. The user should ensure that the
higher contact velocity does not cause a shock or overload which would affect the
hardness result.

This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any,
associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to
establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of
regulatory limitations prior to use.

Standard Test Method for Indentation Hardness of Metallic

Materials by Portable Hardness Testers.

Portable hardness testers shall be used only with applied forces at which the force
measuring device has been calibrated.

Portable hardness testers shall also be checked for error periodically by the
comparison method or by test blocks as described in the standard methods.
Portable hardness testers are generally provided with various means of holding the
indenter in contact with the surface to be tested. The testers may be clamped to
the object to be tested, attached to an adjacent fixed object or attached to the
surface to be tested by a magnet. For testing inside a cavity the tester may be
placed against one wall of the cavity to make a test on the opposite wall.

Keep away from vibrations, strong magnetic fields, corrosive media, dust and
debris, keeping it stored in a place with normal temperature.

After the impact device has been used for 1500 times, use the Nylon brush for
cleaning the guide tube and impact body.

Release the impact body after use.

It is absolutely forbidden to use any type of lubricant inside the device of impact.
Being an instrument of precision must be as careful as possible avoiding
maltreatment to the main unit as the impact device

The bias of a portable hardness testing machine depends on the bias of the test
force, indenter, and the device used to measure the indentation.

In normal tests the maximum load is reached within 15 s and is maintained at less,
for another 15 s for steels and 30 s for more ductile metals. However, the
maximum load is often retained for a period of 30 s for ferrous metals and an
interval of 60 s for other metals.

Standard Test Method for Leeb Hardness Testing of Steel Products

This method allows to measure hardness in any direction. This is because the
firing pin is released by a spring, and the speed is measured before and after the
rebound, which allows software correction of the value of the Speed ratio VR / VI
as a function of the measuring angle.

The thickness and weight of the test piece shall be considered when selecting the
impact device to be employed. The following guidelines are offered as minimum
weights and sizes of test pieces for selecting the proper test equipment.

Impact Device Weight (min) or Thickness (min)

D, DC, D+15, DL, S, E 15 lb (5kg) 1
8 in. (3mm)
G 40 lb (15kg) 3
8 in. (10mm)
C 4 lb (1.5kg) 1
32 in. (1mm)
Test pieces of weights less than the minimum or pieces of any weight with sections
less than the minimum thickness require rigid support and coupling to a thick,
heavier non-yielding surface to resist the impact of the device. Failure to provide
adequate support and coupling will produce test results lower than the true
hardness value.

The test surface shall be carefully prepared to avoid any alterations in hardness
caused by heating during grinding or by work hardening during machining.

Performance of the Leeb hardness test on parts with a residual magnetic field may
affect the results. It is recommended that any residual magnetic field be
less than 4 G.


Although the word "durometer" in the Anglo-Saxon world is only used to refer to the
equipment used to measure Shore hardness, in Latin America it is widely used to
identify all existing hardness test benches.

The first tests of hardness were based on the behavior of the minerals according to
their ability to scratch to a softer one. For this, a scale called Mohs was defined,
whose values go from 1 to 10, where 1 represented talc and 10 to diamond.



Since there are different types of durometers according to the material to be

indented, the following table presents the main methods and their respective


Polymers, Thermally Metals and As an Fragile Same
Elastomers treated alloys as alternative materials; materials
and steels brass to the ceramic as
Rubbers. tempered brinell and thin Rockwell,
and method sheets. Vickers y
annealed measures Brinell but
steels hardness in the leeb
Nitrided all metals device is
iron including portable
castings stainless and is used
steels; for parts
Carbon that cannot
steels; be taken to
Martensitic a test table.
steels and

The portable durometer operates based on the principle of hardness leeb, which
consists of using a body of impact and weight determined against the test surface,
then by means of an integrated permanent magnet measures the impact speed
and rebound respectively of the body Of impact, when the sphere is located one
millimeter above the test surface.

As an example you can find this type of characteristics in the equipment:

Precision: + / - 0.5% (referred to L = 800, repeat precision: +/- 4L units) L = Leeb

Measuring range: 200-960 HL
Materials: stainless steel and cast iron, tool steel alloy, stainless steel, gray cast
iron, spheroidal iron, cast aluminum, brass, bronze alloy, forged copper.
Battery type: AA alkaline (4)
Operating temperature: -15 to 40 C (5 to 104 F)
Dimensions: 150 x 74 x 32 mm
Weight: 245 grams
Automatic conversion to: Brinell, Rockwell B and C, Vicker and Shore
Automatic average value, as well as minimum and maximum values.

On the screen of the portable durometer we must identify the following points.

Material: The selected material

Impact direction: Selected impact direction
Hardness scale: Hardness scale of the current measured values.
Battery information: Displays the battery operating capacity
Measured value: The current value of a single measurement (without the average
icon), or the measurement value (with the average application icon) is displayed on
the screen. "-HI-" means that it is above the conversion value or measurement
range. "-LO-" means that it is under the conversion value or measurement range.
Number of Impacts: Times the test material has been impacted.
Average icon: This will appear to show the average value of the measurements
after reaching the predetermined impacts.
Memory Icon: This will appear when memory options are being used.

The instrument and the impact device must be calibrated using a standard block
before first use or when it has not been used for some time or when the instrument
system has been restored.

Measurement parameters, including material type, hardness scale and impact

direction cannot be changed during calibration.

J) Advantages and disadvantages of different methods

of hardness measurement
Portable hardness testers can be used to:

Hardness testing of large and heavy objects.

Production line of mass produced components.
Identification of materials in stores and stores.
In places with difficult access, or in confined spaces.


Rapid test Cycle. The support and / or adjustment of the
sample is critical for the result. (Choose
a portable method)
Result of instantaneous hardness. Not applicable for samples having
surface hardening layers. (Choose the
vickers method)
Possibility of Automation The range of loads is from 147.1 N to
1471 N (Smelters or metal-mechanics
require test loads less than or equal to
10 N and greater than 30000 N,
whereby gray castings and sheets less
than 0.15 mm thick are exempt from
No optical device is required to measure Due to the wide variety of scales,
the indentation (economic benefit) untreated steels are measured with
hybrid durometers (Rockwell benches
with penetrators and Brinell scales).

Less sensitivity to shed erroneous

hardness numbers due to non-fully
prepared sample surfaces
ROCKWELL Influence of the negligible operator on the


Maneuverability. Versatility
Ability to perform tests in difficult to It has a range in the scale of the different
reach places. types of hardness.
Ease of transport from one place to
Accuracy in measurement.
It does not have parts subject to
friction (low maintenance).
It allows you to obtain hardness
numbers immediately.


There is almost no limit to the hardness High time to get a high quality surface
scales. finish of the sample (Choose Roswell).

Possibility of testing thin metal sheets, The indentation is not very readable in
small samples, thin wall tubes, materials some materials because of the irregular
with special layers treated, galvanic layers. distribution of the load.

Small Indentation Measuring the length of the diagonal
can result in an erroneous result. (Try
upgrading to an automated
measurement system)
There is no change in hardness values The result of the measurement can be
regardless of the load being used. influenced by the quality of the surface
of the sample. (Choose Rockwell)
There is no change in hardness values The influence of the operator can affect
regardless of whether the sample moves the measurement of hardness. (Try
in the direction of the applied load. using an automated measurement
system with integrated software)


Test suitable for non- The limit hardness capacity is
homogeneous materials. 650 HBW. (Choose Vickers)
Suitable for testing large samples Not applicable for testing small
that are not finished superficially, and thin samples. (Choose
such as forged, cast, pressed, Vickers)
hot rolled and heat treated
The penetrator is simple and It takes a lot of time to prepare
Brinell robust, allowing the use of highthe surface of the sample and
loads. measure the indentation.
(Choose Rockwell)
The indentation can be measured Great relative damage in the
with the help of a simple samples due to indentation.
microscope. (Choose Vickers)
The brinell number obtained can The indentation is measured
be multiplied by a specific optically with the human eye,
coefficient of each material to which can throw an erroneous
determine the tensile stress of interpretation. (Try to adopt a
the same. computer-aided image evaluation