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Hardness Testing

Hardness Testing



Simply stated, hardness is the resistance of a material to permanent indentation. It is important to recognize that hardness is an empirical test and therefore hardness is not a material property. This is because there are several different hardness Hardness-testing SNIStests that will each determine a different hardness value for the same piece of material. Therefore, hardness is test method dependent and every test result has to have a label identifying the test method used.


Hardness is, however, used extensively to characterize materials and to determine if they are suitable for their intended use. All of the hardness tests described in this section involve the use of a specifically shaped indenter, significantly harder than the test sample, that is pressed into the surface of the sample using a specific force. Either the depth or size of the indent is measured to determine a hardness value.

Hardness Scales

There are five major hardness scales:

  • Brinell - HB
  • Knoop - HK
  • Rockwell - HR
  • Shore - HS
  • Vickers - HV
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