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1. To determine the hardness of various engineering materials using Rockwell hardness test. 2. To develop an understanding of suitable scale for hardness test specimens.

Hardness is a measure of the resistance of a metal to permanent (plastic) deformation. The hardness of the metal is measured by loading an indenter into its surface. The indenter material which is usually a ball, pyramid, or cone, is made of a material much harder than the material being tested. For most standard hardness tests a known load is applied slowly by pressing the indenter at 90 degrees into the metal surface being tested. After the indentation has been made, the indenter is withdrawn from the surface. An empirical hardness number is then calculated or read off a dial (or digital display), which is based on the cross-sectional area of depth of the indentation. The most common type of tests that widely used and adopted in engineering practices are the Brinell, Vickers and Rockwell methods.
1. Brinell Hardness Test

For Brinell hardness test. The hardness of materials are test by pressing a steel ball or tungsten carbide ball for a time of 10 to 15 seconds into the surface of specimen by a standard load F [kgf]. After that, the diameter of the indentation d [mm] is measured when the load is removed. The Brinell hardness number HB, is obtained by dividing the size of the load applied by the surface area of the spherical indentation A [mm2]. Where h (mm) is the depth of indentation, D (mm) is the diameter of the ball. For soft or very hard materials, the Brinell test cannot be used. This test is limited to materials with hardness up to 450 HB with a hardened steel ball and 600 HB with a tungsten carbide ball.


2. Vickers Hardness Test

In Vickers test, it involves a diamond indenter in the form of a square-based pyramid with an apex angle of 136. The indenter is being pressed under load for 10 to 15 seconds into the surface of the specimen under test. The result is a square-shape indentation. After the load and indenter are removed the diagonals of the indentation d (mm2) are measured. The Vickers hardness number HV is obtained by dividing the size of the load F (kgf), applied by the surface area A (mm), of the indentation. Thus the HV is given by ) ) )

Typically a load of 30 kg is used for steels and cast irons, 10 kg for copper alloy, 5 kg for pure copper and aluminium alloy, 2.5 kg for pure aluminium and 1 kg for lead, tin and tin alloys. Up to a hardness value of about 300 HV, the hardness value number given by the Vickers test is the same as that given by the brinell test.

3. Rockwell Hardness Test

The Rockwell test differs from the Brinell and Vickers tests is not obtaining a value for the hardness in terms of an indentation but using the depth of indentation, this depth being directly indicated by a pointer on a calibrated scale. The indenter of hardened steel ball or diamond cone can be uses in the Rockwell test. The procedure for applying load specimen is illustrated in figure 3. A minor load of 10 kg is applied to press the indenter into contact with the surface. A major (additional) load is then applied and causes the indenter to penetrate into the specimen. The major load is then removed and there is some reduction in the depth of the indenter due to the deformation of the specimen not being entirely plastic. The difference in the final depth of the indenter and the initial depth, before the major load was applied, is determined. This is the permanent increase in penetration e due to the major load. The Rockwell hardness number HR is then given by ) Where E is the arbitrary constant which is dependent on the type of indenter. For the diamond cone indenter E is 100, for the steel ball 130. There are a number of Rockwell scales (Table 1), the scales being determined by the indenter and the major load used. A variation of the Rockwell test has to be used for thin sheet, this test being referred to as the Rockwell Superficial Hardness Test. Similar loads are used and the depth of indentation which is correspondingly smaller is measured with a more sensitive device. The number of Rockwell Superficial scales also is given in Table 1. METHOD Rockwell superficial TOTAL LOAD (kgf) 15 30 45 60 100 150 INDENTER STEELBALL 1/8 15H 30H 45H H E K



1/16 15T 30T 45T F B G

1/4 15X 30X 45X L M P

1/ 2 15Y 30Y 45Y R S V

TABLE 1: Rockwell hardness and Rockwell superficial hardness test scales

Specimens and Equipments

1. Rockwell hardness tester Mitutoyo ATK-600 2. Ball and diamond indenters 3. Calibration block 4. Hardness specimens: steel, brass, aluminium

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. The power switch was turned ON. The total load sequence switch was set to the AUTO position in the side panel. The minor load from selector ring was set to S (Rockwell Superficial) or R (Rockwell). Table 1 was referred for selecting a desired indenter. The indenter was fixed. The specimen was placed on the anvil. The total load value was set by turning the selector knob. The preparation was completed by : Loading navigator Indicator rapidly flashing (from outer to inner) 100 (diamond indenter); 130 (ball indenter)

9. The minor load was applied by raising the anvil by rotating clockwise the elevating handle slowly until the tip of the indenter touches the specimen. 10. During minor load application : Load navigator slowly flashing (from outer to inner)

11. The handle operation was stopped when the hardness indicator displayed as below : Indicator (Rockwell) 620 to 640 (Rockwell Superficial); 360 to 370

12. Minor load application was completed after appropriate minor load is applied. Loading navigator 4 LEDs lights up

13. The START switch was pressed. The measurement process was automatically performed from step 14-17. 14. Presetted: Loading navigator Loading lamp Indicator 15. During total load application: Loading navigator Loading lamp Indicator flashing (from outer to inner) lights up rapid to slow count-down (duration time : 3 to 60seconds) 4 LEDs lights up lights up 100 (diamond indenter); 130 (ball indenter)

16. During total load removal: Loading navigator Loading lamp Indicator 17. Measurement completed: Indicator OK/NG lamps hardness value was displayed OK lights up flashing (from inner to outer) lights up rapid count-up

18. The hardness value was read and recorded from the hardness indicator. 19. The elevating handle was turned in the reversed direction to lower the anvil and the specimen was removed. 20. Step 3 to 19 was repeated for specimens of other methods and specimens. 21. Three reading was taken from each tested specimen and method.

1. Both surface of the specimens was ensure that flat and positioned securely on the anvil. 2. The elevating was rotated gently during elevation of the anvil. Otherwise, the indenter may be destroyed due to the abrupt strike of the indenter tip with the specimen. 3. Overload condition, the minor load application is;


1. Discuss on the results for each tested specimens. For HRD that is Hardness Rockwell use Diamond cone to be indenter with load 100kgf. The results show the depth of the steel is bigger than the brass followed by the indenter and the load. The aluminium is not suitable with the indenter. So the aluminium results became NG. Means that the mechanical property of the steel is good compare with brass according to the indenter. For HR15T that is Hardness Rockwell Superficial 1/16 Steel Ball to be indenter with load 15kgf. The results show the depth of the steel is bigger than the brass and aluminium followed by the intender and the load. All the specimens are suitable with the indenter because all of the specimens got the reading from the test. The mechanical property of the steel also good compare with brass and aluminium according to the indenter. For HRV that is Hardness Rockwell Steel Ball to be indenter with load 150 kgf. The results show only the aluminium got the reading and the steel and brass are NG. It is because the indenter is not suitable with these two specimens; which are steel and brass. The mechanical property of the aluminium is the best according to the intender.

2. Why hardness test needs to perform in engineering practice? They are simple and inexpensive. Ordinarily no special specimen need be prepared, and the testing apparatus is relatively inexpensive. The test is non-destructive. The specimen is neither fractured nor excessively deformed, a small indentation is the only deformation. Other mechanical properties often may be estimated from hardness data, such as tensile strength.

3. How do you compare the hardness values of tested specimens with values from reference sources or manufacturers data? Hardness values of tested specimens and value from reference sources or manufacturers data are different methods and scales cannot be made mathematically exact for a wide range of materials. Different loads, different shape of indenters, mechanical properties of the specimen all complicate the problem. All tables and charts should be considered as giving approximate equivalents, particularly when converting to a method or scale which is not physically possible for the particular test material and thus cannot be verified. An example would be converting HV/10 or HR-15N value on a thin coating to the HRC equivalent.

4. Why are the importances of hardness test in engineering practice? It is a measure of a materials resistance to localized plastic deformation. It is based on natural materials with a scale constructed solely on the ability of one material to scratch another that was softer. The precise and exactness of a hardness test require following strict hardness protocol and adherence to standards.

By using HRD indenter it is shown that steel is the harder than brass and aluminium. Aluminium shows NG because the specimen is too soft for the indenter. For HR15T indenter, the same result is obtained that is steel as the hardest specimen. HRV indenter shows that aluminium as the softest specimen among steel and brass because the result shown for steel and brass is NG, which means the indenter cannot calculate the hardness reading. It is a vital to test most materials before they are accepted for processing, and before they are put in to use to determine whether they meet the specifications required or not. One of these tests is for hardness. Hardness is the most important property. Therefore, we should learn to measure the hardness accurately. Rockwell hardness testing process is most simple and widely used. Therefore, we should learn it perfectly.

1. Cliffe Technical Metallurgy page 150 154 2. Sergal Material, Their Nature, Fabrication and Properties page 143 145, 71 72 3. Rollesan Metallurgy for Engineers page 15 4. ASTM E10-08 Standard Test Method for Rockwell Hardness of Metallic Materials


Ball indenter

Diamond indenter

Rockwell hardness tester Mitutoyo ATK-600

Steel specimen

Aluminium specimen

Brass specimen