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Essentials of Microhardness Testing – Vickers and Knoop Hardness Tests Hardness test procedures make use of an indenter probe that is displaced into a surface under a particular load. The indentation generally has a set dwell time. Traditional mechanical testing calls for the measurement of size and depth as a way to determine hardness. Macrohardness and microhardness are the two ranges of hardness testing. Macrohardness involves testing with over 1 kg or some 10 Newton (N) in applied load. With applied loads less than 10 N, microhardness testing is usually used for thin specimens, plated surfaces, thin films or smaller samples. Vickers and Knoop hardness tests are the two most common microhardness techniques used today. For more exact and repeatable results, microhardness testing has to be responsible for the effects of sample preparation, size and environment. Samples should fit in the sample stage and lay perpendicular to the tip of the indenter. A very rough surface may decrease the accuracy of indentation data; an established method for polishing samples is best to use. The microhardness tester must be in complete isolation from vibrations. Samples having many phases or variations in grain sizes require statistical data. Vickers Hardness
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The Vickers hardness test makes use of a Vickers indenter that is pressed against a surface to a pre-determined force maintained usually for 10 seconds. As soon as the indentation is done, the indent will be checked optically to measure the lengths of the diagonals, which is key to determining the impression’s size.
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A certain degree of operator bias should be in this method, particularly in the applied force’s lower range. Based on ASTM E384-11, indentation diagonals have to be above 17 microns in length. For coated samples with coating thicknesses less than 60 microns, this test does not apply. For several kinds of samples, the contact depth is different from the displacement depth since the surrounding material becomes elastically deflected during the indentation process. In addition, this effect also has an impact on accuracy and precision for microhardness data. Knoop Hardness Like the Vickers hardness test, the Knoop hardness test is also a microhardness technique. The process involves a Knoop indenter pressing into a surface for measuring hardness. However, with its more rectangular or elongated form, the Knoop indenter looks different from a Vickers indenter for microhardness testing or a Berkovich indenter, which is used for nanoindentation. The Knoop hardness test method, which demands a painstaking sample preparation process, is normally used on lighter loads for microhardness testing. Knoop hardness testing is done on samples requiring indentations to be close together, or on the tip of a sample, both being benefitted by the different probe shape. A particular load is applied for a pre-defined dwell time. As opposed to the Vickers hardness method, the Knoop test method only utilizes the long axis. Using a chart, the indentation measurements that come out of this are then converted to a Knoop hardness number.