Microhardness Testing

Microhardness testing is a method of determining a material’s hardness or resistance to penetration when test samples are very small or thin, or when small regions in a composite sample or plating are to be measured. The microhardness test can measure surface to core hardness. Hardness is a characteristic of a material, not a fundamental physical property. It is defined as the resistance to indentation, and it is determined by measuring the permanent depth of the indentation. More simply put, when using a fixed force (load) and a given indenter, the smaller the indentation, the harder the material. Indentation hardness value is obtained by measuring the depth or the area of the indentation.  

The Vickers hardness test method, also referred to as a microhardness test method, is mostly used for small parts, thin sections, or case depth work. The Vickers method is based on an optical measurement system, using a diamond indenter to make an indentation which is measured and converted to a hardness value. It is very useful for testing on a wide type of materials as long as test samples are carefully prepared. A square base pyramid shaped diamond is used for testing in the Vickers scale. Typically loads are very light, ranging from a few grams to one or several kilograms. The Microhardness methods are used to test on metals, ceramics, lithics, glass, or in fact almost any type of material.

Since the test indentation is very small in a Vickers test, it is useful for a variety of applications: testing very thin materials like foils or measuring the surface of a part, small parts or small areas, measuring individual microstructures, or measuring the depth of case hardening by sectioning a part and making a series of indentations to describe a profile of the change in hardness. The Vickers method is more commonly used.

Shimadzu Hsv-20 Microhardness Tester

This instrument is capable of measuring micro-structure constituent components within a sample, not just overall hardness. It is an evaluation system for measuring the material strength of micro regions, such as ceramics, glass, metals, and thin coating layers.

Photo by Marcio Tixiera Bastos

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