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Microhardness Testing Essentials – Vickers and Knoop Hardness Tests Hardness test systems use an indenter probe which is displaced into a surface under a precise load. The indentation generally has a set dwell time. The depth or size of indentation is measured to establish hardness in traditional mechanical testing, Hardness testing comes in two ranges: macrohardness and microhardness. Macrohardness covers testing that involves an applied load of more than 1 kg or roughly 10 Newton (N). Microhardness testing with below 10N applied loads is generally used for tiny samples, thin specimens, thin films or plated surfaces. The two most popular microhardness testing techniques used nowadays are Vickers and Knoop hardness tests. For more accuracy and duplicability of results, microhardness testing must account for the effects of preparation, environment and sample. Samples should be perpendicular to the indenter tip and fit in the sample stage. A really rough surface could reduce indentation data’s accuracy; a tested method for polishing samples is the safest. It is important that the microhardness tester be isolated from vibrations. For samples having several phases or grain size variations, statistical data will be required. Vickers Hardness
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The Vickers hardness test utilizes a Vickers indenter that is pushed into a surface at a particular force sustained for around 10 seconds. Once the indentation is completed, the resulting indent is examined optically to determine the lengths of the diagonals, which is important in determining the size of the impression.
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A certain degree of operator bias should be in this method, particularly in the applied force’s lower range. The length of indentation diagonals, as per ASTM E384-11, must be more than 17 microns in length. This test is not valid for coated samples with coating thicknesses below 60 microns. For various kinds of samples, the contact depth is not the same as the displacement depth because of the surrounding material that gets elastically deflected during indentation. Besides the above, microhardness data accuracy and precision will also be influenced by this effect. Knoop Hardness Another microhardness technique is known as the Knoop hardness test, which is similar to the Vickers hardness test. The procedure involves a Knoop indenter pushing into a surface in order to measure hardness. However, the more rectangular or elongated shape of the Knoop indenter makes it look different from a Vickers indenter, which is used in microhardness testing, or a Berkovich indenter, which is used in 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 used on samples that need indentations to be close together or on the sample’s edge, with both benefitting from the unique probe shape. A particular load is applied for a pre-defined dwell time. Unlike the Vickers hardness method, the Knoop test method solely uses the long axis. The indentation measurements that result from this are then converted to a Knoop hardness number with the use of a chart.