Strength / Mechanics of Materials Table of Content
Hardness is the property of a material that enables it to resist plastic deformation, penetration, indentation, and scratching. Therefore, hardness is important from an engineering standpoint because resistance to wear by either friction or erosion by steam, oil, and water generally increases with hardness.
Hardness tests serve an important need in industry even though they do not measure a unique quality that can be termed hardness. The tests are empirical, based on experiments and observation, rather than fundamental theory. Its chief value is as an inspection device, able to detect certain differences in material when they arise even though these differences may be undefinable. For example, two lots of material that have the same hardness may or may not be alike, but if their hardness is different, the materials certainly are not alike.
Several methods have been developed for hardness testing. Those most often used are Brinell, Rockwell, Vickers, Tukon, Sclerscope, and the files test. The first four are based on indentation tests and the fifth on the rebound height of a diamond-tipped metallic hammer. The file test establishes the characteristics of how well a file takes a bite on the material.
As a result of many tests, comparisons have been prepared using formulas, tables, and graphs that show the relationships between the results of various hardness tests of specific alloys. There is, however, no exact mathematical relation between any two of the methods. For this reason, the result of one type of hardness test converted to readings of another type should carry the notation " converted from " (for example "352 Brinell converted from Rockwell C-38").
Another convenient conversion is that of Brinell hardness to ultimate tensile strength. For quenched and tempered steel, the tensile strength (psi) is about 500 times the Brinell hardness number (provided the strength is not over 200,000 psi).
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