Vickers Hardness Testing

Vickers Hardness Testing
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 using one of over 12 different test methods. Learn more about hardness testing basics here
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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. The Microhardness test procedure, ASTM E-384, specifies a range of light loads 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, but test samples must be highly polished to enable measuring the size of the impressions. A square base pyramid shaped diamond is used for testing in the Vickers scale. Typically loads are very light, ranging from 10gm to 1kgf, although "Macro" Vickers loads can range up to 30 kg or more.

The Microhardness methods are used to test on metals, ceramics, composites - 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.

Sectioning is usually necessary with a microhardness test in order to provide a small enough specimen that can fit into the tester. Additionally, the sample preparation will need to make the specimen’s surface smooth to permit a regular indentation shape and good measurement, and to ensure the sample can be held perpendicular to the indenter.

Often the prepared samples are mounted in a plastic medium to facilitate the preparation and testing. The indentations should be as large as possible to maximize the measurement resolution. (Error is magnified as indentation sizes decrease) The test procedure is subject to problems of operator influence on the test results. 


For more information, see our guide Selecting a Newage Microhardness Tester or contact us.

Vickers Application
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Opposing indenter faces are set at a 136 degree angle from one another.