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Microhardness Testing – The Difference between Vickers and Knoop Hardness Tests Hardness test techniques utilize an indenter probe displaced into a surface under a defined load. The indentation normally comes with a defined dwell time. The depth or size of indentation is measured to establish hardness in traditional mechanical testing, 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. 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 have to fit in the sample stage and be in a position that is perpendicular to the indenter tip. A particularly rough surface can diminish the accuracy of indentation data; it is best to use a tested and proven procedure for polishing samples. It is important that the microhardness tester be isolated from vibrations. Samples having many phases or variations in grain sizes require statistical data. Vickers Hardness
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In the Vickers hardness test, a Vickers indenter will be pressed against a surface at a pre-defined force held for about 10 seconds. With the indentation complete, the resulting indent will be scrutinized optically to measure the lengths of the diagonals, which will be used for 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. As per ASTM E384-11, the length of indentation diagonals must be greater than 17 microns. For coated samples, this test will not apply for coating thicknesses not reaching 60 microns. For a lot of sample types, the contact depth is not similar to the displacement depth, because surrounding material gets elastically deflected during the process of indentation. Besides the above, microhardness data accuracy and precision will also be influenced by this effect. Knoop Hardness Similar to the Vickers hardness test is the Knoop hardness test, another 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 follows a very meticulous sample preparation process, is generally used on lighter loads set 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. The indentation measurements that result from this are then converted to a Knoop hardness number with the use of a chart.