Vickers Hardness Test
It is the standard method for measuring the hardness of metals, particularly those with extremely hard surfaces: the surface is subjected to a standard pressure for a standard length of time by means of a pyramid-shaped diamond. The diagonal of the resulting indention is measured under a microscope and the Vickers Hardness value read from a conversion table.
Vickers hardness is a measure of the hardness of a material, calculated from the size of an impression produced under load by a pyramid-shaped diamond indenter.
The indenter employed in the Vickers test is a square-based pyramid whose opposite sides meet at the apex at an angle of 136º. The diamond is pressed into the surface of the material at loads ranging up to approximately 120 kilograms-force, and the size of the impression (usually no more than 0.5 mm) is measured with the aid of a calibrated microscope. The Vickers number (HV) is calculated using the following formula:
HV = 1.854(F/D2),
with F being the applied load (measured in kilograms-force) and D2 the area of the indentation (measured in square millimeters). The applied load is usually specified when HV is cited.
The Vickers test is reliable for measuring the hardness of metals, and also used on ceramic materials. The Vickers testing method is similar to the Brinell test. Rather than using the Brinell's steel ball type indenter, and have to calculate the hemispherical area of impression, the Vickers machine uses a penetrator that is square in shape, but tipped on one corner so it has the appearance of a playing card "diamond". The Vickers indenter is a 136 degrees square-based diamond cone, the diamond material of the indenter has an advantage over other indenters because it does not deform over time and use. The impression left by the Vickers penetrator is a dark square on a light background. The Vickers impression is more easily "read" for area size than the circular impression of the Brinell method. Like the Brinell test, the Vickers number is determined by dividing the load by the surface area of the indentation (H = P/A). The load varies from 1 to 120 kilograms. To perform the Vickers test, the specimen is placed on an anvil that has a screw threaded base. The anvil is turned raising it by the screw threads until it is close to the point of the indenter. With start lever activated, the load is slowly applied to the indenter. The load is released and the anvil with the specimen is lowered. The operation of applying and removing the load is controlled automatically.
Several loadings give practically identical hardness numbers on uniform material, which is much better than the arbitrary changing of scale with the other hardness machines. A filar microscope is swung over the specimen to measure the square indentation to a tolerance of plus or minus 1/1000 of a millimeter. Measurements taken across the diagonals to determine the area, are averaged. The correct Vickers designation is the number followed "HV" (Hardness Vickers). The advantages of the Vickers hardness test are that extremely accurate readings can be taken, and just one type of indenter is used for all types of metals and surface treatments.