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Rockwell Hardness Testing - How Is It Done
The Rockwell Hardness Test - How It's Done

Rockwell Hardness Testing - How Is It Done?

The determination of the Rockwell hardness of a substance consists of first applying a small load succeeded by applying a large load, and after that observing the level of penetration, that is to say finding the hardness number as indicated on a dial.  A harder substance shows a larger number. The primary benefit of Rockwell hardness is definitely its capability to exhibit hardness valuations right away, effectively eliminating the mind-numbing calculations required with various other hardness measurement methods.

The application is usually employed in engineering and metallurgy.

In order to obtain a dependable measurement, the particular thickness of the actual test-piece needs to be a minimum of 10 times the thickness of the resulting indentation. [citation needed] Furthermore, readings need to be obtained via a flat perpendicular area of the test material, due to the fact that rounded surfaces provide lower results. A modification factor needs to be employed when the particular hardness has to be calculated for a rounded surface.[1]


Rockwell Hardness Test

The Rockwell hardness test is the most generally employed commercial hardness test. Its almost universal acceptance is attributable to its speed, virtually error free results, its capability to differentiate smaller hardness variations in hardened steel, as well as the small area of the actual indentation, which means that the finished heat-treated components can almost always be tested without causing any noticeable damage.

This specific test engages the depth of indentation, beneath continuous tension, as a gauge of hardness. A small stress of 10 kg is initially used to seat the component. This lowers the degree of work surface preparation required and also decreases the particular inclination for ridging or perhaps sinking in by the indenter. The primary load is then utilized, and the degree of indentation is effortlessly registered on a regular dial gage that reports the arbitrary hardness result.

The dial consists of a hundred sections, each section symbolizing a penetration of 0.00008 in (0.002 mm). The dial is normally reversed which means that a high hardness, which compares to to a little penetration, returns a high hardness number. This is actually in agreement with the various other hardness numbers defined previously, however in contrast to the Brinell and Vickers hardness classifications (that have units of MPa), the Rockwell hardness numbers are simply arbitrary.

Large loads of 60, 100, and 150 kg are utilized. Considering the fact that the Rockwell hardness is reliant on the load in addition to the indenter, it is definitely essential to identify the combination that is applied. This is accomplished simply by prefixing the hardness number using a letter revealing the specific blend of load and indenter pertaining to the hardness scale employed. A Rockwell hardness number absent the letter prefix is in fact worthless.

Hardened steel is usually subjected to testing on the C scale using the diamond indenter and a 150-kg major load. The practical spectrum for this scale is from about RC 20 to RC 70. Less rigid components are generally tested on the B scale having a 1/16-in-diameter steel ball and a 100-kg major load. The viable range connected with this scale is from RB 0 to RB 100. The A scale (diamond penetrator, 60-kg major load) provides the most extended  Rockwell hardness scale that is appropriate for elements  from annealed brass to cemented carbides. Numerous other scales are offered intended for special applications.

The Rockwell hardness test is an incredibly practical and reproducible one as long as  a handful of easy to understand guidelines are followed. The majority of  the factors listed below pertain every bit as well to the various other hardness tests:

  • The indenter and anvil need to be washed and properly seated.
  • The surface area to be analyzed should preferably be clean and dry, smooth, as well as totally free from oxide. A rough-ground work surface is generally satisfactory for the Rockwell test.
  • The work surface ought to be flat and additionally vertical with respect to the indenter.
  • Tests using round surfaces will definitely produce low readings, with errors based upon  the curvature, load, indenter, and hardness of the substance. Theoretical and scientific modifications with regard to this particular effect currently have been written and published.
  • The thickness of the tested item ought to be such that an impression or bulge is never visible on the opposite side of the piece. It is advisable that the thickness be at the very least 10 times the depth of the indentation. The space between indentations need to be 3 to 5 times the diameter of the indentation.
  • The speed of the application of the load needs to be consistent. This is accomplished by modifying the dashpot on the Rockwell tester. Differences in hardness can easily become significant in extremely soft substances unless the pace of applying the load is carefully controlled.


  1. ^ PMPA’s Designer’s Guide: Heat treatment,, retrieved 2009-06-19 .
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