The Vicker hardness test method consists of indenting the test material with a diamond indenter, in the form of a right pyramid with a square base and an angle of 136 degrees between opposite faces subjected to a load of 1 to 100 kgf. The full load is normally applied for 10 to 15 seconds. The two diagonals of the indentation left in the surface of the material after removal of the load are measured using a microscope and their average calculated. The area of the sloping surface of the indentation is calculated. The Vicker hardness test is the quotient obtained by dividing the kgf load by the square mm area of indentation.
F= Load in kgf
d = Arithmetic mean of the two diagonals, d1 and d2
HV = Vickers hardness
When the mean diagonal of the indentation has been determined the Vickers hardness may be calculated from the formula, but is more convenient to use conversion tables. The Vicker hardness should be reported like 800 HV/10, which means a Vickers hardness of 800, was obtained using a 10 kgf force. Several different loading settings give practically identical hardness numbers on uniform material, which is much better than the arbitrary changing of scale with the other hardness testing methods.
The advantages of the Vicker 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. Although thoroughly adaptable and very precise for testing the softest and hardest of materials, under varying loads, the Vickers machine is a floor standing unit that is more expensive than the Brinell or Rockwell machines.
There is now a trend towards reporting Vickers hardness in SI units (MPa or GPa) particularly in academic papers. Unfortunately, this can cause confusion. Vicker hardness (e.g. HV/30) value should normally be expressed as a number only (without the units kgf/mm2). Rigorous application of SI is a problem. Most Vickers hardness testing machines use forces of 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, 50 and 100 kgf and tables for calculating HV. SI would involve reporting force in newtons (compare 700 HV/30 to HV/294 N = 6.87 GPa) which is practically meaningless and messy to engineers and technicians.
Vicker hardness test
To convert a Vickers hardness number the force applied needs converting from kgf to newtons and the area needs converting form mm2 to m2 to give results in pascals using the formula above.
To convert HV to MPa multiply by 9.807
To convert HV to GPa multiply by 0.009807
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