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BTR1214 Statics & Strength of Materials Lab (Version 01, 2018)

Semester 2 2017/18

Experiment 01: Hardness Properties of Materials using Rockwell

1. To measure the hardness of metals (steel, aluminium, brass and copper) and polymers
(Polyethylene, Polypropylene and Polyamide) using Rockwell


Hardness is the property of a material that enables it to resist plastic deformation, penetration,
indention and scratching. Therefore, hardness is important from an engineering standpoint
because resistance to wear by either friction or erosion by steam, oil and water generally
increase with hardness.

Hardness tests serve an important need in industry even though they do not measure a unique
quality that can be termed hardness. The tests are empirical, based on experiments and
observation, rather than fundamental theory. Its chief value is as an inspection device, able to
detect certain differences in material when they arise even though these differences may be
indefinable. For example, two lots of material that have same hardness may or may not be
alike, but if their hardness is different, they materials are not alike.

Several methods have been developed for hardness testing. Those most often used are Brinell,
Rockwell, Vickers, Tukon, Sclerscope and the files test. The first four are based on indention
tests and the fifth on the rebound height of a diamond-tipped metallic hammer. The file test
establishes the characteristics of how well a file takes a bite on the material. The 3 main
methods to test the hardness are;.
1. Brinell Test- a hardened ball or diamond point is pressed into the surface of the
material for a given time at a given load
2. Rockwell Test- the test is using a small ball or cone. The resultant test does not
damage the material
3. Vickers Test- a small diamond pyramid is pressed to a flat surface. The indentation
is so small that the test piece is not destroyed.

The Rockwell Hardness test is a hardness measurement based on the increase in depth of
impression as a load is applied. Hardness numbers have no units and are commonly given in
the R, L, M, E and K scales. The higher the number in each of the scales, the harder to the

BTR1214 Statics & Strength of Materials Lab (Version 01, 2018)
Semester 2 2017/18

Figure 1: Rockwell hardness test unit

1. Polymers (Polyethylene, Polypropylene and Polyamide) and Metals (steel, aluminium,
brass and copper)
2. Rockwell Hardness Tester

SAFETY: Required PPE : Safety glass, Lab Coat, Shoes, Gloves

A. Rockwell Test Specimen Preparation

Grind the surface if possible, otherwise smoothen the surface with sand paper and polish the
part to be tested (Metals). Make sure the surface is flat and smooth (Polymers). Clean the
surface carefully to be tested removing any oil, grease or rust (both).

B. Rockwell Hardness
Place the specimen on the surface of the Rockwell Hardness test unit. The surface to be
tested must be parallel to the opposite one. Select a suitable indenter for each specimen. Make
sure that the indenter to be used for the test correctly assembled. Choose suitable Rockwell
hardness scale (HR scale) category for each specimen. Position the specimen to be tested in
such way as to avoid the sleeve coming out more than 50 mm. The distance between
specimen and indenter must be at least 2 or 3 mm. Press start button located at touch screen
and keep it pressed until beginning of the countdown. Wait for the indenter to return to its
BTR1214 Statics & Strength of Materials Lab (Version 01, 2018)
Semester 2 2017/18

initial position. Record the Rockwell Hardness value in Table 1. At the same time, you need
to record the HR scale, indenter, minor and major load used in the experiment. Measure the
hardness values at least at 3 different points of each specimen. Use the average data for
experimental results. Repeat the experiment using the other test piece.

Table 1: Rockwell Hardness Test
Material HR Scale Indenter Hardness Value Average
1 2 3

Report Requirements

1. Report the measured average indentation and corresponding standard deviation for each

2. Compare the Rockwell hardness number that you obtained with hardness numbers reported
for the materials in literature.

3. What is the relationship of the Rockwell number to the size of the indentation and
the hardness of the material? (i.e., If metal A has a higher Rockwell number than metal B,
then what can be assumed about the indentation size and hardness of metal A with respect to
metal B assuming they are on the same scale.)

4. What is the relationship of the Rockwell number to the following (directly proportional
or inversely proportional) and explain your reasoning.
a. Material’s tensile strength?
b. Material’s modulus of elasticity?
c. Material’s ductility?

5. Determine the metals’ tensile strength based on the Rockwell hardness numbers measured.