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Instrumented indentation test to ISO 14577

The instrumented indentation test method is used for the determination of hardness and other material parameters. The result of the test is the continuous load/indentation depth curve during the complete test cycle. By analyzing this curve at several points, comprehensive mechanical materials properties can be determined within the scope of a single test. This method covers all hardness grades from thermoplastic films to very hard metals, enabling improved comparability of material behavior. 

Material properties

The force-indentation depth curve and different sequences of the loading process allow more comprehensive description of mechanical material properties, including:

  • Plastic and elastic portions of the indentation energy
  • Martens hardness HM
  • Volume hardness HMs
  • Indentation hardness HiT
  • Elastic indentation module EiT
  • Creep behavior
  • Creep relaxation behavior

Advantages of the instrumented indentation test

  • Can be used for all materials.
  • Capable of automation.
  • Use in production checks.
  • Determination of hardness value from elastic and plastic deformation.
  • Hardness value independent of test load for indentation depths ≥ 10 μm.
  • Additional information on the material provided by force/indentation depth curve.
  • Additional characteristics relating to mechanical material behavior can be determined (material relaxation/creep, elastic and plastic portions of the indentation energy, plastic hardness, elastic indentation modulus).

Disadvantages of the instrumented indentation test

  • Decreasing the degree of indentation places increased demands on the quality of the specimen surface (indentation depth ≥ 20 · mean surface roughness).
  • Susceptible to vibrations, particularly in indentation range h< 15 µm.
  • Possibility of error due to elastic and permanent displacement of specimen and of components in the force flow during test cycle.
  • Sensitivity of method to deviations in indenter shape, particularly in area of tip.

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