Hardness is a characteristic that applies to a range of materials—metals and nonmetals alike— and is defined as the resistance of the material to deformation. Element experts measure hardness according to the requirements of the material and its applications with equipment calibrated to hardness scales.


Services and Standards


Mohs Hardness

Devised in 1812 and based on relative resistance to scratching, this test is now used mainly to identify minerals in the field.

Brinell Hardness

The oldest method still in common use, this instrument employs an indentor ball. Brinell hardness testing is frequently used to measure hardness of castings and forgings.

Rockwell Hardness

Using a ball or cone shaped indentor, Rockwell hardness machines simplify hardness measurement by providing a hardness number visible immediately after removing the load.

Vickers and Knoop Hardness

Vickers microhardness testing measures film coatings or surface hardness of case-hardened parts with a diamond-pyramid-shaped indentor; with Knoop the indentor is rhombic-pyramid-shaped for longer but shallower indentations

Durometer Hardness

Commonly used for soft polymers or elastomers, a durometer tester uses a calibrated spring for a cone-shaped or sphere shaped indentor foot.

Barcol Hardness

This is a penetration test using a sharp steel point under a spring load and is usually used on rigid plastics and resins.

Portable Hardness

Using portable versions of Rockwell testers or impactor vibration instruments, destructive testing of large installations or equipment can be carried out.

Hot hardness testing for metals and coatings
Hot hardness testing is the measurement of material hardness while at elevated temperature. Hot hardness can be valuable for assessing and comparing materials, such as tool steels and wear resistant coatings, which are used in high temperature applications such as valve seats and dies.Because room temperature hardness changes relatively little after high temperature exposure, it cannot be used to assess high-temperature properties. However, hardness-at-temperature changes significantly and reflects high temperature properties and problems such as tempering, abrasive wear, erosion and "hot erosion," stress and creep rupture, aging, sliding wear, softening, creep deformation, and workability issues. It can also cause galling, which is the adhesive wear and transfer of material between metallic surfaces during sheet metal forming and other industrial applications. Galling often occurs with aluminium compounds and is a common cause of tool breakdown. Hot hardness can characterize a material more quickly and inexpensively than hot tensile, prototype, or service testing because multiple temperatures and exposure times can be tested in a single hot hardness test run. This makes hot hardness testing an excellent way to compare multiple materials at elevated temperature. Element in Wixom, Michigan, is one of the very few commercial laboratories with hot hardness testing capabilities. Element conducts hot hardness testing similarly to normal Vickers hardness testing, except that the test is conducted inside a vacuum chamber at an elevated temperature.

Materials and Products

  • stainless steel hardness testing
  • tool steel hardness testing
  • carbon steel hardness testing
  • aluminum hardness testing
  • copper hardness testing
  • titanium hardness testing
  • die steel hardness testing
  • other metal hardness testing
  • die hardness testing
  • valve hardness testing
  • valve stem hardness testing
  • valve seat hardness testing
  • cylinder hardness testing
  • tool hardness testing
  • weld hardness testing
  • many more
ASTM International

ASTM D2240, ASTM D3363, ASTM E 10, ASTM E 18, ASTM E 92, ASTM E 140, ASTM E 384, ASTM E 566, ASTM E 703, ASTM F 837/F837M, ASTM F 879/F879M, ASTM F 912/F912M


EN 1043-1, EN 1043-2, EN 10003-1, EN 10109-1, EN ISO 6506, EN ISO 6508

General Motors North America

GM9053P, GM9507P

International Organization for Standardization

ISO 3738-1, ISO 4507, ISO 4516, ISO 6507-1, ISO 6507-2, ISO 6508

Aerospace Industries Association

NASM 1312- 6

Nederlands Normalisatie Instituut

NEN-EN 1043-2, NEN-EN-ISO 6506-1, NEN-EN-ISO 6507-1, NEN-EN-ISO 6508-1

SAE International

SAE J 417, SAE J 439A, SAE J1189

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