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Hardness testing is perhaps the simplest and the least expensive method of mechanically characterizing a material. This article provides an overview of the principles of hardness testing. It compares Brinell with Meyer hardness testing and hardness testing of fully cold worked metals with fully annealed metals. The article discusses the plastic deformation of ideal plastic metals under an indenter, by a flat punch, and by spherical indenters. The classification of the hardness tests using various criteria, including type of measurement, magnitude of indentation load, and nature of the test, is also provided.

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