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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.

This article describes the principal methods for macroindentation hardness testing by the Brinell, Vickers, and Rockwell methods. For each method, the test types and indenters, scale limitations, testing machines, calibration, indenter selection and geometry, load selection and impression size, testing methodology, and testing of specific materials are also discussed.

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