Nanoindentation Hardness Testing: Tiny Dents Produce Huge Material Information

Materials undergo indentation hardness tests to gauge how well they handle stress. The process usually involves pressing a tip made from a hard material (for instance, a diamond) into a material until an indentation forms. Engineers will then use data from the indentation to determine the unknown mechanical properties of the sample.

Traditional indentation tests, however, are suitable for large materials only. Engineers had to devise a test that was appropriate for tiny samples. A nanoindentation hardness test, as it is called, uses small tips and loads to ensure that the indentations are limited to a few square micrometers or nanometers. This makes them ideal for relatively small materials used in various industries.

The Big World of Nanoindentation

Nanoindentation hardness tests use an indenter (the material pressed into the sample) with high precision specifications. Engineers use its shape to determine the area and depth of the indent.

The indenter is pressed into the sample up to a specific load. During this process, the load and displacement are recorded, which are then summarized in a load-displacement curve. This is one of the first steps in determining a sample’s mechanical properties.

Tiny Dents, Huge Information

Though tiny, the indentations from nanoindentation produce a large amount of valuable information.  A material’s characteristics are used to determine if it is right for manufacturing products or doing specific jobs.

Data gleaned from the nanoindentation process could include:

  • Young’s Modulus – This is a measure of the stiffness of the sample. This provides insight into the relationship between the strain and stress of a material. It also shows how easily the sample stretches and deforms. Young’s modulus is useful in determining how a material would react to the forces from the system it would belong to. Engineers use this to perfect the components for buildings, bridges, cars, and medical implants.


  • Creep – This is the tendency of a material to deform permanently without breaking when subjected to high levels of stress. This is a time-dependent property, meaning, it considers how a material will change over a specific period. This is more pronounced when high temperatures are involved. Through nanoindentation hardness tests, scientists and engineers can consider the expected deformation of a material when they design systems.


  • Tribology – This refers to the movement of a surface relative to another. This is highly important in determining how a material will respond to friction, wear, and lubrication. By utilizing tribology data, engineers can find ways to minimize or maximize friction. After all, some systems, such as rollers and gears, need to minimize resistance so that less energy is lost, while other components, such as brakes and clutches, require maximum resistance. Innovations in tribology could even lead to a more sustainable future.


Reliable Indentation Hardness Testing

To create more durable and efficient systems, scientists, engineers, and manufacturers need the information that they can get from nanoindentation hardness tests. In this endeavor, trust JTL America to deliver.

JTL America is one of the industry’s leading mechanical testing labs. Of the services we offer, we take pride in our nanoindentation hardness testing. We use this technology to precisely test your material and give you the essential data for research and development and quality control.

For more information on our nanoindentation hardness testing, contact us today.

By | 2018-02-28T00:14:53+00:00 February 15th, 2018|News|0 Comments