Hardness Testing – What Is It For?

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Consistency and reliability are very important qualities that businesses engaged in the manufacturing of goods and components should possess. This is because these qualities help in minimizing downtime in the manufacturing floor and in ensuring that all products adhere to established quality and safety standards.

In order for your manufacturing processes to have consistency and reliability, they need to be checked every now and then. And one of the ways to confirm that your resulting products are uniform in quality and performance is through hardness testing. What is hardness testing and why is it important for your business? Let’s take a closer look to find out.

The Basics of Hardness Testing

Hardness testing can be summed up as a test to see how hard a material is. Some materials are harder than others despite being similar in appearance or component. For example, some types of steel are harder than others. Hardness can be tested using a variety of methods, but all of them involve either scratching the material, creating an indentation on its surface, or bouncing a diamond-tipped hammer on it.

The three main types of hardness testing determine different aspects of a material’s hardness. Scratching measures the material’s ability to resist fracture or frictional damage, while making indentations can measure its ability to resist compression. On the other hand, bouncing (rebound) measures its elasticity. Some of these tests can be done using handheld tools, but others may require specialized precision machinery that uses powerful motors and highly accurate ball screw actuators, especially when testing larger products or if a huge number of specimens have to be tested.

Hardness Testing and Your Business

Hardness testing plays an important role in many aspects of operating a business in the manufacturing industry. Here are a few key reasons why hardness testing is performed – and in many cases – required.

  1. Ensure product quality – Some products must meet certain durability standards in order to be fit for usage. Hardness testing is usually done on products that are mostly made of metal such as panels, casings, or protective caps, although other products made of materials such as carbon fiber and plastics may also require hardness testing. Examples of the latter include motorcycle helmets or components used in constructing boat hulls.
  2. Better product consistency – Hardness testing can be used not just to check if a product passes quality standards, but also if each batch performs consistently similar compared to others. If a product goes above or below a defined hardness threshold during quality assurance, the batch may be scrapped to make sure the resulting products meet the customers’ expectations.
  3. Manufacturing Equipment Safety – In the manufacturing industry, the hardware used for production has to be consistent and reliable, often even more so than the products themselves. Metal components such as support beams or robotic equipment used for heavy-duty purposes during the production process must be tough enough to minimize the effects of wear and tear, as well as to and minimize downtime related to equipment failure and the resulting product maintenance required. Hardness testing of production machinery components helps in this regard.
  4. Cost-cutting – This testing methodology also helps cuts your business’ overhead by reducing unnecessary expenses, like those due to the production of repeat batches or the increased operating hours resulting from the rectification of failed product batches.
  5. Compliance with regulations – Safety regulations require some products to meet durability standards in order to be considered fit for use. This is especially true for products that are designed to withstand impact (helmets, roofing, siding) or to have high enough tensile strength (support beams or rods). Hardness testing is essential to determining whether a product is tough enough to be safely used for their intended purpose and if it complies with safety standards.

There’s no denying that hardness testing is important to many businesses in the manufacturing industry. Playing a crucial role in so many aspects of the production process, hardness testing is a reliable way to ensure consistency and reliability for the sake of the company and its customers.

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