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Saxonian Institute of Surface Mechanics

Dimensioning and Design of Experiments


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Do the results of your nanoindentation, scratch or tribology test not match the performance in field tests?

Do your coatings successfully pass all standard or industry tests (e.g. DIN EN ISO 6508-1, DIN EN 1071-3, ASTM C1624, DIN EN ISO 14577, ISO 26443, DIN EN ISO 6507, DIN EN ISO 4516) during quality assurance, but catastrophically fail in field tests or even in use?

Do your indenter tips break away often or wear down quickly (e.g. on hard coatings or diamond coatings)?

We would be pleased to help you designing or dimensioning your experiments!

Two ill-suited experiments: Rockwell hardness test HRC and scratch test according to DIN EN 1071
Why is it important to properly design contact experiments for coated or treated surfaces?
Two examples of ill-suited test methods illustrate: the Rockwell hardness test HRC and the scratch test according to DIN EN 1071 basically measure the substrate only.

Luckily, it is well known nowadays that a standard Rockwell test or a high-load Vickers test do not give any information about thin films. But how should your experiment be designed or your measurement be dimensioned (e.g. normal force, indenter tip, radius, tip rounding, etc.) in order to learn as much as possible about your coatings/surfaces and prevent failures happening during quality assurance or in real-life (e.g. coating failure, adhesion failure, and so forth)?

We can answer this question for any mechanic surface or contact test:

  • instrumented indentation or hardness measurement (e.g. nano indentation, micro indentation, macro indentation, etc.)
  • multi-axial indentation with additional lateral force (also oscillating)
  • multi-load indentation, cyclic or dynamic indentations (CSM, QCSM, ESP or similar methods)
  • impact or drop tests
  • scratch test, adhesion test or scratch resistance test
  • tribology experiments (e.g. pin-on-disc, ball-on-disc, usw.)
  • friction, wear, or fatigue tests (e.g. nano-fretting)
  • each also at high temperatures
Two of Test Optimizer's result pages, showing optimal parameters for adhesion investigation by nanoindentation with Berkovich or Vickers indenter tip and scratch test with spherical stylus.
Two well-designed experiments: This nanoindentation with a Berkovich indenter (left) and this scratch test (right) have been dimensioned specifically for investigation of adhesion of this coating system (1 μm DLC coating on steel substrate) by us and thus, obtain the maximum possible information from the interface.

Unfortunately, many standard or industry tests are not or only ill suited to coatings - particularly thin films or complex coating systems - or they lack physical substance. The following is a short excerpt of examples of such insufficient standards:

  • Rockwell hardness test HRC as per DIN EN ISO 6508-1
  • determination of adhesion by scratch test as per DIN EN 1071-3 or ASTM C1624
  • determination of hardness by instrumented indentation as per DIN EN ISO 14577
  • evaluation of adhesion by Rockwell indentation as per ISO 26443
  • Metallic materials - Vickers hardness test DIN EN ISO 6507
  • Metallic and other inorganic coatings - Vickers and Knoop microhardness tests DIN EN ISO 4516

As a consequence of such norms, measurements performed accordingly do, for instance, not contain sufficient coating information (below noise floor), do not result in determination of physical material properties, or do not physically characterize interfaces. We help you to get around these shortcomings by providing specific key data for each surface measurement. If desired, we can also determine physical material properties (e.g. real elastic modulus or yield strength of the coating) or generic failure parameters (e.g. physical adhesion, tensile strength, etc.) on the basis of such measurement data.

Dimensionsing and designing of experiments in the surface characterization and optimization cycle
Mechanical surface tests (e.g. hardness tests, indentation tests, scratch tests, or tribo tests) on coated or treated surfaces should always be designed specifically for it.

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