How do you compare metal hardness?


Quick Answer

Compare the hardness of certain metals using one of several tests, including the Mohs scale, the Brinell scale and the Vickers scale. The Vickers and Brinell methods test metals by seeing how well they resist buckling or deformation when a load is placed on them. The Mohs test evaluates the hardness of a material by observing whether it can be scratched by another material.

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Full Answer

The hardness of a metal also depends on whether or not it has been tempered or alloyed with another metal. Gold that is used for jewelry is almost always alloyed with another metal such as copper or nickel because it is too soft for everyday wear. Gold is only 2.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, 188-216 megapascals on the Vickers scale, and 188-245 megapascals on the Brinell hardness scale. Cast gold is 189 megapascals on the Brinell hardness scale.

Metals that are even softer than gold include lithium, sodium, potassium and tin. Silver is as soft as gold on the Mohs scale, but a bit harder on the Brinell and Vickers scale, while aluminum is slightly harder than gold on the Mohs scale but considerably softer on the Vickers and Brinell scales, until it is annealed.

On the other end of the scale, hard metals include tungsten, vanadium, rhenium and osmium.

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