Brinell Hardness Testers

When quoting a Brinell hardness number (BHN or more commonly HB), the conditions of the test used to obtain the number must be specified. (HB is not related to the "HB" degree of pencil hardness.) The standard format for specifying tests can be seen in the example "HBW 10/3000". "HBW" means that a tungsten carbide (from the chemical symbol for tungsten or from the Swedish/German name for tungsten, "Wolfram") ball indenter was used, as opposed to "HBS", which means a hardened steel ball. The "10" is the ball diameter in millimeters. The "3000" is the force in kilograms force.

The hardness may also be shown as XXX HB YYD2. The XXX is the force to apply (in kgf) on a material of type YY (5 for aluminum alloys, 10 for copper alloys, 30 for steels). Thus a typical steel hardness could be written: 250 HB 30D2. It could be a maximum or a minimum.

Correspondent relations among scale, indenter and test force:
Hardness symbolDiameter of Indenter


F/D2Test force


HBW 10/3000103029420(3000)
HBW 10/1500101514710(1500)
HBW 10/100010109807(1000)
Brinell hardness numbers
Softwood (e.g., pine)1.6 HBS 10/100
Hardwood2.6–7.0 HBS 1.6 10/100
Lead5.0 HB (pure lead; alloyed lead typically can range from 5.0 HB to values in excess of 22.0 HB)
Pure Aluminium15 HB
Copper35 HB
Hardened AW-6060 Aluminium75 HB
Mild steel120 HB
18–8 (304) stainless steel annealed200 HB
Hardox wear plate400-700 HB
Hardened tool steel600–900 HB (HBW 10/3000)
Glass1550 HB
Rhenium diboride4600 HB
Note: Standard test conditions unless otherwise stated
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