Brinell Hardness Testing

The Brinell test implies pressing a 1, 2.5, 5 or 10 mm tungsten carbide ball into a sample material and measure the diameter of the impression left. The loads used vary from 1 kgf to 3000 kgf. The Brinell test is normally used for larger samples with a coarse or inhomogeneous grain structure, such as castings and forgings.

Applicable Standards:
-ISO 6506
-JIS Z 2243

Conversion Table


The Brinell test was originally developed in the late 1800's by the Swedish engineer of the same name. He wanted to find a method to control the quality/hardness of steel, and for that purpose used a railway wheel bearing ball to press into the material, subsequently measuring the size of the mark. At that time the standard size of the bearing ball was 10 mm - and in 1900 the Brinell test was officially born...

The Brinell test is used for larger samples with a coarse or inhomogeneous grain structure, such as castings and forgings. The maximum hardness for Brinell is 650 HBW, in order not to deform the indenter.

Surface Preparation

Micro hardness test

  • machined
  • ground
  • lapped
  • polished

Brinell loads table

  • Indentation time: Ten to 15 seconds
  • Sample thickness ASTM: At least ten times the indentation depth
  • Sample thickness ISO: At least eight times the indentation depth
Applicable Standards

Applicable Standards

  • ASTM E10
  • ISO 6506
  • JIS Z 2243

The most common Brinell methods

See the overview of the most common Brinell methods, corresponding materials, and hardness range. Materials mentioned in the table are typical materials only.

The Brinell methods are generally divided into four subgroups (HB30, HB10, HB5, HB2.5), each with the same force/diameter ratio (F/D2), and each suitable for a different group of materials. Measured Brinell hardnesses can only be compared within the individual subgroups.
Brinell Test Method Table


  • HBW 2.5/187.5: Brinell 2.5 mm tungsten carbide ball and 187.5 kgf load.
  • HBW 5/750: Brinell 5.0 mm tungsten carbide ball and 750 kgf load.

HBW = Hardness Brinell Wolfram carbide
Wolfram carbide = tungsten carbide serves to underline that newer Brinell standards call for usage of tungsten carbide balls, as opposed to the (softer) steel balls previously used (HBS). Values will differ at higher hardnesses!

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