Materials Testing

Abrasion test

The CSM Instruments Calowear test is used to determine coating thickness and abrasive wear resistance of coated and uncoated samples via a ball cratering technique. There, a steel ball rotates under defined conditions (load, rotation speed) against the sample surface. Adding an abrasive slurry (diamond paste, silicon carbide or aluminum oxide powder), a ball crater is created. The diameter of this crater is determined by an optical microscrope and from its increase with raising grinding duration the abrasive wear coefficient is calculated.


Technical data:

  • Rotation speed: 10 bis 1000 U/min (continuously adjustable)
  • Steel ball diameter (100Cr6): 20, 25,4, 30 mm
  • Maximum sample size: 50 x 50 mm
  • Maximum load: 1 N


Nanoindentation is a non-destructive method that can be used to determine the hardness and elastic modulus of small volumes of material such as thin films and also bulk specimens. In nanoindentation, the depth of penetration of a diamond indenter tip or a spherical indenter is measured along with the prescribed load. The resulting load-displacement response typically shows an elastic-plastic loading followed by an elastic unloading. After careful calibration, hardness and elastic modulus of the specimen material can be calculated from the loading/unloading curves. The nanoindenter UMIS (“Indira”) is equipped with the indentation system, an optical and atomic force microscope and the data acquisition and control system. For acoustic and thermal insulation, the nanoindenter system is placed in an enclosure and positioned on a vibration damping table.


Technical data:

  • Indenter: Berkovich, Vickers, spherical indenters
  • Optical and atomic force microscope
  • Depth range: 2 µm and 20 µm selectable
  • Depth resolution: 0,003 nm (0,05nm noise floor*)
  • Load range: 50 mN & 500 mN
  • Minimum load: 2 µN*
  • Load resolution: 0,05 µN (0,3µN noise floor*)
  • Positioning stages: 0,1 µm step size
  • Load frame compliance: 0,2 nm/mN

*Depends upon laboratory environment

Nanoindenter Hysitron

The mechanical properties of composite and multilayered materials can vary significantly within the micro- and nanometer scale. Thus, quantification of hardness and Young’s modulus with a high depth and lateral resolution is of major scientific and industrial relevance. In addition, modern nanoindentation devices allow to perform micro mechanical experiments on microscopic bending beams, making it possible to quantify the fracture stress and fracture toughness even for thin coatings. With the Hysitron TI 950 nanoindenter (“Herta”) it is furthermore possible to conduct hardness and Young’s modulus mappings. A fully automated indentation system, several transducers for different types of experiments and a light microscope allow sophisticated nanoindentation measurements. In addition, the surface can be scanned using the implemented tip to retrieve information on the surface morphology.


Technical data:

  • Indenter: Berkovich, sphero-conical, flat-punch, cube corner
  • Methodology: hardness and Young’s modulus mappings, micro-mechanical experiments, dynamic nanoindentation (CMX, CSM)
  • Light microscope and scanning probe microscopy
  • Load range: maximum 10 mN
  • Load resolution: 30 nN
  • Depth range: maximum 5 μm
  • Depth resolution: 0.2 nm
  • Positioning: 10 nm

Rockwell Hardness Tester

The Rockwell hardness tester Mitotuyo Durotwin can be used for Rockwell hardness testing and for evaluation of the adhesion of thin hard coatings according to VDI guideline 3198. For the latter, a Rockwell-C diamond indenter is pressed into a coated sample with sufficient substrate hardness applying a load of 1.47 kN. The coating delamination around the indent is evaluated according to the six defined VDI adhesion ranges.


Technical data:

  • Rockwell-C hardness test (Scales A, B, C, D, F, G)
  • Coatings adhesion evaluation according toVDI guideline 3198
  • Normal load up to 1,47 kN
  • Resolution: 0,5 HR


The two CSM Instruments high-temperature tribometers of type ball-on-disk and pin-on-disk allow tribological investigations at temperatures between room temperature and 1000°C. Sliding contacts of materials in different atmospheres under dry and lubricated conditions can be studied. The coefficient of friction is measured during the test and plotted versus the sliding distance. Using a white light profilometer, the area of the wear track can be measured and wear rates can be calculated.


Technical data:

  • Test geometry: ball-on-disc, pin-on-disc
  • Disc size: diameter 30 - 55 mm, thickness 10 mm
  • Ball: diameter 6 mm, Al2O3, various steels, aluminium
  • Pin: diameter 6 mm
  • Maximum load: 10 N 
  • Maximum speed: 500 U/min 
  • Temperature: 25 - 1000°C