What is a Sclerometer?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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A sclerometer is a device which is used to measure the hardness of materials. One advantage to using a sclerometer is that it is standardized and easy to control for precise results which can be replicated easily by another tester. Sclerometers are used in materials science all over the world to evaluate a wide range of materials, and charts of hardness of common materials as measured by such devices are readily available from numerous sources; manufacturers may even print a reference chart in the manual for the device for convenience.

A sclerometer measures hardness with the use of a standardized diamond head which is dragged across the material being tested. Hardness is determined by finding out how much pressure is needed to create a visible scratch. This can be compared to hardness charts, for people interested in seeing how the material they are studying compares to other materials, and it can also be used when people are trying to set standards for materials.

One big advantage to the sclerometer is that it is standardized. The same equipment is used to test all materials, regardless of suspected hardness. This contrasts with another popular hardness test, the Brinell hardness test, in which a ball is pressed into the material to see how much force is needed to make an indentation. With this test, the composition of the ball may be varied, depending on the test material, and this can make it hard to standardize and generalize results.


This device is sometimes known as a Turner-sclerometer, after the professor who developed and introduced it in the late 1800s. Many companies which make scientific equipment, especially if they specialize in equipment for materials testing, make these devices. These devices are especially popular with mineralogists who are interested in testing the materials they work with to learn more about them. They are usually designed to be used in a lab setting.

The device is capable of exerting a very controlled amount of pressure, and of measuring this pressure precisely to return highly accurate results. Like all scientific equipment, the sclerometer benefits from regular maintenance and care. The device should be kept clean and in good working order in order to obtain the most accurate results, and people should be well trained in its operation so that they understand how to use it. Sclerometers may also require periodic recalibration to confirm that pressure is being measured properly.


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