Testimonials: B Mason

B Mason choose Indentec for Automatic Hardness Testing and Metallographic Analysis

Photo montage of the B Mason building, products and processes Photo montage of the B Mason building, products and processes

"The Indentec ZHVμ-A automatic Micro hardness tester is a robust unit that is proving easy to use and provides accurate hardness measurements"

The Customer

B Mason are a leading supplier of rolled copper and copper alloy strip, combining state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment and practices with 160 years of heritage. The company has progressed from a small family run business at its inception in 1852 to become the UK's largest and most up-to-date manufacturer of precision strip. Attention to quality means the ability to supply to the most demanding of markets throughout the world. Quality control systems are accredited to ISO9001 to ensure that the focus remains on producing a product that conforms to international and customer specifications and standards. The recent development of new high performance alloys has enhanced the product range for the automotive and electronics sectors.

Materials testing is a crucial part of the Quality Control system and B Mason have a well-equipped testing laboratory with a range of testing equipment including hardness testing and metallographic analysis. Testing machines are chosen for both metrological excellence and functional efficiency, and annually calibrated to UKAS accredited standards.

The Challenge

Material hardness is an essential property for products performing in automotive and electronic market environments. The Quality Management team at B Mason was aware that increasing numbers of hardness tests would need to be carried out. In addition metallographic analysis of grain sizing was a manual and time consuming process and extremely dependent on the judgement of the operator.

The time had also come for the traditional manual hardness testing machine to be replaced. The decision was therefore made that an automatic hardness testing machine would be a valuable asset to the Materials Testing Laboratory. In addition automation through software of metallographic analysis the process was considered beneficial both in terms of time saving and the repeatability and reproducibility of the process.

The Solution

ZHVμ-A micro Vickers hardness tester

The specifications of automatic hardness testers from leading manufacturers were investigated and the Indentec ZHVμ-A automatic Micro hardness tester was selected with HD software and VisionLite software for automatic grain sizing. ZHVμ-A was chosen for a number of reasons, the functionality of the equipment including the facility to automatically make and measure Vickers indentations and analyse grain size to a routine based on ASTM E112. Also of importance was local technical back-up and the excellent reputation of, and experience with, other Zwick Roell test equipment. B Mason were impressed with both the metrological standards of Indentec product and the ease of use of the system and ZHVμ.HD and VisionLite software. The combination maximises the value of the hardness tester optics and provide the most cost effective automatic grain size evaluation.

The Result

VisionLite Screengrab

Since the instrument was purchased it has carried out hundreds of Vickers hardness tests mostly in automatic mode freeing laboratory staff to do other vital tasks. The reliability of the system means that staff can "click RUN and walk away", and the planning of even long test runs has been found to be quick and easy. The grain sizing software provides quick and reliable test results, with high repeatability and reproducibility.

"The ZHVμ-A has been a cost effective solution for both hardness testing and metallographic analysis," says Steve Poultney, B Mason's Laboratory & Process Manager. "The service and support from Zwick has been excellent."