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Indentation plastometry is now emerging as a potentially valuable addition to the range of testing techniques in widespread use. In many ways, it incorporates an amalgamation of the convenience and ease of usage offered by hardness testing with the more rigorous and meaningful outcomes expected of tensile testing. The indentation procedure itself is very similar to that of hardness testing, except that the loads required are higher than those used in most types of hardness test. The major difference is that the experimental data extracted are much more comprehensive, either in the form of a load–displacement plot or as a residual indent profile (with the latter offering several advantages). However, these experimental data only become useful if they can be processed so as to obtain a (true) stress–strain relationship, which can in turn be used to predict the (nominal) stress–strain curve of a conventional tensile test, including the strength (UTS) and the post-necking and rupture characteristics. This can only be done in a reliable way via iterative FEM simulation of the indentation process, but commercial packages in which this capability is integrated with a test facility are now becoming available.
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