ISO 14577-4:2016 specifies a method for testing coatings which is particularly suitable for testing in the nano/micro range applicable to thin coatings. However, the application of this method of this part of ISO 14577 is not needed if the indentation depth is such a small fraction of the coating thickness that in any possible case a substrate influence can be neglected and the coating can be considered as a bulk material. Limits for such cases are given.
This test method is limited to the examination of single layers when the indentation is carried out normal to the test piece surface, but graded and multilayer coatings can also be measured in cross-section if the thickness of the individual layers or gradations is greater than the spatial resolution of the indentation process.
The test method is not limited to any particular type of material. Metallic and non-metallic coatings are included in the scope of this part of ISO 14577. In this part of ISO 14577, the term coating is used to refer to any solid layer with homogeneous properties different to that of a substrate it is connected to. The method assumes that coating properties are constant with indentation depth. Composite coatings are considered to be homogenous if the structure size is less than the indentation size.
The application of this part of ISO 14577 regarding measurement of indentation hardness is only possible if the indenter is a pyramid or a cone with a radius of tip curvature small enough for plastic deformation to occur within the coating. The hardness of visco-elastic materials or materials exhibiting significant creep will be strongly affected by the time taken to perform the test.