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11 Best Durometer Testers

Xomety X
By Team Xometry
July 28, 2023
 16 min read
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A typical durometer (or hardness test meter or hardness gauge) is a measuring instrument used to evaluate the hardness or stiffness of a material. While different models and types of durometers may have specific features, there are common features that most share including: a dial or digital display, a spring-loaded indentation probe or pin, a calibration adjustment feature, and an anvil or contact foot. 

Durometers are generally built to measure a range of hardnesses and to deliver measurements according to various standards. They are commercially available to measure properties for materials ranging from very soft silicone rubber gels to hardened and tempered alloy steels and beyond.

Listed below are 13 of the best durometer testers:

1. Mohs Durometer Tester Shore Type A/O/D Rubber Tire Durometer Tester

The durometer tester Shore A/O/D is a specific type of durometer used to measure the hardness of rubber tires. It is designed to measure the hardness of vehicle tires, ranging from race slicks to high-durability truck tires. This durometer is available in three different Shore scales (Shore A, Shore O, and Shore D). These scales are suited to measuring the hardness of all rubbers, though they are widely used on non-elastomer polymers as well. The indentation probe that is pressed against the surface of the rubber tire serves to measure hardness by means of the depth of indentation under the load of the sprung mounting of the indenter. The shape of this for Shore D (and Shore B and Shore M) indenter is a sharp cone point measured at 30° from the diametral axis. The Shore A (and Shore C) indenter is a flat cone with sides sloping up at 35° from the horizontal. The Shore O (and the Shore OO and Shore DO) scale uses a 2.4 mm diameter hemispherical indenter. These devices are designed to be handheld for ease of use, simply pressed up against the sample until a maximum reading is achieved. This durometer can be bought for $30–$40.

2. Portable 0–100HD Shore A/C/D Hardness Digital Hardness Meter Durometer Hardness Tester

A portable 0–100HD Shore A/C/D hardness tester is a specific type of durometer used for measuring the hardness of elastomers, rubbers, and plastics. The durometer is available in three different Shore scales: Shore A, Shore C, and Shore D. Each scale is appropriate for a specific group of mostly polymer materials and hardness ranges. The measurement range is 0 to 100 for each Shore scale, requiring only the change of the indenter and the spring force to use the device on an alternate scale, at the higher end of handheld (and most laboratory-grade) durometers.

The durometer features a digital display that shows the hardness measurement in real-time. The device is designed to be handheld for convenient and portable use. The indentation probe that is pressed against the material's surface to measure its hardness is replaced to measure an alternate scale. These durometers often include a data hold or max reading function, allowing users to retain the displayed hardness value for sharing, further analysis, or recording. The durometer operates on battery power. This is another hardness tester class that is a versatile instrument group, suitable for a wide range of on-site material tests for quality control, and material condition testing. This can be bought for around $30.

3. Gain Express Portable 0–100HD Shore D Hardness Tester Meter Digital Durometer Scale

The Gain Express Portable 0–100HD Shore D Hardness Tester Meter is a specific type of the durometer class. It is an electronic instrument or a mechanical/dial gauge device. It is solely designed for measuring the hardness of materials using the Shore D scale. This durometer is specifically designed for harder materials such as thermosets, thermoplastics, rigid rubbers, and composites. The device measures hardness in a range from 0 to 100 HD. This tool is suitable for quality control, material testing, and hardness assessment in sectors such as plastics manufacturing, engineering, and product development. This can be bought for around $30.

4. Gain Express Compact Pocket Size Digital Shore A Hardness Meter Tester 1–100HA Durometer LCD Display

This durometer is a digital instrument, with an LCD display. It is built to measure the hardness of materials using the Shore A scale. This durometer tester is only suitable for measuring very soft materials ranging from silicone rubber gels (near zero Shore A) to hard eraser hardness (around 100HD Shore A). This tool is also intended for QA and material evaluation in polymer part production, product assessment, and product R&D. The tester can be bought for around $30.

5. AMTAST Barcol Impressor, Portable Indentation Hardness Tester

The AMTAST Barcol Impressor is a portable indentation hardness tester designed for measuring the hardness of materials using the Barcol hardness scale. This scale is primarily used for testing the hardness of mid-hardness metals, polymers, and composites such as: aluminum alloys, rigid plastics, GRP (glass-reinforced polyester), carbon fiber composites, and similar hardness materials.

The hardness tester is equipped with a specialized indentation probe that is pressed against the material's surface to measure its hardness. The Barcol probe is a cone-shaped, hardened steel indenter with an internal tip angle of 26° and a base diameter of 0.157 mm. The device reports hardnesses from 0 to 100 Barcol hardness units. The range covers a broad spectrum of hardness values, allowing for accurate assessments of hard polymers, softer metals, and other materials of similar hardness. It is commonly used in aerospace, automotive, construction, boat building, and manufacturing, for quick and convenient hardness testing.

6. YFYIQI Surface Mold Hardness Tester Meter Tool HC Unit

This is a highly specialized hardness test device that is used for the evaluation of wet sand casting setups for high-pressure casting methods. It helps assess the preparation quality of the cavity and core parts being used for metal casting. This tester utilizes a broad, flattened spherical indenter.

This hardness tester is exclusively marketed for the assessment of sand-casting surfaces. In principle, it is calibrated in g/mm2, but it is more normal to report these hardness tests in units HA, HB, and HC, depending on the calibration range. These measurements are sometimes referred to as the mold hardness number, MHN, on a scale of 1–100 MHN. The instrument is supplied as a digital electronic device. Prices start at $296.

7. VTSYIQI Leeb Hardness Tester Meter 170 to 960 HLD Metals Durometer Tester

The VTSYIQI Leeb hardness tester is another portable device designed for measuring the hardness of metals by the Leeb hardness test. It does not rely on a direct measurement of indentation with a probe. Leeb hardness testing involves striking the material's surface with an impact body and measuring the rebound velocity to calculate the hardness value.

The hardness tester has a measurement range typically from 170 to 960 HLD (Hardness Leeb). It covers a wide spectrum of hardness values for assessing the hardness of various metals with high precision and no risk of surface damage. Though the essential features are closely parallel to the pressure-indenter types, there are divergences due to the alternate surface assessment approach. This hardness tester has a handheld digital LCD display/controller. It uses data from a wired test probe that is offered up to the sample. 

This durometer utilizes an impact body, which bounces off the metal surface. The rebound velocity of the impact body is then measured and interpreted as a hardness value. It includes advanced data storage capabilities, allowing users to save and analyze a sequence of hardness measurements. The kit integrates a calibration function to ensure accurate and reliable measurements. It also has an automatic material identification feature. This durometer is commonly used in industries such as metalworking, manufacturing, construction, shipbuilding, and general quality control, in which the hardness of metals needs to be measured quickly and accurately. This item is priced around $295.

8. AMT212 Portable Built-in Printer Durometer Digital Handheld Leeb Hardness Tester

The AMT212 durometer is another digital handheld Leeb hardness tester that incorporates a printer for hard-copy output of hardness test results. This marginally reduces its portability, but adds a useful capability for on-site reporting and record-keeping. Its core features and capabilities are closely similar to those of the VTSYIQI durometer tester. This device is commonly used in sectors such as metalworking, manufacturing, quality control, and inspection, in which immediate and on-site printing of hardness test results is desirable. This can be bought at around $480.

9. Digital Durometer: DSD Series

The Digital Durometer DSD Series refers to a range of digital durometers produced by Starr Instruments. The specific features vary depending on the model and brand within the DSD Series. The DSD Series durometers all feature a digital LCD display that shows the hardness measurement in real time. The class of devices supports multiple hardness scales and ranges, such as Shore A, Shore D, or other specific scales depending on the material being tested. These durometers are designed to be handheld, allowing for easy portability and on-site measurements. They use typical indentation probes adapted for each scale. The device is pressed against the material's surface to measure its hardness by the depth of indent under standardized loading. 

Some models within the DSD Series incorporate data storage capabilities, allowing users to save and analyze hardness measurements. Some models may also provide a calibration function to ensure accurate and reliable measurements. Others operate on a fixed calibration that requires recertification. This approach is for more rigorous and certified testing purposes. The prices for these durometers vary, starting around $595.

10. Dial Durometer: Teclock GS-754G

The Teclock GS-754G is a specific model of a dial durometer manufactured by Teclock Inc., using the Shore OO scale. It features a dial display that shows the hardness measurement, increasing the reliability of the device, compared with digital electronic durometers. The dial shows a range of 0–100, which corresponds to the 100 linear divisions of the Shore OO hardness scale. This makes this durometer suitable for measuring the hardness of elastomers, rubbers, and other similar hardness range materials. It is commonly used in sectors such as rubber manufacturing, rubber, and polymers quality control, and R&D. This durometer tester can be purchased for around $795.

11. Teclock Digital Durometer: GSD-720

The Teclock GSD-720 is a digital durometer, also manufactured by Teclock Inc. It is designed for measuring the hardness of materials using the Shore D scale. This durometer offers a digital LCD display that shows the hardness measurement in real time. It may include statistical functions such as average, maximum, and minimum readings. These features provide additional analysis and help track hardness variations. It also incorporates USB or Bluetooth connectivity options, allowing for data transfer to a computer or other devices for further analysis and documentation. The price of this durometer can only be determined by requesting a quote.

What Is Durometer Tester?

A durometer tester, (or durometer hardness tester, or simply a durometer), is a calibrated precision instrument that serves to evaluate the hardness of a material sample. These devices are commonly used to assess the hardness of elastomers, rubbers, plastics, and metals, over a very wide spectrum of hardness. Various formats and function types of durometer testers are available. The most common hardness scales used in durometer testing include: Shore A, Shore D, Rockwell, Brinell, Knoop, Vickers, Mohs, and IRHD.

Durometer testers typically feature a rotary dial or a digital display that shows the hardness measurement in real-time, often with a peak-hold feature. The user presses the device against the material's surface and reads the hardness value from the display. Some advanced models may offer additional features such as data storage, statistical analysis, and connectivity options for data transfer to computers or other devices.

What Is the Use of Durometer Tester?

Durometers are tools used to measure hardness. They interpret either the resistance to deformation by a specified indenter under a specified load or the “bounce” of a test hammer hitting the surface with a specified energy level. These devices find application across many areas of materials science, product manufacture, and quality control. They are used to evaluate the performance of materials to ensure that they meet the expected standard or match the requirements of an application.

Why Is There a Need for Durometer Testing?

Durometer testing helps to evaluate and validate a material’s hardness for a specific application. Many classes of materials have a wide range of properties that differentiate their in-use performance. These variable properties are often not discernible by visual observation, as they are esoteric in nature and must be assessed in repeatable and quantified ways.

For example, the rubber used for the manufacturing of vehicle tires is made in a range of resilience which in part equates to the engineering property of hardness. This is a very specific property that is measured by the ability of the material of the tire to resist compression/displacement by a hemispherical ball indenter. Evaluation of tire material hardness is achieved using a durometer, generally measured on the Shore A scale. 

What Does Shore A Hardness in Durometer Testing?

Shore A hardness is the value scale applicable to very soft materials such as silicon rubber gels, which are barely solid and resist indentation very little—up to hard rubbers such as automotive tires. The Shore A hardness scale also is useful for establishing the suitable hardness of door seals, tire treads, etc.

What Does Shore D Hardness in Durometer Testing?

Shore D hardness testing allows the evaluation of hardness from medium strength/resilience elastomers such as soft pencil erasers, up to very hard rubbers, and near-rigid polymers. The testing method again utilizes a hemispherical ball indenter, but to reflect the greater hardness range than is tested within Shore A, the ball is smaller to apply greater pressure at the material surface. For more information, see our guide on Shore D Hardness Scale.

How Does Hardness Durometer Test Impacts the Hardness of Materials in Manufacturing?

Durometers are used for the assessment of materials at several stages in the manufacturing of a part. A durometer test is used to evaluate the part prior to use (goods inwards quality assurance), during manufacture, and at the end of manufacture (product inspection quality assurance), and for in-field condition monitoring to assess status in use. It must be noted that many materials have chemically fixed properties that define their hardness range into a narrow band of measured resilience. Other materials are the product of blending processes that can adjust the material resilience to precise levels, within a wider band. For example, in in-field testing, the inspection of shock and earthquake vibration dampers in buildings and bridges is important. If the material properties show signs of degradation, the shock tolerance of structures will change in ways that will not show up until a crisis occurs. Regular inspection of such components is a key criterion for ongoing certification.

How Does ASTM Classifies Hardness Level?

ASTM International has an extensive range of standards for hardness, specific to product and material classifications. These standards generally reference one of the established hardness test procedures such as Brinell and Knoop. Here are a few commonly used ASTM methods for hardness classification:

  1. ASTM E18-22: Specifies the Rockwell hardness test method, which measures the indentation hardness of (mainly) metallic materials. It provides hardness values based on the depth of penetration of the Rockwell indenter under various loads. Rockwell hardness is denoted by a letter (e.g., HRC, HRB) and a numerical value.
  2. ASTM E10-18: Details the Brinell hardness test procedure, primarily used for measuring metallic materials. It involves indenting a material using a spherical indenter under a specific load. The hardness value is calculated based on the diameter of the indentation. Brinell hardness is expressed as a series of letters followed by a numerical value (e.g., HBW 10/3000).
  3. ASTM E92-17: Outlines the Vickers and Knoop hardness test methods, which measure the hardness of metallic (and other hard) materials. These tests involve using specific test forces (1 gf to 120 kgf for Vickers and 1 gf to 2 kgf for Knoop hardness test) to create an indentation. The size of the indentation determines the hardness value. Vickers hardness is denoted by a numerical value followed by "HV" (e.g., 140HV10, in which 140 is the hardness number, and 10 indicates the load used, in kgf.)
  4. ASTM D2240-15(2021): Specifies the Shore hardness test method, mainly used for measuring the hardness of elastomers, rubbers, and plastics. It involves indenting the material using a durometer with a specific indenter shape and measuring the depth of penetration. Shore hardness is expressed as a numerical value followed by one or more letters (e.g., 70A, 50D).

To learn more, see our guide on ASTM International.

Is Shore D Harder Than Shore A?

Yes, Shore D is the hardest of the Shore scales. It measures the hardness of hard plastic, semi-rigid plastics, and hard rubbers. Shore A, on the other hand, is used for evaluating the softest materials.

Is Higher Durometer Means Harder?

Yes, durometer readings within a standard all show increasing numerical values for increasing hardness. This is whether referencing the depth or diameter of an indentation or the rebound energy of a hammer blow.

It should be noted that the cross-referencing of hardness measures is not entirely straightforward and should be performed with care. For example, a Shore D reading of 46 equates to a Shore A rating of 95. Shore values do not meaningfully convert to Rockwell or Vickers hardness, as the differentials are very large.

Summary

This article presented 11 durometer tests, explained all of them, and discussed the features of each one. To learn more about durometer, contact a Xometry representative.

Xometry provides a wide range of manufacturing capabilities and other value-added services for all of your prototyping and production needs. Visit our website to learn more or to request a free, no-obligation quote.

Disclaimer

The content appearing on this webpage is for informational purposes only. Xometry makes no representation or warranty of any kind, be it expressed or implied, as to the accuracy, completeness, or validity of the information. Any performance parameters, geometric tolerances, specific design features, quality and types of materials, or processes should not be inferred to represent what will be delivered by third-party suppliers or manufacturers through Xometry’s network. Buyers seeking quotes for parts are responsible for defining the specific requirements for those parts. Please refer to our terms and conditions for more information.

Xomety X
Team Xometry
This article was written by various Xometry contributors. Xometry is a leading resource on manufacturing with CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, 3D printing, injection molding, urethane casting, and more.

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