A pragmatic approach for the evaluation of depth-sensing indentation in the self-similar regime

Hamidreza Mahdavi*, Konstantinos Poulios, Christian F. Niordson

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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    This work evaluates and revisits elements from the depth-sensing indentation literature by means of carefully chosen practical indentation cases, simulated numerically and compared to experiments. The aim is to close a series of debated subjects, which constitute major sources of inaccuracies in the evaluation of depth-sensing indentation data in practice. Firstly, own examples and references from the literature are presented in order to demonstrate how crucial self-similarity detection and blunting distance compensation are, for establishing a rigorous link between experiments and simple sharp-indenter models. Moreover, it is demonstrated, once again, in terms of clear and practical examples, that no more than two parameters are necessary to achieve an excellent match between a sharp indenter finite element simulation and experimental force-displacement data. The clear conclusion is that reverse analysis methods promising to deliver a set of three unique material parameters from depth-sensing indentation cannot be reliable. Lastly, in light of the broad availability of modern finite element software, we also suggest to avoid the rigid indenter approximation, as it is shown to lead to unnecessary inaccuracies. All conclusions from the critical literature review performed lead to a new semi-analytical reverse analysis method, based on available dimensionless functions from the literature and a calibration against case specific finite element simulations. Implementations of the finite element model employed are released as supplementary material, for two major finite element software packages.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number011004
    JournalJournal of Applied Mechanics
    Issue number1
    Number of pages14
    Publication statusPublished - 2022


    • Self-similar indentation
    • Indenter compliance
    • Finite element analysis
    • Reverse analysis


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