The hardness of a number of coated systems has been measured using a variety of experimental techniques ranging from traditional macro-Vickers indentation to ultra-low-load depth-sensing nanoindentation. This has allowed the hardness response to be measured over scales ranging from those less than the coating thickness, where a coating-dominated response is expected, to much more macroscopic scales where system behaviour is dominated by the substrate. The objective has been to construct a mathematical description of the hardness performance of coated systems which well describes the behaviour over this wide range of scales. Previous attempts at such quantitative descriptions have usually involved models focusing on some particular deformation mechanism (e.g. plasticity, elastic response or fracture). In contrast, this paper presents a new approach to analysing hardness data essentially using dimensionless parameters containing descriptors equally applicable to either plasticity-or fracture-dominated behaviour with all scales measured relative to the coating thickness. The model shows an excellent fit to a wide range of experimental data. Furthermore, once the fit has been made, not only can some deductions be made regarding dominant deformation mechanisms, but the model allows predictions of the contact response of other coated systems to be made.
- Mechanical properties