3D Scratch Tester


The Rtec Instruments 3D Scratch Tester combines the next generated scratch testing technology with inline 3D Profilometer. Typical applications for the scratch tester are to quantify coating adhesion, cohesion, scratch resistance and self-healing properties. By interchangeable modules, measurements can be performed in the Nano, Micro, Macro or Heavy-Duty range.


The Confocal / Interferometer microscope acquires a high-resolution 3D image of the scratch and is synchronized with the scratch data (normal load, friction force, scratch depth, acoustic emission and electrical contact resistance) in order to obtain comprehensive and reproducible data.

ICON-key-features-greyKey Features and Benefits

♦  Synchronized 3D Imaging with Confocal & Interferometer

♦  Exchangeable Nano, Micro, and Macro Scratch modules

♦  Force Feedback to ensure well controlled load apply

ICON-key-features-greyRelated Applications

♦  Physical characterization of coated surfaces

♦  Scratch Corrosion Studies

♦  Nano Scratch Testing of oxide coatings on thin film polymer substrates

About Rtec Instruments

Rtec Instruments develops and manufactures advanced mechanical and surface testing and measurement solutions for research and industrial applications. We share a philosophy that embraces collaboration and partnering with customers and other leaders in academia and industry to ensure our products answer real needs with innovative solutions.

Why Rtec Instruments?

♦   Produce most robust platform in the market

♦   Strive to meet tomorrow’s requirements in

research and industry

♦   Unique patented technologies

How does a scratch tester work?

Rtec scratch tester systems use a scratch head which is pressed onto the sample with a pre-programmed force, controlled by a force-feedback system. The interchangeable scratch heads in Nano, Micro and Macro range allow a comprehensive array of scratch applications. The sample is placed in a special mount, which moves laterally at a controlled speed under the head. The force which is applied on the scratch tip can be constant or variable (for example incremental or increasing linearly).

Prior to the test, the in-line 3D profilometer will image the surface, and a second image is taken after the test. During the test, friction and displacement are measured, and a detector registers acoustic waves emitting from the surface. The 3D Scratch profile can be assessed from the profilometry, or a depth sensor. The system uses sophisticated software to analyse the data and produce outputs, combining friction, displacement and acoustic measurements with high resolution 3D images. The profilometer is optimized to measure scratch or wear marks.

Why use a scratch tester?

The Rtec scratch testers allow you to study a range of properties like coating adhesion, scratch hardness or scratch resistance, all at nano, micro and macro scale. Coatings like paint and varnishes can be tested for resistance to wear or abrasion. The system can be used for adhesion testing of coating-substrate combinations. A scratch tester is an obvious choice when evaluating self-healing coatings.

An advanced and comprehensive software package is included for data acquisition and full analysis of the scratch measurements. The 3D images are synchronized to the scratch data which allows the user a full insight in the behaviour of the coating after this is scratched. The 3D images can be used to characterize coating failures. Electrical contact resistance will help to quantify film failure. All tests can be performed at specific conditions by use of a temperature and humidity control chamber.


Applications for the scratch tester

Thermal Spray Coatings

Thermal spray coatings are applied by spraying melted or heated materials onto a surface. They are used to protect the surfaces of many products, varying from turbines for power plants or aeroplane engines to rolls in the paper industry, against for example wear. Abrasion and thermal damage. Different techniques exist to measure overall strength of the coated surfaces. However, scratch testing can provide unique information on hardness, adhesion and cohesion of these coatings.

The Rtec Instruments MFT-5000 system can be used to perform both scratch and tribology tests. The scratch tester is able to perform different measurements at increased temperatures for testing under realistic conditions of use. The results can be used in quality control and to improve thermal spray coating technology.

Biomedical Coatings

The use of biomedical implants, like artificial joints, screws or stents is ever increasing. These products are coated, for example to protect them from infections, reduce wear or regulate friction. To guarantee a long life for these implants and to minimise any inconveniences for the patient, the coatings must be tested for characteristics like adhesion, friction and wear.

The Rtec Instruments 3D scratch testers can be used to investigate the properties of thin organic coatings or hard metal-based PVD (physical vapour deposition) coatings, as well as polymer coatings. For example, by making a well-controlled scratch on the surface of an implant and measuring the characteristics of this scratch using the in-line 3D Profiler, it is possible to measure adhesion and wear of their coating.


Transparant Coatings

Transparent coatings can be functional or decorative, and are applied on for example lenses, semi-conductors and cell phones. They are used to protect, provide specific optical characteristics or provide conductance.

It is important to test the adhesion of the coating to the substrate (often glass or polymers) as well as scratch resistance. The Rtec Instruments 3D scratch tester enables you to perform fully automated scratch tests, which combine 3D confocal microscopy with interferometry to analyse scratches on transparent materials in high detail.


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