A particular formulation of the three-dimensional finite element metho
d specifically for analyzing the Vickers hardness test is established.
The Vickers hardness of 0.46 percent carbon steel and 70/30 brass is
calculated using the proposed method using the stress-strain curve obt
ained from a tensile test. The calculated values correlate well with t
he experimental results for 0.46 percent steel and 70/30 brass. In add
ition, the analysis predicts the extension of the plastic zone induced
by indentation, the stresses at the maximum load, and the residual st
resses present after complete removal of the load. At the maximum load
there are no tensile stresses in the vicinity of the indenter. Howeve
r, after removal of the load, large tensile residual stresses are pres
ent on the diagonal edge beneath the indentation in the direction perp
endicular to the diagonal edge. These results imply that it is necessa
ry to reconsider the accuracy and validity of the conventional indenta
tion method used for the determination of K-Ic for brittle materials s
uch as ceramics.