Tablet hardness testing, is a laboratory technique used by the pharmaceutical industry to test the breaking point and structural integrity of a tablet "under conditions of storage, transportation, and handling before usage" The breaking point of a tablet is based on its shape. It is similar to friability testing, but they are not the same thing.
Tablet hardness testers first appeared in the 1930s. In the 1950s, the Strong-Cobb tester was introduced. It was patented by Robert Albrecht on July 21, 1953. and used an air pump. The tablet breaking force was based on arbitrary units referred to as Strong-Cobbs. The new one gave readings that were inconsistent to those given by the older testers. Later, electro-mechanical testing machines were introduced. They often include mechanisms like motor drives, and the ability to send measurements to a computer or printer.
There are 2 main processes to test tablet hardness: compression testing and 3 point bend testing. For compression testing, the analyst generally aligns the tablet in a repeatable way, and the tablet is squeezed by 2 jaws. The first machines continually applied force with a spring and screw thread until the tablet started to break. When the tablet fractured, the hardness was read with a sliding scale.