Metallographic Preparation Process

Thursday, April 9, 2015

In order to perform metallographic analysis a test specimen from the parent material must be properly prepared. Depending on the size and shape of the material it is likely that the specimen will have to be sectioned, typically using an abrasive wet cutting method. When sectioning a piece of material, this method offers the most efficient and least damaging. Ultimately you are striving for a perfectly flat surface with as little deformation as possible.

Metallographic specimens are then mounted using either a hot mounting method or cold mounting method. During the hot mounting process the sample is placed in a mounting press, hot mounting resin is added and the sample is processed under high heat and pressure. When specimens are sensitive to pressure or temperature, cold mounting is used. During the cold mounting process the specimen is placed in a mounting cup and the cold mounting resins are poured over the specimen.  Conclusively, mounting offers a standardized way to hold a specimen during the grinding and polishing stage.

The grinding and polishing stage immediately follows the mounting phase. Here the specimen is ground and polished to reveal the structure of the metal. Typically grinding is done with diamond suspension, which gives finer results than other grinding methods. Polishing is the last step in the preparation process. During polishing a variety of polishing cloths are used to produce a scratch-free finish, enabling the microstructure of the specimen to be seen using a microscope or another chemical processes.

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