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Structural study of Mild Steel

It will help you to understand the experiment.

Metallography or microscopy consists of the microscopic study of the structural characteristics of a metal or an alloy. Microscopic study depends largely upon the care taken in the preparation of the Mild Steel. The ultimate object is to produce a flat, scratch free, mirror like surface.

Structural study of Mild Steel

K.M. Mostafizur Rahman SUST 5/22/2010

Name of the Experiment: Structural study of Mild Steel.

(1) To learn about the micro structure of Mild Steel. (2) To learn the structural characteristics of steel. (3) To view what kind of structure mild steel has.


Metallography or microscopy consists of the microscopic study of

the structural characteristics of a metal or an alloy. Microscopic study depends largely upon the care taken in the preparation of the Mild Steel. The ultimate object is to produce a flat, scratch free, mirror like surface. Mild Steel can be prepared either by hand polishing or machine polishing prior to microscopic examination. Every substance in the world or universe is consists of smallest particle, which is called atom. In metal also numerous particles are exist in particular shape and size. We can find anything with substance is a magnified form. We can see the internal structure, shape, size, arrangements of several considered by its whole characteristics of internal structure. The microstructure will reveal the mechanical and thermal treatment of the metal, and it may be possible to predict its expected behavior under a given set of conditions. Experience has indicated that success in microscopic study depends largely upon the care taken in the preparation of the mild steel. The most expensive microscope will not reveal the structure of mild steel that has been poorly prepared. The procedure to be followed in the preparation of mild steel is comparatively simple and involves a technique which is developed only after constant practice. The ultimate objective is to produce a flat, scratchfree, mirror- like surface.

Description: To achieve the expected shape of the specimen there are several
process which should be done very carefully and perfectly. Preparation of specimen by hand can be done by the following successive steps. (1) Cutting of the specimen or sampling. (2) Mounting the specimen.

(3) Filling or rough grinding. (4) Intermediate polishing. (5) Etching etc.

Now Im going to describe the whole process that weve performed in our workshop during the operation.

1. Sampling:

The choice of a sample for microscopic study may be very important.

If a failure is to be investigated, the sample should be chosen as close as possible to the area of failure and should b compared with on taken from the normal section. As we are going to study about mild steel so weve taken a cylindrical piece of mild steel then we cut it as 2 cm. long piece by a hacksaw blade. Sample to be cut

Figure: Sample

Fig: sampling operation

2. Mounting the specimen: Specimens are small or


shaped so they must be appropriately mounted in a suitable material or rigidly clamped in a mechanical vice. Workpiece


Figure: Mounting operation

Whenever possible, the specimen should be of a size that is convenient to handle. A soft sample may be made flat by slowly moving it up and back across the surface of a flat smooth file. Before filing operation weve attached our workpiece into a vice. Filing is done in one surface where the structure of mild steel is to be inspected. Filing ensures the smoothness of the workpiece and the better the smoothness the better the result.

Filing or rough grinding:

Figure: Filing operation

3. Intermediate polishing: After sufficient filling we stopped filling and

then start polishing by a series of emery papers containing successively fine abrasives. The first paper is usually No. 2.5 then 2, 1.5, 1 & 0. This type of polishing helps to make mirror image type smoothness on the test part. The important thing is to maintain the serial of the emery papers.

Figure: Interme diate polis hing (serially)

4. Fine polishing: In this stage, the specimens polished on a polishing machine

which contain velvet clothe on its rotator disc. In time of polishing operation we hold the smooth side of our specimen on the rotator disc and give NH4 Cl salt and water as a smoothing agent. This fine polishing helps the leftover roughness from the specimen.

Figure: Fine polishing Machine

Figure: After polishing

Etching: The purpose of etching is two- fold. Grinding and polishing operations produce a
highly deformed, thin layer on the surface which is removed chemically during etching. Secondly, the etchant attacks the surface with preference for those sites with the highest energy, leading to surface relief which allows different crystal orientations, grain boundaries, precipitates, phases and defects to be distinguished in reflected light microscopy. There are many tried and tested etchants available but there are mandatory safety issues associated with the preparation and use of all of these. Some etching reagents are listed in the table. Etching reagent Nitric acid (Nital) Composition Uses Remarks Etching rate is increased selectivity decreased with increasing percentages of HNO3. Reagent 2 (picric acid) usually superior.

White nitric acid 1-5ml In carbon steels: Ethyl or methyl 100ml 1. To darken alcohol (95% or pearlite and give absolute) also amyl contrast between alcohol pearlite colonies 2. To reveal ferrite boundaries. 3. To differentiate ferrite from martensite.

Picric acid (picral)

Picric acid Ethyl or methyl alcohol (95% or absolute)


For all grades of carbon steels: annealed. Normalized, quenched, and tempered, spheroidized, austempered. For all low-alloy steels attacked by this reagent. Structure of austenitic nickel and stainless steels

More dilute solutions occasionally useful. Does not reveal ferrite grain boundaries as readily as Nital etching time a few seconds to 1 min or more.

Ferric chloride and hydrochloric acid.

Ferric chloride Hydrochloric acid Water

50ml 100ml

Ammonium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide

Ammonium hydroxide 5 parts Water 5 parts

Hydrogen peroxide 2 -5 parts

Generally used for copper and many of its alloys.

Peroxide content varies directly with copper content of alloy to be etched immersion or swabbing for about 1min. fresh peroxide for good results.

Among them weve used Nital as the etching reagent for our inspection.

Inspection of microstructure of specimen: After etching operation

our workpiece is ready for final inspection. This time we used metallurgical microscope to view the micro structure of mild steel.

Metallurgical Microscopes: At this point it is appropriate to discuss briefly the

principles of the metallurgical microscope. In comparison with a biological type, the metallurgical microscope differs in the manner by which the specimen is illustrated. Since a metallographic sample is opaque to light, the sample must be illustrated by reflected light.
Retinal image Human eye

Eye lens

Field lens

Primary real image of object formed by objective & field lens of principal focal point of eye lens or within focus distance as illustrated (image inverted and reversed)

Plane glass reflector Form light source Back focal point of objective Objective

Figure: illustrating the principle of the metallurgical compound microscope and the trace of rays through the optical system from the object field to the final virtual image

A horizontal beam of light from some light source is reflected, by means of plane- glass reflector, downward through the microscopes objective onto the surface of the specimen. Some of this incident light reflected from the specimen surface will be magnified in passing through the lower lens system, the objectives, and will continue upward through the planegrass reflector and be magnified again by the upper lens system. The total magnification is equal to the product of the magnifications of the objectives and the eyepiece. It is possible to mount a camera bellows above the eyepiece and the use table-type microscope for photomicrography. However, the bench-type met allograph illustrated, which is specifically designed for both visual examination and permanent recoding of metallographic structures by photographic methods, will give superior photomicrographs.

Inspection process: This time we mount the smooth side of workpiece on the
metallographic microscope. After putting the specimen on the microscope and setting at proper zoom we found a very clear view of the microstructure on the monitor of metallurgical microscope.
Place to put the workpiece

Figure: Metallurgical microscope

Figure: Microstructure of mild steel

Characteristic of mild steel:

1. From the monitor weve found that the microstructure of mild steel contains ferrite and pearlite. 2. As both ferrite and pearlite have very poor hardness so we can surely say mild steel have poor hardness. 3. As both ferrite and pearlite can be heat treated so we can say mild steel can be heat treated to change its properties. 4. As it possess poor hardness thats why it cant be used in engineering application without heat treatment.

Figure: Fe rrite crystals

Figure: Pearlite crystals.

Discussion: Study of microstructure of mild steel is very important because we can make
change of its properties by adding some other ingredients on it. But before weve to know its internal properties and this practical experiment explore a new window to learn about its properties. Were very thankful to our respective teachers whove given this great scope to us. But weve also fallen some great problem in time of performing this operation which are slow down our experiment greatly like one is, the rotator belt of polishing machine was tore apart but the lab assistance didnt know that before starting our operation so we suspend the operation after 2 week and started another one although the 1 st was not completed at all! And after setting the belt we started our first one when we are performing our 2 nd experiment it means we are running 2 experiments simultaneously! We hope our respective teacher will give our lab assistance such instruction that well never fall such misshape.

Conclusion: It is very important an engineer to determine the internal properties of

any structural material thats why the Study of microstructure of mild steel is very essential for us. It is possible to determine grain size and the size, shape and distribution of various phases and inclusions which have a great effect on the mechanical properties of the metal. The macrostructure will reveal the mechanical and thermal treatment of the metal and it may be possible to predict its expected behavior under a given set of conditions. This will help us to choice right types of steel for various purposes also to develop new types of steel in future. This experiment also explores a new concept about steel. Edited by Sobuj SUST Dept of Industrial & Production Engineering Registration No. 2008334053