Experiment 9 Microstructure Analysis Objective: 1. To be familiar with metallography techniques such as grinding, polishing and etching. 2.

To be familiar with metallurgy microscope 3. To investigate the microstructure of metal and alloy. Theory Metallurgy is the study of microstructural features of materials. The structure studied by metallography are indicative of the properties and hence the performance of material in service. Typical application of metallography techniques in research centres and industry may include: a. To monitor metal alloy heat treatment b. To measure the thickness of coating c. To evaluate/examine the weld or braze d. To evaluate corrosion, etc. e. For failure analysis In this technique, planar surface is prepared by sectioning followed by mounting in a thermosetting resin prior to grinding and polishing to obtain a reflective surface. In order to delineate the microstructure chemical or other etching method is often employed prior to microscopy investigation. a) Sectioning and cutting The areas of interest forming the metallography specimens need to be sectioned for ease of handling. Depending on the type of material, the sectioning operation can be done by using abrasive cutter (for metal and metallic composite), diamond wafer cutter (ceramics, electronics, and minerals) or thin sectioning with a microtome (plastics). In order not to damage the specimen, proper cutting requires the correct selection of abrasive cutting wheel, proper cutting speed & cutting load and the use of coolant. b) Mounting The mounting operation accomplishes three important functions: 1. To protects the specimen edge and maintain the integrity of materials surface features. 2. Fill voids in porous materials. 3. Improves handling of irregular shaped samples.


acrylics resins.g. chemical etching involve immersing the polished surface in the prepared chemical solution for a specified time (usually seconds) followed by rinsing the etched specimen under running tap water and drying. A castable resin/cold mounting (e. e) Etching Etchans are specially formulated for the specific material and evaluation objectives.g. Proper polishing will maintain the specimen flatness and retain all inclusions or secondary phases by eliminating the previous damage and maintaining the specimen integrity. 2. acrylics) 2. Typically. The analysis can be done by using a metallurgy microscope. epoxies or thermoplastics – e. Large sample or samples for macrostructure evaluation can be prepared without mounting. relative velocity distribution and the direction of grinding/polishing. Grinding is accomplished by decreasing the abrasive grit size sequentially to obtain the required fine surface finish prior to polishing.g. d) Polishing For microstructure examination a mirror/reflective finish is needed whereas a finely ground finish is adequate for macrostructure evaluation. Fine polishing The purpose is to remove only surface damage. stress or crystal structure and it will develop the surface topology. f) Microscopic Analysis For microscopic analysis. which can be visible in the microscope. epoxy resins and polyester resins) c) Grinding Grinding is required to ensure the surface is flat & parallel and to reduce the damage created during sectioning. It is important to note that the final appearance of the prepared surface is dependent on the machine parameters such as grinding/polishing pressure.Samples for microstructure evaluation are typically encapsulated in a plastic mount for handling during sample preparation. phenolics. 65 . Rough polishing The purpose is to remove the damage produced during grinding. Polishing can be divided into two main steps: 1. a reflective surface is required. The metallography specimen mounting is done by encapsulating the specimen into: 1. Etching alters the microstructural features based on composition. A compression/hot mounting compound (thermosets – e.

Note down your observation. 2. immerse the sample in ultrasonic cleaner for one minute and then dry the sample. Alcohol 14. Apparatus and Sample 1. Repeat the same procedure for final polishing stage using 1-micron lubricant. Sample – mild steel Procedure 1. Dryer 12. 6. Grinder 9. orienting the starches from the previous grade normal to the rotation direction. Cotton 13. 4. Precaution: While using the microscope be careful not to raise the stage too much which may result in contact between the objective lens and the specimen and cause damage. 6. which represents coarse particles. After that wash the sample thoroughly followed by cleaning using alcohol and dry the sample. Immerse the polished sample in the etching solution for about 2 to 3 seconds. Wash the sample in water and move to the next grit. Continue grinding until all the blemishes have been removed. 7. 5. Begin the polishing operation with 6-micron grade and continue the process until the grinding starches have been removed. Wash the sample under running tap water followed by cleaning with alcohol. the sample surface is flat. and all starches are directed in one direction. Wash the sample with water followed by alcohol. Never touch the optical surfaces with your fingers or any object. In this operation four different grade of paper is used. Repeat the grinding procedure until the final grinding operation. Starts with the smallest grit number. 4. Silicon carbide paper (4 different mesh) 10. 3. 66 . 3.g) Equipment. Examine your sample by using metallurgy microscope. 8. 9. Grinding is done using rotating discs covered with silicon carbide (SiC) paper and water. 5. Polishing is done using rotating disc covered with soft cloth impregnated with diamond particles and lubricant. Dry the sample prior to microscopy examination. Diamond spray (6 micron and 1 micron) 11. Abrasive cutter machine Polisher Lubricant Ultra sonic cleanser Soapy water Nital solution (2% HNO3) Metallurgy microscope 8. 2. 7. During grinding apply light pressure on the centre of the sample.

Discuss the microstructure obtained i. Before and after the etching process.Question 1. ii. Differences among the samples. Other than the reasons stated in the theory part. why it is important to conduct this test? 67 . What will happen if the process is too long (more than 3 seconds)? 3. 2. Discuss the purpose of etching process.

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