Metallography and Microstructures of Zinc and Its Alloys

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Metallography and Microstructures of Zinc and Its Alloys, Metallography and Microstructures, Vol 9, ASM Handbook, ASM International, 2004, p. 933–941

Metallography and Microstructures of Zinc and Its Alloys

Preparation of Zinc Coating Specimens
The preparation of specimens of zinc coatings on steel presents several challenges due to the difference in mechanical and chemical properties of the materials. The electrochemical properties that make zinc coatings desirable as a cathodic protection will not cease while the sample is prepared.
Sectioning. Shearing sufficient to cut the base material may deform the coating. An abrasive cut-off wheel is recommended. Mounting. Gaps around the specimen caused by resin shrinkage are to be avoided, because water, alcohol, or polishing materials could be trapped in the gap. Degrease the

specimen with acetone before mounting. The cold mounting resins mentioned previously, such as slow-curing epoxies, generally have little shrinkage.
Grinding and Polishing. The previous general guide is applicable. Fine polishing with a diamond paste on a slow-speed wheel is recommended. Care must be taken to

keep the surface of the entire specimen flat, because grinding will remove material of various constituents at different rates. Soft-nap cloth should not be used, because it may create more relief than is desired. Zinc reacts in water, causing stains, so alcohol rinses are recommended, followed by forced-air drying.
Etching. Amyl alcohol/nital, such as etchant 7, Table 1, is commonly used. The concentration of acid can vary from 0.5 to 2%, and etching time will vary with the type of

coating. Amyl alcohol is a toxic substance; the etchant must be prepared under a hood, and skin contact must be avoided. Profiles of galvanized, galvannealed, and electrogalvanized steel are given in Fig. 29, 30 and 31.

Fig. 29 Hot dip galvanized 1006, UNS G10060, steel. The galvannealed process produced a coating with no free zinc. Coating weight: 275 g/m2 (0.9 oz/ft2). Etchant: amyl-nital. 550×

Fig. 30 Hot dip galvanized 1006, UNS G10060, steel, without annealing. Zinc-iron compounds are present at the interface, while the remainder of the coating is free zinc. Coating weight: 320 g/m2 (1.05 oz/ft2). Etchant: amyl-nital. 550×


Metallography and Microstructures of Zinc and Its Alloys

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Fig. 31 Electrogalvanized 1006, UNS G10060, steel. Careful etching with a chromic acid/sodium sulfate etchant, with a concentration intermediate between etchant 1 and 2 in Table 1, reveals the interface between layers of zinc deposited in individual cells in a continuous multicell electrogalvanizing line. Note the absence of a zinc-iron alloy layer at the interface with the steel. Coating weight: 80 g/m 2 (0.26 oz/ft2). Etchant: 8 to 10 g CrO 3, 1 g Na2SO 4, 100 mL H 2O. 1000×

Examination. A collection of three-dimensional images depicting the surface morphology and the profile of coated steel produced using a scanning electron microscope can be found in Ref 7. Examination of the thickness of various intermetallic layers provides information on the formability and corrosion resistance of the coated sheet.

Reference cited in this section 7.
J.L. Rodda, Notes on Etching and Microscopical Identification of the Phases Present in the Copper-Zinc System, Trans. AIME, Vol 124, 1937, p 189–193

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