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Metallographic Etchants Technical (Online

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CAUTION:Safety is very important when etching. Be sure to wear

the appropriate protective clothing and observe all WARNINGS
on chemical manufacuters SDS (Safety Data Sheets). Also review
the COMMENTS and CONDITIONS Section for each etchant.

Recommended Etchants

Aluminum alloys High carbon steel

/Metallographic-Etchants /Metallographic-Etchants
/Metallography-Aluminum- /Metallography-High-carbon-
etchants.htm) steel-etchants.htm)

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Brasses and Bronzes Stainless steel
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Cast Iron Tin alloys
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etchants.htm) etchants.htm)

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Copper alloys Zinc alloys
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Welding or Low carbon steels Ceramics
/Metallographic-Etchants /Metallographic-Etchants
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Hastelloy and Nickel Superalloys



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The following table lists the most commonly used etchants
ss Etchant Composition Conc. Conditions Comments

ASTM No. 30 Ammonia 62.5 ml Mix Ammonia and For etching copper, copper
Hydrogen Peroxide 125 ml water before adding alloys and copper-silver
(3%) 62.5 ml peroxide. Must be alloys.
DI Water used fresh. Swab
5-45 seconds

Adler Etchant Copper ammonium 9 grams Immersion is For etching 300 series
chloride 150 ml recommended for stainless steel and Hastelloy
Hydrochloric acid 45 grams several seconds superalloys
Ferric chloride, 75 ml
DI Water

Carpenters FeCl3 8.5 grams Immersion etching at For etching duplex and 300
Stainless Steel CuCl2 2.4 grams 20 degrees Celsius series stainless steels.
Etch Hydrochloric acid 122 ml
Nitric acid 6 ml
Ethanol 122 ml

Kalling's No. 2 CuCl2 5 grams Immersion or For etching duplex and 400
Hydrochloric acid 100 ml swabbing etch at 20 series stainless steels and
Ethanol 100 ml degrees Celsius Ni-Cu alloys and superalloys.

Kellers Etch Distilled water 190 ml 10-30 second Excellent for aluminum and
Nitric acid 5 ml immersion. Use only titanium alloys.
Hydrochloric acid 3 ml fresh etchant
Hydrofluoric acid 2 ml

Klemm's Sodium thiosulfate 250 ml Etch for a few For etching alpha-beta
Reagent solution Saturated seconds to minutes brass, bonze, tin, cast iron
Potassium 5 grams phosphides, ferrite,
metabisulfite martensite, retained
austenite, zinc and steel
temper embrittlement.
Kroll’s Reagent Distilled water 92 ml Excellent for titanium and
Nitric acid 6 ml Swab specimen up to alloys.
Hydrofluoric acid 2 ml 20 seconds

Nital Ethanol 100 ml Immersion up to a Most common etchant for

Nitric acid 1-10 ml few minutes. Fe, carbon and alloys steels
and cast iron - Immerse
sample up from seconds to
minutes; Mn-Fe, MnNi, Mn-
Cu, Mn-Co alloys.

Marble's CuSO4 10 grams Immerse or swab for For etching Ni, Ni-Cu and Ni-
Reagent Hydrochloric acid 50 ml 5-60 seconds. Fe alloys and superalloys.
Water 50 ml Add a few drops of H2SO4 to
increase activity.

Murakami's K3Fe(CN)6 10 grams Pre-mix KOH and Cr and alloys (use fresh and
KOH 10 grams water before adding immerse); iron and steels
Water 100 ml K3Fe(CN)6 reveals carbides; Mo and
alloys uses fresh and
immerse; Ni-Cu alloys for
alpha phases use at 75
Celcius; W and alloys use
fresh and immerse; WC-Co
and complex sintered

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ss Picral Ethanol 100 ml Seconds to minutes Recommended for
Picric acid 2-4 grams Do not let etchant microstructures containing
crystallize or dry ferrite, carbide, pearlite,
–explosive martensite and bainite. Also
useful for magnetic alloys,
cast iron, high alloy stainless
steels and magnesium.

Vilella’s Picric Acid 1 gram Seconds to minutes Good for ferrite-carbide

Reagent Hydrochloric acid 5 ml structures (tempered
Ethanol 100 ml martensite) in iron and steel

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Metallographic Etching (Online Ordering)

Metallographic Etching
* Note a single $35 hazmat US DOT paperwork fee is applied to each etchant order*
Common Stainless Steels
Pre-mixed Etchant Quantity Price Cat. No.
Adlers etchant Very effective for etching 0 $85.00 Adlers
austenitic 300 series stainless
steels (250 ml)
Carpenters 300 Series Stainless Steel 0 $85.00 Carpenters
Etchant (250 ml)
Kalling's No. 2 Martensitic 400 series stainless 0 $85.00 Kallings No. 2
steels (250 ml)
Frys Reagent Precipitation hardened stainless 0 $85.00 Frys Reagent
steels (250 ml)

Common Copper and Brass

Pre-mixed Etchant Quantity Price Cat. No.
ASTM No. 30 Copper etchant (250 ml) 0 $85.00 ASTM No. 30
Copper No. 1 Copper & Brass (nitric acid and 0 $85.00 Copper No. 1
DI water) (250 ml)
Copper No. 2 Copper & Brass (HCl and ferric 0 $85.00 Copper No. 2
chloride) (250 ml)
Klemms Stain etch for brass (250 ml) 0 $85.00 Klemms

Pre-mixed Etchant Most common Steel etchants Quantity Price Cat. No.
2% Nital 2% is the most common etchant 0 $85.00 Nital-2
for non-heat treated or welded
3% Nital 0 $85.00 Nital-3
steels (250 ml)
5% Nital 0 $85.00 Nital-5
8% Nital 0 $85.00 Nital-8
Picral Heat treated steels (250 ml) 0 $85.00 Picral
Vilella's Most common etchant for 0 $85.00 Vilella's
carburized/ heat treated steels
(250 ml)

Most common Aluminum and

Pre-mixed Etchant Quantity Price Cat. No.
Titanium etchants
Kellers Most common etchant for 0 $85.00 Kellers
aluminum alloys (250 ml)
Kroll's Most common etchant for 0 $85.00 Krolls
titanium (250 ml)
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Titanium Attack Used as a CMP polishing 0 $85.00 TI-AP-16
Polish compound for titanium (500 ml)
Pre-mixed Etchant Nickel, Iron, Chromium alloys Quantity Price Cat. No.
Marble's Nickel, nickel-iron alloys (250 ml) 0 $85.00 Marbles
Murakami's Chromium alloys (250 ml) 0 $85.00 Murakami's
Waterless Kalling's Iron and nickel base alloys (250 0 $85.00 Waterless
ml) Kallings

* Note a single $35 hazmat US DOT paperwork fee is applied to each etchant order*
**Shipment is by Fed Ex hazmat ground, approximate cost $50 per etchant**

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