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A method for rapid electropolishing of metals for optical metallography

This article has been downloaded from IOPscience. Please scroll down to see the full text article. 1971 J. Phys. E: Sci. Instrum. 4 398 ( View the table of contents for this issue, or go to the journal homepage for more

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Notes on experimental technique and apparatus

A method for rapid electropolishing of metals for optical metallography

G Venkataraman and A K Mallik Department of Metallurgical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Powai, Bombay 76, India MS receiced 28 May 1970, in reoised form 22 December 1970

Abstract A simple laboratory device for the rapid preparation of high quality polished surfaces from relatively rough metal specimens has been described. Even though, compared with other methods, high current density is used deep polishing takes place without pitting.
Various methods (Fedotev and Grilikhes 1959, Tegart 1959, Mirand and Soulnier 1958) are available for the electropolishing of metallic specimens. Some drawbacks are that they require a good surface finish, up to 600 grit silicon carbide paper or 4/0 polish in emery paper. Also, since the current density for optimum polishing generally goes up to a maximum of 0.5 A cm-2, the polishing rate is low. The Ellopol (Jacquet and Van Effenterre 1957) overcomes this by an increased polishing rate of 4-15 pm min-l. The present technique increases this further to a considerably higher value of 2030 pm min-1 without pits. In the present technique, a PTFE specimen holder is used having a bowl-shaped cavity with a hole of 2 mm diameter at the bottom (figure I). The specimen is kept pressed to the

which a suitable electrolyte is circulated either by an overhead tank of electrolyte, or by a circulating pump. For all types of steels, nickel and its alloys, and copper and its alloys an electrolyte with 250 ml acetic acid, 60 g chromium trioxide and 20ml water is used. The specimen is polished up to 2/0 emery paper. The PTFE holder and the nozzle are clamped to a burette stand so that the nozzle is approximately vertical and the holder is slightly inclined to allow smooth overflow. The positive wire with a crocodile clip is attached to the anode strip. The stopcock is opened and the electrolyte at 15-25C flows out (75-150mlmin-1) of the cavity with a circulatory motion. The overflowing electrolyte is allowed to recirculate. A potential of 50-75 V is applied between the electrodes. The voltage for optimum polishing is not critical within this range. The current is usually between 0.10 to 0.20 A for area of 2 mm diameter. The usual polishing time is 30-100s. After the polishing, power is switched off, the stopcock is closed and the holder is removed for cleaning in water and methanol. In some cases etching can be done by reducing the applied voltage to 10-15 V. A typical photograph of a steel specimen after polishing and etching in 3% nitric acid in methanol is reproduced in figure 3. About 25 specimens can

Figure 3 Microstructure of low alloy steel ausformed 60% at 550T plus ageing at 550C for one hour ( x 490) Figure 1 Schematic diagram of specimen holder
be polished in an hour. Very thin sheets are easily polished by using a backing piece of stainless steel. This method is highly suitable for routine work in industry and the research laboratory, where a large number of samples are to be pol ished. References Fedotev N P and Grilikhes S Ya 1959 Electropolishing, Anodizing and Electrolytic Pickling of Metals (Teddington : Robert Draper) pp. 71-188 Jacquet P A and Van Effenterre A 1957 Rev. Met. S4 107 Mirand P and Soulnier A 1958 C.R. Acad. Sci., Paris 246 1688-91 Tegart W J McG 1959 The Electrolytic and Chemical Polishing of Metals (Oxford : Pergamon) pp. 40-9 Journal of Physics E: Scientific Instruments 1971 Volume 4 Printed in Great Britain

bottom face (figure 2) by a cold rolled stainless-steel strip which is fixed at one end. This acts as a leaf spring with the ability to clamp the specimen. A stainless-steel nozzle with a groove for cathode connection is positioned as in the diagram. The relative separation of holder and nozzle is not critical. The nozzle is fitted to one end of the polythene tube, through

Figure 2 Schematic arrangement of electropolishing