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Has been described as both a science and an art. Traditionally, metallography has been the study of the microstructure of metals and alloys using optical metallographs, electron microscopes or other surface analysis equipment. More recently, as materials have evolved, metallography or metallographic analysis has expanded to incorporate materials ranging from electronics to sporting good composites. By analyzing a material’s microstructure, its performance and reliability can be better understood. Thus metallography is used in materials development, incoming inspection, production and manufacturing control, and for failure analysis; in other words, product reliability.
Micrstructural or metallographic specimen preparation includes sectioning and polishing using metallographic equipment such as metallography abrasive saws for sectioning or cutting large specimen, metallographic wafering saws for precision cutting to a specific area of interest, metallographic polishers to remove the damage created during sectioning and metallurgical microscopes for analyzing the microstructure.
In addition to using the proper metallographic equipment it is very important that the correct consumables be used to ensure that the true microstructure is revealed. Metallographic consumables consist of abrasive cut-off blades, diamond wafering blades, castable and compression mounting resins, metallographic grinding papers, polishing pads, metallography graded diamond and final polsihing abrsasives. Often times a metallographic etchant is used to bring out the microstructural features such as grain size, coating thickness, weld metallography, etc.
Metallography or microstructural analysis includes, but is not limited to, the following types of metallographic analysis:
• Grain size
• Porosity and voids
• Phase analysis
• Dendritic growth
• Cracks and other defects
• Corrosion analysis
• Intergranular attack (IGA)
• Coating thickness and integrity
• Inclusion size, shape and distribution
• Weld and heat-affected zones (HAZ)
• Distribution and orientation of composite fillers
• Graphite nodularity
• Carburizing thickness
• Nitriding thickness
• Intergranular fracturing
• HAZ Sensitization
• Flow-line Stress
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