Metallography is essentially the study of the composition of metals, where the chemical and atomic structures of a material are analysed. Characteristics such as the distribution of metallic components are examined where a decision is then made on the quality of the metal.
There are a variety of techniques used in Metallography to look at the core structures of the material being inspected.
Such techniques include:
- Differential or darkfield interference contrast (DIC)
- Tint etching
- Incident light microscopy
Metallics are extremely sensitive materials, where factors such as heat, abrasion, and elongation can easily change a metals’ components and thus the quality of the material. Because of this, it is important to understand the microstructure of the material being examined in order to choose the right materials for the desired outcome.
Because the components of metallics are often so important to become familiar with on a molecular level, metallography can serve a place throughout many seasons of a metal’s life.
These may include:
- Analysis of failures
Common steps in a metallographic process
There are several steps in a metal inspection which may include:
- Sample preparation which may consist of cutting a sample piece, mounting, planar grinding, polishing (from rough grain to fine grain), and etching.
- Molecular observation, usually conducted under the microscope.
- Documenting including digital images.
- Image analysis or stereological methods of data extraction and collection.
The key in these processes is to make sure that the sample piece being analysed is an exact replica of the material that will be used across the board. This is vital to the success of further processes.
A metal’s potential can be best understood only when its microstructures are examined. Because of this, metallography holds an important place in many industries that rely on metallics for production, manufacturing, and more.