Electrolytic Preparation

About Electrolytic Preparation

A fast and efficient method.

Electrolytic preparation is a fast and efficient method for metallographic preparation, providing a deformation-free surface, whereas mechanical grinding and polishing tends to leave a thin deformation layer at the surface.

Using the electrolytic polishing equipment, the specimen is configured as the anode in a suitable electrolyte, and material is removed by controlled dissolution of the surface of the specimen. Electrolytic polishing can be followed by an electrolytic etching process to bring forth contrasts in the microstructure of the specimen.

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How to Do Electrolytic Preparation

To do electrolytic preparation, the right method needs to be selected. Struers’ equipment contains ten standard methods for different materials. If these standard methods do not fit the material, a correct electrolyte can be selected from the Selection of Electrolyte list. Having selected the correct electrolyte for your purpose, it is necessary to determine the polishing voltage. This is done using a scan function that is built into the electrolytic preparation equipment.

Correct application settings

After placing a specimen on the polishing table, a pre-defined voltage range is scanned to determine the current density curve. This curve is used to define the correct polishing voltage for the polishing or thinning process. The other parameters to be determined are polishing time and the flow rate. Once the correct application settings have been determined, they can be stored in the database and recalled for subsequent polishing tasks.

Safety is important.

Safety is a key word when dealing with electrolytes, and all users must be familiar with the relevant safety procedures.

Selection of Electrolyte

Several materials can be polished/etched with more than one of the electrolytes.
The right choice depends on the composition of the material and what you want to see.




Surface not polished or only  partly polished
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Cause: Current density insufficient
Adjust the voltage.
Cause: The electrolyte is too old.
Renew the electrolyte.
Cause: Insufficient quantity of electrolyte.
Add the electrolyte.
      Reduce the flow rate.
Spots that have not been  polished
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Cause: Gas bubbles  Solution:  Adjust the flow rate. 
      Check the electrolyte temperature. 
      Decrease the voltage. 
Etching of the polished  surface
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Cause: Chemical attack of grain  boundaries after switching of f the current.  Solution: Remove the specimen  immediately when the curren t is switched off. 
      Choose a less corrosive  electrolyte.
Phases in relief
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Cause: Polishing film is inadequate.  Solution: Increase the voltage. 
      Improve the mechanical 
      preparation of the specimen. 
Cause: The polishing time is too long. Solution: Reduce the polishing time. 
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Cause: The polishing time is too long.  Solution: Improve the mechanical preparation. 
      Decrease the time. 
 Cause:  The voltage is too high.  Solution:  Lower the voltage.
Cause: Insufficient anodic layer.  Solution: Reduce the flow rate. 
      Use a different electrolyte.
Attack at the edge of the  specimen.
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Cause:  The film is too viscous or too thin. Solution:  Decrease the voltage.
       Increase the flow rate.
The center of the specime n is deeply attacked or not polished at all.
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Cause: Polishing the film did not for m in the center of the specimen. Solution: Increase the voltage. 
      Reduce the flow rate. 
      Add more electrolyte. 
Deposits on the surface
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Cause: Insoluble reaction products.  Solution: Renew the electrolyte or t ry a different one. 
      Increase the voltage. 
Wavy surface or residual  deformation
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Cause: The polishing time is too short.  Solution: Increase the time. 
Cause: The flow rate is too high or too low.  Solution: Change the flow rate. 
Cause: Rough surface after grinding. Solution: Improve the preparation prio r to electrolytic polishing. 
Cause: The electrolyte is too old. Solution: Renew the electrolyte. 
Cause: Selective polishing because of potential differences in surface (heterogeneous material). Solution: Use another electrolyte with  other polishing data  or use a mechanical p reparation instead. 
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Find new knowledge and inspiration by taking part in Struers training courses and e-Seminars. Gain valuable insights into the latest applications and preparation methods via knowledge sharing. Refresh your knowledge or learn new techniques with our application experts. The choice is yours!

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