Material application notes

Find out how to perform materialographic analysis quickly and accurately on different materials in our material application notes.

In each application note, you learn:

  • How to perform accurate and reproducible materialographic preparation
  • How to overcome specific materialographic challenges
  • How to perform and interpret structure microscopy analysis

What is metallography?

In short, metallography can be defined as the science and art of studying the microstructure of different metals and metal alloys.

Read this article to understand the differences between metallography and materialography and how does that impact the choice of preparation methods?
We take a closer look at the history, the applications, and the analysis of both metallography and materialography.

Read the article
Stainless steel

Metallographic preparation of stainless steel

Due to their corrosion resistance and superior surface finish, stainless steels play a major part in the aircraft, chemical, medical and food industries, in professional kitchens, architecture and even jewelry. They are prone to mechanical deformation and scratching during metallographic preparation – and require a specific preparation method to ensure reproducible results.

  • Learn how to perform metallography on stainless steel


Metallographic preparation of titanium

Titanium is a relatively new and expensive metal. However, its high strength-to-weight ratio and excellent corrosion and heat resistance have made titanium and its alloys well-established engineering materials. It is widely used in the aerospace, aircraft, chemical and medical industries, where safety is essential. Consequently, quality control of titanium production and processing is extremely important.

  • Learn how to perform metallography on titanium


Metallic grain structures and their microscopic analysis

Metallic materials are assessed by their inner structure – known as the grain structure – in addition to a wide range of other chemical and physical properties. The grain structure is typically adapted to the technical application of the material and can be viewed with a conventional light microscope. How can you best prepare a sample for microscopy analysis and interpret the results?

  • Learn more about metallographic microscopic analysis of grain structures


Metallographic preparation of aluminum and aluminum alloys

Low density, high strength and corrosion resistant, aluminum is the material of choice for many applications in the automobile, aircraft, aerospace, packaging and other industries. Metallography is used in quality control to determine the material’s grain size and evaluate phases, impurities and mechanical defects.

  • Learn how to perform metallography on aluminum and aluminum alloys

Nitrided coatings

Metallographic preparation of nitrided coatings

A nitrided layer is hard and wear resistant with significantly improved fatigue strength and corrosion resistance from the nitriding process. On nitrided and nitrocarburized components, metallography is mainly used to control the quality of the thermochemical nitriding process during fabrication and for analysis of failed components.

  • Learn how to perform metallography on nitride coatings


Metallographic preparation of copper and copper alloys

Due to its good formability, high electric and thermal conductivity and corrosion resistance, pure copper is mainly used in electric engineering and the food and beverage industries. The metallography of copper and its alloys is used in quality control – mainly for checking purity and determining grain size – while cast alloys are examined to assess the general structure of the alloy.

  • Learn how to perform metallography on copper and copper alloys

Cast iron

Metallographic preparation of cast iron

The term cast iron refers to iron-carbon-silicone alloys containing 2.5-4.0 % carbon and, usually, 1.0-3.0 % silicon. Cast iron is an important engineering metal, with a number of advantages – mainly good castability and machinability – and moderate mechanical properties.

  • Learn how to perform metallography on cast iron


Metallographic preparation of fasteners

The metallographic preparation of fasteners, such as screws, has a specific challenge: geometry. The fastener usually has to be cut through the center, and it can be a challenge to clamp a specimen securely. Additionally, the curves of the thread and head can result in preferential shrinking of the mounting resin. This is particularly problematic on coated materials, as coatings cannot be examined properly without good edge retention.

  • Learn how to perform metallography on fasteners

Powder metals

Metallographic preparation of powder metallurgy parts

Powder metallurgy technology is an important method of manufacturing metal parts. The density of a compacted and sintered part affects its strength, ductility and hardness. Therefore, metallographic control of porosity is an integral part of quality control in many industries. To obtain a true representation of the structure of powder metallurgy parts, a thorough preparation method is required, with microscopic checks between polishing steps.

  • Learn how to perform metallography on powder metallurgy parts


Materialographic preparation of microelectronics

The miniaturization of electronics devices has been made possible by the development of integrated circuits and chip-based components. Materialography plays a vital role in the design, development and failure analysis of these components in many industries. It is also used for spot checks during production. As the components are very small, special materialographic preparation techniques and equipment are required.

  • Learn how to perform materialography on microelectronics


Metallographic preparation of zinc coatings

Metallic zinc is used for corrosion protection of cast irons, mild steels and low-alloy steels. The metallography of galvanized products includes measuring coating thickness, microstructure analysis, base metal adhesion checks and failure analysis. Depending on the galvanizing method, zinc coatings behave differently during metallographic preparation, which makes selecting the correct method essential.

  • Learn how to perform metallography on zinc coatings

Thermal Spray Coating

Materialographic preparation of thermal spray coatings

Thermal spray coatings are widely used to give a material a specific surface quality or function, such as corrosion, heat or wear resistance. Materialographic examination of spray coatings includes an estimation of porosity, oxides and unmelted particles, as well as adhesion to the substrate.

  • Learn how to perform metallography on thermal spray coatings

Tool steel

Materialographic preparation of high-alloy tool steel

High-alloy tool steels require the production of a very clean material with specific mechanical, physical and metallurgical properties. Metallographic inspection, from the initial casting stage to the final heat-treated product, is an essential tool for controlling the manufacturing and heat treatment processes.

  • Learn how to perform metallography on high-alloy tool steel

Additive manufacturing

The materialography of additive manufactured parts

Additive manufacturing is one of the newest and fastest growing component manufacturing techniques. Although primarily used for the creation of prototypes and one-off designs, it is increasingly being used in general manufacturing to produce high-strength and lightweight single-component parts with complex geometries.

  • Learn how to perform metallography on additive manufacturing techniques

The metalogram


How can you select the best preparation method? The best preparation method depends on a number of factors, from the hardness and ductility of the material to the type of analysis you wish to perform.

The Struers metalogram gives you a precise method for material preparation based on a material’s hardness and ductility.

Find out more in the Grinding and polishing section
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