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Metallographic Etching Resources

Metallographic etching is the process of revealing the microstructural details of a speciman that would otherwise not be observable in the as-polished condition. This metallography dot com page is a compilation of some of the more useful etching resources available online. It is arranged alphabetically by source. Of course each supplier uses their own preparation equipment and consumables.
Buehler offers their Metallographic Etching Procedures and Methods guide which covers: selective etching, heat tinting, the interference layer method, and other helpful hints. They also provide their "SumMet Guide" to materials preparation and analysis with 138 pages covering everything from cutting to etching, including lab standards and safety. The Industry Solutions section of Buehler's website offers insider tips and technical articles about preparing and etching specimens from a variety of industries including: defense and space, automotive, aerospace, electronics, manufacturing, energy, education and R&D, and medical. Buehler also offers Preparation and Analysis Webinars.

ES Laboratory, LLC is a metal testing laboratory specializing in metallographic specimen preparation. They also sell premade etchants at their Etchant Store. Their selection includes etches for: iron and carbon steel, stainless steel, superalloys, titanium, aluminum, copper alloys, and others. They also have an etchant selection guide available as a pdf (

George VanderVoort, a world-renowned authority on microstructural analysis, interpretation and measurement, maintains a website with a PDF library containing a large downloadable selection from his over 800 papers and lecture notes. A sampling of the articles includes over 70 on general metallography and metallography of specific alloy systems. Many include color images of beautifully prepared metallographic specimens and the etchants used.

PACE Technologies provides metallographic etching information which includes an etchant database compiled from many references. The database is searchable by material, etchant, or keyword. PACE's metallographic etchants section also offers a table of common etchants (many of which they sell premade), along with specific etching guidelines for: aluminum alloys, brasses and bronze, cast iron, ceramics, copper alloys, hastelloy and nickel superalloys, high carbon steel, stainless steel, tin alloys, welding or low carbon steels, and zinc alloys). PACE also offers metallographic preparation guidelines and a downloadable Metallographic Manual.

QATM has downloadable "Mounting Guide and Standard Preparation Methods for Materialographic Analysis" for a variety of materials including: titanium, carbon glass fiber, soft to medium-hard steels, medium-hard to hard steels, assembled and not assembled printed circuit boards, aluminum alloys, cobalt based alloys, copper and copper alloys, aluminum alloys, cast iron, stainless steel, nitrided steel, spray coatings, magnesium alloys, nickel based alloys, steel and welded steel, and ceramics. They also sell the premade etchants listed near the bottom of their page at

Struers offers etching information on a variety of materials including the "Metallic Grain Structures and Microscopic Analysis" of: aluminum, cast iron, copper, microelectronics, powder metallurgy, stainless steel, thermal spray coatings, titanium, tool steel, and zinc coatings. Struers also offers their "e-Metalog Guide" for sample preparation as well as webinars and courses.

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