Microstructure of Metals


Microstructure is defined as the structure of a prepared surface or thin foil of material as revealed by a microscope above 25× magnification.The microstructure of a material (which can be broadly classified into metallic, polymeric, ceramic and composite) can strongly influence physical properties such as strength, toughness, ductility, hardness, corrosion resistance, high/low temperature behavior, wear resistance, and so on, which in turn govern the application of these materials in industrial practice.

Microstructure of a weld used in duplex stainless steel, 2205, 250X original magnification. A color mixture of austenite, ferrite and sigma phases.
Microstructure of Austenitic Stainless Steel

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This image titled “Wood Pile (SEM)” received Honorable Mention in Class 10 of the 2010 International Metallographic Contest. It was submitted by NT Saenz, JE Coleman, & Todd Schaef of PNNL.

Metallography is the study of a materials microstructure. Analysis of a material’s metallographic microstructure aids in determining if the material has been processed correctly and is therefore a critical step for determining product reliability and/or for determining why a material failed. The basic steps for proper metallographic specimen preparation include: documentation, sectioning, mounting, rough grinding, fine grinding, polishing, etching and examination.

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