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This article describes metallographic preparation and examination techniques for stainless steels and maraging steels. It presents a series of micrographs demonstrating microstructural features of these alloys. Procedures used to prepare stainless steels for macroscopic and microscopic examination are similar to those used for carbon, alloy, and tool steels. Cutting and grinding must be carefully executed to minimize deformation because the austenitic grades work harden readily. The high-hardness martensitic grades that contain substantial undissolved chromium carbide are difficult to polish while fully retaining the carbides. Unlike carbon, alloy, and tool steels, etching techniques are more difficult due to the high corrosion resistance of stainless steels and the various second phases that may be encountered. The microstructures of stainless steels can be quite complex. Matrix structures vary according to the type of steel, such as ferritic, austenitic, martensitic, precipitation hardenable, or duplex.

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