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This article describes the microstructure and metallographic practices used for medium- to high-carbon steels as well as for low-alloy steels. It explains the microstructural constituents of plain carbon and low-alloy steels, including ferrite, pearlite, and cementite. The article provides information on how to reveal the various constituents using proven metallographic procedures for both macrostructural and microstructural examination. Emphasis is placed on the specimen preparation procedures such as sectioning, mounting, grinding, and polishing. The article illustrates the use of proven etching techniques for plain carbon and low-alloy steels.

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Bruce L. Bramfitt, Samuel J. Lawrence, Metallography and Microstructures of Carbon and Low-Alloy Steels, Metallography and Microstructures, Vol 9, ASM Handbook, Edited By George F. Vander Voort, ASM International, 2004, p 608–626,

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