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This article describes the methods and equipments involved in the preparation of specimens for examination by light optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, electron microprobe analysis for microindentation hardness testing, and for quantification of microstructural parameters, either manually or by the use of image analyzers. Preparation of metallographic specimens generally requires five major operations: sectioning, mounting, grinding, chemical polishing, and etching. The article provides information on the principles of technique selection in mechanical polishing, and describes the procedures, advantages, and disadvantages of electrolytic and chemical polishing. It also provides a detailed account of procedures, precautions, and composition for preparation and handling of etchants.

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