Nitriding is a surface hardening treatment used on steel components to improve their resistance to corrosion, fatigue, and wear. Iron nitrides at the nitrided steel surface form a compound layer known for its high hardness but also for its brittle nature. It is not uncommon for this layer to chip or break away during metallurgical sample preparation, making it difficult to accurately characterize the microstructure of the nitrided load. This paper presents the results of several studies that assess the effect of cutting and polishing operations along with polishing pressure, the use of foils, and Ni plating. A best practice procedure has been developed to prevent damage to nitrided samples and minimize uncertainty when evaluating part quality.

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