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This chapter discusses the important aspects that a metallographer should understand in order to effectively reveal a microstructure. It begins by exploring etching response and how it can be a tool for revealing various microstructural features. The next part of the chapter discusses methods for revealing microstructure in the as-polished (unetched) specimen, then guidelines for selecting and using etchants when needed. The chapter discusses different types of etchants in terms of their ingredients, etching procedure, and major uses. The etchants discussed include basic etchants (nital and picral and their variations) and tint etchants for carbon and low-alloy steels and cast irons, and basic etchants for stainless steels. Finally, information is provided on different illumination methods (differential interference contrast and dark-field illumination) that can be used to highlight certain features in microstructures.

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