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This chapter explains how to prepare material samples for optical microscopy, the most common method for characterizing the microstructure of cast iron and steel. It provides information on sectioning, mounting, polishing, etching, and recording. It describes the nature of surface roughness, the factors that contribute to it, and its effect on image quality. It discusses the use of fixturing and holding devices, includes photographic examples of polishing defects and drying marks, and provides an overview of micrographic etchants and the features they reveal. It also describes the steps involved in replicating part surfaces.

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