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Intermetallic phase precipitates in aluminum alloys can often be identified without resorting to chemical analysis. Very often the determination can be made based on the shape, color, and refractive properties of the particular phase. This chapter explains how these visual attributes can be observed using metallographic techniques. It describes, and in many cases illustrates, the characteristic shapes, colors, and optical properties associated with aluminum alloy intermetallic phases and how they can be enhanced through selective etching. It provides an atlas of microstructures comparing the effects of selective etching procedures on various phase constituents in cast aluminum-silicon alloys. The compilation of images demonstrates the use of two types of reagents: those that reveal discontinuities in crystal orientation and grain boundaries, and those that reveal differences in chemical composition.

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