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This article introduces basic physical metallurgy concepts that may be useful for understanding and interpreting variations in metallographic features and how processing affects microstructure. It presents some basic concepts in structure-property relationships. The article describes the use of equilibrium binary phase diagrams as a tool in the interpretation of microstructures. It reviews an account of the two types of solid-state phase transformations: isothermal and athermal. The article discusses isothermal transformation and continuous cooling transformation diagrams which are useful in determining the conditions for proper heat treatment (solid-state transformation) of metals and alloys. The influence of the mechanisms of phase nucleation and growth on the morphology, size, and distribution of grains and second phases is also described.

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