Advanced Sample Preparation for Metallurgical Analysis

Polishing example-650-cropA key factor in accurate microstructure evaluation is the preparation of the test samples. IMR's lab technicians are highly trained and experienced in sample prep using advanced techniques. Our process, while utilizing commonly accepted best practices, involves unique methods revealing exceptional detail. It all begins with a comprehensive sampling/sectioning plan developed from customer documentation. From there, our lab technicians and machinists begin the physical components of sample preparation:

Rough/ Final Cutting- Cut specific areas, paying special attention to maintaining sample identification and orientation.

Mounting- Maintain orientation and select appropriate mounting medium to optimize edge retention.

Fixturing- Clamped to maintain planar surfaces during grinding and polishing.

Grinding and Polishing- Successively finer grinding papers and diamond suspensions for optimal smoothness (to 1 micron)

Etching- Polished samples are etched with material-specific etchant to reveal microstructure

During evaluation, mounted specimens are examined immediately after drying the etched sample, using an optical microscope at magnifications up to 1000X. Ratings are performed across each surface of interest, with images captured for typical conditions and worst-case field conditions. These ratings often include assessment of depth of the feature distortion, white layer, etc., as well as frequency along the ratable surface.


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Related Metallurgical Analysis Methods

Alpha Case
Case Depth
Certified Weld Inspections
Coatings Evaluations
Coating Thickness by XRF, SEM, Cross Section
Case Depth
Depth of Decarburization
Determination of Delta Ferrite Content
Determination of Volume Fraction by Point Count
Effective Case Depth
Failure Analysis
Fastener Discontinuities
Fluorescent Impregnation of Porous Coatings
Fracture Mechanics
Grain Size
Inclusion Content/Rating
Intergranular Attack
Intergranular Oxidation
Light Microscopy - Macro, Micro & SEM PhotographyMachining Evaluations
Microhardness (Knoop, Vickers, MacroVickers)
Orientation in Microstructure
Particle Analysis (Distribution, ID, Size)
Phase Volume Determination
Pipeline Integrity
Plating Evaluations
Plating Thickness


Porosity of Metals, Ceramics & Composites
Prior Austenitic Grain Boundary Determination
Replication (ASTM E1351)
Quantitative Image Analysis
SEM Analysis
Surface Evaluation (Dubpernell Active Site Test ASTM B456 Appx 4)
Surface Topography
Thermal Spray Coating Analysis
Titanium Beta Transus Determination
Weld Qualification & Testing


Corrosion Failure Analysis
Dezincification Testing
Electrochemical Corrosion Testing
Environmental Stress Cracking (ESC)
Formicary (Ant’s Nest) Corrosion Evaluation

General and Pitting Corrosion Testing
Heat & Fluid Aging
Mercurous Nitrate Testing
Passivation Testing of Medical Components
Potentiodynamic Corrosion
Residual and Assembly Stress Testing of Copper Alloys
Sensitization Testing
Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC)


Click here for a complete list of accreditations and certifications for all IMR Test Labs locations.