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Metallographic Etchants


Metallographic etchant database

COMMON ETCHANTS

CAUTION:Safety is very important when etching. Be sure to wear the appropriate protective clothing and observe all WARNINGS on chemical manufacuters SDS (Safety Data Sheets). Also review the COMMENTS and CONDITIONS Section for each etchant.

Recommended Etchants

Aluminum alloys High carbon steel
Metallographic micrograph of aluminum Metallographic micrograph of high carbon steel
Brasses and Bronzes Stainless steel
Metallographic micrograph of Bronze Metallographic micrograph of stainless steel
Cast Iron Tin alloys
Metallographic micrograph of cast iron Metallographic micrograph of tin
Copper alloys Zinc alloys
Metallographic micrograph of copper Metallographic micrograph of zinc
Welding or Low carbon steels Ceramics
Metallographic micrograph of low carbon steel

Metallographic micrograph of BeO

Hastelloy and Nickel Superalloys  
Metallographic micrograph of low carbon steel  

The following table lists the most commonly used etchants

Etchant

Composition

Conc.

Conditions

Comments

ASTM No. 30

Ammonia
Hydrogen Peroxide (3%)
DI Water

62.5 ml
125 ml
62.5 ml

Mix Ammonia and water before adding peroxide. Must be used fresh. Swab 5-45 seconds

For etching copper, copper alloys and copper-silver alloys.

Adler Etchant

Copper ammonium chloride
Hydrochloric acid
Ferric chloride, hydrated
DI Water

9 grams
150 ml
45 grams
75 ml

Immersion is recommended for several seconds

For etching 300 series stainless steel and Hastelloy superalloys

Carpenters Stainless Steel Etch

FeCl3
CuCl2
Hydrochloric acid
Nitric acid
Ethanol

8.5 grams
2.4 grams
122 ml
6 ml
122 ml

Immersion etching at 20 degrees Celsius

For etching duplex and 300 series stainless steels.

Kalling's No. 2

CuCl2
Hydrochloric acid
Ethanol

5 grams
100 ml
100 ml

Immersion or swabbing etch at 20 degrees Celsius

For etching duplex and 400 series stainless steels and Ni-Cu alloys and superalloys.

Kellers Etch

Distilled water
Nitric acid
Hydrochloric acid
Hydrofluoric acid

190 ml
5 ml
3 ml
2 ml

10-30 second immersion. Use only fresh etchant

Excellent for aluminum and titanium alloys.

Klemm's Reagent

Sodium thiosulfate
solution
Potassium metabisulfite

250 ml Saturated
5 grams

Etch for a few seconds to minutes For etching alpha-beta brass, bonze, tin, cast iron phosphides, ferrite, martensite, retained austenite, zinc and steel temper embrittlement.

Kroll’s Reagent

Distilled water
Nitric acid
Hydrofluoric acid

92 ml
6 ml
2 ml


Swab specimen up to 20 seconds

Excellent for titanium and alloys.

Nital

Ethanol
Nitric acid

100 ml
1-10 ml

Immersion up to a few minutes.

Most common etchant for Fe, carbon and alloys steels and cast iron - Immerse sample up from seconds to minutes; Mn-Fe, MnNi, Mn-Cu, Mn-Co alloys.

Marble's Reagent

CuSO4
Hydrochloric acid
Water

10 grams
50 ml
50 ml

Immerse or swab for
5-60 seconds.

For etching Ni, Ni-Cu and Ni-Fe alloys and superalloys. Add a few drops of H2SO4 to increase activity.

Murakami's

K3Fe(CN)6
KOH
Water

10 grams
10 grams
100 ml

Pre-mix KOH and water before adding
K3Fe(CN)6

Cr and alloys (use fresh and immerse); iron and steels reveals carbides; Mo and alloys uses fresh and immerse; Ni-Cu alloys for alpha phases use at 75 Celcius; W and alloys use fresh and immerse; WC-Co and complex sintered carbides.

Picral

Ethanol
Picric acid

100 ml
2-4 grams

Seconds to minutes
Do not let etchant crystallize or dry –explosive

Recommended for microstructures containing ferrite, carbide, pearlite, martensite and bainite. Also useful for magnetic alloys, cast iron, high alloy stainless steels and magnesium.

Vilella’s Reagent

Picric Acid
Hydrochloric acid
Ethanol

1 gram
5 ml
100 ml

Seconds to minutes

Good for ferrite-carbide structures (tempered martensite) in iron and steel


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Metallographic testing and Material Science failure analysis and quality control testing are used in industries that require produce reliability such as:

Metallurgical Testing Industries using Metallographic Analysis

Industries Metallographic Applications
Aerospace
Advanced Materials
Superalloys
Ceramic Matrix Composites
Metal Matrix Composites
Polymer Matrix Composites
Biomedical Devices
Medical Implants
Materials Science Education
Metallurgical Engineering
Mechanical Engineering
Aerospace Engineering
Electronics
Solder Joint analysis
Integrated IC chip failure analysis
Printed Circuit board quality control
Printed Circuit board failure analysis
Dielectric layer coating analysis
Automotive
Heat Treating
Metal Fabrication
Forging
Castings
Thermal Spray
Welding
Powder Metallurgy
Deep Drawing
Fastener Testing
Mining Metallurgical Testing Labs
Grain Size Analysis
ASTM E112
Porosity
ASTM A276
Phase Analysis
ASTM E566
ASTM E1245
Inclusions
ASTM E454
ASTM E1245
Graphite Nodularity
ASTM A247
Coating Thickness
ASTM B487
Decarburization
ASTM E1077
Welding Analysis
HAZ Sensitization
Twin Boundaries
Cracks
Dendrites
Corrosion
Carburizing thickness
Nitriding thickness
Intergranular fracture
Weld sensitization
Flow line stress
Microhardness testing
Rockwell hardness testing
Superficial hardness testing

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