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Metallographic Brass and Bronze Etchants

The most common etchants for brass and bronze alloys contain either ammonium hydroxide, nitric acid or ferric chloride, however, there are hundreds of more specific etchants. A good resouce for additional etchants can be found with the etchant database provided by PACE Technologies

https://database.metallographic.com/pace-etchant.php

Sample Preparation: Brass and bronze alloys must be properly prepared to reveal the true metallographic microstructure. A number of recommended procedures can be found at the following links:

https://www.metallographic.com/Metallographic-Preparation-Procedures/Copper-Description.htm

https://www.metallographic.com/Brochures/Met-Manual-2b.pdf

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

Recommended Etchants

Etchant

Conc.

Conditions

Comments

Ammonium hydroxide
(dilute solutions)

Dilute

Immersion

Attack polishing, ASTM 30 is also a good etchant for copper and coper alloys

Copper No. 1
Nitric acid
Distilled water


125 ml
125 ml

1 second to several minutes by immersion or swabbing

Common etchant for copper and copper alloys such as brass and bronze

Copper No. 2
Distilled water
Ferric chloride
Hydrochloric acid


200 ml
10 grams
50 ml

Immersion or swabbing

Brasses, bronzes, aluminum brass, alpha -phases in brass


Metallographic micrograph of etched manganese aluminum bronze
Manganese-Aluminum Bronze Alloy, 400X DIC)

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