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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

PACE Technologies Etchant Database Click here to get order

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.

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:

PACE Technologies Recommended Preparation for brass and bronze alloys PACE Technologies Metallographic MET-MANUAL Link
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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 gm
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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