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Metallographic Soft or Welding Steel Etchants

The most common etchant for low carbon steels or weld steels is Nital, however, there are a lot of other potential etchant for speicalized etching. 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:
Low carbon steels and welded steel 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 Steel PACE Technologies Metallographic MET-MANUAL Link
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Recommended Etchants
Etchant Conc. Conditions Comments

Nitric acid

100 ml
1-10 ml

Seconds to minutes Do not exceed 10% nitric acid-explosive
Picric acid

100 ml
2-4 gm
Seconds to minutes Do not let etchant dry-explosive

Metallographic metallograph for etched low carbon steels
1018 Low Carbon Steel (quenched), etched, Mag. 100X

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