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Metallographic Tin Etchants

The most common etchants for tin alloys contain either ammonium hydroxide, nitric acid or ferric chloride, however, there are numerous 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:
Tin 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 Tin alloys PACE Technologies Metallographic MET-MANUAL Link
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Recommended Etchants
Etchant Conc. Conditions Comments
Ethanol or methanol
or Distilled water
Hydrochloric acid

100 ml
2-5 ml
Several minutes Pure tin, tin-lead alloys, tin-antimony-copper alloys
Nitric acid

100 ml
1-10 ml

Seconds to minutes

Do not exceed 10% nitric acid -explosive
Distilled water or methanol
Hydrochloric acid
Ferric chloride
100 ml
5-25 ml
10 gm

Seconds to minutes

Tin-copper alloys

Metallographic micrograph of etched tin-copper alloy
Tin-copper alloy, etched with 2% Nital, Mag. 100X (DIC)

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