Metallography or metallographic analysis is the study of a materials microstructure and can be considered an integral branch for metallurgical testing or for the field of materials science. Microstructural analysis of a material's metallographic microstructure aids in determining if the material has been processed correctly and is therefore a critical step for determining products reliability (Quality Control) and/or for determining why a material failed (Metallographic Failure analysis). Metallurgy is primarily the study of metals, however, many of the principles used for testing metals applies to ceramics, plastics, minerals, computer chips and many other applications which may be more unique such as measuring the age of the fish population in a lake by statistically analyzing the thickness of the ear bone.
Metallographic specimen preparation requires knowledge of the specimen properties, the most important characteristics are the hardness and ductility of the metallographic specimen. Based on these material properties, the proper metallographic consumables and equipment parameters can be determined. The following chart shows the hardness and ductility for most metallographic material classes that are analyzed by metallographic techniques. Specimen procedures are fundamentally derived from this metallographic applications chart.
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