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Metallographic Tin Etchants

Metallographic Etching

Tin Alloy 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, http://www.metallographic.com/Consumables/Etch.htm

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:

http://www.metallographic.com/Procedures/Lead-tin-zinc%20Description.htm

http://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.

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

Nital
Ethanol
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 grams

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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