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Soft Low Carbon Steels (ferrite and pearlite) Specimen Preparation

Metallographic etchant database

1018 furnace cooled steel is a soft steel consisting of a pearlite and ferrite structure. The challenge in microstructural preparation of this material is the tendency for the material to smear. This smearing has a tendency to mask scratching which is more apparent following etching.

To minimize this effect of smearing, the use of tightly graded nanometer alumina with a polish-etch-polish sequence should eliminate this problem.


MAXCUT Abrasive blade (Cat. No. MAX-D or MAX-E series)

Compression Mounting with Phenolic, Epoxy or Diallyl Phthalate compression mounting resins




Force/ sample



240 grit SiC paper
360 grit SiC paper
600 grit SiC paper
800 grit SiC paper
1200 grit SiC paper


5-10 lbs

200/200 rpm

Until plane
1 minute
1 minute
1 minute
1 minute

1 um DIAMAT diamond on GOLDPAD polishing pad

DIALUBE Purple Extender

5-10 lbs

200/200 rpm

2 minutes

0.05 um Nanometer alumina on TRICOTE polishing pad


5-10 lbs

100/100 rpm

30 seconds


Metallographic micrograph of ferrite and pearlite

1018 Furnace cooled steel, 1000X (polarized light), etched with 2% nital. Structure is Ferrite and Pearlite

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