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Tin Alloy Specimen Preparation

Tin allows can be difficult to prepare because it is very soft and distortion to the microstucture can easily occur. If not removed this distorted layer hides the true microstructure. In addition, if any excessive heat occurs during preparation the microstructure can also be masked by surface recrystallized. Proper preparation requires minimizing damage. For tin and tin alloys, alternating between polishing and etching is often required in order to remove the damaged microstructure. The recommended etchant is 2% nital (2 ml nitric acid in 100 ml methanol or ethanol); etch for only a few seconds before repolishing.


MAXCUT Abrasive blade (MAX-C or MAX-I series)

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




Force/ sample



P240 grit ALO paper
P500 grit ALO paper
P1200 grit ALO paper


5-10 lbs

100/100 rpm

Until plane
1 minute
1 minute

1 um DIAMAT diamond on ATLANTIS polishing pad

DIALUBE Purple Extender

5-10 lbs

100/100 rpm

2 minutes

0.05 um Nanometer alumina on NAPPAD polishing pad


5-10 lbs

100/100 rpm

1 minute

Metallography microstructure of tin-aluminum-copper tin alloy

Tin-Antimony-Copper (hard tin), 100X, 2% nital etchant for 2 seconds

Metallography microstructure of tin-bismuth alloy
Tin-bismuth alloy, 200x, etchant 2% Nital
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