Materialographic preparation involves a sequence of techniques used to prepare the true structure of a specimen for analysis. Sectioning or cutting is where most specimen preparation for analysis begins, followed by mounting if it is required to help assist with mechanical preparation and/or analysis. Mechanical grinding and polishing are the key processes to produce reflective and deformation free surfaces.
For homogenous metals, electrolytic preparation can be a substitute or supplement to mechanical processes. Etching is used to create contrast and reveal structural features within the surface.
It’s important to understand the principles of operation of each technique and how the different process parameters affect the specimen surface and material, to help choose suitable consumables and methods to minimise deformation to the specimen surface and creation of artefacts during preparation.