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Color Tint Etching


  • Best results occur when etching right after polishing, time can create a passive surface
  • Specimen preparation must remove all damage
  • Etch the specimen with a general-purpose etch, then repolish and tint etch for best results
  • Tint etching must be done by immersion, as swabbing will inhibit film formation
  • The film grows epitaxially with the underlying grain structure with little “etch” depth


  • Grains are colored according to their crystallographic orientation (film thickness is a function of crystal orientation)
  • Very sensitive to chemical inhomogenieties
  • Very sensitive to residual deformation
  • Etchants are phase specific, i.e., selective


The articles and presentations that can be down-loaded from this web site are based upon work done by GFV while employed at Bethlehem Steel (1967-1983), Carpenter Technology (1983-1996), Buehler Ltd. (1996-2009) and Struers (2009-Present) and from the authors consulting work for companies such as, Latrobe Steel, Scot Forge, etc., and from his litigation work. GFV's bylined articles appearing in various issues of the ASM Handbook series have been listed here courtesy of ASM International, Materials Park, Ohio.