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Metallographic Techniques in Failure Analysis

METALLOGRAPHIC EXAMINATION is one of the most important procedures used by metallurgists in failure analysis. Development of powerful electron metallographic instruments, such as the scanning electron microscope, has not diminished the importance of light microscopy. Basically, the light microscope is used to
assess the nature of the microstructure and its influence on the failure mechanism. The purpose in using the light microscope may be twofold. One purpose may be to determine the relationship between the microstructure and the crack path (in failures involving fracture) and/or the nature of corrosion or wear damage. The second purpose is to determine whether processing or service conditions have produced undesirable microstructural conditions that have contributed to the failure, such as abnormalities due to material quality, fabrication, heat treatment, and service conditions. Examples are given in this
article to demonstrate such analytical work.


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.