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Visual Examination and Light Microscopy

THE VISUAL EXAMINATION of fractures is deeply rooted in the history of metals production and usage, as discussed in the article “History of Fractography” in this Volume. This important subject, referred to as macrofractography, or the examination of fracture surfaces with the unaided human eye or at low magnifications (–<50), is the cornerstone of failure analysis. In addition, a number of quality control procedures rely on visual fracture examinations. For failure analysis, visual inspection is performed to gain an overall understanding of the fracture, to determine the fracture sequence, to locate the fracture origin or origins, and to detect any macroscopic features relevant to fracture initiation or propagation. For quality control purposes, the fracture features are correlated to processing variables. In this article, examples of visual fracture examination will be given to illustrate the procedure as it applies to failure analysis and quality determination.


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.