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A material's microstructure can reveal important information about a material's properties, processing and composition. To view the microstructure, the material must be cross-sectioned and polished, then chemically etched to reveal regions of different composition. Finally, the microstructure is imaged with a microscope.
uniform carbon spheroids
The polished cross-section of a ductile iron reveals the uniform carbon spheroids that provide strengthening to this modified cast iron. The strength of this material exceeded specifications.
poorly formed carbides
The mechanical properties of this ductile iron were below the specified limits. Microscopic examination reveals poorly formed carbides as the cause.
scanning electron microscope
Although conventional optical microscopy can be used to magnify up to 1,000 times, the above images were taken with a scanning electron microscope, which can image features smaller than 0.00004 inches.