Preparation of Ceramics

Ceramic materials are extremely hard and brittle and may contain pores. Sectioning must be performed using diamond blades. If the specimen is to be thermally etched, then it must be mounted in a resin that permits easy demounting, and vacuum infiltration of epoxy into the voids should not be done. Deformation and smearing are not problems with ceramics due to their inherent characteristics. But, it is possible to break out grains or produce cracking during preparation. Pullouts are a major problem to control as they can be misinterpreted as porosity. Mechanical preparation has been done successfully with laps, metal- bonded diamond discs, rigid grinding discs, or hard cloths. SiC paper is rather ineffective with most ceramics, as they are nearly as hard or as hard as the SiC abrasive. Consequently, diamond is commonly used for nearly all preparation steps. Automated preparation is highly recommended when preparing ceramic materials as very high forces arise between the specimen and the working surface, often too high for manual preparation.

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