Preparation of metallographic or microscopic specimens generally requires five major operations: sectioning, mounting (which is optional), grinding, polishing and etching. A well-prepared specimen is:

Represent sample.

Sectioned, ground and polished so as to minimize disturbed or flowed surface metal caused by mechanical deformation, and thus to allow the true microstructure to be revealed by etching.

Free from polishing scratches and pits and liquid staining.

Polished so that inclusions are preserved intact.

Flat enough to permit examination at high magnifacation.

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