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Ceramics and Ceramic Composites: Materialographic Preparation

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Ceramics and ceramic composites are now used in almost all areas of technology. Consequently, it is becoming increasingly important to study polished sections of these materials in industrial laboratories by means of optical microscopes and scanning electron microscopes. In some cases, the experience required for the preparation of pohshed sections is lacking, or preparation steps typically used with metals are unsuccessfully apphed to these materials. Chapter 2 therefore presents fundamental information on preparing pohshed sections of ceramics and ceramic composites. This information encompasses the main steps of samphng, sectioning, mounting and impregnation, and mechanical grinding, lapping and poUshing.

In past experience, the use of diamond products has been preferred for the sectioning and abrasive processing of ceramics and ceramic composites. The use of automated grinding, lapping, and poUshing machines makes it possible to obtain a uniformly high degree of section quaUty with reproducible results. In cases of lowvolume sample throughput, manual preparation of polished sections can also produce quite useful results.

Chapter 3 discusses microstructural imaging in the optical microscope (OM) and the use of the scanning electron microscope (SEM). After a section of a ceramic or a ceramic composite has undergone final poUshing, it must be subjected to etching or contrast enhancement in order to reveal its microstructure. This practice is similar to the study of metal specimens. Chapter 4 presents material-specific preparation procedures for polished sections. These procedures take into account the properties of the ceramic or composite being examined and the purpose of the examination. These procedures have proven to be very suitable for the respective materials and are effective for reveaUng the pores. The examples presented here for ceramics and ceramic composites provide polished sections of good to exceUent quaUty for routine examination under the optical microscope. They include tips for etching and contrast enhancement, as weU as microstructural images. Chapter 5 discusses the preparation of polished sections for purposes of examination and contains information on producing obUque sections and controlled removal of material. It also addresses the production of thin sections.

As a complement to the examination of the microstructure, chapter 6 provides insight into the evaluation of hardness testing indentations. Chapter 7 concludes this work with an overview of the technical Uterature.
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