ASTM E340 - 13

    Standard Test Method for Macroetching Metals and Alloys

    Active Standard ASTM E340 | Developed by Subcommittee: E04.01

    Book of Standards Volume: 03.01


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    ASTM E340

    Significance and Use

    3.1 Applications of Macroetching :

    3.1.1 Macroetching is used to reveal the heterogeneity of metals and alloys. Metallographic specimens and chemical analyses will provide the necessary detailed information about specific localities but they cannot give data about variation from one place to another unless an inordinate number of specimens are taken.

    3.1.2 Macroetching, on the other hand, will provide information on variations in (1) structure, such as grain size, flow lines, columnar structure, dendrites, etc.; (2) variations in chemical composition as evidenced by segregation, carbide and ferrite banding, coring, inclusions, and depth of carburization or decarburization. The information provided about variations in chemical composition is strictly qualitative but the location of extremes in segregation will be shown. Chemical analyses or other means of determining the chemical composition would have to be performed to determine the extent of variation. Macroetching will also show the presence of discontinuities and voids, such as seams, laps, porosity, flakes, bursts, extrusion rupture, cracks, etc.

    3.1.3 Other applications of macroetching in the fabrication of metals are the study of weld structure, definition of weld penetration, dilution of filler metal by base metals, entrapment of flux, porosity, and cracks in weld and heat affected zones, etc. It is also used in the heat-treating shop to determine location of hard or soft spots, tong marks, quenching cracks, case depth in shallow-hardening steels, case depth in carburization of dies, effectiveness of stop-off coatings in carburization, etc. In the machine shop, it can be used for the determination of grinding cracks in tools and dies.

    3.1.4 Macroetching is used extensively for quality control in the steel industry, to determine the tone of a heat in billets with respect to inclusions, segregation, and structure. Forge shops, in addition, use macroetching to reveal flow lines in setting up the best forging practice, die design, and metal flow. For an example of the use of macroetching in the steel forging industry see Method E381. Forging shops and foundries also use macroetching to determine the presence of internal faults and surface defects. The copper industry uses macroetching for control of surface porosity in wire bar. In the aluminum industry, macroetching is used to evaluate extrusions as well as the other products such as forgings, sheets, etc. Defects such as coring, cracks, and porthole die welds are identified.

    1. Scope

    1.1 These test procedures describe the methods of macroetching metals and alloys to reveal their macrostructure.

    1.2 The values stated in inch-pound units are to be regarded as standard. The values given in parentheses are mathematical conversions to SI units that are provided for information only and are not considered standard.

    1.3 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use. For specific warning statements, see 6.2, 7.1, 8.1.3, 8.2.1, 8.8.3, 8.10.1.1, and 8.13.2.


    2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.

    ASTM Standards

    E3 Guide for Preparation of Metallographic Specimens

    E381 Method of Macroetch Testing Steel Bars, Billets, Blooms, and Forgings


    ICS Code

    ICS Number Code 77.040.99 (Other methods of testing metals)

    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code


    DOI: 10.1520/E0340

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