Standard Active Last Updated: May 29, 2023 Track Document
ASTM E3-11(2017)

Standard Guide for Preparation of Metallographic Specimens

Standard Guide for Preparation of Metallographic Specimens E0003-11R17 ASTM|E0003-11R17|en-US Standard Guide for Preparation of Metallographic Specimens Standard new BOS Vol. 03.01 Committee E04
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Significance and Use

4.1 Microstructures have a strong influence on the properties and successful application of metals and alloys. Determination and control of microstructure requires the use of metallographic examination.

4.2 Many specifications contain a requirement regarding microstructure; hence, a major use for metallographic examination is inspection to ensure that the requirement is met. Other major uses for metallographic examination are in failure analysis, and in research and development.

4.3 Proper choice of specimen location and orientation will minimize the number of specimens required and simplify their interpretation. It is easy to take too few specimens for study, but it is seldom that too many are studied.


1.1 The primary objective of metallographic examinations is to reveal the constituents and structure of metals and their alloys by means of a light optical or scanning electron microscope. In special cases, the objective of the examination may require the development of less detail than in other cases but, under nearly all conditions, the proper selection and preparation of the specimen is of major importance. Because of the diversity in available equipment and the wide variety of problems encountered, the following text presents for the guidance of the metallographer only those practices which experience has shown are generally satisfactory; it cannot and does not describe the variations in technique required to solve individual specimen preparation problems.

Note 1: For a more extensive description of various metallographic techniques, refer to Samuels, L. E., Metallographic Polishing by Mechanical Methods, American Society for Metals (ASM) Metals Park, OH, 3rd Ed., 1982; Petzow, G., Metallographic Etching, ASM, 1978; and VanderVoort, G., Metallography: Principles and Practice, McGraw Hill, NY, 2nd Ed., 1999.

1.2 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.

1.3 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

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Book of Standards Volume: 03.01
Developed by Subcommittee: E04.01
Pages: 12
DOI: 10.1520/E0003-11R17
ICS Code: 77.040.99