Metallography is a method of materials analysis used to characterize the microscopic structure of a metal sample. Generally, the process involves cutting a section from some object of interest, polishing its surface to high smoothness, and etching it with a chemical agent to highlight grain boundaries, inclusions, and other microstructural features. The sample is then imaged using one of a number of types of microscopy. The resulting pictures are often strikingly (if incidentally) beautiful. That’s OK by me, personally—incidental beauty is usually my favorite kind.
I have written here about metallography before. Back in 2009, I had a hard time finding nice high resolution metallographic images to share with you. Happily, there seems to be more of it available online, now, and I’ve picked out three academic and commercial image libraries, sampled above and linked below, for those interested in digging deeper. Some of the captioning is still less detailed than I like (many of PAXCam’s images, for instance, are simply labelled as “Metallurgy Image”), but beggars oughtn’t to be choosers. So I’ll simply leave it with this: Hey metallographers! More pretty pictures! Please and thank you!
I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan