By: Clark McDonald
In the world of metallurgical failure analysis, areas of interest on broken parts can be colorful or drab, three-dimensional or flat, and most importantly, very big or very small. A big part of failure analysis work is telling the story, explaining the failure mode, or in some cases, showing that critical piece of evidence that explains why a metal component has failed. From wide-angled lenses to extremely high magnification scanning electron microscope imagery, documentation of failed components is a big part of the presentation.
In this edition of Structural Integrity’s Lab Corner, we wanted to provide some interesting content related to that middle-of-the-road region of magnification; closer than macro-photography but farther away than the 100X to 5000X magnifications that cover most of the applications requiring scanning electron microscopy. In other words, the comfortable world of optical microscopy, where colors, shapes, and even surface textures are part of the story. To do this, we’ve chosen some images that show the usefulness of quality optical microscopic documentation. Each of the provided examples include a brief description along with specific comments on the benefits of optical microscopy for that project, where applicable.