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Mechanical ASTM E340

Standard Test Method for Macroetching Metals and Alloys

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

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.

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 evidence 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.

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, etc. In the machine shop, it can be used for the determination of grinding cracks in tools and dies.


Mechanical ASTM E340 – click here to download a PDF version


(E340, E-340, E 340)

Extracted with permission, from ASTM Standard E-340-00, 2007, “Standard Test Method for Macroetching Metals and Alloys,” copyright ASTM International, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, West Conshohocken, PA 19428. A copy of the complete standard may be purchased from ASTM International,