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Metallography & Petrography

Buehler Ltd., a pioneer in the field of Metallography and in the study of microstructure of materials, produces equipment and consumables used in research and industry.

The preparation of metallographic and petrographic specimens involves a series of processes, by using suitable equipment and consumable materials, to render specimens suitable for microscopic examination.

The process of preparing microscopic examination specimens involves, roughly, the following discrete stages:

  • Sectioning of specimens from larger size materials. Buehler produce a line of specialized, precision sectioning machines, as well as cutting discs and blades that have been designed for best results.
  • Mounting of specimens by using special equipment (e.g. presses, vacuum systems, etc.) as well as materials (e.g. various types of resins). Mounting facilitates the handling of specimens and allows them to be positioned in sample holders and/or chucks, for sectioning, grinding and polishing.
  • Grinding of specimens serves to remove the damage introduced by sectioning and to flatten their surfaces. Grinding is intended to prepare the specimen surface for polishing which is, usually, the final stage of preparation.
  • Polishing of the specimen serves to remove all damages, even to the finest scratch and produce a mirror-like surface. It usually is performed by mechanical means (equipment plus polishing cloths and chemicals). It is also possible to polish specimen surfaces by electrolytic methods (electropolishing). After polishing the specimen surface is often etched by special chemicals, to uncover the microstructure of the material under examination.
  • Image Analysis. Apart from the visual examination, it is frequently required to analyze images by computer, to record numerical data involved in microstructure analysis. A digital camera feeds the microscope image into a computer. Suitable software process the data and provide the required information. Image analysis is a very useful tool for quality control.


The information provided above is valid for both metallographic and petrographic microstructure examination by incident light microscopy. In petrography it is possible to prepare thin sections (transparent sections) so that specimens can be examined by transmitted light microscopy. Examination by electron microscopy (SEM or TEM) is also possible.

The equipment and consumables for preparing specimens of specific materials, are carefully selected by using a host of criteria, the main of which are listed below:

  • Type, hardness and composition of the material (e.g. synthetic, ceramic, refractory, metals, alloys, heat treatment applied, mechanical properties, etc.).
  • Volume of specimen production (i.e. specimens per day).
  • Type of examination (e.g. hardness testing, transmitted light microscopy, electron microscopy, chemical etching, etc.)


Adolph I. Buehler Incorporated, Buehler’s predecessor, was founded and incorporated in 1936 by Adolph I. Buehler, a Swiss immigrant who saw a need for metallographic sample preparation equipment and optical inspection instruments for the steel and automotive industries in the Midwest USA. Starting with a product line consisting of optical inspection instruments, a mounting press and a polisher, seventy years later Buehler is well established as the world’s leading supplier of materials preparation and analysis instruments, equipment, consumable supplies and application solutions.

Originally based in Chicago, IL, Buehler moved to a facility in Evanston, IL in 1954. As the Company continued to grow, in 1981 Buehler moved to its present 150,000 sq. ft. headquarter facility in Lake Bluff, IL.  Buehler has been an active exporter for much of its history and has more than 40 years experience operating in Asia and Europe.

Apart from R&D work, Buehler is actively supporting customers who wish to receive instructions and assistance in their routine metallographic or petrographic specimen preparation work. Besides, Buehler also organizes educational activities for customers, in selected venues.

Disciplines in industry and research using Buehler equipment and consumables (indicatively):

  • Electronics and optics
  • Geology, Mineralogy
  • Electron microscopy
  • Air & Space Industry
  • Automotive Industry
  • Medical devices and materials
  • Biology/Medicine/Dentistry
  • Ceramics & Refractory materials Industry
  • Ordnance Industry
  • Education
  • Energy Industry
  • Heat processing
  • Non-metals Industry
  • Metal production Industry
  • Research and materials testing
  • Welding


It is worth noting here that Buehler’s consumables are the result of long-term research and experience. Buehler’s metallography/petrography consumables (sectioning discs and blades, grinding papers, polishing cloths, powders, slurries, pastes and extenders, hot and cold mounting resins, etc.) are highly specialized products of extremely high quality and endurance, so that they last much longer and produce much better results than other currently available materials on the market.

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