Today’s micro-imaging analysis software systems provide users with a module-based approach that allows imaging and measurement to be customized to specific workflow environments. This type of interface flexibility also enables higher levels of automation and standardization — facilities no longer need to rely on small groups of microscopy experts to handle their imaging and analysis tasks. Today, guided, automated functionality based on specific software modules allows larger numbers of staff members to manage the creation, analysis, and distribution of material images. These modules are particularly useful in metallography applications, guiding users through every step of the image analysis process.

Specialized Metallography Modules

Figure 1. OLYMPUS Stream particle distribution module setup screens
Today’s module-based imaging software can be purchased in a variety of set-module packages, or specific application modules can be purchased as needed. Designed to allow efficient image capture and adjustment, measurement, report creation, and archiving, specialized metallography modules include:

Particle Distribution Modules

Particle distribution modules (see Figure 1) allow the creation of particle-size distribution histograms from a series of images using different sources (live image, existing images, stitched images). Users can select various types of measurement parameters and produce a graphic representation of particle distribution according to user-defined bins or international standard classifications.

Phase Analysis Modules

Phase analysis modules allow operators to perform phase analysis on selected Regions of Interest (ROIs) including triangles, circles, rectangles, and polygons. Results can then be cumulated on multiple images.

Porosity Modules

Porosity modules are designed for the measurement of pores, whether an area fraction or a number of pores on surface. Designed to automatically calculate pore density, porosity modules also allow the user to select only a certain range of pore sizes in order to achieve the necessary reproducibility.

Grains Intercept Modules

Grains intercept modules assist steel manufacturers in measuring and controlling grain size after cross-sectioning, polishing, or etching steel samples. Grains intercept modules can automatically calculate standardized American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) grain size numbers by the intercept method without any time-consuming manual input.

Grains Planimetric Modules

Also designed for steel manufacturers measuring and controlling grain size after cross-sectioning, polishing, or etching samples, grains planimetric modules calculate ASTM grain size numbers by the planimetric method.

Chart Comparison Modules

With chart comparison modules, a live or still image can be compared with standard charts using overlay comparisons. Chart comparison modules are ideal for ASTM grain size number evaluation, nonmetallic inclusion rating, and cast-iron shape class evaluation. They can also be used for the examination of carbide structures in steel.

Figure 2. Microscope eyepiece reticle used to compare grain size patterns against a live image
Inclusions Worst Field Modules

Inclusions worst field modules are designed for steel manufacturers measuring and controlling the shape and size of nonmetallic inclusions (oxide, alumina, sulphide, or silicate) in steel.

Cast Iron Modules

Cast iron modules are used by casting manufacturers to measure and control graphite nodularity to check the mechanical characteristics of their cast products. Nodularity can be calculated by graphite size, shape, and distribution.

Layer Thickness Modules

One or multiple layers of a cross-sectioned sample can be measured using layer thickness modules, which define shapes and automatically measure layers. Layer thickness modules are used for a variety of applications including the evaluation of paint-coating thickness and layer thickness of multilayer materials such as composite plastics.

Throwing Power Modules

Throwing power modules measure the distribution of copper plating thickness in through-holes or micro-vias. These modules guide the printed circuit board (PCB) quality examiner through all necessary measurements needed for determining dimple depth.

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