NMCF Sample Preparation and Hardness Testing


The NMCF houses a suite of sample preparation equipment for Metallography and Electron Microscopy as listed below. These systems are located in the Materials Science Building (MSB). Sample preparation for SEM and TEM can also be done with our Helios FIB-SEM in Wilsdorf Hall. In addition, Rockwell, Vickers, and Knoop hardness testing equipment is available in the MSB. For information on rates click here.

NMCF Metallographic and SEM Sample Preparation

  • Precision Cut-off Saw

    Precision Cut-off Saw

    Mager BR220 Precision Cut-Off Saw 8'' in room MSB 129.

    Room MSB 229 houses a Struers Labotom-5 manual cut-off saw.


  • Techcut4 Cut-off Saw

    Techcut4 Cut-off Saw

    Use the Allied Tech Techcut4 slow speed saw in room MSB 129 for cutting smaller samples.

    As for all cut-off saws, you need to bring your own blades.


  • Sample Lapping and Polishing Equipment

    Sample Lapping and Polishing Equipment

    Room 129 in MSB houses four polishing and lapping wheels, three 8 inch wheels, one 12 inch wheel, and one 8 inch auto/manual polisher.


  • Hitachi IM4000 Flat Milling System

    The Hitachi IM4000 system, located in MSB131, is used as the final preparation step to obtain flat samples for SEM and for hardness testing. The IM4000 also allows preparation of large cross sections of samples by using specimen masks.

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  • Gatan Precision Etching and Polishing System (PECS)

    The Gatan 682 PECS, located in MSB 131, allows for etching of surfaces and for sputter coating of different materials. For non-conductive samples to be studied in SEM a conductive layer can be deposited with the PECS.


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  • Technics Sputter Coater

    Technics Sputter Coater

    The Technics coater in MSB 131 allows sputter coating 30 nm of AuPd in 1 minute. We can coat a large sample up to 2" in diameter and up to 3/4" tall, or multiple SEM stubs at one time: 6x 1/2" stubs or 3x 1" stubs. Training videos for the Technics coater are available and should be reviewed prior to instrument training. Heat-sensitive samples can not be sputter coated with the Technics coater, instead, use the PECS system for sputter coating of heat-sensitive materials.


  • Cressington Sputter Coater

    Cressington Sputter Coater

    The Cressington sputter coater in MSB 131 allows sputter coating 30 nm of AuPd or Pt in 1 minute. We can coat a large sample up to 2 1/2" in diameter and up to 3" tall, or multiple SEM stubs at one time: 12x 1/2" stubs or 5x 1" stubs. Heat-sensitive samples can be sputter coated at a large working distance using the manual mode of the Cressington sputter coater.

NMCF Sample Preparation for TEM

  • Gatan Precision Ion Polishing System (PIPS)

    The Gatan 691 PIPS system, located in MSB 131, is used as the final preparation step for many types of TEM samples. 3 mm disks cut from bulk materials or from embedded cross sections are thinned to less than 50 micron before argon ion milling in the FIB.


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  • Ultrasonic Disc Cutter

    Ultrasonic Disc Cutter

    The Fischione model 170 Ultrasonic Disc Cutter for cutting 3 mm discs is located in MSB 131.


  • Henniker Plasma Cleaner

    The Henniker HPT100 Plasma Cleaner in MSB 131 removes carbon and other contamination from surfaces. In addition surfaces can be activated for improved adhesion using specific settings.


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  • Dimple Grinder

    Dimple Grinder

    Fischione Model 150 Dimple Grinder in MSB 131 is used to reduce sample thickness in the center of a 3 mm disc for TEM sample preparation.

  • Electro-Polishing Unit

    Electro-Polishing Unit

    The Fischione model 110+140 Electro-Polisher is useful for final thinning of metallic samples. This instrument is located in MSB 131.


NMCF Hardness Testing

  • Rockwell Hardness Testing

    Rockwell Hardness Testing

    Wilson Model 4 Rockwell Hardness Tester in room MSB 162.


  • Vickers Hardness Testing

    Vickers Hardness Testing

    Room MSB 162 houses one manual Bühler Micromet 1600 Vickers hardness tester and one Bühler Micromet 5101 Vickers hardness tester with camera and set-up for Knoop testing.