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Grinding and polishing is the final stage in the sample preparation process and consists of several steps. Each step uses finer abrasive than the previous one, the ultimate goal being to produce a deformation-free, scratch-free and highly reflective sample surface. The sample may need to be examined, either etched or unetched, to reveal the microstructure of the material. It frequently happens that contrasts in the material are only visible after a successful etching step.
In classical single sample pressure mode, multiple samples of different sizes can be placed in a sample carrier to be ground or polished simultaneously. With single pressure, each sample is pressed to the grinding surface by its own piston.
Electrolytic polishing and etching uses an electrochemical process to contrast phase boundaries with the help of light microscopy.