Sample Preparation

Thin section preparation

Services – Thin Section Preparation

Petrolab prepares high quality petrographic thin sections to report on samples and specimens of rock, aggregate, concrete and other similar materials.


Pelcon Thin Section Machine

We operate the first Pelcon Automatic Thin Section Machine in the UK, which produces high quality thin sections for our own microscopic analysis. This is a precision machine offering many benefits compared to the traditional techniques and equipment more commonly used in thin section preparation (not least the elimination of carborundum contamination).

Pelcon Machine

The Pelcon Automatic Thin Section Machine used for the production of high quality thin sections from aggregate, concrete and rock using fixed diamond abrasives to produce flat, uniform sections with excellent preservation of microscopic fine detail. The fixed abrasives ensure that there is no contamination of the finished section with carborundum powder.

Polished Sections

Petrolab can prepare polished sections for ore mineral analysis using the pictured Buehler EcoMet350 Grinder Polisher. We prepare circular polished mounts suitable for SEM analysis and polished sections suitable for reflected light optical microscopy. Our grinding and polishing methods use all-diamond consumables to avoid the possibility of mixed quantitative EDS analysis results that could occur from contamination with carborundum abrasives.

Concrete Resin

Rock samples and concrete cores, such as those pictured, are bulk impregnated with epoxy resin containing a yellow UV fluorescent dye. The bulk impregnation preserves the sample in its ‘as received’ condition before commencing thin section preparation. A sample ‘chip’ is then cut from the bulk sample and ground using fixed diamond abrasives. The sample chip is used to prepare the finished thin section. Petrolab can prepare high quality thin-sections from concrete, rocks – including shales and other ‘soft’ or water sensitive rocks, coral and other similar materials .

Fluorescent Resin

A concrete sample ‘chip’ impregnated under vacuum with yellow UV fluorescent dye clearly displays fractures that are pervasive through the aggregate. The impregnated chip is used to prepare the finished thin section.

Finished Thin Section

A finished standard thin section of concrete prepared by Petrolab next to its corresponding sample chip.

Ordering Information

Thin sections - ordering information

Please contact us for our price list containing further details of the Services offered.

Some scanned images of completed thin sections from different materials follow.