Automatic Thin Section Machine

The Pelcon Automatic Thin Section Machine is designed for the production of thin section specimens of concrete, rocks, sand or aggregate samples to be used for optical polarization microscopy and petrographic/microstructural analysis.

All cutting, grinding and finishing operations are performed automatically on the machine without any need for hand-held grinding. This ensures the stable production of thin sections with an even thickness over the whole area of the specimen, as well as a reproducible thickness from thin section to thin section.

For most purposes (including standard petrographic analysis) the thin sections can be used directly after a cover glass is mounted.
In case of need for SEM analysis or extremely minute optical analysis, the thin sections may need to be polished, e.g. using diamond spray of 9 microns and downwards. This operation is not covered by the Pelcon Automatic Thin Section Machine, but requires the Pelcon Automatic Polishing Machine.

 Presentation video:

Details of the Pelcon Automatic Thin Section Machine:

Comprises: Diamond saw, water cooling system, vacuum pump, vacuum systems for cutting and grinding, 2 sets of 3 grinding rollers with embedded diamonds, automatic thickness acquisition and adjustable grinding speed.

 Demonstration video:

High Quality Thin Sections

·      Make thin sections without manual grinding
·      Secure against preparation damages
·      Preserve delicate microstructures
·      Constant quality of thin sections
·      Even thickness in full area
·      Constant microscope focus during analysis
·      Sizes up to 35mm x 75mm
·      Offers full finishing quality
·      (Polishing optional)

Concrete, Rocks and Soil

Fluorescence impregnated thin sections are excellent for:
· General petrography
· Mineralogy
· Micro porosity / Cracking
· Damage diagnosis
· Quality control
· Consultancy
· Research

User Friendly and Fast

·      Requires little space
·      Works with very low noise
·      Gives no environmental hazards
·      Based on serial work procedures
·      Simple setting of grinding thickness
·      Requires 3-days training course only
·      10-30 thin sections per day by one operator
·      With training, check lists and specimen control

High precision diamond roller technique

Rim of ettringite crystals in air void; 40 years old concrete

Anne preparing thin sections

Thickness Control System

The Pelcon Automatic Thin Section Machine has build-in thickness control:
·      Accuracy at 1-micron level
·      Required thickness is set before grinding
·      Sample is operated non-manually
·      Grinding stops automatically at set thickness
·      Same thickness at large production series
·      Applied by DBT/Pelcon for 25 years

Well documented

The predecessor of the Pelcon Automatic Thin Section Machine:
· In use at Universities, Accredited Laboratories, Research Institutions and Consultancies
· Over 30,000 thin sections by one machine

Thin section analysis

Analysis of fluorescence impregnated thin sections:
·      Polarisation microscope
·      UV set-up (excitation & barrier filters)*
·      Microstructure analysis system*
·      QA system for analysis documentation*

New driving system (Patent pending):

Specimens are fixed by the two-sided vacuum holder for grinding of both blocks and final thin sections. The vacuum-holder with the specimen is moved gently over the rotating diamond roller by the silent low-pressure driving unit. This gives constant grinding pressure and results in improved and very high quality thin sections.

Thin section produced across a thin section of concrete. XPL, thickness: 20 µm

Low Consumables Cost (not included)

·       Glass*
·       Epoxy
·       Band steel*
·       UV-hardening glue*
·       Fluorescence powder*
·       Diamond blade*
·       Diamond rollers *
 *:     Purchased at Pelcon

Few Requirements

The Pelcon Automatic Thin Section Machine requires:
· 110-220 V AC
· Cooling water
· Vacuum pump for the machine (included)
· Vacuum impregnation chamber*
· UV-lamp for UV-hardening glue*


·        Pre-impregnate fragile samples
·        Mount reference glass on back side of sample
·        Cut to ~10mm thickness incl. ref. glass
·        Grind with diamond rollers nos. 1-3
·        Gently clean and dry sample after each step
·        Vacuum impregnate with fluorescent epoxy
·        Re-grind 5 mm off the impregnated surface
·        Mount on object glass with UV hardening glue
·        Cut to 0.5 mm thickness using diamond saw
·        Grind with rollers nos. 1-3
·        Grinding stops automatically at set thickness
·        (SEM required polishing is optional)
·        Mount cover glass using UV-hardening glue

Moderately vibrated, w/c: 0.38
Over-vibrated, w/c: 0.38

Reliable fluorescence analysis of hardened concrete: 


Please feel free to contact us for a quotation or if you have any questions