Cells and Materials


Scanning electron microscope observations and energy-dispersive spectroscopic analyses have been performed on two first-generation and two second-generation high-palladium dental casting alloys. A specimen design simulating a maxillary central incisor coping was employed to conserve metal, while providing thin and thick sections to yield a range of solidification rates. The alloys were centrifugally cast in air, following standard dental laboratory techniques; three castings were prepared for each alloy. Each casting was sectioned to produce two mirror-image specimens, and one specimen received the appropriate oxidation heat treatment, followed by a simulated full porcelain firing sequence. After metallographic polishing, specimens were examined with a scanning electron microscope. The as-cast alloys displayed multi-phase microstructures which could be explained by the rapid solidification conditions and the relevant phase diagrams. The simulated porcelain firing heat treatment caused a variety of bulk microstructural changes in the coping sections, along with formation of complex subsurface oxidation regions which were less thick for the second-generation alloys. Elemental compositions of the palladium solid solution matrix in the heat-treated alloys were in good agreement with nominal alloy compositions provided by the manufacturers. Ruthenium-rich particles found in the microstructures of three alloys are consistent with a proposed mechanism for grain refinement.