History & Origins of IMS

IMS Origins A Brief History of the AEC Metallography Group by Robert Gray

In the early days of the Manhattan Project, metallographers who were employed by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and its contractors were faced with materials that were textbook curiosities. Some nuclear engineers expected the metallographers to know as much about uranium, plutonium, and other materials related to AEC programs as they knew about iron and copper, but of course there was a great difference. Information on iron and copper and their alloys had been researched and published for many years, whereas metallographic studies of nuclear materials were being carried out with little or no collaboration. Each AEC laboratory developed its own techniques for safety control, specimen preparation, and microstructural interpretation, and each laboratory drew its own conclusions based on individual interpretations of what was obtained.

The need for close coordination became apparent at an AEC Metallurgical Conference in January, 1949, when some of the metallographers and metallurgists in attendance decided they wanted to compare techniques for preparing and examining uranium. They asked G.L. Kehl of Columbia University, A.U. Seybolt of Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, and H.A. Saller of Battelle Memorial Institute-Columbus to arrange an ad-hoc meeting. Battelle agreed to fabricate and heat treat identical sets of natural uranium, and the specimens were distributed to other AEC sponsored laboratories. On July 10, 1949, sixteen representatives of eight laboratories met at Battelle.

The success of the uranium studies opened the door for further cooperation. Twenty-two AEC Metallography Group meetings were held between 1950 and 1969, with up to 60 attendees in later years. Most of the early meetings had a theme; for example, samples of crystal bar zirconium and zirconium-clad 6 wt.% uranium alloy were distributed in advance of the June 1950 meeting. Beginning with the sixth meeting, in September, 1952, attendees presented papers that reflected the recent work of their laboratories. In 1952 the first steering committee was elected, and in 1953 Harriet Roman of MIT was elected permanent secretary and agreed to distribute proceedings of each meeting to the participants. The AEC Metallography Group was never formally recognized or financially supported by the AEC, although the AEC sent a representative to most meetings.

The Commission's attitude was that the meetings were an essential part of materials development and that the informal technical exchange was best left as it was. These meetings were not open to the general public, and the material covered was rather narrow in scope. The idea to form a society for all metallographers, covering all types of techniques and materials, came from discussions among John Bender, Fred Cochran, and Kaye Johnson at the May, 1967 meeting of the AEC Metallography group. Upon returning home they formulated a charter for an "International Metallographic Society," and the Society was incorporated in New Mexico in September. In 1969 the AEC Metallography Group voted to become part of the IMS as the AEC Nuclear Materials Session.

The need for continued separate recognition of the AEC group soon phased out as declassification allowed many papers and discussions to be presented openly. However, the ideas and techniques developed by group members remain in wide use. Many research methods developed for nuclear materials have been extended to the study of nearly all materials. One small group of metallographers and materials scientists clearly had a valuable impact on our progress.

IMS History by Japnell Braun, Robert Crouse, and Robert J. Gray

The Society gained official and legal status as a non-profit organization following its incorporation in New Mexico in September, 1967. In November, 1968, the IMS held the first of its annual technical meetings. Over the intervening years, the meetings have been held across the North American continent, from Orlando to Seattle and from San Francisco to Montreal. The 1980 meeting, reflecting the truly international flavor of the Society, was held in Brighton, England, in cooperation with the Royal Microscopial Society.

In 1971 the annual meetings were expanded to include a two-day symposium on a selected topic. The symposia have been held in collaboration with numerous societies, including ASM, ASTM, AWS, and NACE. Beginning in 1990, the symposium was reduced to one day and the technical meeting increased to three days. One and two-day workshops or short courses are also often a part of the annual meeting.

An integral part of the IMS annual meeting is the International Metallographic Contest. It was initially developed by George L. Kehl and C.K.H. DuBose as a vehicle for metallographers from all over the world to display their skills and compete among their peers for cash prizes. It has been expanded and refined over the years to its present form of twelve classes, with a best-in-show grand prize award. In the beginning the grand prize was named after Pierre Jacquet, the great French metallographer who died on September 6, 1967, in the month the IMS was formed. In 1946, The American Society for Metals (ASM) (now known as ASM International) had initiated a metallographic exhibit that carried a Grand Prize (Best In Show) Award. In 1958, it was titled the Francis F. Lucas Metallographic Award. In 1972 the IMS and ASM agreed to combine their metallographic exhibits and we now have the prestigious "Pierre Jacquet/Francis F. Lucas" grand prize. This award carries a cash prize of $3000.00 (sponsored by Buehler, Ltd.) and a gold medal. The twelfth class, established in 1989, is the DuBose-Crouse Award. This is a non-cash award for entries submitted by officers and directors of IMS or ASM, class award sponsors, and commercial exhibitors, prohibited by contest rules from competing for cash prizes. (Note: The 12th class referred to was eliminated when the Contest was restructured for 2007.)

In addition to the metallographic awards, the Society annually recognizes an outstanding international figure for lifetime contributions to the field of metallography with the Sorby Award, an IMS member for outstanding service to the Society with the President's Award, and the presenter(s) of the best paper at the Technical Meeting.

The IMS has been involved in several publications since its inception. Fred Cochran conceived the idea for the international journal Metallography and, in agreement with Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company, became its first editor. The first issue was printed in September, 1968. The journal has been well received by the scientific community and is widely cited in the technical literature. In light of the increasing involvement of the discipline of metallography with all solid materials, the name of the journal was changed in 1990 to Materials Characterization.

SlipLines, the Society's newsletter, was created in 1974. It lists upcoming meetings and topics of interest to metallographers, information about all IMS activities, and personal information about members. It also incorporates short technical notes on new techniques, etchants, and unusual microstructures. Beginning with the March, 1995 issue, ASM publishes this newsletter, and new product announcements and literature abstracts are included as well as information about ASM matters.

In the early days of the Society, the Technical Meeting proceedings were published by IMS. From the fifth to the fifteenth meetings, the papers were published by Elsevier under the series titled Microstructural Science. This series continues but is now published for IMS by ASM International. Proceedings of the symposia have also been published. Plenum Press has printed several of these books, while others have been issued by joint-sponsor societies such as ASM.

Other publishing ventures by IMS have not fared well. Two journals, Microstructures (1970-71) and The Metallographic Review (1972-73), did not succeed because of financial difficulties. Both were excellent publications but were too much for a young Society. To extend the exposure of the metallographic Contest, books containing photographic copies of the entries for 1978 through 1980 were m,arketed each year by ASM and IMS. However, this venture was also financially unsuccessful.

An extremely important part of the annual M&M Conference, co-sponsored by IMS, has been the Commercial Exposition, which enables delegates to keep up to date with all the latest advances in metallographic equipment and laboratory techniques. The support the exhibitors have provided to the annual meetings has been invaluable to the Society.

In November, 1992, the IMS Board of Directors and the ASM International Board of Trustees voted to enter into negotiations for the IMS to become the first Affiliate Society of ASM International. Under the agreement negotiated, the IMS retained its own identity as a Society, including its Board of Directors, which reports to the ASM Board of Trustees through the IMS President; its publications; and its annual meeting. ASM acquired all IMS assets and liabilities and is responsible for IMS financial and staff support through the normal budgeting process. IMS membership was converted to a dual IMS/ASM membership. The affiliation process was placed on the 1993 IMS ballot and was approved by the membership. Letters of agreement were signed by IMS President I. LeMay and ASM Managing Director Edward Langer on July 7-8, 1993. The affiliation was effective July 22, 1993. The transition to Affiliate Society was completed October 30, 1993.