The ESEM (Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope) is an instrument that circumvents a limitation of conventional SEM, in that samples can be examined in a gaseous atmosphere rather than a vacuum. With a heating stage, dynamic processes can be observed in situ at high temperature. In this study, A201 aluminium alloy samples with globular structures have been examined in the semisolid region. In addition, a manipulator has been installed onto the heating stage to allow the probing of semi-solid surfaces. The paper shows the potential for manipulating semi-solid materials in order to better understand thixotropic phenomena.