Whenever we talk to metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing manufacturers — whether in person or at trade shows like FABTECH — we are asked about the latest technologies, processes and solutions that can bring new levels of productivity and efficiency to their metal fabrication operations. Manufacturers are usually interested in seeing our XRF and LIBS analyzers in action and learning how these instruments can help verify their metals in both their raw materials and finished products as well as analyze coating weights on steels. Here are the top five questions and topics that are usually discussed.
Is it necessary to verify all metal materials?
The verification of metal alloys for quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) has never been more important for product reliability and safety. From metal production through final product assembly, the potential for material mix-ups is real. With all types of manufacturing operations facing increasingly stringent safety regulations, today’s best practices include testing 100% of critical materials. You need to confidently prevent incorrect material from entering the value stream, while protecting the reputation of your business. It is no longer feasible to rely on mill test reports (MTRs) for elemental data. Validate incoming goods by deploying a “trust but verify” program.
Which technology is better suited for metal and alloy analysis, including helping to identify low alloy/ carbon steels?
X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) help in verifying metal alloys for manufacturing quality assurance. LIBS is better suited to help identify low alloy/ carbon steels and L and H grade steels. (Learn about XRF technology and LIBS spectroscopy.) Handheld analyzers can perform material inspection directly on the manufacturing line, thereby avoiding wasting days or weeks from sending goods to an external testing lab.
What is the difference between XRF and LIBS technologies?
X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy is a non-destructive analytical technique used to determine the elemental composition of materials. XRF analyzers work by measuring the fluorescent (or secondary) X-rays emitted from a sample when excited by a primary X-ray source. Each of the elements present in a sample produces a set of characteristic fluorescent X-rays, or unique “fingerprints.” These fingerprints are distinct for each element, making XRF analysis an excellent tool for quantitative and qualitative measurements. (In steel manufacturing, XRF is used for analysis of raw materials, slags, and alloys.)
LIBS is an acronym for Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy. It is an analytical technique used to determine the elemental composition of materials. Handheld LIBS analyzers work by using a high-focused laser to ablate the surface of a sample. A plasma is formed consisting of electronically excited atoms and ions. As these atoms decay back into their ground states, they emit characteristic wavelengths of light, or “unique fingerprints”. These “fingerprints” are distinct for each element, making handheld LIBS analysis an excellent tool for quantitative and qualitative measurements.
Why is it important to analyze coatings?
Coatings analysis is extremely important for the fabrication industry to help ensure they meet or exceed client material specifications. Metal coatings must be applied in certain thickness specifications to perform as expected. In addition, giving away too much of a coating could be expensive to the company’s bottom line.
Which technology is recommended analyze coatings?
Handheld XRF analyzers are an extremely efficient technology for rapid compositional analysis of alloy coatings in any application. The strength of an XRF signal can be used to determine the thickness of the coating; a second reading can determine the thickness of the substrate. Since the analyzers are handheld, they can be utilized to perform spot analysis anywhere in the supply chain, help ensure that expensive coating material isn’t wasted, and enhance process monitoring and quality control. If considering an XRF analyzer, make sure that it can measure coat weight or coating thickness of several layers over one substrate. The substrate can be either defined as metal, alloy, plastic or wood while the layers can be defined as pure element, alloy or compound (Learn more by reading the Application Note: Measuring Metal Coating Thickness at Line.)
- Application Note: Measuring Metal Coating Thickness at Line
- Manufacturing & Metal Fabrication technologies
- XRF technology
- LIBS spectroscopy
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