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. And material mix-ups can lead to product failures. With all types of metal manufacturing and fabrication operations facing increasingly stringent safety regulations, today’s best practices include testing 100% of critical materials.
Part of that quality control process should be analysis of materials throughout the whole fabrication process — from raw materials to final shipment — using the latest XRF and and LIBS technologies.
X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is a non-destructive analytical technique used to determine the elemental composition of materials. Handheld XRF analyzers determine the chemistry of a sample by measuring the fluorescent (or secondary) X-ray emitted from a sample when it is excited by a primary X-ray source.
LIBS is an analytical technique that uses a laser to determine the chemical 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.
These analyzers are important tools for performing material identification and confirmation. Here is a sampling of industries where the latest XRF and LIBS technologies are being used.
If aerospace parts are not manufactured with the precise alloy specified for the application, the parts may not be able to support the weight and stresses they are designed to bear. Handheld XRF and LIBS analyzers are needed to:
- Verify high-temp nickel, titanium, aluminum alloys, and superalloys
- Analyze light elements in aluminum and titanium alloys
- Detect high-purity tin and prevent tin whiskers before they start
- Measure thickness of cadmium and zinc-nickel coatings
New lightweight steel grades and aluminum alloys are being developed to make cars more fuel efficient. Each grade or alloy is composed of designated percentages of different elements – undergoing refining processes to create the appropriate properties for specific automotive components. Even slight variations in the recipe can render the parts defective. Elemental analyzers are essential to:
- Meet specific PMI requirements for automotive manufacturing
- Perform elemental analysis of specialty alloys
- Test finished material to ensure it meets precise engineering specifications
Handheld XRF analyzers are the ideal tool for screening large varieties of incoming metal scrap, as well as providing quick, nondestructive chemistry and grade verification of chill castings and final products. Materials such as stainless steel, aluminum, copper alloys, superalloys, titanium, and more can be analyzed by XRF for sorting. Handheld LIBS analyzers are used when more specific sorting of low alloy and stainless steels is required due to carbon content. Both types of technologies are capable of these key tasks:
- Analyze melt charge material on the spot
- Achieve lab quality accuracy and precision with non-destructive analysis
- Test finished products before shipment
Steel manufacturers need to perform rapid, accurate analysis of trace and alloying elements throughout production. Handheld analyzers deliver accurate metal analysis for:
- Accurate scrap metal sorting that becomes the raw materials for steel production
- Outgoing product analysis for material verification
Using the latest material verification technologies can give you peace of mind because you are deploying a “trust but verify” program and taking control of your quality control program. Knowing the precise material chemistry helps enable metal fabricators to confidently prevent incorrect material from entering the value stream, while protecting the reputation of their business.
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