How to Improve Your In-House Quality Control with SEM
In-house quality control is trending – and with good reason. The right approach can speed up your quality control processes ten-fold, reduce costs, and provide you with complete control over your data.
Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) is a powerful tool in this space, boosting your quality control capabilities. With SEM, structural details down to the nanometer scale become available. This allows for precise characterization of microscopic defects or nanoscale deviations from process specifications that could not be observed with other tools. With this information in hand, engineers and researchers can enact quality improvements in the earliest stages of defect formation.
In this post, we reveal how you can improve your in-house quality control with SEM. We explain how a scanning electron microscope gives you the ability to carry out speedy analysis, verification, and chemical classification of materials, while providing fast, accurate, and trusted data. Let’s look into the benefits that a SEM can bring to your in-house quality control now.
Superior resolution, high throughput
High resolution is often important within the field of quality control. If you cannot scale down to the micro- and nanoscale, you could miss vital information for your quality control applications.
SEMs are capable of resolutions spanning tens of microns down to the sub-nanometer range. Our powerful, floor-model Thermo Scientific Verios SEM, for example, is capable of sub-nanometer resolutions from 1 to 30 keV. Our Thermo Scientific Apreo 2 SEM provides all-around nanometer or sub-nanometer resolution performance on materials ranging from nanomaterials, powders, catalysts, and nanodevices to bulk magnetic samples.
Our SEMs are also designed with high throughput in mind. Most of our SEMs are capable of very fast pump down times, often within a few minutes. Our systems are also ready to work at any time, featuring automatic alignments and workflows. This can help you realize massive time savings where, for example, you don’t need to turn on a beam and waste time realigning it. Instead, you can just click “lens alignment,” and your lenses will automatically align.
Key elemental information, quickly
SEMs are highly versatile instruments. For a typical quality control process, a SEM can provide you with a comprehensive set of information, including valuable chemical composition, morphology, and topography data.
SEMs with energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) analysis can gain comprehensive qualitative and quantitative chemical analysis sample data, which is vital for many quality control and failure analysis applications where you may need to identify a contaminant or the composition of an inclusion, for example.
Most of our SEMs come with Thermo Scientific ChemiSEM Technology, which is an exclusive live elemental imaging capability. This automatically colors greyscale electron micrographs, providing you with instant chemical context for any observed faults and defects.
ChemiSEM Technology is always on, reducing your time to results and revealing features that would have previously gone unnoticed. It broadens your userbase thanks to its ease of use, meaning researchers no longer have to switch between different systems to analyze chemical data. What’s more, ChemiSEM Technology can increase your productivity, giving you access to elemental information 2–4 times faster than conventional technologies.
Introducing Environmental SEMs
Modern materials science research has moved beyond traditional metals and coated samples. Today, there is a need for micro- and nano-scale information on more complex, challenging materials, including those that are nonconductive, dirty, wet, chemically reactive, or outgassing.
This is where Environmental SEMs (ESEMs) can help. They combine all-around performance in imaging and analytics with a unique environmental mode that allows samples to be studied in their natural state. The Thermo Scientific Prisma SEM and the Thermo Scientific Quattro SEM, for example, are highly versatile environmental SEMs for quality control and failure analysis applications.
Easy-to-use and feature-rich SEMs
Our SEMs feature easy-to-use user interfaces (UIs), democratizing your quality control tasks. All of our SEM systems now include features like system presets, user guidance, photo navigation, undo and redo, and auto functions to make the day-to-day operation of your SEM faster and more efficient. As a result, you do not need to switch between different technologies and tools—everything is available in the same space, allowing them to be used to fully and seamlessly investigate each sample.
So, you don’t need to rely on expert staff to operate your SEM. Thanks to a range of easy-to-use features and the extensive user support on offer at Thermo Fisher Scientific, you can get your SEM up and running quickly and with minimum fuss. Plus, by keeping your quality control processes in-house, you also get a level of user consistency, which would be impossible if you decided to outsource.
Automate your quality control system
In the past, researchers have been required to perform the same repetitive steps to analyze every object—consuming valuable time, reducing productivity, and increasing the risk of human error.
New automation solutions are helping to solve these problems, eradicating many of the repetitive steps in your workflows, such as analyzing particles, pores, fibers, and large SEM images. Today’s SEMs can also provide you with accurate information, quickly, to reduce failures, avoid delays, and boost your productivity.
You can use automation to acquire large area mapping (mosaics), offload your routine imaging tasks so they run overnight, correlate different modalities, visualize, and share your results.
Automation expedites your quality control processes, where the machine effectively does all the heavy lifting for you, completing automating a range of manual analysis tasks. What’s more, an automated quality control system can work 24/7, without breaks and without tiring, reducing the likelihood of errors in your quality control tasks.
Next steps for your in-house quality control
Over the years, scanning electron microscopes have served as an important tool for quality control. A wide range of industries use SEM to spot defects and impurities at the micro- and nanoscale so they can ensure every product is built to the same high-quality standards.
Thermo Fisher Scientific is a world leader in SEM technology. Our scanning electron microscopes are versatile, simple to operate, and easy to learn, opening up the realm of particle and material analysis to a wider group of your in-house users. This eliminates the need for outsourcing, improves your cycle time, and maintains your control over your data.
If you’d like to find out more about our extensive range of SEMs and how to keep your quality control in-house, speak to one of our expert teams today.
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