Inspectioneering Journal

New Advances in X-Ray Fluorescence Analyzers for Alloy Testing

This article appears in the March/April 2009 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.

Historical Background

History has taught us that we should trust but verify! Verification of alloys to ensure they are composed of the correct alloying elements has been the realm of handheld X-ray florescence for the past four decades. Industries ranging from petrochemical, aerospace and fabrication (which are mission critical for the correct material), to contract testing services, metals recycling applications and many more have employed portable XRF for alloy verification for 40 years. The use of these tools assures users of the composition of the metal they purchase, fabricate, verify, install, or recycle is alloyed as expected. Since the late 1960's the portable XRF market has seen several generations of increasingly sophisticated alloy analyzers become commercially available to perform this crucial task. Each generation adds new capabilities, increased speed and greater ease of use. Historically, an inspector needed to complement a portable XRF with an optical emission spectrometer (OES) in order to cover the range of alloy grades encountered. Today, with broader element suite and significantly better sensitivities, nearly all alloys can be tested and identified for correct alloying content with the new powerful XRF tools. (OES is still required for ultra-low concentration analysis of elements like magnesium (Mg), and for measurement of very light elements including carbon (C)l)

Figure 1 - Seventh generation alloy analyzer, the Thermo Scientific Niton XL3t, circa 2009.
Figure 1 - Seventh generation alloy analyzer, the Thermo Scientific Niton XL3t, circa 2009.

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