Sorting 6063, 6061 and 1100 Aluminum Alloys By Magnesium Content Using Handheld LIBS

SciAps has visited sites of various scrap sorting operations to demonstrate its laser-based Z analyzer. During these visits, it has been observed that aluminum 6063 and 1100 alloys can often be mixed up in sorting operations that use X-ray analyzers. As a result, these scrap processors may not be obtaining the full value from the aluminum materials they have.

The crucial step in sorting 6063 and 1100 alloys is measuring the magnesium (Mg) content in Al 6063. Most handheld XRF analyzers, however, are tuned for detection of low Cu concentrations in mostly pure alloys like 1100.

Accurate Mg analysis with these instruments require dual-beam operation, and a measurement time of 30-60 seconds (depending on brand and model). Many recyclers will not allow for the full measurement to take place, leading to misclassification of these valuable materials.

Mg Si Cu
6063 0.45-0.90 0.2 – 0.6 0-0.1
1100 - 0 – 0.75 0.05 – 0.2

SciAps’ Z Handheld Analyzer

LIBS provides an alternative solution to both the handheld XRF and spark OES for analyzing a broad range of elements and materials. SciAps has introduced the Z handheld analyzer equipped with its laser-based LIBZ technology. The Z handheld analyzer (Figure 1) provides the low atomic number performance of mobile OES, without compromising the portability of handheld XRF.

The Z handheld analyzer

Figure 1. The Z handheld analyzer

The following are the key features of the Z handheld analyzer:

  • A pulsed, 6mJ, 50Hz laser
  • Unique 50Hz burst cleaning that eliminates sample grinding
  • Opti-Purge™ on-board argon purge for 10x or better precision

It is also possible to equip the Z handheld analyzer for only air-burn analysis for areas with compressed gas canister restrictions.

Faster, More Reliable Sorting of 6061, 6063 and 1100 Aluminum Alloys

Sorting of aluminum alloys can be typically performed with 1 second tests that involve no grinding or other sample preparation steps. It can measure Mg, Al and Si, thus sorting out alloys such as 6063 and 1100 rapidly and accurately without any mix-ups of 1100 and 6063. Moreover, the throughput volume is high because of the fast tests.

The following table presents the repeatability performance data:

1100 6063
Mg (%) Al (%) Si (%) Cu (%) Mg (%) Al (%) Si (%) Cu (%)
0.013 99.21 0.111 0.055 0.493 98.58 0.382 0.102
0.013 99.17 0.117 0.090 0.518 98.58 0.373 0.101
0.014 99.13 0.121 0.078 0.572 98.53 0.392 0.093
0.017 99.13 0.112 0.093 0.465 98.72 0.358 0.092
0.013 99.23 0.107 0.082 0.516 98.53 0.367 0.106
0.013 99.16 0.107 0.081 0.476 98.69 0.353 0.094
0.013 99.21 0.111 0.072 0.531 98.51 0.422 0.100
0.013 99.21 0.113 0.066 0.558 98.54 0.396 0.103
0.014 99.11 0.118 0.066 0.533 98.45 0.426 0.117
0.013 99.19 0.117 0.085 0.502 98.62 0.372 0.113
0.013 99.19 0.109 0.065 0.498 98.65 0.369 0.090
Average 0.013 99.176 0.113 0.076 0.515 98.582 0.383 0.101
Std. Dev 0.0013 0.0396 0.0046 0.0118 0.0328 0.0816 0.0241 0.0085

As illustrated, Mg content in 1100 is below 0.02% as predicted, whereas the average Mg content is roughly 0.5% in 6063 as expected.

Rapid, accurate Mg content analysis is crucial for productively sorting Al 1100 and 6063 alloys, as it is with other close grades such as 2024, 2014, 3003/3004/3005.

As illustrated in the repeatability data, the measurement accuracy of the Al content, measured by difference, is 99.17% ± 0.04%.

A minimum Al content of 99% is required for 1100. The high precision measurements provided by the Z handheld analyzer enable it to sort in the 1000 series aluminum alloy range.

The Z handheld analyzer employs conventional calibration curves based on intensity ratios as opposed to other laser-based analyzers. It can also perform Type Standardization analysis, enabling the operators to completely access spectral pre-processing, calibration curves, and line ratios. Figures 2 and 3 illustrate the Mg and Cu calibration curves.

The Z handheld analyzer provides multiple curves over a broad range of concentrations. The curves illustrated are for the lower concentrations of 0% – 1% nominally.

Mg Results for Low Mg in Al Alloys

Figure 2. Mg Results for Low Mg in Al Alloys

Cu Results for Low Cu Aluminum Alloys

Figure 3. Cu Results for Low Cu Aluminum Alloys

Conclusion

The Z handheld analyzer is a sophisticated handheld LIBS analyzer, possessing three key prerequisites for performing successful, in-field analysis of various materials:

  • burst cleaning to remove sample surface effects and grinding
  • optional argon purge for 10x or more accuracy in comparison with air-based analysis
  • beam rastering

This combination offers proven performance on various materials like nickel, red metals, Al alloys, and stainless and ferrous. The innovative sample detection system facilitates the device to be run under Class 1 conditions, thereby avoiding the regulatory prerequisites of X-ray and class 3b LIBS devices.

Click here for more information about the Z handheld LIBS analyzer from SciAps

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by SciAps, Inc.

For more information on this source, please visit SciAps, Inc.

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