Metal prices have been steadily decreasing due to the growing demand for imported metals, innovative metal production techniques, changing attitudes toward metal quality by country, and keen competition. Consequently, in certain cases, there has been a dip in quality. For instance, earlier, the nickel content in steel was considerably high. Procedures such as the addition of low-cost elements (e.g. boron) to steel are the most inexpensive ways to produce alloyed steel. Yet, excessive addition of boron can cause cracking and affect weldability. If such steel is used for constructing a bridge, the outcomes could be disastrous. Hence, it is highly important to have an all-encompassing metals grade reference database as part of an analysis toolkit.
Changing Attitudes and Understanding
Only 12 types of metal were known a few hundred years earlier. At present, over 3500 different materials exist just in the steel industry. There also exist more than 340,000 metal grades, described by various national standards, in over 12 million variations, for 69 designations. The ASTM, AISI, BS, DIN, EN, GOST, and JIS standards are only a few among many more. Hence, it is obvious that gaining insights into metal and its grading has turned out to be an expensive and time-consuming part of metal production and manufacturing.
Since, currently, manufacturers are making metals of a wider range, control standards and quality assurance have to be highly robust. Investigation of the incoming materials and the outgoing products is a vitally crucial shield for the use of metals in the manufacturing processes. In spite of being ingenious, the output of even 3D metal printing, an imminent reality, will only depend on the quality of the raw input. This will render grading a vital part of the process.
Time and Cost Saving
Metals analyzers play a vital role in determining the chemical composition of a metal, which, in combination with physical and mechanical properties, is crucial in ascertaining the suitability and quality. Analysis of the incoming metal, as well as the outgoing one, at any point in the production process, is a crucial step in being cautious to satisfy quality standards. It could be very expensive and time-consuming to keep up with the prevalent plethora of standards and being familiar with their equivalents manually. Similarly, it is hard to find the suitable grade by application.
In various companies, engineers must probe manually to find out the metals needed for specific applications. Considerable amount of time could be needed for analyzing information on machinability, weldability, and heat treatment, leading to delays in projects with increase in costs. Moreover, human error characteristic to any complex data input could lead to incorrect results, which lead to heavy costs in terms of time wasted and delays, materials, customer retention, and reputation — let alone compensation when products lead to damage and fatalities.
Why Use a Grade Database?
With more complexities in the metals industry, a comprehensive metal grade database will be an ever more desirable tool. Apart from metal identification, it can also help with the following:
- Feature application guidelines that include machinability and weldability data as well as heat-treatment tables to avoid hard, unnecessary, and time-consuming manual searches
- Reliable, traceable, and precise physical, mechanical, and other characteristic data for different conditions and temperatures
- Looking for metals across the globe by particular mechanical properties or chemical composition
- Interpreting metal specifications and finding the accurate grade for particular applications
- Automatic updates to prevent the fear of incorrect source data
- Determining equivalents to foreign metals and comparing substitutes, alongside or through cross-referencing
- Recognizing the suppliers who can provide the needed grade
Hitachi High-Tech offers a broad range of metals analyzers. All Hitachi High-Tech optical emissions spectrometers (OES) are pre-installed with the largest universally available metal GRADE Database. This database is available for the X-MET8000 handheld X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzers as an optional addition.
The database eliminates the need for probing grade catalogues and enables across-the-globe searches by particular mechanical properties or chemical composition within just a few simple steps. This allows the metal specifications to be easily deciphered and enables the identification of the suitable grade for a particular application, assuring that the database is accurate and up to date with across-the-globe grading standards.
This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science.
For more information on this source, please visit Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science.