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Spectrometer is Cornerstone of Quality

Feb. 17, 2011
At Acra Cast Inc., a new metal analyzer and a closer look at analyzers, borescopes, spectrometers, and LED devices.
The SPECTROMAXx stationary metal analyzer is available as a bench-top system (above) or free-standing floor model (below).

Taking on an in-house quality control program has been a big investment for Acra Cast Inc., according to Richard Singer, the president of the Bay City, MI, investment caster. Part of that investment is a new optical-emission spectrometer.

Singer selected the SPECTROMAXx stationary metal analyzer. The charge-couple device analytical instrument has been among the most successful SPECTRO models in recent years, with over 3,500 instruments have been sold since 2005.

Now in its fifth generation, the SPECTROMAXx features a new argon-saving module that reduces gas consumption when the instrument is not in use, with substantial savings. When the spark generator is turned off at the end of the day, the argon saver reduces the flush to zero. The operator can set the time when the instrument is to be used the next morning, so that the spark stand and optical system starts automatically start and are optimally supplied with argon. The instrument can be set on a timer for longer idle periods, and it can be pre-programmed, too.

The new generation also features improvements on the small sample analysis. A pre-defined method package is available for small pieces of iron, aluminum, and copper matrices in the forms of screws, pins, wires, and sheets. A new set of adapters ensures simple handling of small samples, and it can accelerate sample throughput in the lab, guaranteeing reliable and reproducible results for measurement series.

The new integrated diagnosis system continuously informs operators and service technicians about the state of the system and its main components, making it possible to rectify malfunctions more quickly and favorably complete service calls. The Spark Analyzer Vision software that has been part of the SPECTROLAB system is now available for the SPECTROMAXx.

According to Singer, this spectrometer is the new cornerstone of Acra Cast’s quality program, enabling it to stop relying on vendors and perform in-house alloy chemistry analysis. This decision had a three-fold approach: to test incoming raw materials; to confirm their alloy formulations; and to enable Acra Cast to self-certify, speeding up the turnaround for its customers.

Performing chemistry analysis in-house already has saved time and money for Acra Cast, allowing it to avoid pouring castings only to learn later that the metal did not meet the specs. “Not only does this increase our own confidence in what we are doing,” added Singer, “but it increases the confidence of our customers in our abilities. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from our current customers.”

The 18-man unit has made adjustments to its facilities as well, by relocating air compressors to a new compressor house and moving the quality lab closer to where melting takes place.

Singer said Acra Cast has a list of projects yet planned, including improving its wax injection abilities, and its finishing department with new cut-off and water-jet shell removal. Acra Cast also has tested and plans to install the SPAL argon-blanketing system, for protection of melt baths. According to Singer, it reduces oxidation and slag and yields a cleaner melt bath, speeds up melting and even reduces the pouring temperature of the melt.

Taking A Closer Look …with analyzers, borescopes, spectrometers, and LED
Expensive perhaps, and definitely necessary, there are many tools available to metalcasters now to analyze processes and products in house, rather than outsourcing and incurring more costs due to additional services and downtime.

Bruker introduced its new G4 Icarus CS HF, a metal analyzer for assessing carbon and sulfur content. It provides rapid, low-cost analysis opportunities for a wide array of sample applications.

G4 Icarus CS HF

The solid sample is placed in a ceramic crucible and combusted in a high-frequency furnace, in an oxygen stream. The power of the HF furnace is adjustable in order to achieve optimum combustion. The resulting reaction gases CO2 and SO2 are measured by solid-state IR detectors of maximum selectivity and sensitivity. Easy-to-operate analysis software is clear and simply structured. All tasks to be performed by the software are clearly divided into four different screens.

Titan Tool Supply’s F Series flexible borescopes are maneuverable through several bends and include a battery-operated internal cold light source. These features make the unit portable and adaptable for many uses, such as inspecting the inside of boilers, turbines, and compressors, where its necessary to view around bends or in high-temperatures. A right-angle attachment is included at no extra charge. Also available: a FOI-150 fibreoptic illuminator with 150-W quartz halogen lamp and FB-6 fibre bundle to connect the illuminator to the borescope.

PANalytical’s new range of Epsilon 3 benchtop energy dispersive x-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) spectrometers deliver accurate, precise, and reliable results right across the periodic table. Featuring a new high-performance ceramic tube that has been developed specifically for this system, the Epsilon 3 and Epsilon 3XL also offer cost-effective and capable alternatives for a wide variety of applications and industries. The range uses the latest in silicon drift detector technology.

Titan Tool Supply’s F Series
Epsilon 3
Optimax 365

Thin windows on both X-ray tube and detector enable light element analysis down to fluorine. Sample preparation is straightforward, and various sample types can be measured.

The Optimax 365 from Spectronics Corp. is a cordless, rechargable true UV-A LED flashlight, ideal for nondestructive testing applications, such as MPI, FPI, and general fluorescent inspection.

The ultra high-flux LED technology produces a nominal steady-state UV-A intensity of 18,000 μW/cm2 at a distances of 15 inches.

Powered by a rechargable battery NiHM battery that provides 90 minutes of continuous use between charges (and an LED lifetime of 30,000 hours), it is extremely lightweight and compact, weighing just 11.8 ounces. The flashlight has a corrosion-resistant anodized lamp body, perfect for industrial use in the field.

The kit is rounded out with UV-absorbing spectacles, a belt holster, and smart AC and DC battery chargers, all in a convenient carrying case.