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Selecting a Spectrometer for Your Operation.

In addition to a spectometer's basic technology, foundries must consider the maintenance and training offered by vendors when choosing a metals analysis tool for their operation.

The increased demand by customers for certified or, at least, quantified casting compositions and quality has meant an increase in metals analysis duties for many foundries. For some firms, the end result has been the purchase of a spectrometer for in-house analysis. For others, the result has been an increase in their use of outside laboratories for analysis. As this trend continues, however, those foundries that haven't brought metals analysis in-house may need to consider it as a quality check for their castings as well as a sales tool.

The most common (but unspoken) use of spectrometers in today's foundry is as a sales tool. In many markets, casting buyers won't consider buying product from a foundry that doesn't have a spectrometer. The buyers may not fully understand how the spectrometer works or how it helps casting quality, but they use it to measure the level of technology in the foundry.

The most practical (and obvious) use of a spectrometer is to certify the composition of the castings being produced by a foundry. Often, foundries have customers that demand their castings conform to specified chemical limits. Since the time it takes to send samples to a commercial lab or use in-house wet/combustion chemical analysis could delay a shipment of castings to the customer, foundries utilize in-house spectrometers to provide analysis before the castings are out of the mold. In-house certification also leads to a reduction in outside laboratory costs. If a foundry can perform chemical analysis in-house, it doesn't have to pay a laboratory to do it every time. However, those outside laboratory costs won't disappear as a foundry must use an outside lab for periodic checks for accuracy.

Spectrometers also have a major impact on cost reduction when their information is used to reduce the cost of additions to a melt. An accurate chemical analysis of a sample provides a foundry with the chemical composition of its base metal. From that, it can make calculations to determine the exact and lowest-cost additions required to produce the specified chemical composition of the castings. If a foundry knows from its spectrometer that an element's concentration has changed, it can have a system in place to compensate for those changes. This ability allows a foundry to use charge materials it previously was unable to use as well as utilize a greater variety of charge materials to reduce costs.

The Purchase

If a foundry decides that it requires an in-house spectrometer, it is confronted with the task of selecting the right one for its operation. With most foundry equipment purchases, the first question to ask would be "What is the performance of the system compared to its competitors?"

Although this is an important facet to consider, in many cases, it is more critical that the foundry communicates its needs to the spectrometer supplier so that the system is configured properly for its operation. For example, a foundry must provide answers to the following questions:

* what types of metal will you analyze with the spectrometer?;

* what are the exact elements your foundry needs the spectrometer to analyze and to what degree (how precise) do you need the analysis performed? Suppliers will customize spectrometers for the chemical analyses your foundry and customers require;

* in what type of environment will the spectrometer operate? Some spectrometers require air-conditioned, laboratory-like conditions to operate efficiently while others can function within an office in the foundry.

In addition, the foundry must determine the availability of measurement standards from the supplier to set up and calibrate the spectrometer. Most suppliers will assist foundries in locating these standards, however, they are becoming more difficult to define.

Once the basic questions of spectrometer performance have been answered, a foundry then must focus on the critical criteria for selecting a spectrometer--maintenance and training. Most foundry equipment is maintained easily by the maintenance department. Spectrometers, however, because of their special electronics and features, may need maintenance assistance beyond what most foundries are capable of handling in-house. Insight into the quality of the maintenance provided by a supplier and, more significantly, how quickly they respond to maintenance is critical to deciding which unit to purchase.

Beyond discussing maintenance with a spectrometer supplier, discuss it with a current foundry user. As with any equipment, talking to the people who regularly use it provides a different perspective than merely talking to the equipment supplier. It is critical to know the type and length of response your foundry will receive if the spectrometer fails. In addition, many suppliers have service contracts available. What is the cost and how extensive are they? It may be worth contacting a foundry with experience using an older version of a supplier's spectrometer to determine the breadth of maintenance provided.

An extension of maintenance is the training provided by the spectrometer supplier. To be able to run and perform daily system maintenance, a foundry's personnel require training. A foundry must investigate whether the training provided was suitable for someone running the equipment in a foundry environment or a college research laboratory. Also, ask previous purchasers of the spectrometer if they received the training they required.

Following is a survey of some of the various spectrometers available to foundries to help with their metals analysis needs. Each manufacturer was asked to submit one type/model to showcase.

Defining Spectrometer Terms

You create the sample, polish it, put it into the machine, push a button and in a few seconds you have a chemical analysis. Although this is all many foundrymen must know about operating a spectrometer, there are a few terms that may be useful when discussing spectrometer technology with suppliers.

Optical System--Made up of in part by a lens, slit, grating and angle of reflection, the optical system's role is to take the white light generated from burning the metal sample and separate it into its component wavelengths. These component wavelengths, which are specific to one element, then are qualified and quantified to determine the content of the element in the sample.

Excitation Source--The method of generating the spark in the spectrometer. The source tends to be one of the biggest differences between the manufacturers. The various types of sources include: arc, spark and glow discharge.

Relative Standard Deviation--The measure of the repeatability of the metal sample analysis. Basically, this figure details how accurate your analysis is per element ([+ or -]10%, for example) at a given measurement level (to the hundredths or thousandths, for example). It usually is expressed as a percentage that is calculated by dividing the standard deviation obtained from a number of analyses of an element divided by the average of the readings.

Metalscan 2500

Arun Technology, Inc.

Represented in the U.S. by Angstrom, Inc.

P.O. Box 248

Belleville, Michigan 48112

Tel: 800/395-5393.

Fax: 734/697-3544.



Contact: Randy Moffat, vice president-sales and marketing.

Foundry installations in the US.: 50.

Operating environment: Spectrometer will operate in a foundry environment at an operating temperature of 32-95F (0-35C) and a storage temperature of 14-160F (-10-70C). It must be maintained regularly to eliminate metallic dust buildup.

Training: Basic operation stabilization and day-to-day maintenance training provided with the purchase of the unit.

Maintenance: Service contracts available with a once-a-year onsite preventive maintenance contract are recommended. For maintenance that cannot be performed by the foundry technician or over the telephone, the supplier recommends returning the spectrometer for repair.

System size: Desktop (44 lb).

Metals analyzed: All ferrous and nonferrous.

Excitation source: Arc-spark.

Spectrometer Features: The system utilizes a charged couple device (CCD) detector instead of individual phototubes and slits to capture light emitted when the metal sample is sparked. The result of this design is a compact spectrometer that easily can be moved and/or shipped to alternate foundry locations.

As the optical system is small and utilizes its own internal temperature control system, it can be placed in nearly any operating environment and does not require a formal laboratory. The system is available in two versions: the 2500N is for nonferrous applications that do not require the analysis of typical vacuum elements; and the 2500, which has an argon-purged optic for the analysis of the vacuum elements required for ferrous-based materials.

Spectrolab [Jr..sup.CCD]

Spectro Analytical Instruments, Inc.

160 Authority Drive

Fitchburg, Massachusetts 01420

Tel: 978/342-3400.

Fax: 978/343-4714.



Contact: Graham Roberts, applications laboratory manager.

Foundry installations in the US.: 10.

Training: A 1-week training period is provided at the installation of the spectrometer, which includes operation and basic maintenance. In addition, the supplier offers extensive instrument-specific training at its headquarters.

Operating environment: A dust-free air-conditioned room.

Maintenance: Preventive and full-service maintenance contracts are available for this spectrometer. Due to the system's size, it also can be shipped back to the manufacturer for express maintenance service.

System size: Desktop (132 lb).

Metals analyzed: Iron, steel, aluminum and copper alloys.

Excitation source: Arc-spark.

Spectrometer features: The heart of the Spectrolab Jr. is the optic design that utilizes CCD detector technology, which is a solid-state detector rather than traditional photomultiplier tubes. This detector provides complete spectrum coverage and great flexibility for the analyst. Elements and matrices not originally included in the instrument can be added without new hardware.

The instrument also has a touch-screen interface so operators can carry out single-key stroke analyses as well as print out optional certificates, statistical process control reports and change correction functions.



27 Forge Parkway

Franklin, Massachusetts 02038

Tel: 508/520-1880.

Fax: 508/520-1732.



Contact: Paul Dalager.

Operating environment: Laboratory.

Training: At the time of installation, the field service engineer gives both operator and maintenance training. In addition, a 1-week formal training school is included with each instrument. This training course is given in the supplier's Dearborn, Michigan facility and covers theory, operation, applications, optimization and maintenance.

Maintenance: Most issues can be diagnosed and corrected through a modern connection to the supplier's Technical Support Desk and/or phone support. If it is determined onsite service is required, a variety of service contracts are available. The supplier offers service from "per call" to Periodic Maintenance to Comprehensive Contracts with 24 hr-365 days/yr telephone, parts and onsite support.

System size: Desktop (310 lb).

Metals analyzed: All ferrous and nonferrous.

Excitation source: Spark source with multi-condition capability.

Spectrometer features: The instrument is a small, modular and rugged benchtop optical emissions spectrometer suited for dedicated applications with its multi-matrix capabilities. The system has the capability of installing up to 32 analytical channels with spectral wavelength coverage from 130-800 nm. The open analytical stand is mounted on the corner of the cabinet to allow the analysis of long pieces or bars without cutting. This open design also allows for a variety of sample shapes and sizes to be run, and is easy to access and clean. The optional Fiber Optic Gun can be used for sample pieces that are too large to be conveniently placed on the stand. The fiber optic cable allows the gun to be used up to 3 m from the analyzer, and all necessary controls are mounted on the handle.

Angstrom, Inc.

P.O. Box 248

Belleville, Michigan 48112

Tel: 800/395-5393.

Fax: 734/697-3544.



Contact: Randy Moffat, vice president-sales and marketing

Foundry installations in the U.S.: 25.

Operating environment: Typical laboratory environment, including stable temperature control.

Training: Full-scale training in calibration, set-up and maintenance provided with the purchase of unit. Supplier will perform up to 5 days onsite with the initial installation and additional telephone supervision if necessary.

Maintenance: Service contracts are available with a once-a-year onsite preventive maintenance contract recommended. Unscheduled, onsite maintenance is provided at an extra cost.

System size: 56 x 29 x 44 in. (750 lb).

Metals analyzed: All ferrous and nonferrous metals.

Excitation source: Condensed arc-spark with tungsten electrode.

Spectrometer features: The V-950 is a 0.75-m vacuum path arc-spark spectrometer that is capable of accurately analyzing the chemistry of foundry samples. It utilizes traditional optical components--a grating for dispersing the light from the sample; exit slits to select the exact light or element desired; and phototubes to detect the amount of light present.

A full range of options come standard with the spectrometer including a turn key set up, software options for statistical process control and alloy checking, a lifetime of free telephone support, and a 1-year parts and labor warranty.

ARL 4460

Applied Research Laboratories

15300 Rotunda Drive

Suite 301

Dearborn, Michigan 48120

Tel: 313/271-5770.

Fax: 313/271-5542.



Contact Brad Cooley, product manager.

Operating environment: It is recommended that the spectrometer be installed in a laboratory setting, although tight temperature control is not necessary.

Training: At the time of installation, the field service engineer provides both operator and maintenance training. In addition, 1 week of formal training school is included with each instrument. This training course is given in the supplier's Dearborn, Michigan facility and covers theory, operation, applications, optimization and maintenance.

Maintenance: Maintenance consists of periodic cleaning of the analytical chamber and exhaust line. Larger maintenance issues can be diagnosed and corrected through a modem connection to the the supplier's Technical Support Desk and/or phone support. If it is determined that onsite service is required a variety of service contracts are available. ARL offers service from "per call" to Periodic Maintenance to Comprehensive Contracts with 24 hr-365 days/yr telephone, parts and onsite support.

System size 55 x 67 x 48 in. (1058 lb).

Metals analyzed: All ferrous and nonferrous alloys.

Excitation source: Optical emission spark analysis.

Spectrometer features: ARL's 4460 Metals Analyzer has two new capabilities: Current Controlled Source (CCS), which allows for a faster attack on the sample and therefore permits faster analysis times and improved precision of analysis; and Time Resolved Spectroscopy (TRS) electronics, which permit clearer differentiation between useful analytical signals and background along with a reduction or exclusion of interference signals. Together, these capabilities substantially improve the performance of the OES spark technique and allow faster analyses (well inside 1 min) with improved accuracy.

ARL's WinOE software allows for operation in NT, 98 or 95 environments with graphical presentation and connection to other systems for fast result transfer via RS232 cable or LAN. A password protection system together with dynamic menus allows routine production control tasks to be performed by relatively unskilled operators. This allows ARL instruments to be delivered with factory calibrations and placed in immediate operation after installation. However, other users may take advantage of the full software functionality and choose from a variety of analytical data processing and calibration capabilities to customize their instrument operation including integrated statistical process control, which automatically determines when it's time for instrument adjustments.


Shimadzu Corp.

7102 Riverwood Drive

Columbia, Maryland 21046

Tel: 800/477-1227.

Fax: 410/381-1222.



Contact: Gilbert Viar, product manager.

Foundry installations in the US.: 30.

Operating environment: Operates best in a dust-free office or laboratory environment (due to the sensitivity of the computer) at a stable temperature of 60-82F (15-28C).

Training: Upon installation, 2 days of operational and basic maintenance training is provided. Additional advanced training on calibration and other technical aspects is provided up to six times a year at the supplier's headquarters.

Maintenance: First year of maintenance is included in the spectrometer purchase. Additional contracted service is available. The supplier also offers technical support via the telephone and troubleshooting via the spectrometer's computer modem and Assist-Link software.

System size: 1460 x 505 x 1220mm (1100 lb).

Metals analyzed: All ferrous and nonferrous alloys.

Excitation source: Optical emissions spark analysis.

Spectrometer features: The system has enhanced analytical precision including: minimized influence of discontinuity (cracks and pinholes) on sample during measurement because of statistical processing; improved analytical sensitivity to trace elements due to the system's element measurement method; and excellent analytical precision because it measures frequency distribution of light intensities and uses the median value as representative. The spectrometer also is highly stable as it isn't sensitive to ambient temperature fluctuation, and it uses a log-life counter electrode to ensure long-term analytical precision.

GDS-400 A

Leco Corp.

3000 Lakeview Ave.

St. Joseph, Michigan 49085-2396

Tel: 800/292-6141.

Fax: 616/982-8977.



Contact: Sales department.

Foundry installations in the U.S.: 150.

Operating environment: The spectrometer requires a room with nominal temperature control between 64-86F (1829C) and relative humidity from 20-80%.

Training: The company offers operational training at the foundry during the installation of the spectrometer. In addition, the supplier will provide advanced training at its headquarters that is focused on the spectrometer and maintenance.

Maintenance: The system requires minimal weekly maintenance by the operator, and the supplier can provide contracted yearly preventive maintenance.

System size: 46.5x51x31.5 in. (660 lb).

Metals analyzed: Most ferrous and nonferrous alloys.

Excitation source: Glow discharge.

Spectrometer features: The GDS 400 A can perform an accurate and precise bulk analysis of solid materials for the iron and steels industries in less than a minute. This instrument has been designed to operate in any laboratory for the analysis of iron, steel, copper, aluminum, titanium, nickel, cobalt, zinc and other alloys. The advantages of the GD-OES spectrometer technique are: linear calibration curves; narrow emission lines; no memory effect; and an automatic anode cleaning between each analysis.

Through the use of a touch screen interface, the instrument's software was designed with operational ease in mind. Routine analysis can be as simple as entering the sample ID, loading the sample and closing the chamber door. Analysis then proceeds automatically. Additional statistic and alloy identification software also are available.

Pulsar Metal Alloy Analyzer

Leeman Labs, Inc.

6 Wentworth Drive

Hudson, New Hampshire 03051

Tel: 603/886-8400.

Fax: 603/886-9141.



Contact: John Sotera, national sales manager.

Foundry installations in the U.S.: 25.

Operating environment: The spectrometer requires a laboratory-type dust-free environment with stable temperature.

Training: Basic operational and maintenance training is provided upon installation at the foundry. Additional advanced training is available at the manufacturer's headquarters if needed.

Maintenance: One-year onsite maintenance of parts, labor and travel in U.S. is included in the purchase of the spectrometer. Additional service contracts also are available.

System size: Desktop (200 lb).

Metals analyzed: All ferrous and nonferrous metals.

Excitation source: Glow discharge.

Spectrometer features: The Pulsar Metal Alloy Analyzer is a spectrometer that combines the solid-sampling capability of glow discharge with the specificity of atomic absorption spectrometry. It provides:

* excellent linear response for a broad range of elemental concentrations;

* minimal alloy effects allow multiple alloy types with a single calibration curve;

* no background interference with good results at low concentrations;

* automatic analysis that starts measurement with a single key stroke;

* fast analysis at 10-15 sec/element;

* metals analysis in any matrix and alloy, including the ability to measure all common alloys;

* coverage of a broad concentration range from trace to 100%;

* ease of future expansion as users can add new element lamps to create additional analytical programs.
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Article Details
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Author:Spada, Alfred T.
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Oct 1, 2000
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