XRF Coatings Analyzer Aims for Faster Throughput, Better Results

As more OEMs begin to require 100 percent x-ray fluorescence (XRF) coating measurement on finished parts, the major concern among shops and coating operations becomes how to maintain steady throughput without getting bogged down meeting specifications.

Hearing these concerns, Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science has expanded the capabilities of its X-Strata920 XRF coatings analyzer to include a new high-resolution detector and a new sample stage configuration.

“We get constant feedback from our customers, and we think this new configuration will really change the way we can analyze parts,” says Matt Kreiner, product business development manager.

Historically, it often has been difficult to measure neighboring elements such as nickel and copper. Kreiner says technicians would often need to take measurements for each individual element, which slowed down the process and throughput. The X-Strata920 can perform these analyses simultaneously, he says, thereby cutting the measurement time in half.

“In the automotive world, shops are plating chrome over nickel over copper over zinc,” he says. “All of those elements are occupying the same space in the XRF spectrum. The devices’ high-resolution silicon drift detector allows them to see all those peaks clearly in a single measurement.”

As a result, Kreiner says, the X-Strata920 can ensure that coatings meet required specifications, and at the same time can help minimize waste from excess coating or scrapping under-plated material, while also keeping pace with throughput.

“Touching 10 seconds here on a part and 10 seconds there and 15 seconds on a another part of a complex part can really add up, time-wise,” he says.

The analyzer also extends the range of elements that can be analyzed to include phosphorus, which is critical in electroless nickel analysis. It also can more precisely measure thin coatings such as gold in the nanometer range for conformance to IPC-4552A.

“In addition, it now has four chamber and base configurations to handle a large selection of sample shapes and sizes, including complex geometries found in the automotive industry,” Kreiner says.

Hitachi says not only has it improved the X-Strata920’s hardware through the detector itself, but its software has been updated as well. The highly intuitive SmartLink software allows operators, regardless of experience level, to quickly learn to use the instrument and get accurate, reliable results.

“The improved hardware makes it more clearly see the elements that are present in the sample, and the improved software allows for better interpretation of that information and gives the high-quality result in less time,” Kreiner says.

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