Phosphorous, the concentration of which significantly influences the mechanical and magnetic properties of a coating, is incorporated when using typical methods for electroless or chemical deposition of nickel. Measurement of the phosphorous content has therefore been an issue ever since electroless Ni was first introduced for technical applications.
Components found in industrial plants – whether chemical, energy, petrochemical or other – are often subject to heat, aggressive agents and high pressure. These conditions demand steel types that are extremely corrosion and acid resistant even at high temperatures. When austenitic steels are used, it is important to make sure the ferrite content of the weld seams is within strict norms, because only the optimal ferrite content can ensure the best corrosion protection. For this reason some industries have set standards, specifications and regulations for ferrite content.
For protection against the elements, exposed steel parts require an anti-corrosion coating such as hot-dip galvanization. To this end, a new directive for CE labelling of steel products and their corrosion protection will become effective in 2014. Product liability will be significantly tightened and manufacturers will be obligated to verify the thickness of the hot-dip galvanization.
Above and beyond their protective function, decorative anodized coatings must also meet certain design requirements: The exact coloring plays an important role. But even small differences in the aluminum alloy can significantly affect the final hue. Therefore, an accurate review of the raw materials during incoming goods inspection is necessary to achieve consistent coloration and to prevent production wastage.
In the automotive industry weight reduction – and the associated fuel savings – are top priority, which is why lightweight materials such as aluminum are used. In order to withstand mechanical stresses, however, these softer components must be made wear resistant. For this reason, hardcoat (Type III) anodization is becoming ever more common.
Aluminum is a versatile material widely used by many manufacturers, who purchase large quantities of it in the form of rods or sheets: so-called semi-finished goods. Before being warehoused or processed, these intermediate products must be checked for their exact alloy composition, because not every alloy is suitable for every application. Many different aluminum alloys are available, each with distinct properties. Employing a non-destructive but precise material analysis method during incoming goods inspection ensures that the alloy’s components are found in the correct concentrations – and that the received goods can indeed be utilized for the intended purpose.
In order to apply coatings at a well-defined plating rate and with a well-defined composition, electro-plating companies must monitor and control the formulation of their plating baths very closely. For example, the metallic coatings (like AuCuCd, AuCuIn, RhRu or others) especially beloved in the jewelery industry must be applied absolutely homogeneously over the entire surface to ensure an even color finish.
Quality control plays an important role in rack plating. Narrow tolerance limits and strong demand for homogeneous coatings require precise measurements of the coating thickness according to clearly defined testing procedures. In addition, the measurement results should provide clues for potential process optimizations and, thereby, cost reductions.
Electroplating reel-to-reel production lines need to maintain minimum and maximum tolerance limits for the applied coatings. To save costs, layers are coated as thin as possible - especially when using precious materials. However, a certain margin between the minimum limit and the nominal applied layer thickness is necessary to ensure the adherence of the lower tolerance limit due to process variations.
New technologies have become more important than ever for developing efficient and clean energy supply systems. Hydrogen technology is one example that holds high potential both as an accumulator and as a fuel. However, cryogenic liquid hydrogen is typically stored in special steel tanks – a circumstance that presents its own safety challenges: Should the structure of the tank fail in any way, the hydrogen can escape uncontrollably and form inflammable mixtures with other elements like oxygen present in the air. Therefore, material testing is absolutely essential in any quality control process for tanks used to store liquid hydrogen.