Archive for November, 2012

Handheld XRF Analyzer Design Affects Service Needs

Handheld XRF Analyzers have grown in popularity over the last decade because of their portability, pricing, and performance capabilities.  These mobile x-ray fluorescence analyzers are the solution for a broad range of applications and are most popular when desktop models can’t offer the benefit of portability, including alloy verification (PMI) and geological testing needs.

While handheld analyzers are based on the same basic principles as the desktop models, there are obvious differences between the styles.  Some of the differences can affect Handheld XRF service needs and long-term performance of handheld systems.  Those differences include:

Handheld XRF Systems Feature Micro-Components
It makes sense that smaller components are needed for the small body that the XRF ‘guns’ have, and these components are typically the same quality level of comparable desktop systems.  However, depending on the model, micro-components may offer a shorter life span than their full size counterparts.  Part of this is due to the heat generated from the tube systems in a smaller area that does not have a cooling fan like desktop systems…overheating can lead to component failures.

Combined Components
In handheld systems, the x-ray tube and hi-voltage power supply are a single package.  The X-ray tube in most models is a maximum of 4 watts and, for most applications, will be running at full power.  Over time, the tube will have a tendency to create performance issues or fail when used for long periods of time.  Components die eventually on any analyzer but when one of these ‘combined components’ does, the user will have to replace both (since they are a single package) at an increased cost.

Portability Can Lead to Drops/Damage
The greatest benefit of handheld x-ray fluorescence can also be the largest negative.  Moving these analyzers from test location to test location increases the potential for drops and bumps along the way.  If the instrument is dropped it can affect the ability to reproduce the same number/values as it originally had, which may cause poor overall results on products tested.  This may simply require a calibration service but, in the worst case scenario, it leads to permanent damage to major components and will require repair services.

These differences don’t mean a handheld system will have more or less problems than a desktop system.  However, when problems do occur, having a knowledgeable and experienced XRF service company is critical.  Eastern Applied Research provides a resource outside of the manufacturer for routine maintenance and repair services.  We are able to provide a second opinion or competitive quotation when service is needed and our technical staff has the experience and resources to assist with handheld XRF service needs.
Review the Handheld XRF services offered by Eastern Applied.

Let us know about your experience with any handheld analyzers –
Did you see problems occur because of portability?
Do you have experience with desktop analyzers as well?
Were repair costs higher for one style over another?