One of the first questions associates of Eastern Applied Research ask when talking to customers looking to add x-ray fluorescence (XRF) for coating thickness measurements is about their sample size and throughput goals. Obviously, metal finishing touches on a lot of industries and various components in those industries. Depending on the use, an XRF could be measuring small fasteners with varying heights, thin but wide samples like unpopulated circuit boards, large samples like brake pads or many others in between.
It's important to discuss the product (samples) the XRF user will be testing because they need to know a sample will fit into the XRF chamber. The throughput question will factor into manual vs programmable operation and focusing options – but that can’t happen unless the size question is covered.
One of the most popular XRF analyzers for coating thickness applications is the Hitachi X-Strata920. This model has been available for over twenty years (with updates along the way), first gaining popularity as the CMI-900 and CMI-XRX series by Oxford Instruments because of its ease of use and compact footprint
It’s also popular because it offers a relatively low-cost XRF option that provides consistent performance with very limited issues. Hitachi recently made Silicon Drift Detector (SDD) technology available as an option but it’s also offered with Proportional Counter Detectors. “Prop-Count” detectors are historically popular for metal finishing needs but SDD is desirable for thin film applications like ENIG and ENEPIG.
Learn more about XRF Detector Options Here
While newer XRF options like the Hitachi FT110A offer a large chamber, the X-Strata920 has three different chambers that fit different sample size needs. This approach limits the XRF footprint and helps keep certain configurations to the lower cost side of XRF, so it really fits more budgets than others without looking at Used XRF options.
The three chambers are summarized below. Please contact Eastern Applied Research to discuss the quality control needs of your quality control process and the samples involved. We can help identify analyzer options for your consideration, both in the X-Strata family or others.
This provides some versatility in sample size while still offering a lower cost XRF option. This makes it ideal for metal finishers on a budget because they can move the stage plate up for small samples or remove it completely for larger ones. A metal finisher considering the X-Strata920 with mini-well would also consider the Hitachi FT110A because of the sample size flexibility both provide.
As mentioned, this XY Stage chamber is most often used by circuit board manufacturers, so it’s often combined with the SDD option and used for ENIG and ENEPIG testing.
Read more about why SDD XRF is used for ENIG and ENEPIG here
All three chambers have additional options for a future user to consider like different collimator sizes, plating bath measurements (solutions analysis), and more. So, when searching for a low cost XRF analyzer, the X-Strata920 should be reviewed and customized to your needs. Contact Eastern Applied Research to discuss your quality control needs and learn about all the options available.