As longstanding suppliers to the surface finishing industry, we’re proud to celebrate National Surface Finishing day. The coatings industry has been a key part of our business for over 40 years, and many of the products we have in our catalogue today have been developed specifically to support plating shops in their work minimizing waste and ensuring top quality product by measuring coating thickness and composition.
The road to coatings XRF
Back in 1978, we introduced the first desktop XRF coating thickness gauge that used an X-ray tube, meaning that highly accurate thickness testing could be carried out using a non-destructive method within a compact instrument. Fast-forward to the 1990s and advances in electronics devices gave us solid state devices that enabled a leap forward in detector technology and led to the eventual development of our Vortex detector in 2005. These solid-state detectors deliver excellent resolution at speed and are essential for measuring very thin coatings on small devices.
With a range of detector technologies at our fingertips, we could focus on developing the next generation of instruments specifically for the coatings industry.
In 2011, we launched the FT110A; a powerful XRF analyzer that helps plating shops ensure they’ve met coating thickness specifications. With automatic measurement functionality and the ability to handle large parts, this analyzer helps speed up measurement times. Our X-Strata920 was designed specifically to accommodate plated parts of a wide range of shapes and sizes, and this instrument was given a detector upgrade in 2018, allowing plating shops to increase analysis throughput. Just last year, we launched the FT160 – an XRF analyzer designed for microspot and ultra-thin coatings analysis and able to measure nanometer-scale coatings on features smaller than 50 µm, increasingly in demand in the electronics industry.
A constantly changing landscape
These innovations and upgrades to our analysis instruments have kept pace with the challenges facing plating shops and electronics components manufacturers over the decades. We’ve improved resolution and detection ability; we’ve made our instruments more powerful so they can detect several coating layers at once and introduced automation and improved sample stage precision. And as legislation around hazardous elements has become more stringent, we’ve developed RoHS analyzers to detect a range of hazardous substances, helping plating shops meet new legislation and ensure the safety of their parts.
2020 hit all of us with an unprecedented challenge. The COVID pandemic had a major impact on industry, and many facilities had to close to meet stay-at-home orders. However, as suppliers to critical industries including healthcare, transportation, communications and infrastructure, metal coatings businesses were rightly labelled an essential service.
Components destined for ventilators and X-rays were in great demand, as was laboratory equipment that played such an essential role in the race to develop vaccines. We thank those essential personnel who worked and continue to work through the pandemic to keep production rolling.
Our new industry resources
In the 40+ years supporting surface finishing, we’ve learnt a lot about coating analysis best practice. Today we offer guides and present webinars to make it easier to get accurate and precise results with your XRF equipment.
Understanding your XRF: A Guide for Plating Shops
This extensive guide explains the basics of XRF analysis and tells you how to take readings that always give accurate results. It also explains how errors can get into your measurements, and advice on making sure this doesn’t happen. You can download this guide for free.
Webinar: What You Don’t Know About Your XRF Could Hurt Your Results
On February 25th, our coatings analysis expert, Matt Kreiner, gave a live webinar that covered the basics of XRF analysis of surface finishes. Hosted by Product Finishing, this webinar gives an overview of XRF instruments, how to ensure your analyzer is delivering the right results and offers practical advice on improving your XRF testing program. You can watch the webinar on-demand here.