90% vs 100% sure on metal alloy composition – are you willing to risk it?

Inaccurate analysis of carbon in steels can have catastrophic consequences. Carbon content not only determines the strength and brittleness of steel in an application, but it affects how the metal can be worked. 

An incorrectly graded piece of carbon or L-grade stainless steel may end up being worked at the wrong temperature or be used in a process it’s not designed for. This can lead to mechanical failures resulting in catastrophic accidents, costly product recalls, lawsuits and loss of reputation. Equally material that is destroyed as it doesn’t meet specifications adds to waste and costs. So, reliable analysis results are vital to increase yield.

The question is, to be a reputable, reliable and successful business, is being 90% accuracy good enough or risking it? 

Keep in mind as well that even though carbon is important, it’s just one element among others and isn’t useful unless other elements are also measured accurately. This is why being ‘near enough’ is no longer ‘good enough’ when it comes to being sure on raw material composition.

Why 100% accuracy of raw material composition matters 

To make informed decisions about an alloy’s qualities, 100% accuracy of its elemental composition is essential. How serious are the consequences if you are only 90% sure of a key element? 

Risks may extend beyond unhappy customers or minor incidents to lawsuits and fatalities. As materials move through the supply chain, they end up in major construction projects, infrastructure, aerospace or the automotive industry – they are just a few examples. 

If a bridge collapses, or a car component fails, the blame can often be traced back to the raw material source, look at an example from NASA that ended up costing more than $700 million and years in research. Being less than 100% sure of alloy composition is a risk that you shouldn’t be taking.

The most reliable and accurate method to analyze alloys

Spark optical emission spectroscopy (OES) is the technology trusted by manufacturers and fabricators. It offers high performance analysis for alloys with near-unlimited element selection. 

Mobile spark OES technology is very prominent in PMI safety inspection as well as PMI QA/QC for the simple reason that it’s the only way to reliably analyze elements that can affect alloy properties for fabrication. 

Whilst a handheld LIBS is quick at verifying incoming goods, only an OES analyzer can accurately test elemental composition to low detection levels (like carbon, silicon, manganese, phosphorous, sulfur, chromium, nickel, boron and nitrogen) toprove the quality and suitability of an alloy for its intended purpose

An on-site mobile OES metals analyzer means you can take the analyzer to the sample instead of sending a sample to the lab, saving time, money and inconvenience.

Choose the mobile spark OES analyzer for your needs

Hitachi’s mobile OES range offers you the PMI-Master Pro2 and PMI-Master Smart, all offering low operating costs and reliable results within seconds. 

You can measure carbon and boron with any of our probes. With a UVTouch probe, you can measure phosphorous, sulfur and boron as well as nitrogen in duplex steels. This is why spark OES is the most trusted and widely used method for creation and verification of MTRs (mill testing reports) in the world.  

Our optical emission spectrometers also meet the world’s most stringent PMI metallurgical alloy chemistry testing requirements including API 5L, ASME section IX B& PV, ISO 17025 and A2LA standards. 


The PMI-MASTER Smart is the only portable analyzer on the market. Weighing just 15kg, it can be taken wherever the operator needs to go. It’s a popular, fast and accurate choice for PMI purposes for manufacturers and provides the confidence you need within seconds. With a UVTouch probe, multi-CCD optics and the capability of storing and displaying data on the go, it can test challenging metallic samples including 1mm wires, small construction parts, huge pressure equipment and curved surfaces. 


PMI-Master Pro2 is your ‘ultimate mobile metals analysis on the go’. Powerful and accurate, it’s capable of providing powerful 750 measurements in 8 hours even in battery-operated mode. Any sample size/formats can be analyzed accurately. 

Spark optical emission spectrometers excel at providing full chemistry of critical alloy elements at low detection levels that other analyzers can’t match. When researching your PMI analyzer options, remember that an analyzer that can detect key elements isn’t the same as one that can provide accuracy at low detection limits. In our opinion, there’s no argument for being 90% sure on raw material composition.

The good news is there’s no need to risk your reputation. For 100% accuracy, reliability and confidence, our mobile spark OES analyzers are the answer. We offer the analytical performance you need: low levels of detection for phosphorus, sulfur, boron, carbon, arsenic and tin in low alloy and stainless steel. 

Take advantage of our cloud-based data management solution

Our ExTOPE Connect data management solution establishes a central location for all data from your entire fleet of analyzers, even across multiple locations, updated in real-time and readily accessible, delivering a significant boost to operational efficiency and risk reduction.

Results will automatically upload when taken, or as soon as a network connection is established to the cloud. ExTOPE Connect allows users to create reports directly from the cloud, which can then be shared via email to all interested parties. Unlimited free data storage and automatic back-ups also mean that historical analyzer data will always be accessible.

To book a demo or speak to us about a quote, please get in touch.

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Date: 14 November 2022

Author: Michael Molderings, Product Manager - OES

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