Determine Inclusions in Steel Spectroscopically

February 1, 2013

Use Single Spark Evaluation with the SPECTROLAB as an economical alternative to microscopic determination
New whitepaper and webinar available
Kleve, February 2013 — With the SPECTROLAB stationary metal analyzer and Single Spark Evaluation (SSE), SPECTRO Analytical Instruments now offers a real alternative to microscopic determination of inclusions in steel

Inclusions in steel greatly influence its mechanical properties. In free-cutting steel, for example, inclusions of manganese sulfide (MnS) are desired, as they ensure that filings break easily during processing. In other steel alloys, however, inclusions can negatively influence the value of the material. This is why monitoring the concentrations of the alloying components during steel production is not enough. It is just as important to obtain information about type, size and distribution of inclusions as quickly as possible.

Conventional microscopic testing for inclusions provides accurate results, but the samples must be ground extensively and polished before they can be examined. Use of a top quality optical emission (OE) spectrometer, such as the SPECTROLAB—SPECTRO’s flagship OE spectrometer, is a practical alternative with several key advantages. With SPECTROLAB, for example, it is possible to exactly determine the concentrations in alloys and to draw possible conclusions about correlations among the elements.

With Single Spark Evaluation, a sample is bombarded with single sparks in a “mapping” measurement. Most of the sparks hit the normal metal matrix, which results in a picture of the alloy composition. However, when a spark hits an inclusion, the measured values are different. From this deviation in measured values, it is possible to determine the presence and chemical composition of an inclusion and to even calculate its size. In this way, OES-SSE technology is able to quickly deliver qualitative and semi-quantitative results.

Free White Paper and Webinar Available at
Available for download at is a new whitepaper from SPECTRO detailing SSE technology. SPECTRO also will offer a free on line webinar at spectrolive on March 21, 2013.

The whitepaper outlines how to use SSE technology with the SPECTROLAB and compares the measurement results from MnS inclusions in steel acquired using SSE to the K1 table according to DIN 50602. The paper describes how it is possible to calculate values to characterize the purity of the steel with Single Spark Evaluation that correspond to those with the K0 test according to DIN 50602 and how it is possible to determine the size and number of OG-type inclusions in pure steels that have a negligible portion of inclusions larger than class 3.

SPECTRO is one of the worldwide leading suppliers of analytical instruments for optical emission and X-ray fluorescence spectrometry. As a unit of the AMETEK Materials Analysis Division, SPECTRO manufactures advanced instruments, develops the best solutions for strongly varying applications and provides exemplary customer service. SPECTRO’s products are exemplified by unique technical capabilities that deliver measureable benefits to the customer. From its foundation in 1979 until today, more than 30,000 analytical instruments have been delivered to customers around the world.

AMETEK Materials Analysis Division is a division of AMETEK, Inc., a leading global manufacturer of electronic instruments and electromechanical products with more than 13,000 employees at over 100 manufacturing locations and 100 sales and service centers across the United States and in more than 40 other countries around the world.

Please contact Tom Milner for additional information, Tel: +49.2821.892-0, 
Fax: +49.2821.892-2200, E-Mail: