State of the Art Spectrometer Enables TR to Check for Hazardous Substances

X-Ray Fluorescence machine ensures compliance with RoHS legislation

As part of TR Fastenings (TR)’s continuous commitment to environmental legal compliance, the firm uses a world-class X-Ray Fluorescence spectrometer to conduct checks. This sophisticated machine enables TR to go beyond basic testing to ensure consistent legal compliance. The spectrometer checks incoming products for traces of hazardous elements, meaning customers can rest assured that their products comply with the latest Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) legislation. Revisions to RoHS became law in 2013, updating regulations which first came into force in 2005. These restrict the levels of five substances – lead, hexavalent chromium, mercury, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PDBE) – to no more than 1000 parts per million and restrict a sixth substance, cadmium, to 100 ppm.

Of all these substances, hexavalent chromium is most likely to show low-level traces in products featuring plating finishes, such as fasteners. Hexavalent chromium is also traceable in textile dyes, paints, inks, plastics, wood preservation, and anti-corrosion products. More broadly, RoHS testing is required in products as diverse as toys, stationery, furniture, packaging, batteries, clothing, shoes, jewellery, and ornaments. TR has stocked materials and products which comply with RoHS since 2004, a year before the regulations were introduced. In 2012 TR went a step further by establishing an in-house RoHS compliance testing facility, which now vets suppliers of more than 80,000 different components each year.
As part of this ongoing testing, TR upgraded its facilities in 2016 with the spectrometer to aid screening and hazardous element analysis. In principle this works like other solid state X-ray detectors, measuring the energy of incoming photons by the amount of ionization produced in the detector material, although in this case the detector material is high purity silicon.
TR’s spectrometer is a Genius 3000 model made in the USA by market-leaders Skyray Instrument Inc. This is a hand-held device with a built-in HD camera, ideal for large articles which cannot be tested on desktop instruments. The machine’s three core technologies – a low-power integrated miniature X-ray tube, a large-area beryllium window electric-cooling silicon drift detector (SDD), and miniature digital signal multi-channel processor – significantly increase detection precision. The SDD is the best product of its kind on the market. By checking incoming products in this way, TR is not only ensuring its own compliance with RoHS legislation but also taking care of this particular aspect of customers’ legal due diligence and due care requirements.