So, I own a hand held XRF gun.
For those of you that don’t know what it is or what it does, let me explain.
It uses X-ray fluorescence and scans the surface metal a certain number of micros deep giving you a reading of what the metallic composition is with percentages including trace elements.
There are various industrial uses for it ranging from scanning soil samples to see what metals they contain to scanning precious metal for composition.
We use this in the office for a variety of application. Mostly scanning things like rare coins for trace elements as a tool in determine authenticity and vetting counterfeits. For instance prior to electrolytic refining many trace elements could not be entirely refined from the ore when it was smelted and assayed. Many silver coins prior to electrolytic refining have 1/4 to 1/2 of a percent of gold and other metals in them because refining techniques at that time were not able to remove 100% of the trace metals from the ore.
Does it have limitations? Yes, absolutely.
Certain items like items that have been plated will not give you a correct reading. Since it only scans so many microns deep, it would give you a skewed percentage and a larger percentage of the plated material would show in a reading rather than the objects actual composition.
For instance I could get a pretty good reading on a pinball, but not one that’s been chrome plated.
It’s not 100% infallible and there is a small margin of error. The only real way to get a correct reading of composition would be to melt an item completely down and test a core sample. You can also get an inaccurate reading if the metal is oxidized or you don’t have a clean surface. Oxidized parts will not read the same as parts without oxidation or corrosion. Essentially trace elements and lesser metals tend to get eaten away first in the corrosion process.
Anyhow, it is an interesting tool and since I have one was wondering if it would be useful for testing the composition of pinballs or perhaps pinball parts?
Maybe there are certain metal parts with a higher failure rate than others, or pinballs that get beat up faster than others?
In these cases it might be interesting to see what their metallic composition is and what they are alloyed with.
Here’s a sample I did where I scanned some pinballs I purchased from Marco.
Fe 99.33% Iron
Mn 0.54% Manganese
Cr 0.05% Chromium
Sb 0.03% Antimony
Pb 0.02% Lead
Sn 0.02% Tin
Zn 0.01% Zinc
Zr 0.00% Zirconium (almost unmeasurable amount)
So what exactly does all this stuff being in the alloy mean? Well, the 0.54% of manganese and high percentage or iron are really the two things you want to focus on in this case. About a half percent of manganese is what’s needed in the process of making steel. The fact that the iron is refined to 99%+ is also a good sign.
The rest of the trace elements that are showing are very minor and insignificant remnants of other metals that probably had a higher concentration prior to refining. It’s way too expensive and costly to get these tiny percentiles out 100%.
In short, this is a well made pinball that is refined and alloyed correctly.
Thinking about testing some other stuff.
Other pinballs, lock down bars, coil stop etc?
Anyhow, might not be useful at all, but I thought it was interesting.