X-rays, Atoms & How They Make RoHS Testing Effective, Cool & Fun (for us)

Who gets excited about X-rays? We do! One of the fun things about working in this industry is that we get to “play” with some really cool toys. And it’s even better when playing with those toys actually yields grown-up results that can help our clients in a myriad of ways. Our X-ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy (XRF) device is a good example. It’s fairly easy to use and is a more economical testing option, but don’t let that fool you. It is a critical workhorse instrument for a variety of testing applications, one of RoHS Testing| Polymers| Periodic Tablewhich is RoHS testing.

Basically, if you want to sell anything in Europe that’s made from metal and/or polymer components – like appliances, medical devices and electronics – you must abide by The European Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS). The regulation limits the presence of certain hazardous substances in a range of consumables sold in Europe, and RoHS testing can help ensure your products meet the standards. XRF testing is one of the most cost-effective yet reliable ways to test for compliance.

X-ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy relies on one of the most basic (yet still amazing) scientific tools – X-rays – to test the composition of a given sample. By hitting the sample with X-rays, the test “excites” the individual atoms in the sample. Each element stirs up those atoms in a unique way, and by reading that movement through the XRF device, a scientist can identify the components in the sample and the level at which they’re present.

While the tool itself is relatively easy to use, it’s the expertise of the scientist using it that makes the data the device generates valuable. When we use XRF devices for RoHS testing, we can quickly determine if the levels of restricted substances are compliant with the regulations. If the levels are within limits, viola! You’re done. If not, further testing is needed to investigate the actual composition of the material and why it’s not living up to expectations or meeting requirements.

Our XRF instrument can test a staggering array of materials, including those that fall under RoHS regulations: lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ethers. This type of testing is particularly valuable in understanding metals and polymers as they’re used in medical devices, where composition and performance can be a matter of life and death for patients.