How did SciAps become the world’s handheld technology leader, in just five years?
Our NASCAR racing team and our approach to innovation are the same — go fast and take chances!
Many of the people who created SciAps were the founders and employees at Niton and InnovX(now Thermo Fisher Scientific and Olympus). Most people don’t know that we’ve been in the business of handheld sorting from the beginning. In fact, we helped to develop the world’s first handheld X-ray in the mid 1990s, and then right after 9/11, we developed the world’s first X-ray gun with an X-ray tube instead of a radioactive source.
Today at SciAps, we bring that spirit of innovation to the next generation of instrumentation. We’ve been working closely with scrap processors for over 25 years, so we know that portable XRFs are everywhere and they haven’t changed much in that time. They all perform similarly well on stainless steels, high temp alloys and red metals.
But SciAps saw opportunity for improvement — specifically for sorting aluminum alloys, reducing the crazy high service costs for detectors and tubes, and adding some niche applications like lithium, carbon and other specialty elements/alloys. The way we see it, where there’s a challenge, there’s also an opportunity.
We delivered fast aluminum sorting. We’re not just talking about sorting 2000s, 7000s, and MLCs. We’re talking about sorting 3003 from 3004, A356 from A357, and 2014 from 2024.
To do that, we figured out how to measure Mg in as low concentration and as fast as possible. The key to sorting the many aluminum alloys is measuring the low concentration of magnesium and, to a lesser extent silicon, quickly and precisely. SciAps XRF can now measure Mg as low as .25% in 1 second in aluminum alloys. Other analyzers have trouble measuring 1% in 20 seconds. The SciAps XRF is 20x (or more) faster on Mg. If you want to sort aluminum alloys in two seconds with 100 percent accuracy, you need our XRF.
Then there are the niche applications, such as measuring carbon in steels and stainless, or lithium in aluminum alloys. The world has been waiting 50 years to measure carbon with a handheld, and now that’s what we’ve done. These applications required an entirely new technology. LIBS is laser-based, not X-ray. We worked on a handheld LIBS for four years. There were times when we did not think we could get there. But we didn’t give up. And now the SciAps LIBS is the world’s first and only handheld to distinguish L grade from H grade stainless and differentiate steels by carbon content. We’ve delivered over 600 units in the past two and a half years. And yes, it measures lithium, beryllium and boron as well.
In our first five years, our handful of founding employees expanded to 125 people working in research, development and sales at our headquarters in Woburn, Mass.; in manufacturing at our fully ISO certified facility; and in sales and distribution around the globe.
And we’re having fun — join us to cheer on our co-worker CJ McLaughlin at his next NASCAR race or meet us on the golf course for the next ISRI chapter outing. And we’re giving back by donating a percentage of sales to Wounded Warrior Project, which supports veterans and their families readjusting to life at home.
Measure any element, any chemical, any mineral, anywhere on the planet. That’s our mission statement. CJ signs his racing autographs “Go fast and take chances!” We couldn’t agree more.
Aluminum Alloy Sorting Guide
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SciAps scrap sorting laser and X-ray analyzers are designed, built and supported by people with 20+ years experience in the scrap sorting industry. We make the right tool for the right job.
X-ray: Sort your stainless, high temps and red metals in 1 second; sort even complex aluminum alloys precisely in 2 seconds.
LIBS: The perfect “niche application” complement to X-ray. Li in aluminum alloys. Carbon content for carbon steels, and L and H grade stainless. Beryllium in copper alloys. Beryllium and boron in aluminum alloys. Boron in nickel alloys.
Service costs? We developed a more robust X-ray tube and better protection for the detector. Most importantly, we view service as a customer loyalty program, not a profit center. SciAps service costs are less than half of industry norms. And we publish our costs, so you can compare. Check out our Service and Calibration Program, or contact us for repair costs.
Whether you run a small recycling facility or a sophisticated aluminum processing plant, the SciAps X-550 offers a balance of speed and accuracy for your aluminum and high temp alloys. The videos below provide three ways to sort aluminum with XRF, depending on your specific requirements, or read our Aluminum Alloy Sorting Guide.
Ten years ago, basic sorting was the only option with handheld analyzers. Today, with the advent of high-performance X-ray detectors and laser-based units, fine sorting aluminum alloys in a few seconds is a reality. SciAps XRF units measure Mg and Si up to 10x faster than other guns so that operators can do fine sorting within a few seconds, rather than 30+ seconds, increasing accuracy and throughput.
The “fast” way
Sorting common grades? This method is recommended for facilities that don’t see a wide variety—for example, a facility that mostly sees the common grades like 6061, 6063, 3003, 5052, and common 2000s and 7000s. This method sorts the aluminum into these likely grades in 1-2 seconds but does NOT measure key alloying elements Si and Mg. If you’ve been sorting this way for years and you’re satisfied, then this is just a faster way.
The “precise” way
Avoid common mix-ups with the “precise” way. If you’re facility receives more than just the common 8-10 grades, then the sorting approach in this video is recommended. For example, if you receive aluminum grades that only differ by concentrations of Mg or Si—like 5000s, many 6000s, 3000s and cast aluminums—then you must measure Mg and Si to properly sort these grades. SciAps has made the measurement of Mg and Si pain free. The X-550 measures Mg down to 0.3% in 3-4 seconds, now making it efficient to sort aluminum grades that differ only by low concentrations of Mg, such as 3003/3004/3005.
The “fast and precise” way
If you handle both a high volume of aluminum and a wide variety of grades, the patent-pending Aluminum App is the ideal choice. This video explains the advantages of the Aluminum App, which is mainly speed. With our app, you can measure low concentrations of Mg and Si in 1-2 seconds, about twice the speed of the method shown in Video 2. Watch the difference SciAps technology makes.
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