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Quality Digest

Metrology

Hitachi High-Tech Sets New Pace for Plating and Coatings Analysis with the FT230

Reduces the time it takes to complete an XRF measurement

Published: Thursday, May 19, 2022 - 12:00

(Hitachi High-Tech: Oxford, UK) -- Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science, a global company within Hitachi High Tech Group, has expanded its plating and coatings analysis range with the launch of the breakaway FT230. It’s designed to enable quality control to keep pace with production by significantly simplifying and accelerating testing of components and assemblies.

Removing the traditional hurdles of XRF analysis, the FT230 speeds up analysis and reduces costly errors to help electronics and component-level manufacturers, general metal finishers, and plating-on-plastic facilities achieve 100-percent inspection and meet tightening specifications.

Let the XRF make decisions for you

Every aspect of the FT230 was designed to reduce the time it takes to complete an XRF measurement. With traditional XRF instruments, around 72 percent of testing time is lost on setup, meaning that operators spend significantly more time preparing a measurement and manipulating the results than the instrument spends analyzing the part. The user experience (UX) of the FT230 is significantly improved by an intelligent part-recognition feature called Find My Part that automatically selects the features that need to be measured, the analytical routines, and reporting rules so the operator spends less time using the XRF and more time working the results. The onboard, user-built library is easily expanded to handle new parts and new routines as your work changes.

Simply smarter

The FT230 is the first product running Hitachi’s all new FT Connect software, carrying the best aspects of its established SmartLink and X-Ray Station software and adding new functionality ready to improve usability. FT Connect completely inverts the traditional interface. With traditional software, most of the screen is occupied by controls—many of which are used infrequently, if at all. But FT Connect focuses the interface on the most important aspects of the XRF. The real estate is dominated by the largest sample view in the industry and clear results presentation, making it easier to position parts for analysis and see the results.

Data handling for Industry 4.0

You can instantly get results to where you need them with FT Connect’s flexible data-handling features. Results are prominently displayed in the main measurement screen so operators can take action quickly, and stored on board for later reviews. The results can be exported in spreadsheet or comprehensive JSON format for integration with SCADA, QMS, MES, or ERP systems. Customized reports can similarly be created for internal or external customers.

Easier instrument maintenance

In addition to a series of functions to confirm instrument stability (including routine instrument checks and calibration validation tools), the onboard diagnostics give users further information about the health of the instrument. This data can be shared directly with Hitachi’s technical support team over ExTOPE Connect (Hitachi’s cloud-based advanced data management and storage service that allows you to share data instantly and securely).

Measure beyond plating and coatings

The FT230 adds value beyond measuring plating and coating thickness and composition. The powerful software and high-resolution SDD makes it possible to screen parts for conformity to restricted materials legislations such as RoHS and analyze the composition of materials, including plating bath solutions and metal alloys, useful for validating incoming substrates and confirming chemistry, which is crucial for hallmarking centers handling precious metals.

Get it right the first time

Matt Kreiner, Hitachi’s coatings analysis product manager, said: “The FT230 fundamentally changes the way operators interact with an XRF. For decades, the user had to remember or look up the recipe for measuring a production part, making decisions about the application (is the plating Ni/Au or Ni/Pd/Au?), measurement locations, spot size, measurement time, and reporting rules. Even with systems that could provide some of this information with a barcode or QR code scan, the user would still need to make decisions. And decisions leave room for mistakes that manufacturers cannot afford to make.

"With the FT230, the user loads a part into the chamber, runs the Find My Part routine, and the instrument takes care of the rest. Everything we’ve built into the FT230 was designed to shorten and simplify the most time-consuming and complex part of an XRF measurement—the setup. This reduces mistakes, frees up operators to perform value-added tasks, and increases testing volumes so XRF owners can do more with less.”

From simple plating and coatings to sophisticated applications on the smallest features, Hitachi High-Tech’s extensive range of analyzers—now including the FT230—is designed to confidently measure coated parts throughout production, from incoming inspection and process control through final quality control.

About Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science

Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science is a global company within the Hitachi High-Tech Group. The company is headquartered in Oxford, UK, with R&D and assembly operations in Finland, Germany, and China, and sales and support operations around the world.

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