Industrial X-ray Fluorescence Analyzer for Real-Time Thickness Measurements of Aluminium Coatings on Rolled Steel
Aluminium coatings that are formed by physical vapour deposition (PVD) on rolled steel products are more resistant to atmospheric and seawater corrosion than zinc coatings. We developed a coating thickness analyzer (CTA) with an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) measuring head, that is integrated into the PVD pilot line. In this study, to conduct measurements of elements with atomic numbers less than 20 while avoiding the problem of registration of light elements, the measuring head was integrated into
... as integrated into a process vacuum chamber to maintain a vacuum during the measurements. To validate the proposed tool, cold-rolled steel strips of different grades are used as substrates, and aluminium was deposited on the surface via PVD in thicknesses ranging from 1 to 20 g/m2. The thin-film thickness measurements during a pre-acceptance test were found to have a relative accuracy of less than 5% and a relative precision of less than 1% – 2%. The proposed CTA can be readily integrated in the factory's automatic process control system and the real-time measurements in operating and calibration modes, and the status of all spectrometric equipment (X-ray tube, detector etc.) can be transmitted to the upper-level computer. Thus, the process engineer can properly control the deposition process.