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Criteria to Consider When Choosing a Digital Solution for Steel Quality Rating

For the efficient and fast rating of non-metallic inclusions to determine steel quality, deciding which digital rating solution to use can be a challenge. This article discusses the important criteria that users should consider when choosing a digital steel quality rating solution. Does the solution allow inclusion rating based on multiple international and regional steel quality standards which can be updated with future changes? Are user-defined standards possible? A digital rating solution fulfilling these criteria and others is also mentioned.

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Criteria for an Inclusion Rating Solution

Multiple Steel Quality Standards

A rating solution should support commonly used international and regional standards (previous and current) which are required for component and product compliance. When multiple standards must be met, then comparability of results is important.

Some of the most commonly used steel quality characterization standards are [1]:

Standard Description
ISO 4967:2013 Steel -- Determination of content of non-metallic inclusions -- Micrographic method using standard diagrams
ASTM E45-18 Standard Test Methods for Determining the Inclusion Content of Steel

DIN 50602:1985-09 (replaced by EN 10247:2017)

Micrographic examination of the non-metallic inclusion content of steels using standard pictures

Table 1: Steel quality standards for rating non-metallic inclusions which are commonly used.

Up-to-Date International and Regional Standards and Organizational Defined Specifications

Rating solution should be flexible to enable updating or upgrading of international and regional standards that must be applied, as well as user-defined standards that conform to organizational specifications and requirements [2].

Now international and regional inclusion rating standards are being updated more frequently and organizational and company norms and processes can change at any time. The ability for users to adapt quickly to these changes is critical for a rating solution.

Efficient Workflow from Analysis to Reporting of Results

The steel quality rating workflow starts with the selection of inclusion-rating parameters, then the inclusion analysis, and finally the reporting of results.

Total time for analysis of inclusions and reporting of results will depend on whether automated or manual rating of inclusions is done [1]. Also, reliability and reproducibility of the results can depend on whether automated or manual analysis is used [1]. The more reliable the results, even independent of the user operating the rating solution, the better the comparability of the rating results obtained from the methods of different steel quality standards. The greater the number of rating parameters (depending on standard) and the number of sample regions with inclusions to be analyzed, the more automated analysis is advantageous (time and reliability of results).

Automated Solution

An automated rating solution allows fully automatic analysis of multiple samples [1]. A careful sample preparation is a prerequisite for a reproducible analysis of whole samples. Analysis can be performed even when the user leaves the system unattended. Results are unbiased and the automated analysis methods are compliant with the chosen international and regional standards already mentioned above. An automated rating solution is practical for both worst field and worst inclusion evaluation methods. Advanced review capabilities enable discernment between types of inclusions or inclusions and artifacts. The software should make the most commonly used standards available for comparison during a single scan. The overall time for analysis and reporting of a large number of results would be faster and more reliable with an automated rating solution.

Manual Solution

A manual solution allows the user to manually choose and analyze a representative number of areas on the sample [1]. The analysis would also be compatible with the most commonly used standard methods. A manual rating solution is only practical for worst field evaluation methods. The user has to manually move the sample to the correct position and then start the analysis. The overall time for analysis of a large number of sample areas and reporting of the obtained results would be slower and less reliable (user-dependent results) with a manual rating solution.

Steel Quality Solution Suite: Rating of Non-Metallic Inclusions

The rating of non-metallic inclusions can be done efficiently and future changes in standards or organizational specifications can be adapted easily with the Steel Quality Solution Suite from Leica Microsystems. Dedicated configurations of the solution suite, both for automated and manual rating of inclusions, are available for the specific needs of users.