Advanced Quality Control (AQC™)
For manufacturing companies, defining contamination is relatively straight-forward. Contamination is a particle, or debris, which is not inherent to the final assembly, component, or fluid being analyzed. Unfortunately, removing and controlling contamination, is not as easy as defining it!
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The first step towards achieving Quality Control is reliably identifying the individual particles as well as accurately sizing them. Various methods exist, but lack the required sensitivity, accuracy, and precision to maintain adequate control over a process.
Analysis of particulate materials by an automated electron-beam instrument is a powerful and practical technique for understanding particle distributions. With its superior magnification range, depth of field, and powerful contrast mechanisms it enjoys many performance advantages relative to the optical microscope for dimensional analysis of particles from the millimeter to the sub-micron range. When equipped with x-ray analysis capabilities, it offers rapid and unambiguous classification of particles by elemental composition. Optimization of the integrated instrument to make full use of its ability to dynamically position the electron beam results in substantial improvements in analytical precision and speed over a simple camera-like SEM interface.
OEMs and vendors throughout the global automotive industry are pushing the envelope of quality control, seeking new ways to improve quality yields and reduce warranty costs. In their quest for Six Sigma quality performance, and higher standards of critical cleanliness, they are focusing greater attention on microscopic particle analysis as part of factory-floor QC operations.
Currently, the AQC™ is revolutionizing the way particles are being detected and analyzed by providing manufacturers with Industrialized Electron Beam Analyzers capable of evaluating the Size, Shape, and Elemental Composition of all particles present in a sample. These analyzers rely on the trade marked and patented designs of modular electronics, vacuum functionality, consumable electron emitter hardware, environmental shielding, and maintenance free Elemental Composition detectors. Aspex’s Industrialized-By-Design™ product line offers robust particle analysis solutions for manufacturers in need of easy-to-use equipment for contamination monitoring down to the single particle level with the ability to position the equipment anywhere in the process – lab or manufacturing floor.
In response to these trends, ASPEX has developed the industry's only totally integrated solution for the automated detection, identification, and characterization of micron-level debris in automotive manufacturing and cleansing operations, the AQC™. Manufacturers have come to understand that particles smaller than can be seen by their current optical and gravimetric inspection techniques can impact production—particles that are easily be identified and characterized by the AQC™.
Also, unlike optical microscopes, which provide only a visual image, the ASPEX AQC™ system identifies both the presence of foreign particles AND their elemental composition—data that can help a manufacturer pinpoint the likely source upstream in their production operations or from a supplier's component.
Cleanliness in Automotive PlantsAfter conducting a source Identification (SourceID) of the particle, it was found to have originated in the high pressure pump of the fuel injector.
LEFT: Aluminum shaving, approximately 100 micrometers in diameter.
RIGHT: Iron particle found in a Fuel Injector Nozzle after failure, approximately 250 micrometers in diameter.
Leading auto makers have reduced manufacturing and warranty failures by 30%
Leading German and American manufacturers, including Ford, Mercedes, and Bosch, have installed ASPEX AQCTM systems in their factories to reduce manufacturing and warranty failures in critical applications such as:
- Transmission assemblies
- Power Steering assemblies
- Fuel injection systems
- Diesel engines
Particles from an automatic transmission - left: optical, right: SEM/BSE. This image also demonstrates the ability of the Electron Beams superior ability to differentiate features of interest from the background filter membrane.