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White Papers


Simon Löhe
Metallographer, group leader of Laboratory-Services Munich
Expert in failure analysis and metallography
+49 8106 9941 17


Schedule of service

Particle evaluation

Important characteristics of particles or fibers are chemical composition, size, share and habit. For anorganic and metallic materials these properties can be characterized by scanning electron microscopy, including X-ray elemental analysis (SEM-EDX).

Typical element patterns in the spectrum (as determined by EDX) allow interpretations regarding a material identification. Peaks for Fe, Cr and Ni, for example, together with the corresponding SEM image, indicate a particle originating from a component made of high-alloy chromium-nickel steel. All detected particles of this composition are then assigned to a summary of a common, representative particle class "high-alloy Cr-Ni steel".

For organic particles, there are more analyitical methods, depending on their size, like fourier-transform-infrared spectroscopy and time-of-flight-mass spectrometry, by which synthetic material, additives and abherents etc. can be identified exactly.

The habitus provides information about the level and the type of wear of a component. Ductile deformed, flattened particles indicate heavy usage, as is the case for e.g. rolling bearings. A high number of identical particles indicates a rapid and massive destruction.

Depending on the information of the affected system, a particle class may possibly be associated with a particular component, and thus the defective part can be detected and removed early.

[Translate to English:] EDX-Spektrum mit den Hauptelementen Fe+Cr+Ni gibt Hinweis auf hochlegierten Cr-Ni-Stahl
[Translate to English:] Dazugehörige REM-Aufnahme eines hochlegierten Cr-Ni-Stahl Span
[Translate to English:] EDX-Spektrum mit dem Hauptelement Fe gibt Hinweis auf unlegierten Stahl
[Translate to English:] REM-Aufnahme eines unlegierten Stahlpartikels

Society for Materials Testing
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GWP Gesellschaft für Werkstoffprüfung mbH
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Dr. Julius Nickl