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    Bearing Steel Quality Assurance with Next Generation SEM-EDS

    Published: 11 December 2017

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    Microscopic cleanliness has dominated bearing steel metallurgical quality requirements for a long time—from the 1974 ASTM symposium on the rating of nonmetallic inclusions in bearing steels to the present day. Steelmaking processes have been improved over the years; the micro-cleanliness demands have increased but the methodologies, based on light optical microscopy, have evolved very little. The goal of removing the subjectivity in micro-inclusion ratings by optical image analysis has existed for a long time, but the pixel size and time have been a limitation in light optical systems. The use of electron microscopy and energy dispersive spectroscopy showed promise in the 1970s, and improved scanning electron microscope (SEM) stability, energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) throughput, and EDS resolution has enabled a new generation of SEM-EDS systems. The current generation of SEM-EDS system are now used to perform composition specific micro-inclusion characterization as used in quality assurance and process improvements. In this paper, the Thermo Fisher Scientific system—as applied to bearing steel quality assurance—will be described with examples highlighting the benefits and potential caveats and workarounds.


    scanning electron microscope-energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS), clean steel, nonmetallic inclusion

    Author Information:

    Ricker, Brock
    Thermo Fisher Scientific, Hillsboro, OR

    Patel, Vishal
    Thermo Fisher Scientific, Hillsboro, OR

    van Beek, Cornelis
    Thermo Fisher Scientific, Hillsboro, OR

    Committee/Subcommittee: A01.28

    DOI: 10.1520/STP160020160144