Standard Historical Last Updated: Dec 14, 2022
ASTM E1476-04(2014)

Standard Guide for Metals Identification, Grade Verification, and Sorting

Significance and Use

4.1 A major concern of metals producers, warehouses, and users is to establish and maintain the identity of metals from melting to their final application. This involves the use of standard quality assurance practices and procedures throughout the various stages of manufacturing and processing, at warehouses and materials receiving, and during fabrication and final installation of the product. These practices typically involve standard chemical analyses and physical tests to meet product acceptance standards, which are slow. Several pieces from a production run are usually destroyed or rendered unusable through mechanical and chemical testing, and the results are used to assess the entire lot using statistical methods. Statistical quality assurance methods are usually effective; however, mixed grades, off-chemistry, and nonstandard physical properties remain the primary causes for claims in the metals industry. A more comprehensive verification of product properties is necessary. Nondestructive means are available to supplement conventional metals grade verification techniques, and to monitor chemical and physical properties at selected production stages, in order to assist in maintaining the identities of metals and their consistency in mechanical properties.

4.2 Nondestructive methods have the potential for monitoring grade during production on a continuous or statistical basis, for monitoring properties such as hardness and case depth, and for verifying the effectiveness of heat treatment, cold-working, and the like. They are quite often used in the field for solving problems involving off-grade and mixed-grade materials.

4.3 The nondestructive methods covered in this guide provide both direct and indirect responses to the sample being evaluated. Spectrometric analysis instruments respond to the presence and percents of alloying constituents. The electromagnetic (eddy current) and thermoelectric methods, on the other hand, are among those that respond to properties in the sample that are affected by chemistry and processing, and they yield indirect information on composition and mechanical properties. In this guide, the spectrometric methods are classified as quantitative, whereas the methods that yield indirect readings are termed qualitative.

4.4 This guide describes a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods. It summarizes the operating principles of each method, provides guidance on where and how each may be applied, gives (when applicable) the precision and bias that may be expected, and assists the investigator in selecting the best candidates for specific grade verification or sorting problems.

4.5 For the purposes of this guide, the term “nondestructive” includes techniques that may require the removal of small amounts of metal during the examination, without affecting the serviceability of the product.

4.6 The nondestructive methods covered in this guide provide quantitative and qualitative information on metals properties; they are listed as follows:

4.6.1 Quantitative: X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, and Optical emission spectrometry.

4.6.2 Qualitative: Electromagnetic (eddy current), Conductivity/resistivity, Thermoelectric, Chemical spot tests, Triboelectric, and Spark testing (special case).


1.1 This guide is intended for tutorial purposes only. It describes the general requirements, methods, and procedures for the nondestructive identification and sorting of metals.

1.2 It provides guidelines for the selection and use of methods suited to the requirements of particular metals sorting or identification problems.

1.3 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use. For specific precautionary statements, see Section 10.

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Book of Standards Volume: 03.03
Developed by Subcommittee: E07.10
Pages: 12
DOI: 10.1520/E1476-04R14
ICS Code: 77.020