Portable optical emission spectrometers are evolving as important tools for the on-site sorting and identification of metals. Their analytical precision and accuracy, while not quite as good as laboratory systems, are more than adequate for sorting mixes and most grade verification requirements. The intentions of this paper are to provide a brief review of the technology and history of emission spectrometers, and then to describe parameters, operation, capabilities and limitations of the device for plain carbon, low alloy, and stainless steels.
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