Scrap Metal & Alloys

Give our X-ray and laser guns a shot for your scrap processing

Laser and X-ray analyzers designed, built and supported by people with 20+ years experience in the scrap sorting industry.

The X-550 X-ray

Now Available

The ultimate alloy X-ray gun

Meet the best X-ray gun ever made for scrap metal sorting. At 2.75 lbs., it’s the lightest weight analyzer ever created, in a mostly metal frame for ultimate durability and duty cycle. Perfectly balanced and lightning fast – as in 1-2 seconds – you can sort material all day long without fatigue. The narrow, slender form factor accesses the toughest test locations, with the latest 2.7″ (68.6mm) display for rear viewing of grade and chemistry in all lighting conditions.

XSeries X-550

The Z-9 LIBS

Now Available

The world’s only Dual-Burn option

With the Z, you can always sort materials with air-burn. If you need more precision, simply insert an argon canister, switch to the “Alloy Argon Purge” App and keep testing. Dual Burn is available at time of purchase or as an upgrade.


What’s better about the X-550?

You will permanently end your aluminum mix-ups.

It’s the only X-ray gun that’s as good on aluminum as it is on high temps, stainless and turnings.

  • Sort your aluminum alloys in 2 seconds — including those with as little as 0.25% Mg.

  • The great performance you've come to expect on high temps, stainless, red metals, specialty alloys and turnings.

  • Lowest cost to service in the industry

    Tube or detector replacements are less than half the competition. At SciAps, we view service as a loyalty program, not a profit center.

Precise measurements of Mg and Si are critical for highly accurate aluminum alloy testing.


There are many Al alloys that only differ by small amounts of Mg or Si. For example, 6063 and 1100; 356 and 357; 3003 and 3005; 5005 and 6022. Mg and Si measurements must be accurate to sort these grades. Measurements must also be FAST, as in 1-2 seconds. No recycler we’ve ever met wants to wait 20 seconds or more for a result.  

The result: A huge variety of aluminum alloys can now be precisely sorted by X-ray, because the X-550 measures Mg as low as 0.25% and Si to 0.10% in 2 seconds. This includes the most difficult groups of aluminum alloys noted above such as 3003/3004/3005, 2014/2024, 356 and 357 or 6022 and 5005. These alloys differ by small amounts of Mg or Si and until now could not be reliably sorted by X-ray gun technology.  

And you still maintain the performance advantage of X-ray on other alloying metals like Cr, Cu, Zr, Zn, Mn — the strength of X-ray.  For example Mn precision is essential to sort within the 3000 series like 3105, 3005 and other similar alloys.  The same holds for small differences Cu, Cr and Zr that often differentiates 6000 and 7000 grades.  The X-550 delivers high performance on both Mg and Si, as well as transition and heavy metals, so you can permanently end downgrades and mixups. 

Got 1100 and 6063 mix-ups?
One of the most common mix-ups we see from recyclers using older X-ray technology are 1100 and 6063. 1100 has 0.05-0.2% Cu, and no Mg. Alloy 6063 has 0-0.1% Cu and 0.45-0.9% Mg. Measuring the Mg in 6063 requires 30 – 60 sec. in most other X-ray guns. Other X-ray guns take an ill-advised shortcut. They are programmed to identify the alloy as 1100 if any copper is detected. However, with so many aluminum alloys being made from recycled scrap rather than virgin ore, the copper content in 6063 has slowly crept up to the 0.1% level. Thus most X-ray guns measure the Cu and call the aluminum alloy 1100 in a few seconds.  No user wants to take the 30 seconds or more that’s required by other X-ray guns to see if the Mg is present, thus making the material a 6063 not an 1100. This is one of the most common mix-ups we see day to day. The X-550 measures the Mg in 6063 in 1 second, eliminating this common mix-up forever! 


Our X-ray tube technology runs at 3x the intensity of the tubes in other X-ray units when measuring aluminum or magnesium alloys. We’ve also optimized the tube/detector geometry especially for these alloys. As a result, SciAps X-550 now measures Mg and Si up to 10 times faster than any other X-ray gun, with better precision.


The X-550 was also optimized for low residual applications, initially based on stricter limits imposed the oil/gas industry for Cr, Ni, Cu, Nb, V, Sn and other elements in steels. The X-550 will measure very low levels of contaminant residual metals in steels, stainless, copper and nickel alloys.  Some examples currently in field operation include, but are not limited to: low Cr, Ni, Cu, V, Nb, S, P in steels; low Sn, Pb in stainless; and low Pb and Bi in nickel alloys.

The Best Choice for Scrap Sorting & Alloy Analysis

  1. The X-550 performs great on turnings, stainless and high-temps, just like other high-performing X-ray guns. No compromises. And handles low residual material for lucrative upgrades.
  2. The X-550 outperforms any other X-ray gun on aluminum alloys – check out our Aluminum App! Start sorting your aluminum alloys as fast as your stainless and high temps.
  3. Service is a loyalty program, not a profit center. SciAps service costs are less than half of other X-ray guns, especially for tubes and detectors.

Can you sacrifice a little speed on Mg, Si, Al, P and S?

Then consider the high performance, lower cost X-505 model.

The X-505 delivers practically all the performance and ruggedness of the X-550, at a lower price point. The difference is that it uses a more standard X-ray tube, rather than the high current version in the X-550. That means it still measures the transition and heavy metals (titanium through bismuth) as fast and precisely as the X-550. But on the low atomic elements Mg, Al, Si, P and S, the X-505 takes slightly longer to meet the same precision and limits of detection. For users who don’t require 1-2 second tests on aluminum alloys or ultralow P and S, the X-505 delivers excellent performance in the world’s smallest, lightest XRF.

X-550 and X-505 comparison

Below are several specific examples to illustrate the performance difference between the premium X-550 and workhorse X-505 models. The essential point: if you can tolerate the longer testing times for Mg, Al, Si, P and S, then the X-505 is a perfectly good choice. The only performance difference between the X-550 and the X-505 is the analysis time for the 5 elements Mg, Al, Si, P and S.

X-550 and X-505 Comparison Metric

TestTime for X-550Time for X-505Why It’s Important
0.5% Mg in aluminum alloys1-2 sec.3-4 sec.Rapidly, accurately sort 6063, 1100 and others.
0.3% Mg in aluminum 2 sec.6 sec.ID 356, 3005 and other specialty-grade low Mg aluminums
200 ppm P in steel10% precision in 7 sec.10% precision in 15 sec.Upgrade ferrous that’s low P and S.
200 ppm S in steel10% precision in 5 sec.10% precision in 10 sec.Segregate re-sulfurized steels.
0.1 % Si in steel10% precision in 3 sec.10% precision in 6 sec. Mainly a PMI application, assuring Si < 1% to avoid sulfidic corrosion.
All other elements titanium and heavierSame test time for X-550 and X-505Same test time for X-550 and X-505 For many alloys, the X-505 delivers same lightning speed.

X-505 XRF Analyzer Gun Scrapper New for 2020

The Performance and Value Option:
X-250, X-200, X-50

They’re the lowest priced XRF guns on the market, yet still offer best-in-class analytical and speed performance.

You want the accuracy and throughput of the X-550 and X-505 models, but in a lower priced family of analyzers? Then consider the totally re-engineered X-200, X-250 and X-50 models. All offer great performance and great value. Now redesigned with improved heat dissipation, reduced weight, new user-interface. Operate continuously at 110 F (43 C) ambient.

X-250  It’s the cost effective version of the X-550. Fast on all alloys including aluminums. Sort nearly all aluminum alloys precisely by grade in 2 seconds or less.

X-200  The low priced version of the X-505. Like the X-250 it’s fast on all alloys, but requires a few more seconds than the X-250 on complex aluminum alloys. For example, it requires 3-4 seconds to measure 0.5% Mg in a 6063, compared to 1-2 sec. for the X-250.

X-50  Our most economical model, the perfect choice for basic sorting of stainless, high temps and red metals. It does not measure Mg, Al, Si, P or S. For aluminums, sort by 2000, 3003-type, 7050, 7075, 7000-type and MLCs.

Contact SciAps Sales

How It Works:
The SciAps Aluminum App

Now handle your stainless, high temps and turnings and aluminum alloys with market-leading speed and precision.

The team at SciAps has more than 50 years of experience collectively sorting alloys and designing analyzers to sort alloys. So we threw away the uninspired conventional approach of the other X-ray brands. Instead, we asked, what’s the best way to measure aluminum alloys?

If you examine the vast array of aluminum alloys, you realize that if you measure about 10 elements quickly, then you can reliably sort 95% or more of them accurately. These elements include Mg, Si, Al, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Ni, Cu and Zn. A small number of aluminum alloys also require Zr, Pb, Bi, Sn or Ag. The “conventional” approach to aluminum alloys with X-ray is a “2-beam” test. After a few seconds in the first beam, the old school approach switched to a low voltage, higher current “beam 2” to measure Mg, Al and Si. The problem with this approach is that the X-ray gun isn’t optimized to quickly measure the 10 most important elements for aluminums first. Instead, a “one size fits all” approach for non-ferrous is employed, which required long test times (20 sec or more) to sort common aluminum alloys. 

The SciAps Aluminum App – patent pending – takes a fresh approach. Instead, we start the test with an optimized X-ray tube setting of low voltage, high current. This setting optimizes performance for the “top 10 elements” Mg, Si, Al, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn that allow practically every aluminum alloy to analyzed in 1-2 seconds.  

We then added some “smarts” to the Aluminum App. The on-board library and software determine if a particular material might require an additional beam to also measure Zr, Pb, Bi, Sn and/or Ag. For an example, a 6000 series alloy that meets the specs of a 6061 but also contains Pb. The library logic recognizes this potential mix-up and requires the analyzer to automatically make the 2nd beam test. For a small percentage of materials, the testing time is 3-4 seconds rather than 1-2 seconds.

Read more in our Aluminum Alloy Sorting Guide

Meet our LIBS Z Series for scrap metal and alloys

Introducing the all-new Z-9 LIBS analyzer

1 lb. lighter than comparable Z-50. No argon needed, but Argon App available.

We worked closely with users of the SciAps Z-50 and TSI ChemLite to develop an upgraded handheld LIBS for fast alloy sorting, without the need for argon purge. The Z-9 offers a lighter, faster analyzer, coming in at 1 lb. lighter than SciAps Z-50 model. It’s equipped with two cameras: one for sample viewing to assure proper positioning on irregularly shaped materials, and a second “macro camera” for photo-documentation of the material being tested or reading bar codes.

The Z-9 may also be upgraded to our unique “dual-burn” technology that allows users to analyze materials in either air-burn or argon purge. In some cases, users can achieve greater precision or better detection limits with argon purge. For example, contaminant B in aluminum, or higher precision on refractory elements like Ni, Mo, Co, Nb, W, Ta in high-temp alloys and stainless. For argon purge, operators pop in an argon cartridge and choose the “Alloy Argon Purge” App from the home screen. The argon-purge calibrations are on-board as a separate app, making it easy for operators to switch between testing methods.

Can be operated under Class 1 conditions in virtually all U.S. states and countries.

  • Handheld LIBS, weighing about 3.5 lbs.
  • Air-burn operation for six alloy bases: Al, Ti, stainless, Fe, Ni and Cu
  • Optional “Alloy Argon Purge” App for higher precision if needed
  • May be operated under Class 1 conditions, provided sample sensor is engaged (engaged by
    default, password protected)
  • Internal camera and flatter nose-plate for easier testing on curved or irregular circles
  • Macro-camera for photo-documenation of samples, bar codes and report generation
  • 1 second tests like ChemLite and ChemLite Plus
  • Expanded Ti and Al libraries compatible with ChemLite user expectations
  • Detect down to 10 ppm Li and Be contamination in aluminum alloys
  • With argon purge, measure down to 10 ppm B in aluminum alloys

Analytical Range

One or more lines from all elements except Li, Na, H, F, Cl, Br, N, O, Rb, Cs, S


200 nm – 420 nm

Need lithium analysis? Keep reading about the Z-50 and Z-200 below.

Air-burn or argon purge?

As shown spectrally, in an argon environment rather than air, signals are many times larger, thus yielding superior analytical performance.

Green – argon purge
Red – air-burn

Depending on the element, the LIBS signal is 2x-10x higher when operating in argon purge versus air-burn. For carbon, the LIBS signal is about 50x higher, which is why argon-purge is always required for carbon testing. For many scrap applications, particularly aluminum and titanium analysis, air-burn works well enough.

Need to Measure Carbon? Try the Z-200 C+

Z-50 LIBS analyzer

The most advanced, highest performance handheld LIBS platform—no argon required!

The Z-50 is comparable to the Z-9 but it extends the wavelength range out to 625 nm to allow for measurement of Li. Lithium is increasingly used in aerospace aluminum alloys, but can be catastrophic to a furnace if mixed with aluminum grades that don’t contain Li. Like the Z-9, the Z-50 uses a pulsed laser, 5-6 mJ/pulse, 50 Hz repetition rate. It extends the wavelength range out to 625 nm, allowing for Li and Na to be measured. On-board camera and laser targeting allow the user to view the sample and precisely aim where the laser will strike. While it’s equipped with factory calibrations for the major metal bases and a large alloy grade library, users may add new alloy grades or add or modify calibrations if needed.

Can be operated under Class 1 conditions in virtually all U.S. states and countries.

Analytical Range

One or more lines from all elements except H, F, Cl, Br, N, O, Rb, Cs, S


190 nm – 625 nm, Measures Li in aluminum alloys as well.

Z-200 LIBS for scrap metal sorting

Uses argon purge for higher precision and improved limits of detection

Like the Z-50, the Z-200 uses a pulsed laser, 5-6 mJ/pulse, 50 Hz repetition rate. It extends the wavelength range out to 625 nm allowing for lithium, as some users are starting to see Li-containing aluminum alloys in their recycling streams. Like spark OES compared to arc, LIBS achieves improved precision and better limits of detection if used in an argon-purge environment, so the Z-200 uses on-board argon purge. The Z-200 also features an on-board camera and laser targeting to view the sample and precisely aim where the laser will strike. For the metals testing industry, the Z-200 is equipped with factory calibrations for the major metal bases, and a large alloy grade library.

What are some specific benefits to using argon purge?

  • If you want to measure low concentrations of B down to 10 ppm as a contaminant in aluminum alloys
  • Improved precision on refractory elements in stainless and high temps like Ni, Co, Nb, Mo, W, Ta
  • Measuring carbon content in steels or stainless to sort by alloy grade (steels) or L vs H grade stainless

Can be operated under Class 1 conditions in virtually all U.S. states and countries.

Analytical Range

One or more lines from all elements except H, F, Cl, Br, N, O, Rb, Cs, S


190 nm – 625 nm. Measures Li in aluminum alloys as well.

Z-200 for Scrap Metal Sorting

The Z-200 is configured to analyze all variety of alloy bases. Laser is particularly good for aluminum alloys due to the superior analysis (compared to X-ray) for magnesium and silicon. Laser will also measure lithium (Li), beryllium (Be) and boron (B) in alloys. X-ray cannot measure these alloys at all. Other scrap advantages for the Z include minimal or no grinding due to the Z’s high energy laser, high frequency laser for rapid surface cleaning. This is particularly advantageous for aluminum alloys since the Z burns through anodizing, unlike X-ray. The Z also eliminates travel and regulatory burdens that are inherent with X-ray. Finally, the Z-200 is great on ferrous alloys and the Z-200 C+ offers carbon analysis as well.

Why LIBS Instead of X-ray?

Four reasons to consider a handheld LIBS gun versus X-ray

Reason #1

You simply don’t want to deal with radiation regulations, badges, and inspections.

Both the Z-200 and Z-50 will sort all your alloys. The Z-200 will sort more alloys, more precisely, because the argon purge provides 10x better precision than air-burn.

Reason #2

A priority is to sort aluminum alloys as precisely and as fast as possible, especially when dealing with grades that differ only by fine chemistry differences.

Some alloys that differ by small amounts of Mg, which is hard to measure with X-ray. For example, sorting 3003, 3004 and 3005 quickly, or 356 and 357. These are a few of many examples.

Reason #3

You must measure the elements Li, Be, B, C, Na, and low concentrations (< 0.2%) of Mg, Al and Si in various alloys.

Handheld X-ray cannot measure Li, Be, B, C, or Na (sodium) at all.

Reason #4

You’ve broken detectors or tubes and you just don’t want to use X-ray anymore, even though SciAps offers the lowest X-ray service costs of any brand.

Good news! The Z has no detectors or tubes to break. Poke away at the aperture, you can’t damage the quartz blast shield. In fact, except for the laser diode array, the most expensive components to repair on the Z range from $100-$500. The diode array costs $1,200 but they’re virtually impossible to break.

LIBS vs. X-Ray

Why is the world’s leading manufacturer of handheld LIBS recommending X-ray as a superior tool for scrap processing?
Read the Article

Stories from Scrap Metal & Alloy Users

This page was updated on August 18th, 2020