Grading aluminum with Scrap University and SciAps X-550

June 25, 2021

SciAps handheld XRF captures valuable upgrades. Scrap University trains your operator to know they matter.

Brad Rudover, one of the founders of Scrap University, shared some helpful hints for grading aluminum, one of the many training sessions offered at Scrap University's Certified Scrap Metal Professional training course. The program follows ISRI specifications to train new hires and create a full-scope understanding of commodities to support better decisions by all operators.

“Tough/Taboo is one of the most common grades of aluminum found at a scrap yard,” Rudover says. It goes by several “street names” such as MLC, low copper, new aluminum, and clips. “Gauge (thickness) and lack of paint and/or stickers are the primary differences of this grade. Think of an aluminum pipe or a piece of plate that is about a 1/4-inch thick, these items would be bought and possibly sold as Tough/Taboo.”

For the novice sorter, there’s a lot to dig into here, with strong upgrade potential, which is why it’s one of the key lessons in the CSMP training course. These upgrades have been typically identified through experience or the ability to find a factory stamp on the material. Capturing upgrades such as 5052, 6061, and EC wire requires a significant amount of time and labor. And still, further upgrades will go unnoticed. With price gaps of $0.20-$0.30/lb. from Tough/Taboo to 5052 and 6063 Mill Finish, that’s lost opportunity.

“In the past, making use of an analyzer to identify each grade of aluminum didn't help capture upgrades as they would typically report 'light element' rather than the actual grade. It wasn't until SciAps entered the market that specific aluminum grades could be identified with an analyzer,” Rudover says.

Rudover brought the X-550 on a visit to Rypac Metal Recycling in the Vancouver area. When he opened the instrument case, he imagined the scene from “Pulp Fiction” when Vincent Vega opens the briefcase.

“Vincent, we happy?”

“Yeah, we happy!”  

“The X-550 looks like a Lamborghini and performs like one too,” Rudover says with a laugh.

The crew filmed several lessons that required the use of an analyzer, and the X-550 gave an exact match in the matter of seconds—5052, 6061, titanium, inconel, cupronickel, and cobalt to name a few. “While we've used analyzers before for nickel alloys, none could deliver the same results on aluminum. When testing with Niton or InnovX, the instrument would kick back, 'light element,' which doesn't help when you're trying to upgrade 5052 from your Tough/Taboo package,” Rudover says. “We focus on innovation and the X-550 definitely fits the profile. SciAps rocks!”

SciAps is proud to be a contributing consultant and partner in Scrap University. “We provide our customers with the most advanced instruments so that they can work with confidence. Brad and Kate help them become master operators of those instruments. Everybody wins,” says Don Sackett, CEO and co-founder of SciAps.

What’s better about X-550?

Permanently end your aluminum mix-ups.

SciAps X-550 is the only X-ray gun that’s as good on aluminum as it is on high temps, stainless and turnings.

Meet the best XRF gun ever made for scrap metal sorting. At 2.98 lbs. with battery, SciAps X-550 is 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 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. Download the X-550 Specifications.

X-550 handheld analyzer

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