How did SciAps become the world’s handheld technology leader, in just five years?
Our NASCAR racing team and our approach to innovation are the same — go fast and take chances!
Many of the people who created SciAps were the founders and employees at Niton and InnovX (now Thermo Fisher Scientific and Olympus). Most people don’t know that we’ve been in the business of handheld sorting from the beginning. In fact, we helped to develop the world’s first handheld X-ray in the mid 1990s, and then right after 9/11, we developed the world’s first X-ray gun with an X-ray tube instead of a radioactive source.
Today at SciAps, we bring that spirit of innovation to the next generation of instrumentation. We’ve been listening to scrap processors for over 25 years, and that won’t ever change. Here’s what the community tells us: Portable XRFs are everywhere. And to be honest, they all perform similarly well on stainless steels, high temp alloys and red metals.
That said, there’s an opportunity for improvement — specifically for sorting aluminum alloys, reducing the crazy high service costs for detectors and tubes, and adding some niche applications like lithium, carbon and other specialty elements/alloys. The way we see it, where there’s a challenge, there’s also an opportunity.
So, we looked at aluminum. The key to sorting the many aluminum alloys is measuring the low concentration of magnesium and to a lesser extent silicon quickly and precisely. We’re not just talking about sorting 2000s, 7000s, and MLCs.
We’re talking about sorting 3003 from 3004, A356 from A357, and 2014 from 2024. We figured out how to measure Mg in as low concentration and as fast as possible. SciAps XRF can now measure as low as .25% in 1 second in aluminum alloys. Other analyzers have trouble measuring 1% in 20 seconds. The SciAps X is 20x or more faster on Mg. If you want to sort aluminum alloys in two seconds with 100 percent accuracy, you need our XRF.
Service costs? We developed a more robust X-ray tube and better protection for the detector. Most importantly, we view service as a customer loyalty program, not a profit center. SciAps service costs are less than half of industry norms. And we publish our costs, so you can compare.
Then there are the niche applications, such as measuring carbon in steels and stainless, or lithium in aluminum alloys.
The world has been waiting 50 years to measure carbon with a handheld, and now that’s what we’ve done. These applications required an entirely new technology. LIBS is laser-based, not X-ray. We worked on a handheld LIBS for four years. There were times when we did not think we could get there. But we didn’t give up. And now the SciAps LIBS is the world’s first and only handheld to distinguish L grade from H grade stainless and differentiate steels by carbon content. We’ve delivered over 600 units in the past two and a half years. And yes, it measures lithium, beryllium and boron as well.
In just five years, our handful of founding employees has grown to 125 people working in research, development and sales at our headquarters in Woburn, Mass.; in manufacturing at our fully ISO certified facility; and in sales and distribution around the globe. We’re having fun — contact us for our updated racing team schedule. We compete in the Xfinity Series on Saturdays before the Sunday Cup race. We often have pit passes available if you want to join us cheering on our fellow employee and NASCAR driver CJ McLaughlin. And we’re giving back by donating a percentage of sales to the Wounded Warrior Project, which supports veterans and their families readjusting to life at home.
Measure any element, any chemical, any mineral, anywhere on the planet. That’s our mission statement. CJ signs his racing autographs “Go fast and take chances!” We couldn’t agree more.
What tool for what job?
X-ray: Sort your stainless, high temps and red metals in 1 second; sort even complex aluminum alloys precisely in 2 seconds.
LIBS: The perfect “niche application” complement to X-ray. Li in aluminum alloys. Carbon content for carbon steels, and L and H grade stainless. Beryllium in copper alloys. Beryllium and boron in aluminum alloys. Boron in nickel alloys.
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