Why Test Scrap Metal?

why test metal scrap

Metal scrap is a valuable part of production systems. Instead of mining for new resources each time new products need steel materials, you can melt and repurpose scrap. If you find scrap, you may want to test it to determine its value and distinguish what materials it consists of so you can use it again with confidence.

What Is Scrap?

Scrap consists of discarded metal and steel created during production. For over 150 years, the steel industry has been recycling and using scrap to create products. Using recycled scrap as raw material in steel production can save time.

When you use scrap, you also your carbon dioxide emissions and reduce the need for new resource consumption. Most junkyards are full of collectible scrap that gets separated and organized in preparation for remelting.

Why Test Your Scrap?

Testing metal scrap is an integral part of the recycling process. Scrap can fall into one of two classifications — ferrous or non-ferrous. The main difference between the two is that ferrous scrap contains iron as a component, while non-ferrous scrap does not.

Ferrous and non-ferrous scraps benefit from different construction procedures. When you know the materials in your scrap, you can decide whether it is suitable for making more steel.

The Challenges of Testing Metal Scrap

Though scrap testing is an important part of the recycling process for steel, it poses a few challenges. To test metal scrap, you will need a solid, homogenous sample for consistent results. You can melt scrap to get a homogenous sample. In some cases, you may need to add iron into the sample to help the scrap melt. You will also need to ensure the sample is large enough for testing.

When you want to have scrap tested, it’s vital to go to a professional for expert analysis. Professionals use specific furnaces for testing because they need to test a certain amount of scrap for reliable results. When iron is added to the sample, the person melting it must understand how much of the original sample remains after reduction. Having an expert team test and analyze your scrap sample from start to finish is the best way to know you’re getting accurate, consistent results.

How Are Samples Tested?

Once professionals collect a homogenous sample, they can begin testing scrap. The professionals will pour the molten metal into a mold, which creates a coin used for testing. There are two ways to analyze the scrap sample — X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis and optical emission spectroscopy (OES) analysis. Both procedures for analysis can sort and identify the types of material in the sample and verify if they meet specific requirements needed to create different products.

XRF analysis uses fluorescent X-rays to determine the elements used in scrap samples. It’s a nondestructive technique that offers fast, accurate results. The coin sample must be polished to a mirror-like finish to give the X-rays a good surface for analysis.

OES analysis involves the use of an instrument to spark the sample and identify the elements it contains. This optical technique can detect almost all elements and assess steel grade for quick, accurate results. A rough surface is necessary to yield accurate results through OES analysis. The appropriate surface can be achieved through the use of sandpaper or a grinder.

How Is Scrap Quality Assessed?

When testing is complete, you can have scrap quality assessed. Professionals can determine scrap quality through the use of grading systems that set minimum and maximum content for specific metal impurities. Grading systems also set the restriction levels of certain hazardous metals and substances that could be present in scrap. The specifications and grading systems ensure consistent quality for a given grade of scrap.

The specifications come from regional classifications developed by the European Ferrous Recovery and Recycling Federation and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. in the United States. By following the specifications, you can ensure your scrap is in its best condition. The elements found in scrap have different values, so you can benefit from having multiple materials.

Contact McCreath Laboratories for Scrap Testing

Scrap metal’s recyclable properties ensure steel production can continue for many years. When you have scrap tested, you will know what elements it consists of so you can determine its value. Professional testing and analysis can save you time and keep you safe. McCreath Laboratories is an independent testing laboratory that has been in business for more than 140 years, so you can count on us to handle the testing process from start to finish.

If you have scrap that needs testing, contact us to learn how we can help. Submit a sample for testing today for an expert, third-party analysis of your scrap metal sample.