The characterization of non-metallic inclusions is of great importance for the production of metals and alloys. The precise determination of their size, abundance, shape and chemistry is of crucial interest to control and to improve production and quality of steel or other alloys. For two years, a combined research team including ERAMET RESEARCH and AUBERT & DUVAL has developed a new characterization method based on automated SEM measurements. This method allows analyzing centimeter-sized samples within a few hours. Each inclusion with a diameter larger than two microns is detected and analyzed. A fast BSE measurement coupled with EDS analyzes, calibrated with a microprobe, enables to establish precisely, for each inclusion, its size, morphology, chemistry and mineral composition. The main advantage of this method, in comparison with the other commercially available applications, is that with increasing inclusion size, the amount of chemical analyses can be increased. It is even possible to determine the compositional variations within large inclusions. In particular, these data are used to plot inclusion compositions on thermodynamically derived phase diagrams. It is also possible to establish the evolution based on variations in inclusion chemistries during a process. This method is efficient, both on samples originating from liquid metal sampling and on forged samples.Keywords: Material characterization, Non-metallic inclusions, Automated SEM
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