In a raw or unfinished state, many commonly used metals are vulnerable to moisture damage and oxidation. It’s important to keep these metals in humidity-free (or at least humidity-controlled) environments during storage, processing, and machining. At MAC Instruments, we provide our customers with MAC 125 and MAC 155 moisture analyzers. These tools can analyze the environment with direct moisture level measurement technology so operators can track the moisture levels in real time and correct for at-risk humidity levels.
Industrial moisture analyzers check for ambient humidity, moisture from chemical contamination or exposure during processing, and other sources of moisture that may degrade metal. This is essential for ensuring quality control, as well as meeting industry regulations and design specifications for certain manufactured goods. With preventative monitoring, companies can avoid the risk of damage from potentially harmful solutions, such as heat-based drying processes.
Metal Processing Applications
Metal machining and manufacturing processes include multiple different stages, each of which presents an opportunity to introduce unwanted moisture to the metal workpieces. Having the right moisture analyzers and monitors helps manufacturers create and maintain ideal settings for each stage and identify any developing problems. Some of the most common applications for our MAC moisture analyzers include:
Analyzing Metal Powders
Metal powder combinations often comprise extremely precise formulas with strictly prescribed moisture contents. Many metal powders have a high humidity absorption rate and absorbing too much moisture can impact the efficacy of the powdered material. Moisture analyzers help to monitor powdered materials to ensure proper moisture content.
During annealing processes, metal is heated to a highly formable state just below the melting temperature of the material. This allows the microstructure of the metal to temporarily lose its crystalline shape and correct for any flaws in the metal. This process is advantageous because it increases the metal’s ductility without increasing stress. However, moisture-based contaminants can interrupt the “healing” process of annealing and disrupt the metal’s ability to reform its crystalline structure without flaws. Monitoring and removing excess moisture allows for a more consistent and error-free annealing process.
Electrochemical treatments, plating, and painting or powder coating processes must have properly cleaned surfaces in order for the treatment to respond correctly. Moisture analyzers allow operators to determine if surfaces are dry enough for surface applications or if ambient environmental conditions fall within set parameters.
Just like with many other metal treating processes, hardening involves heating metal to a fluid state just below its melting temperature. The crystalline microstructure of the metal is maintained during the heating process. After being held at this point for one hour per inch of metal thickness, manufacturers rapidly cool the metal to harden and stabilize the structure. Too much humidity can disrupt the cooling process and may mar the metal’s crystalline structure. Rapid cooling makes the atmospheric dew point in the area critically important, and manufacturers need to carefully regulate the environment to ensure the metal cools without disruptive anomalies and reaches the correct heat temperature.
There are multiple different quenching methods available for manufacturers to choose from. These methods use different cooling agents to rapidly cool a heated metal to create the right mechanical or physical properties based on the metal’s refined microstructure. Oil is one of the most commonly used cooling methods, and too much water-based moisture in the quenching area can interfere with the process. Even in processes that use other cooling agents, such as air, brine, or water, improperly introduced moisture can interrupt a tightly controlled process or sensitive metal.
Machining and forming processes put stress on metal blanks and workpieces. Stress-relieving processes heat and then cool the metal at a precise rate to reduce internal stress. But ambient moisture can interfere with sensitive processes, especially if the air is rapidly cooled and humidity turns into dew. Moisture analyzers can give operators an early warning of excessive moisture or let them correct conditions on the outset.
Metal Processing Moisture Analyzers from MAC Instruments
At MAC Instruments, we create precision moisture analysis tools that allow our customers to monitor and modify moisture conditions in their industrial workspaces. Learn more about our MAC 125 and MAC 155 analyzers or request a quote for pricing details.