The QCX® ASP100 Automated Soft Press: a game-changer in XRD analysis
Patented soft press technology tackling the problem of preferred orientation
For more than 50 years, x-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis has been an established method for characterising minerals present in a sample. Its use in mining, cement and industrial settings has been on the rise over the past 10 to 15 years, with a growing demand for greater knowledge about the composition of materials in the industrial process.
Full quantitative characterisation of the mineral content adds significant value to your operation as it offers huge potential for improvements to processes and quality control.
But obtaining accurate results can be complicated. One of the biggest sources of inaccuracies is the non-ideal spherical shape of the crystallites in many minerals, even after grinding. This causes preferred orientation in the pressed sample, and leads to errors in the XRD analysis. This happens especially with phases that have a low symmetry, like clay materials. Pressing samples at high pressure can increase this error. To obtain useful results, preparing your sample correctly and reducing the preferred orientation of the powder is essential. We found many labs were using a work-around – manually back-loading the sample into the holder, and applying minimal pressure to the sample surface. But this was a time- consuming technique that required a skilled analyst, and had the potential to introduce human error. There had to be an easier way.
So we came up with the ASP100 Automated Soft Press – a fully automatic sample press designed specifically to address the preferred orientation issue. This revolutionary unit produces high-quality pressed samples for quantitative XRD analysis using the Rietveld Method. It also produces samples for near infrared analysis (NIR), colour measurements and energy dispersive x-ray fluorescence analysis (ED XRF) for industries including minerals, cement and fine chemicals.
Using our patented soft pressing technology, combined with randomisation technology and a textured pressing tool, it virtually eliminates all but the most severe preferred orientation. It produces a consistently flat sample surface with high precision from sample to sample, reducing errors caused by variations in sample height displacement. You get consistent, repeatable sample preparation, every time.
It is especially suited to sample pressing for materials containing clays and micas, and also appropriate for samples containing plate-shaped minerals, and amorphous materials.
The smart solution for XRD sample preparation
Our patented soft press technology can prepare samples at pressures below 5.8 N/mm2. The benefit of soft pressing is that it reduces preferred orientation and selective segregation of particles, and makes it possible to prepare samples without the use of grinding aid or a binder. This avoids bias in the Rietveld analysis, especially for samples containing clays, micas and other plate shaped minerals or amorphous materials.
There’s no room for error in your analysis. With manual back-loading of samples, studies have shown huge variation in samples prepared by different operators. Even when the same operator prepares multiple samples of the same homogenized material, moderate variations have been recorded.
The ASP100 changes all that. By automating the whole process, it not only eliminates human error and improves the reproducibility of your results, but enhances efficiency in your laboratory as well. There’s no longer the need for time consuming, manual back-loading of samples and hand pressing.
With the automatic function of the QCX ASP100, you can produce more than 15 samples an hour with quick and easy processing. The machine automatically doses powder into the ring and presses to your pre-defined pressing recipe, meaning you get consistent, repeatable samples. The machine has an automatic cleaning function that prevents contamination. And the in-built ring magazine ensures uniform ring wear. Plus there’s less material handling for your operators, keeping them safe from potentially hazardous substances.
The ASP100 is a versatile unit that reliably produces samples for a range of different applications and materials. With fully adjustable pressing parameters, and a choice of either smooth or textured pressing surfaces, the unit presses samples according to the material characteristics and your specific requirements. Its modular design means that it can be used as a stand-alone unit, or fit into a fully automated installation.
Even for situations where there is a relatively low sample throughput, the advantages of improved data quality and enhanced efficiency in the laboratory justify investment in the QCX ASP100’s state-of-the-art technology.
Innovative soft press technology ensuring accurate results
The QCX ASP100 Automated Soft Press features ground breaking technology that ensures you get high quality samples for XRD analysis.
- Fully adjustable pressures below 5.8 N/mm2
- In XRD analysis, the preferred orientation of mineral phases disproportionately biases the signal from those phases, causing errors. The ASP100 is a revolutionary soft press apparatus that overcomes this problem with the ability to press samples at pressures between just 1.4 and 5.8 N/mm2. If required, it is capable of pressures up to 10.6 N/mm2. There are four pressing parameters that you can adjust to create your own pressing recipes, depending on the material type and your analysis requirements. And the instrument can store up to 12 unique pressing programs, making it quick and easy to operate.
- The convenience of automation
With the capacity to produce more than 15 samples per hour, the fully automated ASP100 offers an efficient, automated solution for XRD analysis sample preparation. Its automatic function eliminates human error, ensures uniformity, and improves the quality of your sample.
The unit maintains sample consistency by precisely dosing the powder material into a ring with an inset base. The material is then spread evenly using an in-built levelling feature that reduces the potential for errors caused by variations in sample height displacement. During pressing, the inset base is moved into position, and pressure applied to the base, not to the sample itself.
The ring containing the pressed sample is automatically moved to the output position, ready for analysis. Rings are cleaned mechanically, inhibiting contamination and improving the accuracy of your results. The machine ensures uniform ring wear by storing used rings in a 6-slot magazine. There is also the option for a 12-slot magazine.
- Suitable for a variety of sampling requirements
- With two different ring sizes, the ASP100 can produce a pressed sample in the size and shape you need for your XRD analyser. The machine comes with different types of pressing surfaces, smooth and textured, which can be applied to suit different sample characteristics and your specific needs.
- Versatile installation
- The ASP100 Automated Soft Press is available in two configurations. It comes as a stand-alone unit for laboratory use, with the option of a 16-sample exchangeable rack. Or for automated laboratories, it is also available as an integrated unit.