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Identifying Scrap Metals with Spark Testing

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    Identifying Scrap Metals with Spark Testing

    Spark testing your metals is in my opinion, usually the easiest way to identify your metal types.

    This is a simple process, generally you'd take an angle grinder to your metal, and observe the sparks (if any), to determine the type, since all metals spark differently.

    Here's a piece of an article I found at Wikipedia with some simple guidelines for a few of the common types of metals, including 300, 310, and 400 series stainless steels. Link to the full page below.

    Wrought iron
    Wrought iron sparks flow out in straight lines. The tails of the sparks widen out near the end, similar to a leaf.



    Mild steel
    Mild steel sparks are similar to wrought iron's, except they will have tiny forks and their lengths will vary more. The sparks will be white in color.

    Medium-carbon steel
    This steel has more forking than mild steel and a wide variety of spark lengths, with more near the grinding wheel.

    High-carbon steel
    High-carbon steel has a bushy spark pattern (lots of forking) that starts at the grinding wheel. The sparks are not as bright as the medium-carbon steel ones.

    Manganese steel
    Manganese steel has medium length sparks that fork twice before ending.

    High-speed steel
    High-speed steel has a faint red spark that sparks at the tip.

    300-series stainless steel
    These sparks are not so dense as the carbon steel sparks, do not fork, and are orange to straw in color.

    310-series stainless steel
    These sparks are much shorter and thinner than the 300-series sparks. They are red to orange in color and do not fork.

    400-series stainless steel
    400-series sparks are similar to 300-series sparks, but are slightly longer and have forks at the ends of the sparks.

    Cast iron
    Cast iron has very short sparks that begin at the grinding wheel.

    Nickel and cobalt high-temperature alloys
    These sparks are thin and very short, they are dark-red in color, and do not fork.

    Cemented carbide
    Cemented carbide has sparks under 3 inches, which are dark-red in color and do not fork.

    Titanium
    Although titanium is a non-ferrous metal, it gives off a great deal of sparks. These sparks are easily distinguishable from ferrous metals, as they are a very brilliant, blinding, white color.
    Spark testing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Additional spark testing information

    ALUMINUM
    Generally does not throw sparks.

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    One thing to remember when spark testing is to make sure you test through any finish or plating on the material. Pieces of aluminum that are chrome plated for example, will throw a spark until you get through the plating.

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    I know this depends on the yard but how exactly would chrome plated al be graded ? Breakage maybe ?
    Alvord iron and salvage
    3rd generation scrapper and dam proud of it

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    this is another good one. Fundamentals of Professional Welding

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    Quote Originally Posted by taterjuice View Post
    I know this depends on the yard but how exactly would chrome plated al be graded ? Breakage maybe ?
    Worst case scenario you might get downgraded to contaminated aluminum, it should definitely be worth more than aluminum breakage. The only instance that jumps to mind is our yard pays 10-15 cents less for chrome plated wheels than pure aluminum wheels.

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    Titanium is definitely bright.


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    Quote Originally Posted by IdahoScrapper View Post
    Titanium is definitely bright.

    Wow, this is the first time that I've heard of this. I can't imagine that they're legal. They must chew up the road pretty good.


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