Standards FAQ

Q: I don’t require standards in order to build a calibration, so why do I need them?

A: Standards lower the uncertainty of your measurements. They also provide valuable feedback regarding calibration iaccuracy. Read the standards back to make sure the labelled thickness reads back. You can do this over days, weeks, months, to make sure the application has not drifted. For many platers, the reason they have
standards is financial: if you under-plate the spec, you produce rejects. If you over-plate, you’re throwing money
away. Standards are your bank account’s best friend.

Q: Can I use Bowman standards with equipment made by other manufacturers?

A: Yes! Regardless of manufacturer, standards give your XRF spectrum reference for what a thickness or coating
composition looks like. By simply imitating your plated coating with a certified value. Just make sure your beam size
fits on the standard measurement area: For example, our flat mounts have a reading surface of 5mm in diameter,
and some hand held XRFs have a beam size of up to 8mm! If you are unsure what standard to purchase, we will be
happy to help!

Q: Do we need to read back standards for accuracy every day?

A: That’s up to you and your quality department, and the equipment you are using. Older XRF technology uses gas-filled proportional counters that are subject to drifting over time, and when environmental conditions vary. Bowman only sells XRFs with solid state Silicon Drift Detectors (SDDs}. Along with having superior peak resolution and element separation, they provide calibration stability from one day to the next. That said, it is beneficial to ensure that your readings are accurate day after day. We recommend making your own working standard to check: Plate up a sample, read the thickness or composition, and you have your own homemade checking standard to assure you’re getting the same reading, each time.

Q: How many standards do I need to make a calibration?

A: We recommend using 2 standards: one at the top and one at the bottom of your plating range. However, if you have 1 standard near your desired thickness, that is usually sufficient.

Q: The standards we have were purchased by a past employee. Some are hard plated and some are “foils.” Is one type better than the other?

A: There are benefits to both foils and hard plated standards. Foils are essentially a coating layer without a substrate. So, they allow flexibility in that you can place them on different substrates, or on top of other standards to mix and match coating layers. The caveat is that foils are more delicate than their plated counterparts. Hard plated are more rugged and typically less expensive.

Q: Do standards require special care?

A: Keep standards in a controlled environment, away from corrosive materials. When not in use, keep them in their boxes in a safe location. Train your employees to handle them delicately, taking care not to touch the measurement surface. Your quality team should have a maintenance schedule in accordance with your SOP that
outlines how often to get the standards recertified. If cared for properly, standards can last decades!

Q: What is recertification? How often should we recertify standards?

A: Most of our customers get their standards recertified annually to ensure that they are accurate and in good working condition. When we receive a customer’s standards, we assess their condition, making sure there are no cracks or excessive pinholes, and ensure that the standards are still accurate. When everything passes because you have taken such good care of your standards, we issue a certificate saying the standard is fit for use and that the work was done in accordance with our IS017025 accreditation.

Q: Gold and platinum fluctuate in price. Does It make sense to wait until precious metal prices are at a low point to buy standards?

A: It’s not necessary: our long-term agreements allow us to keep prices on standards uniform through the ups and downs of the PM markets. Also, when you need to start-up a new application, you want to accommodate your customer, and do so ASAP.