Twenty five years ago, researchers in Hamilton took a technique used by metal craftsmen in the 15th century to produce prints of the surface of etched steel slabs.

These prints showed unprecedented details of the internal structures of the slabs which provide a glimpse into their internal quality. Working with an artist they also developed a next-generation intaglio printing process to visualize and record slab internal quality. This photo from the archives of Jim Casey (retired, R&D) shows the creation of an intaglio print.

Fast forward to 2017, and the current team has used the Micro X-Ray Fluorescence (MXRF) technique used by archeologists and geologists to develop a system that allows for quantitative assessment of slab quality. 

Where intaglio prints provided visual information only, MXRF scans provide both visual information as well as quantitative chemistry data to help analyze the slab structure and quality.  This provides the ability to provide consistent scores for internal structure quality without subjective assessment.