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In order to discuss Carbon Equivalency, we must first understand that not all metal alloys are created equal.  Even the same grade of alloy such as Stainless Steel 8620 will vary from batch to batch.

The factors that affect how the materials mix together are vast and each can and will affect the final material chemistry of the alloy.  Just because two pieces of metal are identified as 8620 Steel, does not mean they each are identical in their material chemistry make up.

The differences, even slight, can affect the physical properties of the metal.  Carbon Equivalent is a calculation used to determine the carbon equivalency of an alloy metal.  With the carbon equivalent number, properties of the metal such as application suitability can be determined.

## Why is Carbon Equivalent Important?

Knowing the carbon equivalent, or CE value, is particularly important in situations in which two pieces of metal will be welded together, such as welding two pipes together.  Environmental conditions can cause pipes to expand and contract or be moved.

The weld spot can be a point of weakness, which is exacerbated if one pipe is stronger than the other.  Optimally, two pipes welded together should work in conjunction as one unit.  If the properties of the two pieces of metal are too dissimilar they will not act as one unit and the weld will either sheer or break.

Knowing ahead of time how dissimilar the two pieces of metal are dictates if the pieces can in fact be welded together, if a joining piece is needed, or if special treatment is needed prior to welding.  Carbon Equivalent values provide this important information.

## How do I measure Carbon Equivalent?

There are many different mathematical formulas used to determine the carbon equivalent value.  The formula used is dictated by information such as the application and location of the application.  The formulas are long, complicated, and require information about the material chemistry of the alloy.  However, there is an easier way!

Did you know our Optical Emissions Spectrometers are capable of giving the CE value of an alloy instantly?

Once it is determined which CE formula is needed, that formula can be put into the instrument and used to determine the CE value without manual calculations.  Many instruments are able to hold multiple formulas which can be turned on or off so operators can utilize the appropriate CE formula for the given application.