Industrial CT (or computerized tomography) scanning is rapidly improving. Thanks to CT technology, manufacturers can now perform an industrial CT scanning inspection on their products in greater depth and shorter time than ever before.
The Evolution of CT Scanning
Originally invented by a British engineer from EMI Laboratories, Godfrey Hounsfield, and South African-born physicist from Tufts University in Massacheusetts, Allan Cormack, in 1972, CT scanners were originally used for clinical purposes. Installed between 1974 and 1976, the first clinical CT scanners were used for head imagine only. Whole body systems didn’t become available until 1976. Still, it wasn’t until 1980 that CT scanning became widely available. Today, there are around 6,000 CT scanners in use in the U.S. and 30,000 installed across the globe.
CT scanning has made great advancements from its beginnings in the early 1970s. Hounsfield and Cormack’s first scanner took several hours to compile the data for a single scan, called a slice, of a 3D object. It took multiple days for the system to then reconstruct an image from this raw data. Now, multi-slice CT scanners are able to acquire up to 4 million slices in 350 milliseconds. These incredible machines can compile millions of data points to reconstruct a 512 by 512-matrix image in less than a second. Whereas an industrial CT scanning inspection used to take hours to complete, today’s systems can reconstruct entire 3D models in seconds. Such advancements have paved the way for new uses of industrial CT scanning such as rapid prototyping and 3D metrology and reverse engineering.
How CT Scanning Works
CT scanning uses a computer to compile data from several industrial X-ray images and then convert them into a picture to be displayed on a monitor. These X-ray images can be taken as rapidly as 30 frames per second. Through tomography, a three-dimensional object can be then be sliced into two-dimensional images to produce both an internal and external representation of the object.
Industrial CT scanning can be used to inspect parts of all sizes. A piece as small as .5 millimeters to one as large as 600 millimeters in diameter by 1 meter in length can all be X-rayed and examined through an industrial CT scanning inspection. For this reason, industrial CT scanning has become popular in detecting flaws, performing failure and assembly analyses, metrology, and reverse engineering applications.
Benefits of an Industrial CT Scanning Inspection
Industrial CT scanning inspections have many benefits to manufacturers and engineers. Among them are:
- Improved product accuracy and quality
With techonology such as micro-CT scanning, which produces resolutions in microns, even the most minor of flaws can be detected through an industrial CT scanning inspection. As such, adjustments to the product can be made earlier in the development process, resulting in a final product which has a higher degree of quality and accuracy.
- Reduced recalls
With higher accuracy and precision comes fewer recalls. Fewer recalls in turn create more happy customers and fewer potential lawsuits for your company.
- Faster production ability
Without the need for CAD files created from scratch each time, components can be replicated much quicker. Prototypes can be created in less time, enabling full production to be achieved faster. The end result for businesses is more time spent in production and less time held up in development.
- Lower operating costs
Some may say faster isn’t always better, but when it comes to inspections, faster is definitely better. As the adage goes: “time is money.” Time spent held up in product inspections is time not spent selling that product in the marketplace. With the speed and accuracy provided by industrial CT scanning inspections, you can cut down on inspection and analysis time, thus reducing your operating costs.
- Less time in development
Like the inspection and analysis process, industrial CT scanning inspections can greatly expedite the development and design phase of production. Since specifications can be quickly validated through rapid CT scans, you’ll be able to bring your design to fruition much faster.
An industrial CT scanning inspection enables manufacturers to streamline their production and inspection process. Hounsfield and Cormack earned the Nobel Peace Prize for the contributions their invention of CT scanning made to medicine and science; we can only wonder if they could even fathom how great that contribution would become.