The creation of CT scanning technology in 1972 made such a huge impact in the medical field that the engineers who developed it, Godfrey Hounsfield and Alan Cormack, were each awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for their contribution to science in 1979. By 1980, the medical field was so reliant on Hounsfield and Cormack’s invention that over 30,000 medical institutes across the world relied on CT scanning equipment in their regular practices.
CT scanning equipment takes a series of x-rays from every angle of an organ to create sequential images (or slices) of the inside to give doctors a 3-dimensional view that can be used for accurate diagnosis. Prior to the development of CT technology, a detailed view of the organ in question could only be achieved through invasive surgeries that put a greater risk on the patient’s well being.
What Hounsfield and Cormack did not realize, is that in addition to benefiting the medical field, their CT scanning technology would have a huge impact on the industrial sector. Previously, inspection services on industrial parts, such as first article inspections, porosity measurements, reverse engineering, and assembly analysis, caused huge production delays, was costly and would often destroy the part being inspected in the process. Now, industrial CT scanning equipment can achieve the same inspections in greater detail while requiring little physical contact with the part itself at all. Several ways that CT scanning technology is being used in the industrial sector include:
- Comparison Analysis
After an engineer creates a prototype, CT technology can be used to created a perfect comparison between the CAD design of the part and the actual part itself. Any deviation between the two will be identified and the engineer can determine if changes need to be made to the prototype before it is put in production.
Using the same process, CT scans can be taken of two parts that should be identical, and then compared in minute detail to ensure there is no deviation that could lead to problems.
- Assembly Analysis
Since most products are actually several different pieces that work together to accomplish a task, there are innumerable variables that could result in how the pieces interact with each other. Sometime unknowns can damage or inhibit the product from functioning properly, and some issues create the risk of huge safety hazards or financial disasters for the manufacturer. With industrial CT services, an assembly analysis using 3D prototype of the equipment can be conducted in a digital environment, and intensive stress tests can be run on all the moving pieces in a variety of factors, without having to destroy the part in the process. Using CAT scan technology for assembly analysis saves engineers huge amounts of money in product testing, and potential liability through averted product recalls.
- Reverse Engineering
Sometimes, a part needs to be replaced on a product or machine, but the manufacturer no longer makes it. Sometimes, a manufacturer needs to incorporate a part that they do not have blueprints for into their product. In these cases, the part can be scanned and a digital map of the inside and out of it can be created so that the part can be recreated and put in production.
- First Article Inspections
A first article inspection is a way to ensure the quality of a part or product. This might be used on a prototype before the part goes into production, or it might be used before a part or product is transferred from a manufacturer to a buyer to ensure reliability. Traditional means of first article testing typically took weeks, in which production must be put on hold until the results are returned. Using CT technology, the characteristics of the part– including its measurements, porosity, durability, and any other metrics that ensure its quality– can be calculated and charted for the interested parties in a fraction of the time, requiring a fraction of the resources.
Are you familiar with the use of CT scanning technology in the manufacturing sector? Do you know of any other ways that it is used that we didn’t mention here? We would really like to hear your incite. Please share your input in the comment section below.