CT scans use digital x-rays to create scans of internal geometries in 3D. They are most widely used in the medical field and this is the application that most people are familiar with. However major advancements and improvements in the technology make possible applications in a whole range of industries. Industrial scanning provides quick and accurate results at every stage of the production process. As a technique for parts inspections in industry, 3D scan services have several advantages over older methods.
History of CT scanning
CT or computed tomography (CT) is a way of creating internal images of objects and bodies using x-rays. It was invented in 1972 by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning team of Godfrey Hounsfield, a British engineer and South African-born physicist Allan Cormack.
The earliest medical scanners, dating back to 1974, could only image heads but by 1980 whole body scanners were widely available. At the present time there are around 6,000 CT scanners in the U.S. and 30,000 around the world.
Improvements in 3D imaging
Recent advancements in CT scanning equipment, software, and computing power have improved processing times and accuracy of imaging. This opens the way to innovative applications of industrial CT scans, particularly as a viable inspection method in industry.
The earliest CT scanners took hours to acquire the raw data. Reconstructing a single image from each “slice” of data took days. By comparison, the newest multi-slice CT systems take only 350 ms to collect up to 4 slices of data and less than a second to reconstruct a 512 x 512-matrix image using millions of data points.
Industrial CT scanning applications
Improvements in the speed and accuracy of 3D scan services open the way for new applications like 3D reverse engineering, rapid prototyping, non destructive testing, and 3D metrology. For original equipment manufacturers (OEM), improved industrial CT scanning can dramatically reduce new product inspection and failure analysis costs, by 25 to 75%. Parts as small as .5mm long to as large as 660mm in diameter and 1m long can be scanned.
The older technologies, like touch probe (CMM), line of sight 3D scanning using white light or laser scanning, and 2D x-ray inspection cost more, and are slower and less accurate. In the process of capturing internal features, they often risk destroying the part itself.
3D scan services are versatile and customizable
3D scan services have applications for a whole range of industries including:
- Consumer Products
- Defense and Arms
- Energy and Electricity
- Engineered Products
For OEMs, parts inspections can be carried out at any stage of the process. Industrial scanning is versatile enough to scan any type of part, quickly and accurately, without any danger of destroying fragile or expensive parts. Scanning solutions can be created for specific needs. Some of the commonest uses for industrial CT scan services are: preproduction inspection, failure analysis, production inspection for high valued parts, and lot inspection for quarantined or suspect parts.