How is Industrial X-ray Technology Used?

Computed Tomography can be used for multiple applications:

  • Research - Material Structure, New Material Analysis, Density of Analysis
  • Inspections/NDT - Inclusions, Cracks, Porosities, Displacement, Quality Control
  • Density Analysis
  • Reverse Engineering - Rapid Prototyping, Surface Rendering, CAD, Drawing and Design
  • Measurements and Metrology
  • 3D Digitization

The output of a Computed Tomography reconstruction is primarily a 3D voxel model, and the resolution of each voxel depends on the resolution of each projection, the number of projections, and the resolution of the Computed Tomography reconstruction. From this 3D volume the CT software is able to:

  • Export a stack of CT slices in any direction
  • Analyse relative density with colored map
  • Create a point cloud / triangle model compatible with CAD or Rapid Prototyping software

NDT Inspection

As with X-rays, CT provides internal information. Cracks, porosities, flaws, inclusions, every kind of defect can be seen, located in space, and measured with CT. Because we have much more information than a single X-ray image, the inspection quality is usually far better with CT than Digital X-ray. 

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Density Analysis

3D Computed Tomography reconstruction as well as 2D CT slices are displayed in grey-levels. The best grey-level resolution today is 16 bits, i.e. 65,536 different grey-levels. As with X-rays, grey-levels correspond to density in the material, thus making it possible to select a specific range of density value in the object (segmentation)

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CAD Comparison

CT is the only technology capable of measuring dimensions inside an object. CT may be used and can provide accurate measurements thanks to NSI’s calibration method.

After CT reconstruction, a surface model can be exported as pointscloud or triangle model. It is then possible to import this model withany CAD software for applications like Reverse Engineering, RapidPrototyping, or Measurements.

An example of very efficient and fast metrology study is the automatic 3D model comparison capability of the software Geomagic. The image above shows a comparison between a CAD file and a CT file of an aluminum part, a full metrology report is created including measurement deviation and colored surfaces.

This method is revolutionary because for the first time an entire object (both internal and external) can be dimensionally controlled in 3D in high accuracy with very short delay.

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Reverse Engineering

Reverse engineering is the process of discovering the technological principles of a device, object or system through an abductive analysis of its structure, function and operation.

As computer-aided design has become more popular, reverse engineering has become a viable method to create a 3D virtual model of an existing physical part for use in 3D CAD, CAM, CAE and other software. The reverse engineering process involves measuring an object and then reconstructing it as a 3D model. The physical object can be measured using 3D scanning technologies like CMMs, laser scanners, structured light digitizers or computed tomography. The measured data alone, usually represented as a point cloud, lacks topological information and is therefore often processed and modeled into a more usable format such as a triangular faced mesh, a set of NURBS surfaces or a CAD model.

A triangulated surface can be generated from the 3D volume CT reconstruction. The resolution of the 3D model depends on the number of voxels generated from CT reconstruction.

Typically models are composed of 50000 faces up to 10 millions faces.

About surface rendering

A threshold value of radiodensity is chosen by the operator (e.g. a level that corresponds to plastic). A threshold level is set, using edge detection image processing algorithms. From this, a 3-dimensional model can be constructed and displayed on screen. Multiple models can be constructed from various different thresholds, allowing different colors to represent each component of an assembly. However, the interior structure of each element is not visible in this mode of operation.

The 3D model can be exported to many different formats including Points Cloud or STL, compatible with most CAD software.

It’s then possible to load the 3D CT model into CAD software and perform measurements, model comparison or simulations.

There are numerous benefits to using CT as a Reverse Engineering tool.   First and foremost the generated model is complete (no shaded zone) and has all internal information. Also, CT is faster than any other 3D technology, CMM or Laser scanning. Finally, the resolution is excellent and largely fulfils designer’s needs.

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