Inline Nondestructive Testing – X-ray Cone Beam Computed Tomography and Fast Automation Inspection

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

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Keith Dowling

Applications Systems Engineer

For high volume manufacturers in industries like automotive and aerospace – the focus on safety and product quality is paramount.  Product recalls due to failures in the field are associated with enormous costs and can result in serious accidents and long-term damage to a manufacturer’s reputation. To prevent these issues arising quality standards have become increasingly demanding and quality assurance can only really be achieved through 100% inspection of all parts. 

 

Using X-ray technology manufacturers can carry out nondestructive testing (NDT) of plastic, metal and composite components.  The inspection process enables manufacturers to detect, measure and analyze for hidden faults and flaws. Using X-ray NDT manufacturers can look for contaminants, defects, cracks and misaligned parts and are able to test and analyze connecting elements such as welded joints or large metal castings and assemblies. 

 

X-ray Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) has made an impact in nondestructive inspection in manufacturing.  X-ray CT utilizes the ability of X-ray radiation to penetrate objects to reveal internal structure and discover defects or evaluate failures.   The tomography process involves many two-dimensional radiographic images in sequence—with the measured object in numerous rotated positions. From this 2D data a volume model can be created showing the entire internal and external geometry of the object including its material composition, allowing the manufacturer to look through each ‘slice’ of the object to inspect for flaws and defects.  Although CT allows this deep dive into the product being imaged it has been limited because it was such a slow process.  The length of time it took to get the CT images meant that it was not ideally suited to the production line, as it would cause delays and bottlenecks in the manufacturing process.

 

Advances in high-resolution X-ray sources and especially in digital detectors allow products to be scanned, reconstructed and evaluated much more rapidly. These developments have opened the floodgates to a wealth of automated inspection applications, varying from simple pass/fail inspection to full in-line automated CT inspection with feedback to the production process.

 

Due to the high X-ray energies required for imaging dense objects such as automotive castings or large battery packs coupled with the need for 24/7 operation a crucial component enabling these advancements in Industrial CT inline inspection are radiation hardened digital X-ray detectors.  Varex Imaging has over 20 years’ experience developing digital detectors for high energy/high dose applications such as oncology and industrial nondestructive testing.  At our site in Walluf, Germany we focused on manufacturing detectors specifically optimized for the NDT industry and developed innovative ways to shield and protect the electronics from deterioration through cumulative dose exposure. 

 

Varex Industrial’s latest detector XRD 4343N has been optimized for Inline CBCT applications – such as automotive and battery inspection.  The XRD 4343N is robust, fast and has a large field of view.

 

The XRD 4343N is shielded for high energies and can be run up to 450kV making it ideal for inspection of larger castings, battery packs etc.  This shielding also makes it robust and capable of enduring the demands of the inline CBCT process being run 24/7

 

The XRD 4343N has numerous fields of view, offers low noise and greater flexibility in dynamic range and gain settings. Inline inspection systems need to image at high speed to enable efficient throughput and workflow.  The XRD 4343N is designed to answer these needs – it runs at up to 60fps (full field of view) and up to 115 fps in a rectangular Field of View mode.

View more information on the XRD 4343N by visiting the product webpage: https://www.vareximaging.com/products/flat-panel-detectors/xrd-4343n?industry=industrial