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Investigating using X-ray Computed Tomography (XCT) 

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Whether it’s developing cutting-edge electronics, engineering automotive components, or creating medical devices, the product development journey from concept to market-ready often involves a meticulous process of testing, refinement and improvement. Internal investigation is key to this, with X-ray Computed Tomography (XCT) leading the way.

X-ray Computed Tomography (XCT) or non-destructive testing, was originally developed for medical imaging, and has found its way into various industries as a powerful tool for quality control, testing and analysis. It has emerged as a game-changer in the realm of product development, enabling manufacturers to examine, refine and improve with unprecedented precision.

Understanding X-ray Computed Tomography

The industrial X-ray CT is similar to medical CT scans and involves capturing a series of X-ray images from all angles around or within an object. These images are then processed using sophisticated algorithms to reconstruct a detailed 3D model of the object’s external and internal structure. This non-destructive technique allows engineers and researchers to inspect components without disassembly, providing invaluable insights into their composition, integrity and functionality.

Quality assurance in manufacturing

XCT plays a pivotal role in quality assurance by enabling thorough inspection of components at various stages of production. Whether it’s detecting manufacturing defects, assessing material consistency, or validating assembly integrity, XCT offers a comprehensive view that surpasses traditional inspection methods.

In electronics manufacturing, for example, XCT can reveal hidden defects such as voids in solder joints or delamination in circuit boards, ensuring that every component meets stringent quality standards. Similarly, in automotive manufacturing, XCT facilitates precise analysis of welds, castings and composite materials, helping manufacturers deliver vehicles that are not only safe but also built to last.

Design optimisation and iterative refinement

Beyond quality assurance, XCT empowers engineers to delve deeper into the design optimisation process. By visualising internal structures, designers can identify areas for improvement and refine their prototypes. This iterative approach not only accelerates the development cycle but also leads to more robust and efficient products and can lead the way in innovative designs.

In aerospace, XCT enables engineers to scrutinise the intricate geometry of turbine blades or composite materials, optimising designs for enhanced performance and durability.

Similarly, in the medical device industry, XCT aids in refining implant designs to ensure optimal fit and functionality, ultimately improving patient outcomes.

Research and development advancements

Innovation thrives on exploration and experimentation and XCT serves as a catalyst for research and development across diverse fields. By providing access to internal structures, researchers can gain insights into material properties, fluid dynamics and structural behaviour, paving the way for ground-breaking discoveries and technological advancements.

In academia, XCT is employed in various research disciplines, ranging from materials science and geology to archaeology and palaeontology. Institutions such as universities and research laboratories leverage this technology to push the boundaries of knowledge and address complex scientific challenges.

Reducing waste 

XCT can offer a greener alternative to traditional non-destructive testing methods. By eliminating the need for sample destruction, it can help minimise waste during the product development process.

X-ray Computed Tomography has emerged as a cornerstone technology in modern product development, from quality assurance and design optimisation to research advancements and environmental sustainability. It continues to drive progress, shaping the future of industries and fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

 

Learn more about X-ray Computed Tomography facilities at the 3M BIC here

 

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