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Why X-ray CT should be part of your product development process

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Why X-ray CT should be part of your product development process. 

Developing a product, whether from scratch or improving an existing one, can be a lengthy process, from ideation, design, through to creating a prototype. Once you have your prototype, however, it might look finished on the outside and ready for production, but what about any potential internal defects that you may have missed that could impact its functionality?  

X-ray Computerised Tomography (XCT) is a useful way to investigate the shape, size and internal features of your device without causing any damage, as well as compare CAD drawings with XCT scans of the ‘real’ things. It should be an important part of your product development process.  

By exposing any deviations, internal faults or inconsistencies with CAD drawing comparisons using XCT, you can rectify any issues and create a revised version that is fit for purpose. Failing to notice component part imperfections or faults could have detrimental effects on the efficacy and longevity of the product and potentially result in additional costs to repair subsequent faults or defects further down the line. 

X-ray CT in product development is a useful imaging technique that can identify errors in a prototype before full-scale manufacturing is undertaken, and more importantly, saves time and money.  


What is Computerised Tomography (XCT)? 

X-ray Computerised Tomography (XCT) is a non-destructive testing tool that can be used across a wide variety of industries, including medical, electronics, engineering, forensics, ballistics and archaeology, from dental implants, pharmaceutical devices, turbine blades, LED light pipes to fossils and bones.   

XCT uses X-rays to produce a 3D image of the internal workings of a product to help find faults, cracks, broken wires and inspect internal areas of interest. It can also map the internal structure with high accuracy results highlighting if a product with multiple components has been assembled correctly, all of which can be done without destroying the individual part.   

Images captured by the scan can then be visualised using 2D and 3D software and Computer Aided Design (CAD) [link to CAD blog] capabilities.  

X-ray capabilities can also be used to check the compliance and measurements of objects once manufactured. Often, if production has been undertaken by an external contractor, products may fail to conform with the correct measurements or detailing from the CAD files. This could impact compliance regulation and the overall effectiveness of the product.  


What are the benefits of X-ray CT? 

X-ray Computerised Tomography (XCT) in product development can help provide a detailed investigation of internal, external and surface features of products made from plastics, metals and biological materials, allowing you to identify any imperfections before you embark on final production.  

It can support technical improvements to products, provides a reliable and traceable process that can support quality control, as well as provide failure analysis improvement, design evaluation and highlight the integrity and safety of high value objects. 

Through this non-destructive testing technology, you can view segments or sections of a part or object, allowing dimensional measurements, analysis, internal structure inspection, with the ability to quickly create images of the product, all undertaken with no impact on the integrity of the object. 

Its key applications include: 

  • Metrology – providing high accuracy applications enabling precision alignment and direct comparison with Computer Aided Design (CAD) images 
  • Inspection – helping to detect failures, which may have contributed to the fault, such as structural faults, poor welds, missing electrical contacts and internal defects, as well as checking function, fit and any joins to ensure they are flawless 
  • Analysis of structure – reviewing surface roughness or fibre composites, with the ability to create 3D reconstructions of pathways and anomalies, as well as occlusions or abnormal porosity. 

You can also combine X-ray CT investigations with optical and electron microscopy to provide a more in-depth object analysis, as well as support reverse engineering objects. 


X-ray Computerised Tomography (XCT) at the 3M BIC  

At the 3M BIC, we house the Nikon 225kV Metrology CT, one of only a small number in the UK, capable of meeting the needs of the most demanding inspection and metrology applications. 

Our design team has the capabilities and expertise to construct both 2D and 3D images of objects from X-ray image data. We can provide quantifying and qualifying dimensions with high accuracy using software package, Volume Graphics.  

If you are looking to use X-Ray CT in product development, contact the team today to find more about our capabilities, including our additive manufacture facilities for prototyping.  

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