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 great 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.
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 X-Ray CT?
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.
An XCT scan can 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) capabilities.
X-ray CT capabilities can also be used to check the compliance and measurements of objects once manufactured. Often, in particular if production has been undertaken overseas, products can 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 CT 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.
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.
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.