With the advancements of many manufacturing processes, computed tomography (CT) is continuing to expand into new sectors of nearly all industries.
Historically, this non-destructive testing (NDT) method was primarily used for inspection of critical components, however, we are seeing an increasing number of companies extensively applying CT scanning technologies beyond just inspection work.
The value CT scanning technologies bring to the development of new processes and products is proving to be increasingly appreciated. Applying CT scanning early on in new development work provides the advantage of not only quickly identifying problems, but also of having enough information to genuinely understand the root cause of product and process failures that could negatively impact a product launch schedule.
CT scanning provides useful information to help remove the factors of what cannot be seen by the naked eye or other scanning technologies, find out not only just where there are opportunities for improvements in new product development, but where there may be potential catastrophic failures in waiting. This knowledge not only helps produce higher quality and higher performance products, but it helps drive down manufacturing costs by providing the necessary information for real process improvements.
As we consider the investment in any technology, a question that can easily be overlooked is: What’s the value of accelerating bringing a new product to market while reducing the risk of quality, reliability, or performance concerns? Or, the negative of that is: What is the true cost of a delay in getting a high volume or high value product to market due to process or product concerns that could have been caught early? Companies that take a serious look at these considerations can often provide an easy ROI for supporting the investment in CT scanning to help them accelerate product development functions and provide a higher level of assurance of product performance, reliability, and safety throughout some of the most demanding markets.
For most products, the most efficient method of continually providing high quality products is not to rely on inspecting quality into products, but rather to develop, qualify, improve, and monitor manufacturing processes over time. CT scanning is currently being used in all of these segments of operation.
In some industries, there will always be products that will require 100% inspection because of their critical nature and applications where failure is simply not an option. In these cases, CT scanning will typically provide the image quality with the highest probability of detection of the smallest of defects.
Another application of CT scanning is in the area of metrology. Many product designs take on complex geometries with internal features and chambers that are not accessible for conventional measurement or 3D scanning methods.
CT scanning is now successfully solving this problem in many applications and is used to retrieve internal and external metrology data for product acceptance, while also providing data in monitoring build variability within a specific manufacturing process.
In summary, CT scanning has expanded well beyond being used as only a research tool and is now being applied extensively in applications ranging from process and product development, process and product monitoring, sample through 100% inspection operations, product metrology and full-scale failure analysis and forensics work.
Product samples can vary in size from smaller than a human hair in diameter to many feet in length. System resolutions and applications can vary from the sub-micron range into the millimetre range.
Today’s CT equipment is currently providing high quality CT scans in a matter of seconds for some high-volume production applications. Recent innovations and advancements of CT technology and software developments have proven to further improve image quality while still reducing cycle times.
These breakthroughs along with advanced techniques provide tremendous opportunities for companies to benefit from the use of CT scanning in their day-to-day operations while assisting in accelerating the process of bringing new, high quality products to market.
See the full Quality Magazine article here.