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The continuous evolution of X-ray sources, detectors and software has led to a migration from analog to digital X-ray inspection systems in the nondestructive testing (NDT) industry. Digital X-ray's lower operating costs have given them a significant competitive advantage over film radiography solutions, as they eliminate the expenses involved in buying films, maintaining a darkroom, obtaining space for archiving film records, and purchasing chemicals for processing film radiographs.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan , Analysis of the Industrial Digital X-ray Inspection Systems Market, finds that the market earned revenues of $309.4 million in 2011 and estimates this to reach $509.4 million in 2016.
The recent hike in price of silver, an important component in production of film, has increased this product's cost by as much as 30 percent, depending on the manufacturer. Film radiography consumers, subsequently, have witnessed higher operating costs and are turning toward digital X-ray solutions that offer greater savings in costs. Despite film radiography's lower capital costs, its escalating operating costs will render digital X-ray solutions more attractive to consumers.
Currently, film radiography dominates emerging markets, the engines powering growth for the global economy. Film radiography's low capital investment and comparatively inexpensive labor within the emerging economies have popularized it in these nations. As a result, these markets' preference for film radiography is expected to curtail the demand for digital X-rays. However, with a reduction in price of digital X-ray inspection systems, the cost disadvantage could be nullified in the next five to six years.
"Digital X-ray equipment manufacturers need to aggressively market their products in emerging economies and convince end-user industries of the cost savings that can be achieved with their technology," said Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Nikhil Jain. "Their concerted efforts will help them explore opportunities in these high-growth markets."
Digital X-ray equipment manufacturers could also promote the environmental friendliness of their technology, as it does not need chemicals to develop a radiographic shot. Moreover, the amount of radiation required for acquiring an image is considerably less, resulting in reduced radiation exposure and associated hazards. Digital X-rays also stand out for their improved image quality due to the advances in imaging technology.
"In applications related to the electronics industry, digital X-ray solutions offer a much better resolution than film," noted Jain. "Participants need to continue enhancing the quality of images to extend their products' application scope to industries such as aerospace, military and defense."
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