The use of X-ray-based nondestructive test methods dates back more than a hundred years, with the advent of film-based radiography. Today, radiographic inspection is employed to examine variations in structures, track minute changes in surface finish, determine a material’s thickness, or detect physical defects or other characteristics of a material. X-ray fluorescence (XRF), a second method of nondestructive X-ray-based inspection, is used for positive material identification (PMI), the identification and analysis of metal alloys based on their chemical composition.
There are four primary radiographic techniques used by industry today: film, computed radiography (CR), digital detector array (DDA) radiography and fluoroscopy. Though it is the original technique, producing an image through the exposure of film to either gamma or X-rays, film radiography continues to be employed by industry, offering a high spatial resolution that delivers high quality and sensitivity.
Modern fluoroscopy provides real-time observation of an object, using a continuous beam of radiation coupled with an X-ray image intensifier and CCD video camera, allowing the image to be recorded and viewed on a monitor.
Computed radiography, which uses a phosphor plate in place of film, has the potential to be used in the same applications as film, offering quicker results without chemical processing. Instead of having to develop a film chemically, the phosphor plate is run through a computer scanner to read and digitize the image. The image can then be viewed and enhanced using image-processing software.
DDA radiography, or direct radiography, uses no plate or film, employing digital electronic flat panels. DDA radiography requires a short burst of radiation, and on exposure the system will almost instantly display the image on the radiographer’s screen, thereby removing the need for processing.
An XRF instrument exposes an object to X-rays; the atoms of the object absorb energy from the X-rays and become temporarily excited, emitting secondary X-rays. Because each chemical element emits X-rays at a unique energy, an XRF analyzer, by measuring the intensity and characteristic energy of the emitted X-rays, can provide qualitative and quantitative analysis regarding the composition of the material being tested.
What follows are a number of X-ray-based offerings for today’s nondestructive testing applications.
Werth Inc. (www.werthinc.com) introduces the TomoScope measuring machine. The machine uses X-ray tomography to perform rapid, nondestructive geometrical measurements of interiors and exteriors of complex substrates. The measured point clouds can be calibrated with high precision by using the additional integrated tactile or optical sensors. First article inspection is performed in a few minutes instead of hours. Therefore, the ROI will be realized in a very short period. The traceability of measured results is provided by calibration according to coordinate measuring machine standards (ref. ISO 10360), which is unique for this type of instrument. The gathered data can be exported to STL files for direct machine tool communication or directly imported to the WinWerth 3-D CAD module for a graphical nominal to actual comparison displayed as a color plot or as numerical results of a standard GD&T evaluation.
Oxford Instruments (www.oxford-instruments.com) introduces the X
Scienscope International (www.scienscope.com) introduces the View X “L” Programmable X-Ray Inspection System, a high-resolution micro-focus X-ray inspection system. It requires no special wiring, external shielding or room modifications for operation. The system’s performance benefits from the combination of a high-resolution micro-focus X-ray tube; a 4/2 dual field X-ray detector with a mega pixel camera; a programmable, variable-speed X-Y sample stage; a 19-inch image viewing monitor; and an image processing software package. Standard features include a 4/2 dual field image intensifier with mega pixel camera, 80-kilovolt 5-micron X-ray tube (100 kilovolt and 130 kilovolt available), Z-axis movement of the X-ray tube and image detector, joystick-controlled variable speed programmable X-Y stage with a 75-degree sample tilt fixture, and image processing CPU with 19-inch LCD flat panel monitor.
Typical applications include BGA, CSP and flip chip inspection; semiconductor package and wire sweep inspection and solder joint integrity of surface mount; encapsulated components; molded electrical connectors; catheter inspection; inspection of radio opaque markers in stents and implantable medical devices; presents and placement of internal components; and low-density plastic components.
VJ Inspection Systems (www.vjt.com) introduces the VJT W4000 X-Ray Wheel Inspection System. The system improves aluminum automotive wheel quality control management. It delivers complete high-resolution coverage of the entire wheel in a single image. The system provides operators with a single, uninterrupted wheel discontinuity picture, with multiple viewing angles, to more quickly and accurately ensure quality control and optimize manufacturing process adjustments. The incorporation of linear diode array (LDA) imaging technology, automatic defect enhancement (ADE) for manual inspection and defect recognition software (DRS) for fully or semi-automated inspection all combine to improve inspection quality while reducing operator fatigue. Database storage of inspection records allows analysis and process improvement. Real-time feedback of inspection results and ADE images to production stations enable online process control.
Additional features include an industry standard cycle rate (one 17-inch wheel every 30 seconds); multiple views from a single scan; high-resolution imaging system; 250-kilovolt source available with PC-controlled cooler; image and archival system; minimal moving parts for nominal maintenance; ability to scan wheels from 13 inches to 24 inches in diameter; programmable system controller; compliance to US 21CFR1020.40, UVV, DIN54113, VDE-0-100, CE, EUATOM 96/29 and IEC 529.
The X-Tek Group (www.xtekxray.com) announces a new camera and detector combination for the Revolution NanoTech X-ray inspection system and a new validation station for enhanced production capability. Impix, the new scientific-grade camera and detector combination, improves the dynamic range, accuracy, repeatability and feature recognition capability of the system. The camera has real-time frame rates at full camera resolution and full dynamic range. Using the X-Tek InspectX image enhancement software, the X-ray image is displayed on a separate LCD monitor for clutter-free viewing. The system provides more than 65,000 levels of gray to assist in distinguishing fine features in components. Supplied with X-Tek’s On Chip Integration feature, the system also is capable of imaging transparent materials at low X-ray energies. The Impix camera also will enhance the C.T. option on the system by further improving the voxel resolution capability.
The validation station option allows viewing and reviewing of captured data off-line, enabling continued use of the X-ray system for production. Data can be accessed remotely by serial number or by barcode scanning.
The system features sub-micron defect detection, 75-degree oblique viewing, digital detectors and automatic BGA software. It offers maximum magnification at all angles over the entire 16-inch by 16-inch manipulator scan area.
Rad-icon Imaging Corp. (www.rad-icon.com) announces the Remote RadEye HR, a high-resolution detachable X-ray sensitive camera head designed for very small space radiation imaging applications. The camera contains a 2-D CMOS photodiode array with 22.5-micrometer pixel size, which translates to an intrinsic resolution of 22 line pairs per millimeter. The sensor electronics are mounted in a separate enclosure that can be remotely located and interconnected via a 1-meter-long cable supplied with the X-ray sensor module. While intended mostly for portable applications, the instrument also can be used in many fixed-installation X-ray imaging systems in which unusually dense packaging conditions need to be optimized.
Historically, the X-ray source determines the resolution of the X-ray system. The X-ray sensor in the Remote RadEye HR was developed to work with microfocus and nanofocus X-ray sources to form compact, high-resolution imaging systems for applications such as micro-CT for industrial and biomedical applications; observing fine structure on small parts; aligning or profiling an X-ray beam for protein crystallography; and evaluating the focal spot size on high-resolution X-ray sources.
The small, detachable sensor module can be placed in constricted areas, and its low mass simplifies cooling of the detector head to reduce dark current and extend the exposure time. The detachable sensor module is housed in a steel enclosure with a stainless steel cover and carbon-fiber window that shields the sensor from ambient light and protects the sensitive electronics.
Matsusada Precision Inc. (www.matsusada.com/x-ray-inspection/index.html) introduces the 1600 Digital X-Ray Inspection System. The system is comparable in size to a desktop PC and requires no special wiring, external shielding or room modifications for operation. The system has a high-resolution micro-focus X-ray tube, 12-bit flat panel digital X-ray detector and image processing capabilities.
Standard features include a joystick- and mouse-controlled X-Y stage with a 360-degree rotation fixture, and an image processing CPU with a 17-inch LCD flat panel monitor that controls all system functions. Typical applications include encapsulated components, weld/solder joint integrity, BGA inspection, mechanical and electronics, parts placement, density measurements and general nondestructive imaging.
Fujifilm Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) Systems Inc. (www.fujindt.com) introduces the Dynamix HR digital X-ray inspection system. It provides true 0.002 by 0.002 pixel resolution, producing 62-megapixel images that enable the detection of minute defects. The 50-micron resolution digital image reader achieves high-speed cycle times that permit the reading and erasing of every 14- by 17-inch imaging plate (IP) in as quickly as 97 seconds, reading up to 72 IPs an hour. Both the newly developed UR-1 and the conventional ST-VI imaging plates are compatible with the Dynamix HR. All Fujifilm’s imaging plates are reusable. Dynamix HR’s slim, space-saving design is about 60% the size and weight of the previous model, making it possible to install this compact unit in cramped inspection areas, research facilities or even in mobile inspection vehicles. Using propriety image processing technology, it provides maximum image quality with minimum exposure compared to conventional X-ray film. The system provides a wide dynamic range resulting in wide allowance of X-ray exposure value.
CRX Co. Inc. (www.cxrcompany.com) introduces the Accuvue 30-100 portable X-ray inspection machine. It detects metal, glass, stone, bone and other foreign particles in almost any product, regardless of packaging. The X-ray technology enables otherwise difficult finds such as glass chips in glass bottles and metal in foil-lined packages or other metal containers. The unit can detect contaminants to 0.8 millimeter spherical or smaller. The unit is sealed and air-conditioned for harsh environments, and provides an effective solution for physical contamination problems.
Glenbrook Technologies (www.glenbrooktech.com) launches the JewelBox 70T real-time X-ray inspection system with digital video recording, allowing operators to observe and record the internal movements of devices. With the system, manufacturers of medical devices and other products with internal moving parts may observe X-ray images of the devices in motion, to help ensure product quality.
DVR software streams full-sized (640 by 480) gray-scale images to disk in real time, at up to 30 frames per second on a PC using AVI, a common format for video data. The real-time video may be recorded for playback and analysis. Full-screen color graphics may also be captured and single frames may be annotated for slideshow-style presentations.
The JewelBox 70T incorporates the company’s patented MXRA real-time X-ray microscope camera. The system’s shielded X-ray chamber access ports and proprietary beam-limiting technology ensure safe operating conditions. Its compact size and wheeled base make it easy to move and position in tight quarters.
Vidisco Ltd. (www.vidisco.com) introduces the Flat-foX 17 and foX-Rayzor, amorphous silicone flat panel DR systems intended for use both in the laboratory and in the field. The systems are portable, battery-operated and provide efficient inspection anywhere. They are packed in a carrying case as a complete operational unit, and can be used by a single operator. The setup is quick and images are taken within seconds. Repeated shots are unlimited and cost-free The systems comply with Boeing BSS7075/7044 and Casting ASTM E2422 standards and are well suited for changing inspection conditions.
Faxitron X-Ray LLC (www.faxitron.com) introduces a line of cabinet X-ray systems for high-resolution X-ray inspection of electronic and industrial parts, components and assemblies. The systems allow relatively inexperienced personnel to achieve consistent results with minimal training. The freestanding, shielded, radiation-safe enclosures are safety interlocked and have inner dimensions up to 30 by 42 by 30 inches to accommodate larger printed circuit boards, assemblies and devices. X-ray sources with different energy ranges, tube currents and focal spots are offered to meet a variety of testing needs. Both real-time and film-based imaging systems are available. Systems can be upgraded to digital imaging by adding scanner and CR options.
GE Inspection Technologies (www.ge.com/inspectiontechnologies) introduces its DXR250 digital radiography system, which uses a 16- by 16-inch amorphous silicon flat-panel detector designed to replace analog film radiography. The direct radiography product line provides high-quality images in a rugged production environment. The DXR250 large-area panel increases throughput with faster exposure times, instant image availability and a streamlined acquisition and review process.
The system reduces consumable costs by eliminating the need for film and chemicals. In addition, the reduction in X-ray exposure time results in extended tube life, lower power bills and increased efficiency for the operator.
The solution provides high-end functions needed for challenging radiographic inspections, such as frame averaging for better signal-to-noise ratio and sensitivity and high-pass filtering to accommodate large thickness differentials. Interactive adjustment of gray scale settings provides easy image adjustment without manipulating X-ray settings, allowing the operator to remain focused on the inspection screen at all times.
Thermo Scientific Niton Analyzers (www.thermo.com/niton) introduces the Niton XL3 Series, the third generation of Niton handheld XRF analyzers. The series provides fast alloy grade identification and laboratory-quality composition analysis of metal alloys, with typical time for routine positive grade identification being less than 2 seconds. The instrument has a 50 kilovolt, 2-watt X-ray tube, as well as advanced electronics that enable new features. The instrument is available in a range of configurations and with an assortment of optional features and accessories to suit a variety of analytical needs.
PANalytical’s (www.panalytical.com) range of X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometers and reference standards provide elemental analysis of heavy metals in a variety of materials, including plastics, polymers, metals, brass, solder and wire. These systems are enabling industry to meet the new challenges of stringent EU directives such as RoHS, WEEE and ELV. PANalytical systems support compliance not only with current regulations, but also provide the necessary levels of performance to allow for future legislation.
The MiniPal 4 RoHS WEEE analyzer, a benchtop EDXRF spectrometer, is specifically configured to analyze restricted elements in a range of sample types. The Epsilon 5 polarized energy dispersive XRF (EDXRF) spectrometer offers complete quantitative elemental analysis down to sub-ppm levels. The instrument is specifically designed for the analysis of heavy metals and supports the requirements of the directives, for example performing analysis of cadmium and lead in solders.
Axios wavelength dispersive XRF (WDXRF) spectrometers, configured in breakthrough, industry-tailored versions, meet the precise needs of a wide range of RoHS/WEEE applications.
Toxel reference materials, developed in co-operation with DSM Resolve, are helping plastic and polymer manufacturers optimize XRF analysis for toxic heavy metals in polyethylene.
Imtec Corp. (www.imtec.com) introduces its Edge model of the FlashCT cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) line of 3-D scanning systems. The model is for use in the electronics, aerospace and security industries. It is built on FlashCT technology, a line of CBCT systems used for a range of industrial applications. CBCT also is the underlying technology for several dental and medical 3-D X-ray scanning applications. Based on proprietary software systems and hardware designs first developed by Hytec Inc., FlashCT enables interior inspection and provides resolution and increased detail identification in design, manufacturing and quality engineering.