Over the last couple of years, numerous articles have been published by OEM equipment providers on the uses and benefits of industrial CT scanning for manufactured parts. This exciting and relatively new technology has yet to realize its full potential. Industrial CT, just like the medical CT for human use, is the process of gathering 2D X-ray slice images and compiling them into a full internal and external 3D digital data set, then using that data to solve problems or validate product. Just to be clear, there are perhaps upwards of 50 different X-ray techniques for various uses, most of which are not commercially deployed or available. For this discussion we are talking about CT scanning industrial products on a rotary stage with a cone beam low energy X-ray source.
There are several companies that manufacture CT scanners of this configuration. While some of these machines are great imaging devices, few are accurate metrology grade systems with credible statements of measurement uncertainty. We are talking about high end metrology systems in this piece. This article focuses on the perspective of one A2LA accredited lab for CT in the Unites States and the experiences of its clients. Most of the chatter and hype about CT comes from the realization of the power that CT yields from a single scan. The power to analyze geometry, porosity, leak path, assembly and/or design defect, tool wear, conformance to CAD, process and tooling issues, fiber orientation, mold flow, FEA, and the list goes on. The power to perform all of this validation, fix problems with fewer process and tooling change iterations and ship conforming product in a fraction of the time is at your fingertips with CT. The potential financial rewards are staggering.