Manufacturers have used medical technology like X-Rays and CT scans to peer inside industrial parts and spot cracks and flaws for some time. But the process was slow and hard to adapt for the rigors of mass production.
Not anymore. GE engineers took the latest medical imaging advances and built an industrial CT machine that can scan any number of critical parts used to build cars or planes, without slowing down the assembly line. With this technology, every engine block can be tested.
Inside Knowledge: High-speed 3D CT scanners were originally developed to scan bones and tissues. They now look for flaws inside 100-pound engine parts 200 times faster than traditional tests. Defects appear as colored nodules.
The team harnessed the power of innovative high-speed 3D CT machines originally developed to scan human bodies and made them inspect 100-pound engine parts 200 times faster than traditional tests. “GE’s new inspection system dramatically reduces scan times for an engine cylinder head from several hours with conventional fan beam CT to less than two minutes,” says Oliver Brunke, lead CT product manager for GE’s Inspection Technologies business.
The new machine, called speed|scan atlineCT system, looks similar to what patients may encounter in a hospital. A gantry with an X-ray tube and corresponding multi-line X-ray detector rotates around the tested parts, which zip through an opening in the middle on a conveyor belt. It scans the parts at speeds of up to a centimeter per second. The machine feeds the imaging data to evaluation algorithms developed by GE. The software reconstructs and analyzes the part, looks for flaws, and automatically classifies the defects.
The machine builds CT images, which are rich in contrast and reveal to operators even the smallest flaw. Just what the doctor ordered.