Using computer tomography (CT) for inspection of lightweight structures or composite materials

Using computer tomography (CT) for inspection of lightweight structures or composite materials

1024 735 xray lab - Industrielle Röntgenanlyse und 3D Computertomographie (CT)
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In an age where legal requirements mandate ever lower CO2 emissions, manufacturing is increasingly demanding lighter than expected vehicles to meet both emission standards and consumer needs. This requires us to reconsider the choice of materials and manufacturing processes other than traditional means. Lightweight construction is the theme being discussed in manufacturing sectors domestically and abroad.

Composite materials which were previously reserved for use in aircraft and racing cars due in part to cost and availability are now finding their way into the standard passenger car occupying today’s roadways. Modern castings are being produced in near-net forms with thinner walls to save weight. Advancements in modern 3D printers provide the designer with the ability to produce complex forms and the freedom to implement the design in a growing array of applications. These and other processes enable the production of highly complex parts of all types and sizes, with multiple degrees of freedom. This coupled with an expanding range of uses provides more options of implementation than previously thought. For example, a modern day fuel efficient automotive engine intake system featuring variable-length manifolds.

Image of a probe made from composite material

Image of a probe made from composite material

A CT scan of a composite material can reveal the fiber orientation, fiber distribution and fiber content of a composite material. This knowledge allows design and engineering to make changes in material needs for a given product in a more efficient manner and timeline.

A foundry casting benefits from a CT scan revealing the volume and locations of voids, porosity, and encapsulation issues. A CT scan also provides for the measurement of wall thickness and geometry of a product in visible and hidden areas. Utilizing ‘Best Fit’ and the dimensional data of a CT scan overlaid with a CAD model, a quick assessment on the geometric size of a part is possible. This enables the determination of a viable part prior to machining.

The production of these highly complex parts and systems must still be measured. A CT, Computed Tomography, system enables the measurement of parts in all degrees, with the ability to detect not only at the surface, but also in hidden lines, completed assemblies, and within the actual materials themselves.

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