2D X-ray vs. 3D Computed Tomography (CT)
We love X-ray images for all the insight they can provide, but sometimes a 2D image still doesn’t give us all the information we need. That’s when we reach deep in the tool box for some computed tomography (CT). CT is X-ray, but more accurately multiple X-ray images combined with volume rendering software tools that produce three dimensional renderings of whatever was imaged. We’re used to blowing minds with X-ray, but CT is absolutely next level.
- CT is X-ray in 3D
- CT use case
- When 2D X-ray won’t do
Like X-ray? You’ll love CT
Computed tomography uses 2D X-ray images, numbering in the hundreds or thousands, produced by rotating the object being imaged (the sample), or the X-ray source and detector, in very small, precise increments. These X-ray images are processed using sophisticated volume rendering software to produce a 3D representation of the sample being imaged. Because the 3D rendering is produced using X-ray, the rendering includes both external and internal features. Slicing the rendering can reveal internal features, and unlike traditional 2D X-ray images, the features in the region of interest won’t be obscure by other features in the foreground or background. The process takes time, but the information it yields can be both worth the wait and worth its weight…
CT: What’s the connection?
There are a number of important uses of CT, including defect detection, failure analysis, and reverse engineering to name a few. We recently imaged the complex connector in the image above. This one is a critical component of an electric vehicle, with dangerous consequence in the case of failure. Electrical connectors can suffer from a number of failure modes including open connections, missed crimps, and improper crimps to name a few. In the 2D image, only a single defect, the open connection, can be clearly identified. With the 3D rendering all of the defects are revealed including improperly crimped and uncrimped wires. Missing these additional defects could be disastrous if these problems go unaddressed.
2D vs. 3D
Conventional 2D X-ray is great. Realtime, high-resolution, digital X-ray can provide an amazing amount of information. Systems such as those we build at Creative Electron can do so easily, and nearly instantaneously. But sometimes even the most detailed 2D images aren’t able to tell the whole story. Defects, for example, can sometimes be hidden within multiple layers of dense materials. Sometimes this can be addressed by inspecting from multiple angles, oblique angle viewing that is often referred to as 2 ½ D. But when these tricks of the trade don’t get the job done, CT just might provide the prefect solution. This extra level of detail can not only find defects, but more importantly, identify why the defect occurred. This identification gives us critical insights on the manufacturing process and how it can be corrected. Not only we can tell that we have a problem – we can tell why we have a problem. In some application this extra level of information is well worth the additional cost and time required to run the CT of a sample.