GE Inspection Technologies Named Global Industrial CT Systems Company of the Year

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We are excited to announce that Frost & Sullivan has recognized GE Inspection Technologies as the 2016 Global Industrial CT Systems Company of the Year for our contributions to the industrial computed tomography (CT) systems market. Frost & Sullivan evaluated the global CT industry based on growth, innovation and leadership in regards to demand generation, brand development and competitive positioning.

Frost & Sullivan recognized GE for our innovative contributions to the CT industry through a wide range of solutions. This includes our:

Advancements in technology provide valuable insight into the production process and have played a major role in our improvements to NDT and inspection solutions. From digitization to software development to imaging capabilities, our CT products optimize productivity in industries like aerospace, automotive and healthcare.

Mariano Kimbara, industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan noted “with its sound technological expertise and vast experience, GE has leveraged its non-destructive testing technology to design CT systems that combine the high precision of a fan beam CT scanner with the up to 100 times increase throughput of automated cone beam CT inspection.”

CT is a continuously evolving technology, and the 3D application for industrial inspections will drastically improve accuracy about indications, keep machines in operation longer and ensure the quality control for production process optimization becomes more precise and productive.  At GE, we are in a unique position our competitors are not; we have the technological expertise to understand how to expand the use of CT technology into industrial applications based on real-world application of our medical grade technology. We will continue to innovate and apply learnings from other areas of our business to bring our customers leading class technologies.

3D Quality Control Inspection for 3D Printed Parts

When people think about 3D printing, many assume all printed parts are exactly the same. Additive manufacturers today, however, understand that there is still a considerable amount of variation with 3D printing, and, as a result, advanced inspection methods and tools must be used to ensure printed parts are meeting industry standards.

Because 3D printing is not as repetitive or consistent as it’s often portrayed to be, it requires regular testing and calibration. For this reason, GE developed a scatter|correct function to be used in conjunction with cone beam CT in its v|tome|x m microCT scanner to eliminate the guesswork in additive manufacturing.

Additive Part 2

Cone beam CT, which images an entire part as it rotates just once between an X-ray source and a detector, is up to 100 times faster than fan beam CT. That’s partially because a fan beam CT scanner X-rays thin slices of a work piece as it rotates and moves linearly in steps through the beam. Those thin slices then have to be reconstructed and combined to represent the full 3D volume. The downside to cone beam CT is that it’s subject to scatter on images.

When GE works with super dense metals, such as chromium cobalt, the radiation causes the materials to scatter resulting in a blurry image. The scatter effect can make it more challenging to get an accurate measurement. Steel, aluminum, composites and multi-material parts are also prone to create scatter on images.

Additive Part 3

For industrial process control, excellent CT quality at high sample throughput is evident. GE’s proprietary scatter|correct option is a combination of hardware and software advances, allowing users to scan large sample batches in reasonable time as well as significantly reduce scattering artifacts to improve the precision of failure analysis and 3D metrology inspection tasks. The scatter|correct smart function is applied to the first part scanned in a series and the CT scanner applies it to every subsequent part for a clear image and accurate measurement. By combining high precision fan beam CT quality with high throughput of fully automated cone beam CT, the significantly increased inspection productivity allows CT to migrate from R&D applications to serial inspection on the production floor.

Read the full article in Manufacturing Engineering.

Monitoring, Detecting and Measuring Corrosion

Natural objects, such as granite, and man-made structures, such as bridges, cars, ships, refineries, aircraft, are all subject to the same environmental stresses. Light, temperature changes, water, and gasses in the air all play a role in the breakdown of materials. The one major difference is just how quickly that breakdown occurs.

A general term for the degradation of man-made structures is corrosion. Scientists try to understand the mechanisms by which corrosion occurs, design barriers to corrosion, find ways to monitor the progress of corrosion, and build processes for asset maintenance and systems to reduce the overall costs of corrosion to society.

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The economic impact of corrosion has been researched at length. A well-known study published in 1999 by NACE (the National Association of Corrosion Engineers) titled The United States Cost of Corrosion Study indicates that the direct cost of corrosion is more than 3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Similar studies report direct costs ranging from 2 to 4.5 percent of the GDP. The real issue is where direct costs end and indirect costs begin.

Given these enormous costs, it is not surprising that there are large industries centered on:

  1. Corrosion prevention (such as additives in water systems, coating materials like paint for automobiles, etc.)
  2. Corrosion repair and maintenance
  3. Corrosion monitoring, detection, and measurement.

Regularly scheduled inspections can validate corrosion rates and allow engineers and operators to better plan for maintenance situations. While ultrasound thickness (UT) readings can be of occasional use with regularly scheduled inspections, they do not provide enough precision with the collection of manual thickness readings to adequately determine wall thickness losses from corrosion. Pitting cannot be reliably detected by conventional UT methods simply because the size of the defect is small compared to the area inspected. Phased array ultrasound (PAUT) techniques can be developed to approach the needed precision and get great coverage quickly.

The direct and indirect costs of corrosion can be staggering. With improved inspection technologies, such as digital radiography and phased array ultrasound, and maintenance schedules, equipment manufacturers and providers are helping organizations control costs and get a better handle on the health of their assets.

For more information on corrosion monitoring, detection and measurement, read Robert Ward’s article in Inspection Trends Corrosion, Monitoring, Detection and Measurement. And, for more information on GE’s phased array flaw detectors, visit here.

By Bob Ward, Senior Product Manager, Portables, GE Measurement & Control

What Questions Should Manufacturers Be Asking About 3D Computed Tomography?

While computed tomography (CT) scans are common and well-known as a critical evaluation tool in the medical field, they are becoming increasingly important in industrial settings. Three dimensional (3D) industrial CT for non-destructive testing (NDT) has long been confined to the research and development (R&D) environment and its application restricted to structure and defect analysis of high value, complex components and new materials. But imagine an automotive manufacturer being able to fully examine and measure a cylinder head, or an aerospace component manufacturer being able to inspect and measure highly complex turbine blades or parts made by additive manufacturing technologies.

Recent automation, speed, and accuracy developments are driving the migration of CT technology onto the production floor. There, it can be used as a powerful quality control and process optimization tool, providing fast inspection and accurate 3D measurement of components which are difficult to examine by conventional two dimensional (2D) radiography or coordinate measuring machines (CMMs). Because of technological advancements and speed enhancements, the same internal structure visibility provided to medical professionals by CT technology can now be invaluable for manufacturers and inspectors.

From shortening the prototype process, to reducing processing costs, to getting faster feedback during the production process, the benefits of CT technology are endless. In order to determine whether CT technology is right for their facility, manufacturers must ask the right questions.

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Asking the Right Questions

  • What type of parts am I inspecting? When dealing with critical machinery in the industrial sector, 2D radiography has its limitations. It is sometimes unable to detect, localize, or visualize the indications and internal geometries found in many of today’s complex engineering components. 3D CT can effectively inspect metals, composites, plastics, and additives manufactured or 3D printed parts with complex internal structures.
  • What percentage of parts do I want to inspect? Previous CT speeds once limited the number of parts that could be inspected to only a few per shift. Advances in scan time, part manipulation, workflow, and software now allow many more scans per hour – approaching full production inspection.
  • How can CT analysis improve my operations? CT analysis can be useful in assuring product quality, enabling real-time process optimization, and potentially consolidating inspection steps. High quality 3D CT scans and metrology allow manufacturers to compare completed parts to specifications and tolerances with a high degree of accuracy. Many parts are inspected multiple times with 2D radiography for casting defects and residual materials, in addition to ultrasonic measurement for wall thickness, and sometimes CMM for external measurements. Most of this could be replaced by a single, highly reliable 3D image.
  • How will I manage the large volumes of data? A single 3D CT scan can generate 20GB or larger volumes of data. Advanced data processing, storage, and archiving solutions are available to make it possible to manage, share, and evaluate these large data sets. Including data management as a part of the initial project scope is critical to ensuring a successful transition to production CT.

To find out all of the questions you should be asking, read the full article in Inspectioneering here: https://inspectioneering.com/journal/2015-10-28/4892/what-questions-should-manufact.

By Shana Telesz, Senior Product Manager, GE Measurement & Control