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Accelerated 3D XRAY Allows Fast Inline Inspection

Deltaray, a spin-off of Belgium’s Antwerp University and imec – a world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies – is taking quality control to the next level with the introduction of its ‘Accelerated 3D XRAY’ technology. Deltaray’s solution allows manufacturers to inspect products for possible defects up to 100 times faster and with a much finer granularity (up to 50 microns).

This speed enables total quality control, as every manufactured item is internally checked in a fully automated way. The spin-off’s initial focus is on the medical devices, pharmaceutical and automotive industries.

“Inspecting larger numbers of samples using X-ray technology is one option to detect costly production errors, especially since products contain increasingly sophisticated components. Or one could decide to have all product runs manually inspected – which obviously comes at a high cost,” says Dirk Hamelinck, CEO of Deltaray. “But now there is the Deltaray approach, using X-ray to accurately scan each product on the production line in detail and perform a full 3D quality check of every product without slowing down the production process.”

Leading Manufacturers Into Quality 4.0 Era

“Our Accelerated 3D XRAY portfolio sets a new quality control standard for companies that want to deliver zero-defect products,” says Hamelinck. “It detects production errors ten to a hundred times faster than existing computed tomography (CT) systems. And it accommodates a much finer granularity, measuring defects with an accuracy of up to 50 microns. Our initial focus is on the medical devices, pharmaceutical and automotive industries, enabling manufacturers to inspect complex and high-tech products such as syringes, implants, (petrol) pumps much more efficiently.”

“Inspired by the digital revolution, manufacturing has recently undergone a fundamental transformation – also referred to as Industry 4.0. Efficiency and productivity have increased dramatically, the customer experience is paramount and quality requirements are higher than ever before. Given this new business reality, the introduction of Deltaray’s Accelerated 3D XRAY portfolio marks an important step forward when it comes to quality control. The technology enables manufacturing companies to enter the Quality 4.0 era,” says Rudy Lauwereins, vice president of R&D at imec. “Since the Deltaray team has focused on international business opportunities from the start, the brand-new spin-off has received tailored support from imec’s venturing team and the imec.istart accelerator program.” 

The Deltaray technology was developed within VisionLab, an imec research group at Antwerp University. “For more than ten years, we have been conducting extensive research into this technology,” comments professor Jan Sijbers, co-founder and scientific advisor to Deltaray. “The underlying research track pursued a much quicker inspection of complex mechanical products, thereby offsetting manufacturers’ concerns such as cost and the shortage of skilled employees. With our technology, we can screen a product in a very detailed way using just a few scans.”

The Antwerp University VisionLab website states: X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) has been applied in industry for quality and defect control. However, conventional CT systems are neither cost effective nor flexible, making the deployment of such technology unfeasible for many industrial environments. We propose a simple and cost effective X-ray imaging setup that comprises a linear translation of the object in a conveyor belt with a fixed X-ray source and detector, with which a small number of X-ray projections can be acquired within a limited angular range. Furthermore, we improved the reconstruction results with the following strategies: (i) an image acquisition involving object rotation during a linear translation in the conveyor-belt; and (ii) an image reconstruction incorporating prior knowledge of the object support (e.g., obtained from optic sensors). Experiments demonstrate substantial improvement of the reconstruction quality compared to conventional reconstruction methods.

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