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Leveraging High Energy CT Scan Technology Transformations at Lockheed Martin

You don’t have to be a brain surgeon or oncologist to appreciate the many applications of computed tomography (CT) X-ray scanning. Engineers at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control (MFC) have been harnessing and developing advanced applications of this medical technology for decades to take images and analyze product parts during the development and testing phases to ensure its capabilities work the first time, every time.

“Just like a surgeon uses a 3-D CT scan to detect cancer cells within the human body, our Nondestructive Evaluation Lab engineers rely on the power of 3-D/4-D X-ray CT technology to find discontinuities within parts during the development phase, as we rapidly innovate to solve our customers’ most challenging missions,” said Florence Tindle, MFC Vice President of Engineering.

High Energy 9MeV CT system at North Star Imaging in Orlando

For more than 20 years, Lockheed Martin has partnered with North Star Imaging (NSI) to provide advanced 2-D digital radiography and 3-D/4-D CT imaging and analysis capability within its labs. Most recently, the companies have joined together to develop a high-energy, 9-million-electron-volts (MeV) CT 3-D/4-D scan system – the first breakthrough technology of its kind on the southeastern U.S., just off the Space Coast in Orlando, Florida.

This new, high-energy system is capable of scanning larger and more dense parts, such as 14 inches of steel, than ever before, allowing engineers to see the unseen sooner. The system has multiple X-ray sources and detectors. Additionally, the system can inspect additively manufactured parts as well as energetic material to support Department of Defense (DoD) projects

“With this technology, yesterday’s impossible is today’s opportunity,” said Brett Muehlhauser, Research and Development Technical Fellow at NSI. “We’re able to share this technology capability with the larger aerospace and aviation business community, to provide real-world solutions that are stronger, safer and even more reliable.”

Solving Real-World Challenges With Real-Time Solutions 

We have already seen a substantial achievement in cost reduction and an increase in throughput for customers regarding complex geometry castings of advanced alloys in the F-35 Electro Optical Targeting System (EOTS), hypersonics products and additively manufactured parts.

As part of the F-35 blueprint for affordability goal, Lockheed Martin’s skilled and dedicated engineers developed new ways to combine materials that form the F-35 EOTS Azimuth Gimbal Housing. This structure in the EOTS Gimbal line replaceable component supports all moving parts. By combining alloys during the casting process, engineers were able to reduce the cost of the Gimbal subassembly. Through CT scanning examination, engineers could gain insight into the characteristics of the alloy casting process to confirm this innovative solution worked – and shaved time off the development process.

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