X-Ray Moves into New Markets

Most of us associate X-rays with a trip to the hospital or dentist, but the medical market represents only a portion of applications that are driving the growing global demand for systems and flat panel detector (FPD) technologies.

Depending on the report you read, the global X-ray systems market could grow from US$10-11 billion today to surpass US$16.5 billion by 2025. Medical is still the driving force for the market, in particular with new applications becoming accessible, rising investments in imaging, and modernizing healthcare in emerging geographies. Peel back the market report numbers a bit further and you’ll see significant growth in new X-ray based non-destructive testing applications.

Industrial X-ray is being adopted across a widening range of applications, thanks to improved ease-of-use, system availability, cost reductions, and recognized process and quality improvements.

Under the broad umbrella of “inspection, X-ray is used to ensure various goods, such as durable or nondurable consumer goods, electronics components, and equipment, pass regulatory standard testing before they reach the customers. X-ray is also used in “conditioning monitoring” of components within inspection machinery as a preventative or predictive maintenance tool. For example, the oil and gas market is adopting X-ray inspection to extend asset life and productivity, minimize repair cost, manage risks, and avoid accidents.  X-ray inspection systems are used in the food industry to detect and eliminate contaminants, such as stone, glass, bone and plastic, regardless of the type of packaging used.

The microelectronics industry uses X-ray inspection systems to characterize critical material properties and examine electronic circuits to measure and verify that circuit tracks conform to their design criteria. The automobile industry uses X-ray to detect flaws with tires and brake components examined against structural requirements and safety regulations.  Unlike traditional inspection systems, failed objects can be scanned without needing to disassemble the part, as disassembly might cause further failures that could disguise the initial problem.

One of the fastest growth markets for industrial X-ray is security. The technology recent made news headlines when a drive-through X-ray scanner detected nearly 650 pounds of drugs hidden under a load of cucumbers at the US-Mexico border. Similarly, inspection systems in airports use multi-energy FPDs to identify solid, liquid and homemade explosives in cargo.