The most common complaints you’ll hear about digital radiography and computed tomography are that they are complicated, expensive and time-consuming.
The reality is that digital radiography (DR) and computed tomography (CT) are becoming necessary techniques in aerospace. The factors pushing increased adoption of DR and CT are the same factors that affect everyone involved in aerospace — time, talent, and above all, cost.
The amount of air traffic through 2040 is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4%, without even taking into account the growth of the space launch industry at over 17% through 2026. Due to this, the demands on the industry are going to grow by leaps and bounds. Time is already a precious commodity and it’ll be squeezed even further, just as quality requirements will become stricter, especially as the lightweighting trend continues. Traditional film-based radiography or even computed radiography will not be fast enough to keep up with demand. Automated systems like VJT’s robotic based solutions will be absolutely critical to meet quality and time demands.
VJT’s CT solutions can compare scan data to CAD models (actual-nominal comparisons) and reconvert scan data back into CAD for FEA and other stress testing greatly reduces the time spent in the prototyping stage. Slicing through projections, running automated wall thickness/metrology and porosity tests, checking on fiber orientation for fiber-composite parts, greatly reduces the amount of time spent cutting open parts and running measurements and innumerable microscopic and visual examinations.
The dearth of skilled workers is an issue affecting seemingly every industry, not just aerospace. However, the aerospace industry’s requirements are more demanding than most other industries, and thus, the challenge of finding and subsequently training this talent is incredibly difficult. Additionally, regardless of training, there’s tendencies for all people to get comfortable in a role or in a process, and then possibly miss something, and if there’s a radiographer looking at x-ray images for 8 – 10 hours, eye fatigue is a significant concern and has been proven to be a serious issue.
Therefore, VJT’s specialized and automated Vi3 software suite with the ability to force and ensure compliance to ASTM or prime standards is not just a luxury, it’s also an absolute necessity. ADE-N, the newest development of the ADE filter with Noise Reduction will enable enhancement of the image while reducing some of the noise that can get enhanced.
The capital cost of DR and CT is usually seen as a big number, but the reality is that most people fail to look at the total value that’s provided by DR and CT equipment. For example, one of VJT’s customer was inspecting a casting that was about 22” cubed and would take 2.5 hours using a film-based technique. Using an automated DR system designed by VJT, this customer was able to bring the inspection time down to 21 minutes. As production ramped up, the customer was able to save on radiographers, as traditionally one shift would only be able to inspect three parts, and now they were doing close to three parts per hour, and 22 parts per shift. Going from multiple inspection bays down to one machine and going from five radiographers down to one provided huge cost-savings and ensured that the ROI for the VJT DR machine was under 11 months.
Another VJT customer was taking seven hours to inspect a casting, and VJT was able to use a DR technique augmented with Region of Interest CT down to 92 minutes — reducing total inspection time by a factor of over 4x.
Caption: Acquired image then VJT’s ADE and ADE-N filters are applied to show the capabilities of the image processing.