Tieer Gu, Ph.D, Chairman and CEO
Non-destructive testing (NDT) involves testing and inspection of materials and equipment in order to evaluate their condition, and to detect potential flaws or defects that are not visible to the naked eye. It is a discipline dedicated to safeguard that the parts being inspected, are both safe and reliable. An important aspect of NDT is that the testing is performed without damaging or otherwise altering the parts. It can be performed in the field, for example during inspection of bridges or pipelines, or in factories for testing of circuit boards or other electronic devices. The global market for NDT equipment has been growing steadily and is projected to reach USD 4.78 billion by 2021.
A leading company that is using advanced X-ray imaging as part of their NDT solution is iRay Technology. Headquartered in Pudong New Area, Shanghai, China, iRay started its journey in 2011 as a solution provider for medical imaging. It developed a broad portfolio of X-ray detectors for general radiography, mammography, surgery, dental, veterinary, and radiotherapy applications. The company introduced a series of tethered and wireless digital flat panel X-ray detectors, which were launched globally in partnership with several international tier-1 healthcare organizations.
In 2017, the company broadened its product lines outside of the medical market. iRay created a dedicated R&D and marketing team to focus its growth in the security and industrial imaging domains. The company soon introduced its robust and cost-effective X-ray detectors for industrial imaging. Today, iRay’s expertise in sensor design, X-ray scintillation materials, read-out ASICs, low noise electronic designs, and detector packaging are leveraged to design detectors for a wide range of applications, including the inspection of castings, welds, pipelines, and electronics. iRay’s digital flat panel detectors for NDT are designed to meet the very broad application space that is required when imaging turbine blades, large engine blocks, as well as printed circuit board assemblies, ASICs, and ball grid arrays. “We support the inspection of materials ranging from the smallest electronic components to the largest casting parts,” mentions Tieer Gu, Ph.D, Chairman and CEO of iRay. Further, the company also provides detectors for airports, train stations, and other checkpoints for security inspections.
Notably, the capabilities of iRay are empowered by four key factors—an innovative product portfolio, highquality standards, enhanced customer service, and above all, a skilled and talented workforce. Detailed design specifications, verification, and validation testing, as well as accelerated stress and reliability tests are all a part of iRay’s development process. Manufacturing applies the renowned Kaizen methodologies to continuously improve all functions throughout their facilities. Besides, iRay prides itself on having a best-in-class service team with comprehensive X-ray system know-how and global presence in Asia, Europe, and North America. iRay’s design and application engineers have a thorough understanding of X-ray systems, flat panel detector system integration, as well as imaging algorithms for enhancement and analysis.
To this extent, iRay’s X-ray solutions are aptly focused on complementing the advancements of the new generation of smart factories. “We are in the period of the fourth industrial revolution, and its impact on the world is tremendous,” remarks Dr. Gu.
As new technologies like digital imaging, data analytics, and artificial intelligence enter the manufacturing space, the demand for robust and non-invasive inspection methods is also on the rise to bolster the utilization of such emerging technologies. Thus, to meet the new requirements of the manufacturing sector, iRay is augmenting the capability of its detectors with amorphous Silicon (a-Si), IGZO (Oxide TFT), flexible substrates, and complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) devices. Examples of their solutions include a high-resolution 85-micron detector, which is geared toward electronics, PCBA, and battery inspection, to large 16- and 17-inch detectors for inspection of bigger castings or parts made of very dense or thick materials.
We support the inspection of materials ranging from the smallest electronic components to the largest casting parts
However, these new functionalities barely scratch the surface of what iRay has to offer. The company has also unveiled a range of digital flat panel detectors with both high sensitivity and high imaging frame rates. The detectors are designed to function for specific target applications. They can be customized to work at specific X-ray energy levels, and to image particular material types and thicknesses, contrast ranges, and object details. The pre-sales technical staff and imaging physicists at iRay work with their clients to identify the most suitable detector for different applications, and to establish the overall best conditions for X-ray imaging. The iRay detectors provide numerous options to customize an industrial inspection system in terms of detector size, spatial resolution, imaging rate, sensor technology, and scintillator types.
To better highlight such a personalized approach, Dr. Gu cites a client who specialized in the production of precision castings for the aerospace industry. They had relied on an older system using X-ray sheet film for inspection, costing them in excess of USD 0.7 million on film alone. They got equipped with a new inspection system based upon the iRay NDT 1717M digital flat panel detector, which provides a large field of view and superb image resolution. This detector uses a radiation hard sensor and an industrially rugged housing design, which has wide environmental capabilities. After the transition to the new system, the client witnessed a significant drop in film spending and a 50 percent decrease in inspection time. An inspection set that required 45 hours of imaging with film can now be accomplished in just 20 hours.
Notably, this partnership is one of the many success stories that corroborate the capabilities of iRay in solving client impediments. Right now, amid the COVID-19 crisis, the company is focused on maintaining the production of its detectors. To meet the rising demand, the company has optimized the detector assembly and enhanced efficiencies to shorten the production cycle. In addition, the sales, tech support, and post-sales service teams of iRay are fast adapting to the changing world and delivering 24/7 support service to their customers.
Such impressive feats in terms of reliability, image quality, and high throughput have cemented the superior status of iRay in the manufacturing sector. The company is seen as a symbol of reliability, excellent image quality, and high throughput by its industrial clients. Right now, iRay’s X-ray detectors are used in over 70 nations, including the U.S., Europe, Africa, China and the broader APAC region, and Middle East countries. Moving ahead, iRay plans to continually expand its equipment capabilities in the evolving manufacturing industry. Apart from the manufacturing sector, the company also delivers its robust X-ray components for medical, dental, veterinary, and security applications. “We invite prospective clients with open arms to visit our detector manufacturing facility in Taicang so they can witness our cutting-edge equipment in the making,” concludes Dr. Gu.