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Published: 8 April 2014  
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Countries involved in the project described in the article:
Denmark  |  Finland  |  Greece  |  Latvia  |  United Kingdom
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X-ray expertise

A Danish company has developed a series of machines that can quite literally see the unseen. The silver machines use low-energy x-rays to peer inside a product, and highlight faults that other scanners fail to spot.

Photo of a man using an xray machine
Video in QuickTime format:  ar  de  en  es  fa  fr  it  pt  ru  tr  uk  (9.8 MB)

Joergen Rheinlaender, the Director at InnospeXion explains: “We have developed a low energy X-ray system. The application area for this is to be able to inspect things that are of low density or low thickness.”

“A typical application area (is) food packaging where we are looking into the integrity of the packaging, and the main application area is the sealing of the packaging,” Joergen continues.

The X-rays can also see small differences inside natural materials like wood. “This is a knot that resembles just a small imperfection, but in reality the X-ray image here unveils it to be quite a large internal flaw,” he adds.

Another application is in pharmaceutical products where seals must be perfect to ensure the contents are safe, according to Joergen: “Sometimes the packaging mechanism goes wrong, and we can actually check whether these individual items are lying out here in the so-called ‘not allowed area’.”

The machines can highlight changes of just a few microns in depth.

That is because the low energy X-rays use a longer wavelength that is sensitive to tiny changes in density or thickness.

So what’s inside? Joergen showed us around:

“Basically the system design is based on a series of powerful computers which acquire the images.”

“We open the door here and we have the complete electrical control compartment. Behind the hatch here I have the whole core of the system, which is essentially where we have the X-ray source up here.”

“At the bottom here we have the compartment with the detectors which are those who actually acquires the up to 300 images per second.”

The low energy X-ray machine was developed in a European Union research project, and during the project Joergen was determined that the system they developed should be market-ready.

“Most research projects, they finalise something, at the end of the day it works, but it has never been tested in robustness. And this has been a key point for ourselves, to make sure that this also works 24/7,” he stressed.

Project details

  • Project acronym:MODULINSPEX
  • Participants:Netherlands (Coordinator), Kazakhstan, France, USA, Czech republic, Germany, Spain, Switzerland
  • FP7 Project N° 16882
  • Total costs: €1 540 767
  • EU contribution: €828 355
  • Duration:May 2005 - April 2008

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See also

Futuris, the European research programme - on Euronews. The video on this page was prepared in collaboration with Euronews for the Futuris programme.

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