Heidelberg University

Entering the Next Dimension In Digital Inspection

Christof Reinhart, Volume Graphics


Computed tomography is traditionally known from healthcare applications, but within this millennium, CT is well on track to become a universal tool in industrial use. Today, industrial CT is used in uncountable applications ranging from low-tech like inspecting simple plastic components for consumer devices to high-tech like safety-relevant parts in the automobile or aerospace industry. What is more, x-ray CT covers a range of more than 7 orders of magnitude, inspecting samples from the sub-micrometres to the "several meters" range. Within this broad range of inspected part sizes and applications, CT enables its users to improve quality, develop products faster and - thinking about additive manufacturing - to create and inspect products that would have been impossible to produce without CT.

Volume Graphics - founded 1997 by three Heidelberg physicists - is a leading software company developing the de-facto industry standard software for the analysis and visualization of industrial CT data.

With the "Industrie 4.0" initiative, CT has become an even more import technology. In going fully digital from product design through production to inspection and quality control, CT and CT inspection software will become a key component. No other technology can offer a more complete picture of an object. Whether it's about geometry or about material related questions: CT offers the full 3D picture, the data that has the answer to both.

Developing the needed software tools for the above described markets, from low-tech to high-tech, means creating new algorithms and solutions at the forefront of science and IT. The processing of CT data sets with a size of 128 GB per scan on desktop workstations has already become a reality. Checking aluminium castings for failures like cracks or pores by following regulations from the industry for what is an allowed imperfection and what is a failure has for years been a standard tool, but we already focus on the next level in digital inspection. By developing innovative mechanical simulation tools calculating directly on CT scan data, Volume Graphics starts to predict if an imperfection is really a failure that has an impact on the part's function or if this specific imperfection is just irrelevant. Especially in high-tech industries where only few prototypes are produced, this simulation method is an enormously cost saving tool. Mechanical simulation on "real world data" is only one of the areas where Volume Graphics has developed new approaches to solving challenges in various industries. Machine learning is another domain where Volume Graphics has started to invest in research and development.

With various application examples and insights into Volume Graphics' R&D, this presentation would like to make the audience curious about the "world of industrial CT", its challenges and its exciting opportunities for young scientists seeking a career in a rapidly growing and innovative market.