Non-Destructive Testing Spotlight: Thermography

Manufacturers of everything from electronics to automobiles to spacecraft need to inspect products, components, and tooling on the production line. A simple, visual inspection often isn’t enough. One proven alternative that offers increased accuracy for many applications is infrared thermography.

How Infrared Thermography Works

Infrared thermography uses a thermal imager to detect radiation emitted from an object. Infrared radiation behaves like visible light and can be detected with electronic sensors. A thermal imager converts readings to temperatures and displays an image of the temperature distribution. These images, called thermograms, let operators see heat-producing objects.

Current infrared cameras reach frame rates of 90 frames per second or more. Shutterless infrared cameras are available, allowing for instant image output. Cameras with mechanical shutters offer better protection and increased flexibility. Common lenses range from 7.5mm to 100mm and let manufacturers mount cameras as near or far from the production line as needed.

Thermography Non-Destructive Inspection Applications

Thermal imaging has long been helpful to facility managers looking for faulty motors, switches, and bearings running hotter than they should. But the devices can also detect cooler spots, such as in the case of problem areas on a failed capacitor. Thermal imagers work regardless of ambient light.

Thermography can be used in a variety of applications on the assembly line, including joining operations. Whether it’s an ultrasonic, infrared, or laser weld, a thermogram can indicate weld quality to ensure its integrity and seal.

Infrared imaging can be used to check products in applications where visible-light cameras fall short. When applying adhesives and fasteners to components with similar colors, a visible-light camera may not be able to see and measure accuracy. But infrared thermal cameras can easily detect proper application and at the same time ensure that the materials are within temperature limits.

Infrared thermograms are especially useful to flat-panel display manufacturers. Thermal imagers can analyze the heating response of the display’s active plate when powered. Without any defects, all pixels warm up in a uniform manner. But defects will cause the pixels to reach varying operating temperatures.

Auto manufacturers have used infrared cameras to detect the proper operation of heated seats. Using contact temperature sensors would slow production. They also need to be placed with precision. But infrared cameras can quickly provide images and temperature readings of heater element assemblies.

Improve your production throughput and consistency with automated thermography non-destructive inspection from Genesis Systems!

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