AUSTRALIAN X-ray inspection equipment manufacturer Applied Sorting Technologies has announced a substantial increase in the sensitivity of its latest range of X-ray contaminant detection machines.
The breakthrough in sensitivity is a result of Applied Sorting developing and building its own detector arrays instead of relying on arrays manufactured offshore, as has been necessary previously.
The detector array is the eyes of the X-ray system.
Numerous X-ray sensitive diodes on the array collect information about the amount of X-rays being absorbed as they pass through various parts of the products under inspection.
This information is passed on to the system's computer which uses it to build up a digital X-ray image of the product.
Computing algorithms are then used to analyse the image and attach "tags" to possible contaminants so they will be rejected automatically.
The technology is similar to that employed by a skilled radiologist to visually examine medical X-ray images to identify potential health problems.
The new, more sensitive detector arrays developed by Applied Sorting enables the detection of a wider range of possible contaminants both in terms of the minimum sizes that can be detected and the range of materials that can be detected.
As well as being able to detect much smaller pieces of metal than conventional metal detectors, the Applied Sorting X-ray machines are used to detect pieces of glass, stones, bone fragments and several kinds of plastics and rubber.
Products can be inspected through most kinds of packaging including glass or plastic jars, metal cans, foil wrappers, etc.
Applied Sorting's technical director, Peter Hawkins, explains that while the new arrays have been a significant break through for business, they are only a part of the reason for the high sensitivity of the machines.
"We are continuously improving our x-ray systems both optically and with regard to the characteristics of the x-rays we apply.
"We also invest heavily in developing new software to improve the image analysing capabilities of our machines and to make them more user friendly."
Current owners of Applied Sorting X-ray machines can have them upgraded to include the new array if required.