Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP6

IPC-OCT — Result In Brief

Project ID: 507825
Funded under: FP6-SME
Country: Austria

High-resolution medical imaging for manufacturing

The manufacturing industry is under constant pressure to deliver better products faster and at lower cost. EU-funded scientists developed a novel low-cost, high-resolution imaging system for process control for industrial use.
High-resolution medical imaging for manufacturing
As parts become smaller and smaller, processing and quality control of critical features during manufacturing becomes increasingly difficult.

Non-destructive imaging is an important tool. However, most commercially available technologies either do not provide the necessary resolution or are cost prohibitive, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

European researchers sought to employ optical coherence tomography (OCT) already widely used in the medical field to develop a low-cost, user friendly imaging tool for industrial manufacturing. European funding of the ‘In process control with optical coherence tomography’ (IPC-OCT) project allowed them to reach their goals.

OCT is an optical imaging technology analogous to ultrasound but using light instead of sound. It can provide high-resolution cross-sectional images in light-scattering media. Image resolutions on the order of micrometres (one millionth of a metre) are not uncommon and quite suitable to the manufacturing industry’s needs.

The consortium developed a new broadband laser (light) source based on photonic crystal fibres (PCFs) allowing scientists to surpass their target resolution of five micrometres within materials.

In order to conduct comparison studies, investigators developed two industrial OCT scanner systems, one using conventional light sources and one based on the novel PCFs. Following the comparison study and optimisation, field tests of the new high-resolution laser OCT were conducted at partner production sites.

Low-cost, high-resolution scanning technology developed for industrial use by the IPC-OCT consortium should have important impact on the competitiveness of European manufacturing SMEs. Commercialisation of the system will facilitate online, real-time inspections of miniaturised parts with complex geometries during processing, thus reducing waste and cost while increasing quality.

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