X-ray instruments and X-ray systems use penetrating X-rays or gamma radiation to capture images of the internal structure of a part or finished product. The density and composition of the internal features being scanned alter the intensity or density of the transmitted X-rays. These alterations, in turn, are captured by X-ray instruments and X-ray systems, which produce a radiographic image.


While the terms X-ray instruments and X-ray systems could be used to describe a very wide range of products, items in this grouping can generally be placed into one of four groups: computer tomography systems, film based systems, X-ray generators and sources, and microfocus systems. Computed tomography is the technique of estimating the interior of objects (human bodies or other structures) from the measurements of radiation projected through the object. The technique reads cross sectional images of internal structures and uses a computer to analyze and display them. These tomographic images are normally produced with X-ray systems, or from energy sources radiating from inside the object. Film based X-ray instruments and X-ray systems generate radiographic images, which are then reproduced onto film. The common doctor’s office “X-ray machine” falls into this category.  X-ray generators and sources are not full X-ray instruments and X-ray systems. They are system components that generate X-rays or gamma rays for radiographic inspection. Microfocus systems are X-ray instruments and X-ray systems that use fine focus X-ray tubes. By focusing on very small, specific spots, these devices provide radiographic images with higher quality and resolution than other systems.


Important specifications to consider when looking for X-ray instruments and X-ray systems include the cooling method used by the device (generally water or air), the range of operational voltage, and the focal spot size.  In addition, the following features are available standard on many X-ray instruments and X-ray systems: pulsed technology (refers to the manner in which X-rays are transmitted by the device), programmable controls, printer ports, real-time imaging and data logging capabilities.

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