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Computerized tomography (CT or CAT–A for “axial”) scanning was one of the biggest medical technology breakthroughs of the 20th century.. Many people have become familiar with the term CAT scan through film and popular television shows dealing with medicine. Far fewer people, however, understand what this technology is good for and how it works. CT technology has also become useful for fields other than medicine. This article is here to lend some transparency (if you will) to computerized tomography technology and its several uses.

X-ray Inspection

Before delving into the CT process, it’s helpful to know that at its heart lies x-ray capture technology. If you frequent the dentist regularly or have broken a bone, chances are you’re somewhat familiar with an X-ray machine. X-radiation refers to a form of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths shorter than those of Ultraviolet (UV) rays and longer than Gamma rays. Our naked eyes can only see so much of the light spectrum (what we call the visible spectrum), but with special technology we can see the light given off by X-rays.

The advent of X-ray technology at the end of the 19th century has since led to several advances in medicine. This is because we can see inside the human body with X-rays, meaning otherwise undetectable anomalies such as tumors, fractures, and unwanted fluids can be easily discovered, diagnosed, and treated.

What About CT Scans?

Computed tomography scanning basically takes X-ray inspection to the next level. How? By taking a series of two-dimensional X-ray images and combining them into a fully rendered three-dimensional computerized model of the subject. So why is this useful? The more a patient can be examined, the better, especially when said patient is at risk of severe injury or illness. The human body is a complex machine with all kinds of nooks and crannies that two-dimensional imaging can’t always comprehend.

A complex bone fracture, for instance, can be better understood through the three-dimensional lens offered by a CT scan, since multiple planes are affected. CT scans also provide detailed visual accounts of arteries, lungs, and the brain.

What is Industrial Computed Tomography Scanning?

Industrial computed tomography scanning utilizes the same technology at medical CT technology, but refers to the technology in a general sense. In other words, CT scanning isn’t only useful for detecting disease in human bodies. Industrial computed tomography scanning technology is also incredibly useful in the engineering field. Real objects can be scanned and then analyzed through computers for comparison purposes.

For instance, a company can carefully examine and assess a prototype through industrial CT scanning by comparing its physical measurements and dimensions to those initially designed on the computer. Any defects can then easily be amended by going back into the computerized designs and tweaking the flaw. Conversely, objects can be easily reverse engineered through industrial CT scanning, meaning they can be taken apart, examined, and put back together digitally as opposed to merely physically. This technology has made designing and engineering much more efficient.

It may be easy to take for granted today how much more we can understand about ourselves and the world around us through CT technology. Before it and X-ray inspection we were utterly blind to a whole world beneath the surface. Now, we can use this technology like a kind of superpower to build better and take better care of each other.

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