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Image: BMW

BMW Group has introduced computer tomography at its pilot plant in the Research & Innovation Center (FIZ), Munich: this involves robotized X-ray scanning of prototypes to enable faster analysis development and production. It has particular application for quality control, where it allows vehicles to be checked without any physical dismantling.

In the trial system, four robots move around a prototype in pairs to scan it, providing data for several thousand multi-layered, cross-sectional 3D images: these can be examined to assess materials, welds, bonding technologies or other innovations and provide detail on objects as small as 100 micro-meters. “We can now analyse our prototypes in minute detail without having to dismantle them first,” said head of production integration and pilot plant Udo Hänle. “The new system allows us to examine our vehicles in a way that wouldn’t be possible with conventional, static computer tomology systems. Ultimately, this will enable us to integrate new technologies into series vehicles even faster.”

This is said to be the first such system in use in the automotive industry, and it was developed in a two year programme in partnership with the Frauenhofer Development Center for X-Ray Technology (EZRT). Project manager at BMW Phillipp Janello said: “Working with X-ray specialists and plant engineers, we were able to enhance the software of the test system with the help of comprehensive test measurements carried out on the vehicle body.”

BMW’s engineers are further researching whether artificial intelligence may be used to evaluate findings.

-Farah Alkhalisi