4D scanning during operations

Imaging is a microscope in 3D, “seeing” through materials. Rapid analyses enable live measurements (“4D”) and thus studies of the internal operation of products.

Many products include moving parts with complex mechanics. Direct and accurate knowledge on how these parts actually move in the completed product can be highly valuable for development and modelling. In this project, LINX has succeeded in making “live action” 3D-movies of individual mechanical parts inside equipment used for drug injection. Here, each frame is a 3D X-ray image which reveals all materials in the product at every depth on a micrometer scale. This enables LINX researchers to zoom in anywhere, in any direction and any volume, and to follow that particular vicinity “in action” both visually and microscopically.

Insight in the microstructure is particularly valuable because it reveals stretching, torsion, cavities, cracks and other defects at any point in time during the mechanical cycle of the product. This helps determine which materials (or parts) would benefit from reinforcement or other modification in order to make a robust product. Also, comparison between new and used products may yield precise knowledge on how specific parts are worn – without the need of disassembly.

Read the interesting one pager from this project: Sub-second time-resolved X-ray tomography acquisition of insulin pen (a collaboration between Novo Nordisk and Technical University of Denmark).

Techniques and Methods

The use of time resolved X-ray tomography is widespread and expanding. Almost all use is at the synchrotrons and on a few mm length scale. At the synchrotrons a method called ultrafast tomography has existed for more than 10 to 15 years, by which it is possible to complete a tomography scan in 0.2-0.4 seconds. With the highly focused X-ray beams at synchrotrons there is an extremely high flux of photons in the measured volume, which enables the ultrafast measurements.

The possibility to do 3D imaging of ultrafast in-situ experiments have been used in the focus project where the aim has been to study how different internal parts of the Novo Nordisk insulin pen is moving when the insulin pen is activated. After a number of carefully planned preparations an experiment was performed at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble late in 2017. 2018 has been used to visualise the thousands of datasets from the experiment and to identify ways and processes to improve the data quality and visualisation.

Project Information

Participants: Novo Nordisk, Tetra Pak, Technical University of Denmark.
Start date, end date:
March 2016 – present
4D scanning during operations (FP08.004, Materials at operating and processing conditions).