Inspectioneering Journal

The Way of the Future

By Dave Palmbach at DBA Systems, Inc. This article appears in the November/December 1997 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.

Radiographic film provides an inexpensive method of ensuring the quality and structural integrity of construction over time. Much of today’s analysis being performed with nondestructive test (NDT) radiographic film is done visually using light boxes. Film provides the means to capture the necessary information for detection and quantification of defects and serves as a potential method of archiving for the life- time of the program.

Problems with film can be degradation over time and damage due to film handling. Other problems are ease of access to the large quantities of film that can accumulate and the difficulty to discern, detect, or verify the magnitude of deterioration.

With advances in film digitization, image processing, and archival techniques, the digital domain has recently become a cost-effective and reliable alternative to allow full utilization/value and archival from film. Furthermore, this digital domain can afford the user advantages that accompany the information age. This article focuses on the basics of digital film exploitation, advantages, and future potential. Film digitization with a Charge Coupled Device (CCD) camera will be referenced within this article.


The overriding requirement in radiographic film digitizing is to maintain the same information that was captured in the original radiograph. The justification for film digitization lies in the advantages the digital world brings to the user. The most significant advantage is in the fact that this allows the radiographer to follow and leverage the fast moving, high technology information age. Here are some of the other advantages:

  • Ability to enhance images.
  • Provide additional information to the radiographer.
  • Ability to increase radiographic management and analysis productivity.
  • Add and store nodal or textual data to the image.
  • Merge the image with other forms of digital data.
  • Ease of image transmittal.
  • Ease of image storage.
  • Ease of image retrieval.
  • Reduced size of archival storage area.
  • Extends the shelf life of the archived image.

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