Material Discrimination X-Ray is a sophisticated inspection technology that can recognise food contaminants based on their chemical composition and density, offering many advantages over traditional X-Ray technology.
Conventional X-Ray technology – the kind you see in hospitals and often in security – has been letting us see through solid objects for close to 120 years.
In the food industry, manufacturers rely on the technology to quickly and easily inspect food products for a wide range of dense foreign bodies like metal, glass and calcified bone. This has allowed these manufacturers far better protection for their consumers, their brand and reduced the risk of costly food recalls.
At the most basic level, an X-Ray machine fires electromagnetic radiation at solid objects and the rays that can pass all the way through are picked up by sensors on the other side. The denser objects are, the fewer X-Rays pass through. The resulting image shows differences in density as contrast: like the bright, white bones you see against the darker backgrounds in medical X-Rays.
It’s a reasonably simple – and therefore reliable – technology that can clearly show dense objects inside less dense objects or materials, but it does have some crucial limitations. These traditional X-Ray limitations include:
- Foreign objects that are not much denser than other objects (like the object or material they’re in or even close to) are hard to pick out.
- Different objects or materials that are similar densities are hard to distinguish.
- More waves will be absorbed by thicker objects, as well as denser ones. Similarly, dense objects that are very thin will appear to be less dense than they actually are.
When it comes to food inspection, these limitations mean that conventional X-Ray technology is not able to detect contaminants such as flat glass, glass shards smaller than 2mm in diameter, rocks and low-density rubbers and plastics; and especially in food products that have a complex range of density levels themselves.
In the security industry, another major and potentially high-stakes application of X-Ray technology, these limitations could result in being unable to spot a weapon behind a laptop or iPad, or being unable to distinguish between a bag of flour and a bag of drugs – or even plastic explosives.
It’s within these high-stakes environments (it’s important to note that detecting contaminants in food is also important to protecting customers’ safety) that a high-tech solution that could detect a wider range of materials more easily was developed.
Material Discrimination X-Ray, or MDX, is an enhanced form of X-Ray technology that uses waves from two different energy spectrums to be able to differentiate between different materials on not just their densities, but their chemical compositions as well.
By looking at composition and density, MDX technology can detect a much wider range of contaminants, including foreign bodies that are much smaller, much thinner or less dense than those that would be picked up by a conventional X-Ray. MDX technology can even be used to detect foreign contaminants in a food that’s the same size, shape and density as the contaminants.
Eagle PI’s MDX systems use Easy MAT software, which improves the inspection process even further. The software is able to learn the chemical compositions of food products and automatically detect anything that doesn’t match those values, regardless of how many different densities and sizes are represented in the food’s ingredients or even the way they’re packaged.
The ability to recognise different packaging materials, in addition to being able to accurately “see through” more materials such as fold-out cardboard sandwich packaging and corrugated card encasements means greater flexibility for manufacturers to package and market their products the way they want.
Making the detection of a much wider range of foreign bodies (previously unseen by X-Ray) much easier and quicker and providing manufacturers with better product flexibility aren’t the only advantages of the superior MDX technology. Eagle’s MDX systems, when used with their Easy MAT software, also removes over-dependence on human readers and the risk of human error that goes with it.
MDX technology enhances traditional X-Ray inspection, providing food processors with unprecedented contaminant detection capabilities.
For more information on how Eagle PI’s MDX technology can help avoid product recalls, protect your brand and the welfare of your customers, please see our Eagle X-Ray dual energy (MDX) technology product page or contact us for a quote today.