CT imaging has emerged as a valuable weapon in the war against the novel coronavirus, because of the modality’s ability to detect the “ground glass” white spots in the lungs that are a sign of COVID-19. To support patient access to CT exams, Dunlee has increased 3D printing of tungsten anti-scatter grids, which are an important component of quality CT systems. With a thickness of only 100 microns, Dunlee’s anti-scatter grid significantly improve CT images by absorbing scatter radiation that can degrade image quality.
The advantages of 2D tungsten anti-scatter grids as compared with conventional 2D Molybdenum or 1D grids are considerable. Here, the high density of tungsten allows more X-ray scatter to be absorbed. Moreover, with the new design possibilities afforded by 3D printing, X-rays can now be directed into the photodiode more accurately.
One factor in Dunlee’s ability to keep pace with CT manufacturers’ demand for the anti-scatter grids is its successful partnership with EOS, the world’s leading technology supplier for industrial 3D printing of metals and polymers. “For more than ten years, EOS has supported us in surmounting challenges,” says Alexander Eitel, Head of Marketing & Business Development. “We knew we could rely on them as we ramped up production to meet the urgent need for anti-scatter grids.”
Adrian Keppler, Managing Director, EOS GmbH, credits his company’s partnership with Dunlee for spurring EOS to excellence. “Dunlee’s know-how and process capabilities continuously challenge us to stay on top of our game,” he says. “Through this partnership, we learned once again that the application and its material requirements drive the broader development of our DMLS technology.”
Repurposed printer joins others
Dunlee’s factory, production staff, and research and development team also have ensured continued production and advancement of new projects. To increase capacity, EOS refurbished a 3D printer that originally printed gold products, and made it available to Dunlee for tungsten printing. That machine joins many others in Dunlee’s dedicated 3D printing machine park. The park runs 24/7 and has doubled capacity year after year. Dunlee also has purchased additional printers that will be delivered in the second half of 2020, doubling capacity once more. In addition, EOS and Dunlee are working to optimize production hardware and software.
“Whenever you have an operation running around the clock, there will be some downtime,” Eitel points out. “However, the local service team from EOS has quickly solved any concerns, and has even connected us with experts at EOS headquarters to resolve any problems as quickly as possible.”
In addition to anti-scatter grids, Dunlee offers a broad portfolio of innovative components for CT systems, including reliable X-ray tubes, high voltage generators, detectors and product packages.