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What is Concrete X-Ray and How Does It Work?

Concrete x-ray is defined as a process of using x-rays or gamma rays for the accumulation of an image of the interior of a concrete, the purpose of which is to identify and locate rebar, post tension cables, conduit, and other objects that are embedded inside.

For the most part, the source of the x-ray is either cobalt-60 or iridium-192, while there also are some instances in which they are generated through an x-ray tube. There also is a need for a detector, which in this case is either film or digital detector panel.

Although there can be several uses for concrete x-ray, the objective is pretty much the same: to reveal the inside of a concrete target without the need of moving, cutting, or destroying it. The most common targets include that of concrete walls and/or suspended slabs, which in turn are going to be subjected to retrofitting or renovation. For the most part, the walls or slabs made out of concrete are only a part of a much bigger structure.
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The truth is concrete x-ray is a very crucial invention for the entirety of the construction industry because without it, the only way to reveal what’s inside the concrete target is to cut through it. In the case of cutting through rebar, there’s a possibility that the structure will be weakened, while there’s also a chance that it can be done successfully by staying within the limits called structural tolerance. However, it’s not the same as cutting through post tension cables since there’s a bigger chance of causing a serious issue or irreparable damage to the structure. As a matter of fact, it no longer is deliberately used or performed these days. Likewise, attempting to cut through conduit isn’t recommended as well because cutting or damaging it could lead to costly repairs or even some kind of safety issue.
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Today, concrete x-ray is preferred by structural engineers because it is the most effective way of figuring out if there are any hidden objects, more particularly dangers and hazards before any cutting procedure is done for a specific project. Though some contend that ground penetrating radar is the future and that it is safer since it does not use cobalt or iridium, the fact will remain that it still is the more effective method in terms of producing clearer and more accurate images of interior contents of a specific concrete slab. Also, engineers love working with x-rays since they’re easier to translate or interpret. But there also is no denying that concrete x-ray is a bit pricier compared to ground penetrating radar, though the difference wouldn’t be that much in practical field applications.

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