Today’s production process involves different types of image analysis to satisfy the requirements of many different industries and applications. To serve this purpose, various microscope and imaging software companies have designed software to serve as a “jack of all trades,” providing users with a range of tools to successfully complete any specific requirements.
However, the availability of a wide range of methods to carry out any imaging process and the considerable inconsistency between various operators present a challenge to these broad software tools. Conversely, solution-based software analyzes very specific customer processes and applications, and maps them in a step-by-step fashion into the software. This helps to create an easy-to-use software with less variability between operators, enabling users to achieve more reproducible results.
Grain Sizing by Intercept Method
The use of a Grains Intercept Solution (Figure 1) guides operators through every step to execute a grains analysis. Choosing the images to be analyzed is the first step in the process. The next step is entering the data about the particular image or sample of interest, followed by selecting variables, such as intercept pattern and boundary type such as bright, dark, or transitional. Grain boundary width is interactively adjusted for real-time identification of the grains on the display.
Figure 1. Grains Intercept measurements utilizing ASTM E 112. Image and measurements made using OLYMPUS Stream imaging analysis software Grains Intercept Materials Solution.
A noise reduction filter is used to filter out the noise caused by factors such as scratches in the images of interest. The ensuing grain size is then read and added to the workbook data or directly to a report. It is possible to save and recall all the variables chosen during the process to perform similar analysis with different operators by applying the same variables. Moreover, the software is designed for standards such as ISO and ASTM to help users fulfill their requirements.
If the users software does not have a Grains Intercept Solution, they would have to create reference lines initially on their images. The operators would have to make a decision as to which lines can be considered the borders in the image. The intercepts would have to be counted as they are the borders occurring on the reference lines. The last step is to calculate the grain size with the number of intercepts per the distance of the reference lines. Manually performing all of these steps would require more time for completion, and create a chance for operator variability.
Besides Grains Intercept, various materials solutions have been created in order to further facilitate a specific analysis:
Phase Analysis - This solution helps to execute phase analysis on a choice of various Regions Of Interest (ROI), including polygons, rectangles, circles and triangles. Users are guided through all steps and the results are cumulated on multiple images.
Particle Distribution – Particle size distribution histograms and tables are created from multiple images or image series. It is possible to select any type of measurement parameter. Also, graphical representation of the distribution can be easily produced.
Coating Thickness – This solution measures coating thickness from top-view images as per the calotest method, where a grinding sphere is applied to a plating and the plating thickness is measured from the sample geometry and sphere geometry.
Porosity – This uses ROIs and thresholds to measure pores and determines pore density automatically on the image. A specific range of pore sizes can be selected to attain the required reproducibility.
Grains Planimetric – This solution uses the planimetric method to determine the grain size number G. It is developed for steel makers quantifying and controlling grain size after etching, polishing, or cross-sectioning steel samples.
Chart Comparison – It can be applied for ASTM grain size number evaluation, cast-iron shape class evaluation, and non-metallic inclusion rating. Carbide structure in steels can also be analyzed using this solution.
Inclusions Worst Field – It is developed for steel makers who quantify and control the size and shape of non-metallic inclusions such as silicate, sulphide, alumina, and oxide in steel. Non-metallic inclusion can be automatically evaluated with results in accordance with international standards.
Cast Iron – It is designed for casting manufacturers measuring and controlling graphite nodularity to refine the mechanical properties of cast products. It is possible to calculate nodularity by graphite shape, size, and distribution.
Throwing Power – It can be used to measure the copper plating thickness distribution in micro-vias or through-holes. It directs the quality examiner of printed circuit boards through all the measurements required for identifying dimple depth.
Layer Thickness – One or multiple layers of a cross-sectioned sample can be measured using this solution (Figure 2). It is employed for a range of applications, including multilayer thickness evaluation and paint-coating thickness evaluation.
Automatic Measurement – Measurements can be created on a live image with pattern recognition based on edge detection. Multiple measurements can be performed on a single image. This solution also allows for repositioning of already processed samples.
Figure 2. Bonding material and surface coating measurements made using OLYMPUS Stream Layer Thickness Materials Solution.
Layout configuration and macro scripting are also possible with the solution-based software. A macro enables operators to record several steps in the software to a single step or a reduced set of steps. The operator inputs and the associated chance for error can be reduced by scripting in a macro. When the layout of the software is specifically configured to fulfill the requirements or specific steps of users, unnecessary options are eliminated.
This minimizes the selection of the wrong function or the chance of mistake. Layout configuration and macro scripting are valuable options to users who do not have a predefined solution to fulfill their specific requirements, taking away unnecessary options and steps, providing a focused application to satisfy the specific requirements of users.
This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Olympus Corporation of the Americas Scientific Solutions Group.
For more information on this source, please visit Olympus Corporation of the Americas Scientific Solutions Group.