Section 1: General questions

Do I need consumables like X-ray films, chemicals, etc.?

The Art X-Ray machines use direct-digital imaging technology. The line-scan X-ray camera captures the X-rays and sends the digital image data directly to the PC.

Is a water supply required?

A cooler with a closed water loop cools the X-ray tube.

Does the machine require regular maintenance?

Yes, once a year when used normally.
Lubricating the high-voltage cable between the X-ray tube and the generator is the most important maintenance job. If lubrication is too infrequent, flashovers in the high-voltage connectors can occur and damage the generator or the tube seriously. Maintenance can be carried out as part of a maintenance agreement or ordered separately.

Is the Art X-Ray machine mobile?

No, not yet.
The Art X-Ray machines are quite large and heavy, which makes transport, assembly and dismantling difficult. In addition, the components have to be precisely aligned with each other for the system to work correctly. However, in future, we might also develop a smaller, mobile Art X-Ray machine.

Is specially trained personnel required to operate the machine?

The legal regulations differ from country to country. In Germany it is as follows:
The organisation using the X-ray machine needs to provide a radiation protection officer. This is normally an employee, but can be an external service provider in some circumstances.
The radiation protection officer instructs the operative how to operate the X-ray machine safely. Consequently, the radiation protection officer doesn’t always have to be present when the machine is operated by staff who have been trained to do so.
And, of course, the operatives have to know how to use the machine. Which is why we carry out an in-depth training session with you once we’ve installed the machine.

Section 2: Radiation and safety

Do the X-rayed objects still emit radiation after the X-ray examination?

X-rays are not produced by radioactive substances, but are generated electrically in the X-ray tube. It is like the light bulb:
    Switch on => Tube radiates
    Switch off => Tube does not radiate
The object also cannot "charge up" X-rays and release them later.

Are the objects damaged by the X-rays?

The dose when X-raying an object is much too low to cause damage to the material.

X-ray radiation? Isn’t that dangerous?

Definitely: X-rays are dangerous.
However, X-ray machines are subject to very stringent legal requirements. As long as the system is operated within the legal limits, it poses no danger.

May an Art X-Ray machine be operated in any room?

To ensure protection from radiation, Art X-Ray machines may only be operated in X-ray rooms. Should you not have a dedicated X-ray room, a "normal" room can be turned into one. We’re happy to give help and advice in this respect.

Section 3: Equipment

Can I order a machine without a painting holder?

This makes sense if you never or just rarely want to X-ray paintings, or if you want to use your own equipment to position the painting in the X-ray machine.

If I order a machine without a painting holder, can I order one at a later date?

A later retrofit is still possible. However, the costs are higher due to the additional effort (re-design, material, delivery and assembly).

Can the 3D function be upgraded later?

Retrofitting involves mounting a second line-scan X-ray camera to the existing Art X-Ray machine and adding a 3D monitor for viewing the 3D images. Other steps are also required (e.g. modifying the existing line-scan X-ray camera and the X-ray tube collimator), which means the costs are higher than if the machine had 3D functionality from the beginning.

Can I order the Art X-Ray machine so that I can examine paintings as well as sculptures, furniture or similar?

The crucial factor here is which X-ray voltages are supported by the X-ray system. If a universal X-ray tube with 30 to 160 kV is used, a large range of all imaginable objects can be X-rayed with it.

Why aren't all Art X-Ray machines built with a universal 30 to 160 kV X-ray tube?

There are several reasons for this. Firstly, it's a cost issue, as a 160 kV X-ray system is more expensive to purchase and requires more radiation protection than, for example, a 100 kV system. Secondly, while universal X-ray tubes cover a wide working range, they are not optimized for any X-ray voltage. More specialized X-ray tubes can achieve higher performance within their smaller working range.

Can an Art X-ray machine for paintings also be used to X-ray paper, for example to examine watermarks?

Yes, but only to a limited extent.
Paper is X-rayed with very special X-ray tubes that produce X-ray radiation with very low energy between 5 and 15 keV. X-ray tubes that are used to examine paintings aren’t capable of going this low. In an Art X-ray machine for paintings, the paper must therefore be X-rayed with higher X-ray energy than would actually be appropriate. This leads to reduced contrast in the X-ray image. Watermarks are still visible, but with reduced clarity.
In general, if you want to X-ray paper exclusively (or primarily), the Art X-ray machine may not be the best solution for you. Talk to us, we also offer other X-ray equipment.