Since temperature is used for many applications and it is very important in our everyday lives, thermal imaging cameras can be used in many ways and for many applications. They take measuring temperature to the next level, showing a picture with temperature differences of a surface instead of getting a number for the temperature.
Thermography or thermal imaging, with the use of a thermal imaging camera produces an image of invisible infrared light emitted by objects. This technique provides rapid scanning of a surface that is environmental friendly and nondestructive, allowing for quick detection of potential defects or problems. This way it can be reduced the need for preventive maintenance and the troubleshooting time.
Thermal Camera Applications
In home inspection industry, thermal imaging cameras are becoming a common tool and are being used to locate leaks, determine insulation condition, locate moisture intrusion, verify building performance to specifications, and verify structure design. Thermal cameras can be used in the thermal patterns to help to diagnose a condition, such as an overload electrical circuit or poor insulation in a home. Other thermal imaging camera uses include:
- Radiant heat location in wires or pipes
- Thermal heat loss inspections of buildings
- Detect insulation leaks in refrigeration equipment
- Substation electrical inspections
- Detecting leaks on flat roof buildings
- Locate potential areas for mold growth
- Mechanical bearing inspections
- Thermal pattern detection on boiler tubes
Depending on your specific application, you may need more sophisticated camera features such as:
- A picture-in-picture feature that displays a color thermal image inside a standard digital image.
- A color alarm feature that allows the user to select a temperature.
- A blending or fusion feature that allows the user to blend within a standard digital image either the minimum, maximum, or average temperature of the thermal image.
In order to use thermal imaging cameras in the best ways you need experience and knowledge in interpreting the captured image. Thermal cameras usually feature four adjustments in order to help a user obtain the best thermal image to analyze: emissivity setting changes, focus, thermal tuning, and reflective temperature setting changes.
As more and more people realize the great potential of this imaging technology, thermal cameras are being used today in many applications and many different ways. In many countries worldwide, thermal cameras play pivotal roles in a wide range of government, commercial, and industrial activities.
Research & Development
Users of thermal imaging solutions for R&D are research institutes, universities, industrial companies that use the cameras for non-destructive testing, heat transfer analysis, quality control and electronic thermal evaluation, as well as the military for target-signature. These solutions for thermal imaging come with additional accessories such as filters and lenses, and with dedicated software modules that offer solutions for each application request.
For example, specialized high performance thermal imaging systems are used in the demanding environment of Research & Development. In order to support the varied and wide demands of this market advanced thermal solutions concentrate on producing high specification thermal imaging cameras that are able to deliver top quality results even in the most challenging applications.
These thermal imaging solutions are operating on the cutting edge of thermal technology and take advantage of the most advanced technology available on the market in terms of software/hardware capabilities, performance, and optoelectronic design.
For these Research & Development applications it is best to choose cameras with perfect drift compensation, optimized performance, leading-edge optoelectronic design, better temperature measurement accuracy, an ultra-stable camera platform , advanced filtering capabilities, adjustable integration time in image acquisition, long distance lenses with a narrow field of view or microscopic magnification, in order to push to the very limit of what’s possible.
In the last couple of years, the un-cooled thermal cameras have improved a great deal, however when it comes to advanced thermal solutions the cooled cameras are still the best because they are much more sensitive to even small differences in temperature. Another difference between uncooled and cooled thermal cameras is the windowing and frequency possibilities.
It is possible to enhance the frequency and record more frames per second by narrowing down the area you’re looking at. Normal video is usually recorded at a frequency of 25 Hz or 25 frames per second. However, with high performance cooled thermal cameras, by advanced windowing technology to the maximum, users can capture infrared images up to a frequency of 65000 Hz. Comparing to this performance, with an uncooled thermal camera you can go only up to 200 Hz at the maximum of windowing capability.
Thermal imaging systems can be also used in star observation research centers. For this specific application are selected cameras with enhanced performance in the lower parts of the temperature range because they are required to be able to detect temperatures as low as -80 degrees Celsius. In order to ensure the best ways to utilize thermal imaging cameras in such ultra-specialized fields, besides the detector that is the heart of a thermal imaging system, optimal performance also requires high accuracy camera optics.
The wide range of thermal systems present on the market today makes possible finding the best suitable camera or thermal imaging solution for any scientific, commercial, industrial, or military applications, when leading edge performance and flexibility is required. Ultra-sensitive and ultra-fast cooled Infra-Red cameras provide superior measurement capabilities in challenging setups or situations, such fast motion environments or where you need to see a fast thermal event.
These cameras enable users to record phenomena with low amplitude, thermal images over a wide temperature range, evaluate very small objects and even do multispectral analysis. In situations that require NIR spectral band specialized thermal cameras provide some measurement advantages for particular applications such as high temperature measurement, paint analysis, laser profiling, and silicon wafer inspection.
In addition, these advanced thermal imaging systems come with complementary tools and digital image processing software capable to offer functionalists for real time image acquisition, ultra-fast image acquisition, stress analysis and lock-in thermography, as well as accurate triggering.
Thermal imaging cameras can also be used in order to make sure that the solar panels operate properly, as ineffective cells produce much more heat than the cells that do work effectively. A thermal image can clearly show the ineffective cells as a hot spot.