BMW develops whole-car CT scanner (& finds lost Frankenpretzel)


Just when you think all ze Cherman carmakers are good for is gassing a few monkeys, BMW has been found guilty of committing actual hardcore engineering R&D...


The Bavarian Money Wasters have developed a car-sized CT scanner for R&D prototypes. But first...

If you’re in a hurry, scroll to 3:35 for the main thrust of the story.


If you are offended by the crack about 'gassing' - apparently some people are - you must have missed the news at the start of the year. The Volkswagen Group (meaning Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, Porsche, etc.) was caught funding and approving an atrocious pseudo-science experiment in which 10 monkeys were unethically force-fed diesel exhaust fumes for extended periods in order to promote the alleged cleanliness of modern diesel exhaust. Here’s what National Geographic said about that >> They were, literally, gassing monkeys in the name of expediency. I'm amazed that any major German corporation could think - in its wildest dreams - that behaviour involving gas chambers would be a good idea, oxygenated publicly. 

And now, the big BMW CT scanner:

BMW CT scanner 1.jpg

Michael Koch from BMW says the system:

“...takes quality assurance to an entirely new level. We can now analyse our vehicles right down to micro-metre level” - Michael Koch, BMW head of material and process analysis

OK, so basically, Koch got together with this braniac outfit - the Fraunhofer Centre of X-Ray Technology to build four co-ordinated ray-gun robots that work in teams of two and zap the entire prototypes in a high-precision 3D scanning process where they build up a virtual model in these slices 100 microns thick.

That’s about as thick as a human hair.

BMW CT scanner 2.jpg

So - without any disassembly, BMW brainiacs irradiate the crap out of their prototypes with X-rays, in 3D.

This allows them to look inside at things like weld penetration, adhesive bonds, endurance, fatigue, temperature effects - proper hardcore engineering stuff like that - which prevents cars falling to bits around you as you drive, and would normally require disassembly or destructive testing. Download the official BMW press release >>

That’s impressive tech. See, if you have to cut something up to investigate it, you can’t go and use again and see how it goes for another few thousand hours of accelerated life testing.

Also, in the case of destructive testing, you have to be careful cutting something up so that it doesn’t change how it is, when you investigate it. (For example, if you overheat a metal part cutting it up, you'll change its mechanical properties. If you apply excessive force, you might affect the adhesive bonds you're trying to investigate...)

BMW CT scanner 3.jpg

BMW can now thus essentially investigate in literally granular detail thousands of wafer-thin slices through the car, each at the thickness of a human hair, without actually slicing and dicing the car. That’s pretty clever.

Anyway, proper tech from BMW. Well done.

Audi and Volkswagen, take note: It doesn't always have to be self-serving, monkey-spanking pseudo-science.

And, for those of you who thought my 'Frankenpretzel' headline was merely more atrocious online clickbait...


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