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What is Thermography?

ThermaSpecs, with the help of FLIR® would like to introduce you to Thermal Imaging. Thermography is the use of an infrared measuring instrument such as an infrared camera, to detect and measure the thermal energy emitting from an object. Thermography is employed in many commercial, industrial and military applications to measure thermal activity for a variety of reasons including; research and development, preventative maintenance and building diagnostics. An actual picture of the heat being emitted may be captured and stored via thermography, to document results for reporting and possible corrective action if anomalies are found. Thermal, or infrared energy, is light that is not visible to the unaided human eye due to its short wavelength, but becomes easy to see and capture via thermography. Unlike visible light, in the infrared world, everything with a temperature above absolute zero emits heat. Even very cold objects, like ice cubes, emit infrared. The higher the object's temperature, the greater the IR radiation emitted. Infrared allows us to see what our eyes cannot, and thermography enables us to measure the temperature being emitted.

infrared electrical photoWhy Measure Temperature with Thermography?

Finding a problem with an infrared camera (infrared imaging) is often just not comprehensive enough. For instance, an infrared camera image alone without accurate temperature measurement says very little about the conditions of electrical connections or worn mechanical parts. Nearly everything gets hot before it fails, making infrared thermography an extremely cost-effective, valuable diagnostic tool in many diverse applications. Thus, using thermography to accurately measure electrical or mechanical targets to determine proper operation within normal temperature parameters, can prevent costly repairs, avert unscheduled shutdowns and greatly increase worker safety. An infrared image without measurement can be misleading because it may visually suggest a problem that does not exist. Infrared thermography provides precise non-contact temperature measurement for a variety of applications. Professional Thermographers use thermography as a tool to improve manufacturing efficiencies, manage energy, improve product quality and enhance worker safety. In recent years, thermography has been used to assist with medical and veterinary diagnosis and machine vision and automation processes for manufacturing. As the technology and applications continues to grow, new applications for infrared thermography will continue to emerge.

infrared cameraHow Do Thermal Imaging Infrared
Cameras Work

An infrared camera is a non-contact device that detects infrared energy (heat) and converts it into an electronic signal, which is then processed to produce a thermal image on a video monitor and perform temperature calculations. Heat sensed by an infrared camera can be very precisely quantified, or measured, allowing you to not only monitor thermal performance, but also identify and evaluate the relative severity of heat-related problems. Recent innovations, particularly detector technology, the incorporation of built-in visual imaging, automatic functionality, and infrared software development, deliver more cost-effective thermal analysis solutions than ever before.

Sir William HerschelHistory of Infrared Technology and Thermal Imagers

Sir William Herschel, an astronomer, discovered infrared in 1800. He built his own telescopes and was therefore very familiar with lenses and mirrors. Knowing that sunlight was made up of all the colors of the spectrum, and that it was also a source of heat, Herschel wanted to find out which color(s) were responsible for heating objects. He devised an experiment using a prism, paperboard, and thermometers with blackened bulbs where he measured the temperatures of the different colors. Herschel observed an increase in temperature as he moved the thermometer from violet to red in the rainbow created by sunlight passing through the prism. He found that the hottest temperature was actually beyond red light. The radiation causing this heating was not visible; Herschel termed this invisible radiation "calorific rays." Today, we know it as infrared.

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