When purchasing an X-ray tube, one of the most important questions which must to be answered is: how will the tube be packaged? System designers often put a lot of thought into the tube specifications, such as target material, spot size, etc, but the physical packaging of the tube can be a critical design choice. Many factors, including heat dissipation, radiation shielding, and design time must be considered.
Bare tubes are just that – X-ray tubes with nothing else. It is incumbent on the system designer to design the radiation shielding, the insulating material, the high voltage and filament connections, and power supply integration. This can be quite a complex task, and is generally only appropriate for very large volume systems with specific requirements that cannot be met with Oxford’s proven tube packaging solutions.
Potted tubes are encapsulated in a silicone rubber material to provide electrical isolation and, in some cases, radiation shielding. High and low voltage cables may be included in the potting to aid connection to the X-ray power supply. Potted tubes provide an easier integration option than bare X-ray tubes however heat dissipation in a potted tube can be a challenge, and so potted tubes tend to be appropriate in low power or low duty cycle applications.
Packaged tubes are enclosed in a metal housing which acts as both a radiation shield and a cooling vessel. The packages are filled with a high dielectric liquid which both prevents high voltage breakdown (arcing) and effective cooling, requiring only an external fan to provide 50W of continuous power in many applications. Higher power packages with integrated water cooling systems are also available. Oxford’s packaged tubes are fitted with connectors for easy plug-and-play operation with our Shasta X-ray power supply, enabling a quick setup procedure.
Integrated X-ray sources include an X-ray tube, a high voltage and a low voltage power supply, and an analog or digital interface conveniently packaged in one box. This frees the system designer from all high voltage design concerns, and allows the X-ray device to be treated as a true “black box” component. Integrated solutions also speed up time-to-market, as the system designer only needs to integrate with a simple analog or digital interface, and won’t be bogged down with often mysterious high voltage integration problems.