X-rays are a part of natural electromagnetic spectrum and are formed artificially by reducing the speed of high-velocity electrons with the help of X-ray tube. X-rays have been used in medical and industrial applications since a long time. However, X-ray image sensors that are produced on glass substrates limit their application outside controlled environments such as hospital or doctor’s clinic without extensive reinforcement. Furthermore, the reinforcement considerably increases the weight and cost of the device, making it more unfeasible for far-forward applications in remote diagnostics. As glass substrates are intrinsically rigid, their usage in conformal and bendable X-ray imaging applications such as non-destructive testing (NDT) of oil pipelines is low. Therefore, by implementing low-temperature thin-film transistor technology on plastic substrate-based OLED and electrophoretic flexible displays, manufacturers are designing light-weight and durable flexible X-ray imaging detectors.
Key factors driving the growth of the flexible X-ray imaging market include rise in demand of thin, light-weight, and robust X-ray detectors in general radiography, non-destructive imaging, and dental applications. Flexible X-ray imaging detectors are anticipated to be increasingly deployed in hospitals and remote locations in the future owing to their smaller and lighter structure, than conventional amorphous silicon-based X-ray detectors that are based on glass substrates. Furthermore, as flexible X-ray imaging does not require film processing or additional handling, it yields enhanced quality images within couple of seconds.
Restraints in the flexible X-ray imaging market include stringent regulatory requirements for its global approval and the associated health risk owing to exposure to radiation. However, with further commercialization of flexible X-ray devices and consistent efforts in research and development, the impact of these restraints is expected to decrease in the long run.
New opportunities estimated to boost the flexible X-ray imaging market include the increasing demand for flexible X-ray imaging devices in the medical field. Flexible X-ray imaging is expected to be largely used in the future in static as well as dynamic imaging such as live surgical procedures and in pipe scrutiny to inspect fractures or cracks through dense objects. Several institutions have been consistently investing in research and development of flexible X-ray imaging in the field of medicine. In 2014, Holst Centre in association with Philips Research confirmed the world's first flexible X-ray detector model for X-ray imaging in medical applications.
The flexible X-ray imaging market can be segmented based on detector panel size, application, and geography. In terms of detector panel size, the flexible X-ray imaging market can be classified into small area detectors and large area detectors. Based on application, the flexible X-ray imaging market can be divided into medical, dental, veterinary, security, and industrial. The medical segment can be further categorized into static imaging and dynamic imaging. The static imaging sub-segment can be further classified into general radiography and mammography. Similarly, dynamic imaging can be further divided into general fluoroscopy, surgical imaging, and others. In terms of geography, the flexible X-ray imaging market can be segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific (APAC), Middle East & Africa (MEA), and Latin America. North America is expected to be a highly attractive region contributing to the flexible X-ray imaging market owing to the rapid technological developments in the region.
Players operating in the flexible X-ray imaging market include the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and research and development firms. Sirona Dental Systems Inc., FlexEnable Limited, Trident Labs, Inc., Plastic Logic, Inc., and Isorg SA are manufacturers of flexible detectors or sensors who design and supply components for X-ray imaging applications. Research and development firms aiding the growth of X-ray imaging applications include the Holst Centre, Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute, Imec Group LLC, Flexible Electronics and Display Center (FEDC) (Xerox Company), and Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.
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