As cameras become smaller and lighter, simpler to operate, and less expensive to purchase, infrared imaging technology has rapidly become a leading inspection tool for predictive (PdM) and preventive (PM) maintenance programs.
Simply put, infrared cameras produce thermographic images or thermograms that relate to the temperature of the photographed item. Infrared cameras or software convert those images to a scale that creates color differences to represent temperature differences. Most of these devices are small handheld units similar in size and operation to a consumer video recording camera.
The Internet offers a virtual library of information, techniques, and tips for beginners as well as seasoned professionals.
Image galleries and streaming video
Infrared thermography is a visual science, so the Internet's ability to include graphics allows progressive web sites to offer specific examples of conditions that were diagnosed with an infrared camera.
FLIR streams a professional video overview that may be helpful in selling a new program to management. Another site offering streaming movie clips featuring infrared applications is www.thermoteknix.com. Indigo Systems features an image gallery with visible light and thermal images as well as QuickTime movies. Raytheon Infrared also offers infrared movies featuring applications. A fast connection and Windows Media Player make these movies more enjoyable although access is available for slower connections.
Independent thermographers are often one of the best sources for nonbiased information. Boldstar Infrared, Thermoscan Inc., and Stockton Infrared offer a wide variety of thermograms in their infrared image galleries. These sites also offer extensive application papers and case histories for PdM, energy, roof, and process applications for infrared cameras. For advanced thermographers, try www.kleinfeldtechnical.com for more complex infrared applications.
R/CM¹ offers a free streaming online training session entitled "Infrared Thermography: What's Hot in P/PM." This course requires Windows or Real Media Player as well as a quick registration.
Online infrared networks
Most of the infrared training companies offer valuable information, message boards, image galleries, and full course descriptions and schedules. Visit Infraspection Institute, Snell Infrared, ITC, and the Academy of Infrared Thermography. Several of these sites also offer free e-mail newsletters that are quite useful. Be sure to visit the message boards often as new questions and answers are posted daily.
These are just a few of the sites that you may find useful as you search for infrared resources online. We are always interested in web sites you can suggest for future columns and any feedback about how helpful you found this one. MT