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What is Infrared Thermography?

thermal imageThermography, or thermal imaging, is a type of infrared light imaging. Thermographic cameras detect light waves in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum (roughly 900 - 14,000 nanometer or 0.9 14m) and produce images of light that are emitted at that wavelength that is beyond the range of human eyesight. Infrared radiation is emitted by all objects based on their temperature. Thermography makes it possible to "see" the infrared environment with or without visible illumination. The amount of radiation emitted by an object increases with temperature; therefore thermography allows one to see variations in temperature. With a thermographic camera warm objects stand out well against cooler backgrounds.

Thermal imaging photography has many uses. For example, firefighters use it to see through smoke, find people, and localize hotspots of fires. With thermal imaging, power line maintenance technicians locate overheating joints and parts, a telltale sign of their impending failure, to repair potential hazards. Where thermal insulation becomes faulty, building construction technicians can see heat leaks to improve the efficiencies of cooling or heating. Thermal imaging cameras are even being installed in some luxury cars to aid the driver, the first being the 2000 Cadillac DeVille. Any application where the differences in temperature between components is important or the operating temperature of a part or machine is of interest thermal imaging can provide the data necessary for a proper analysis.