In 2018 the x-ray equipment market was worth $19B, with the medical segment ($16B revenue) being the biggest. However, the veterinary, industrial, and security segments, worth a combined $3B in 2018, are expected to grow fast.
At the detector level, the x-ray market was worth $2B in 2018 and is expected to grow at a 5.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2018 – 2024, reaching $2.8B in 2024. Today, x-ray imaging is almost exclusively based on solid-state sensors. Flat-panel detectors using amorphous silicon and CMOS represent the biggest share of the market, worth $1.3B in 2018. These were followed by silicon photodiode array detectors, valued at $500M.
In X-Ray Detectors for Medical, Industrial and Security Applications 2019, a recent report from Yole Développement (Yole), x-ray detector technology’s landscape and evolution are analyzed, and Yole lays out the roadmaps that this market’s progress might follow.
In order to better understand the x-ray detector market, Yole’s analyst Marjorie Villien, Biophotonics and Medical Imaging Analyst, interviewed Ilona Karppinen, Business Development Manager for Detection Technology (DT) – a key x-ray detector player.
In this interview, Ilona explains DT’s technology portfolio, shares insights regarding new technologies coming to the x-ray detector market and the market’s growth drivers, and explains her vision of x-ray imaging’s future.
Marjorie Villien (MV): Can you present Detection Technology (DT) and its offer?
Ilona Karppinen (IK): Detection Technology is a global provider of x-ray detector solutions for medical, security, and industrial applications. Our solutions range from photodiodes to optimized detector subsystems with ASICs, electronics, mechanics, and software. Our product portfolio includes detectors for line-scan and computed tomography (CT) x-ray systems, as well as CMOS flat-panel detectors. Our head office is in Finland, and we are listed on the NASDAQ First North market. With a 30% CAGR in net sales, DT grew to EUR 94M in 2018. We employ over 500 people in Finland, China, France, and the US, and our customers are global leaders in their respective markets.
MV: The x-ray market is very diverse in terms of applications – which range from industrial non-destructive testing to security and medical. DT has a very broad product portfolio for all of these applications. Can you tell us more about the technology differences between these applications?
IK: Our CT and line-scan x-ray detectors serve a wide variety of applications that possess numerous specific requirements, and we are specialists at finding the best match for different applications. In general, bigger pixel sizes and higher speeds are used in security and industrial applications, whereas smaller pixel size and slower speeds are inherent to medical applications.
X-ray detectors optimized for security applications utilize pixel sizes from the upper end of the scale to detect possible threats from a wide range of objects. Dual-energy line arrays are used in conventional checkpoints, and a growing number of security applications are equipped with 3D imaging capabilities for more accurate detection. Multi-slice CT detectors are based on large photodiode matrices with advanced scintillator materials and high-end multi-channel readout systems.
Medical CT applications typically have smaller pixel sizes and more detector slices than security CT. Medical CT detectors are often tailor-made to meet the specific requirements of the equipment manufacturers’ system designs.
MV: The main market addressed by DT is photodiodes arrays for line scan cameras and CT scanners. We foresee fast growth for photodiodes in x-ray over the next five years
(CAGR2018-2024 : 9%). What are the main drivers?
IK: We have identified a number of growth drivers. On the medical side, the main drivers are improving healthcare availability and quality in the world’s growth markets (mostly in Asia), and the global trend of an aging population which increases the need for medical care. The demand for security applications is driven by new regulations for improved security screening of places, goods, baggage, and people. In contrast, industrial demand is driven by the need for more efficient quality inspection methods that save time and money, and most of all protect consumers, improve product quality, and maintain brand standards.
MV: DT recently launched a new product line using CMOS flat panel detectors. What are the main sizes you propose, and for which markets?
IK: In May 2018 we introduced X-Panel 1511 as the first CMOS flat panel detector solution. It has an active area of 15×11 cm and is optimized for dental cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) and panoramic x-ray imaging applications. Later in 2018 we launched X-Panel 2301 for cephalometric imaging. In addition to dental applications, our X-Panel product family is an ideal solution for a number of different applications in medical imaging. For example, mini-C arm and mammography systems benefit from detector solutions like ours. It is also interesting that the industrial imaging segment desires similar flat panel detectors.
MV: The x-ray market is now consolidated, but do you see any new entrants?
IK: Yes, it is true that the x-ray detector market is consolidated, as the entry-barrier is high. Even though the competition has intensified, we have not identified new entrants with a similar profile to ours. DT is known for its quality solutions and customer intimacy, and it takes a lot to build such relationships and portfolio. We would welcome new technologies and start-ups to the field, but the x-ray and semiconductor business is rather tough to enter. We have seen a few innovative young companies, but there is room for more.
MV: DT acquired MultiX’s business in December last year. Can you tell us more about this acquisition?
IK: We think that the multi-energy x-ray detector market using single photon counting has just started to develop, and we believe in the market’s growth potential since requirements for x-ray imaging quality are becoming more stringent. This is why our French subsidiary, Detection Technology SAS, acquired in December 2018 the business, assets, and highly skilled personnel of the former MultiX, which specialized in photon-counting detectors. This addition significantly expands our technology base and patent portfolio, which in turn makes us stronger. Our goal is to introduce volume products in 2020.
MV: Photon-counting is undoubtedly a technology to follow, especially since it allows for spectral imaging. Do you see any other technological trends in the x-ray imaging field?
IK: From a hardware point of view, single-photon counting certainly is one of the most interesting technologies. Besides hardware trends, we see that digitalization of equipment and services will further accelerate, and software will play a more important role in delivering ever-increasing value to end-users. One of the new trends is utilization of artificial intelligence (AI) in x-ray imaging.
MV: As you stated, AI will play an increasing role in x-ray imaging. As a detector manufacturer, do you see this trend coming to hardware requirements? What is your vision for the future?
IK: AI impacts the entire imaging workflow and x-ray system designs, including detectors. We believe that smart detectors with more built-in intelligence are the future. Research and development is needed to identify what would be optimal image quality and data requirements for AI-enabled x-ray imaging systems. It is likely that human eyes and AI analyze images and data differently. Who knows if future smart detectors could be equipped with high-performance processors capable of pre-processing images and data in an optimal way for AI systems. In future visions, smart detectors could even provide readily analyzed x-ray images and data, pointing out the findings to help with the decision-making of healthcare, security, and industrial professionals or systems.
MV: Anything you would like to tell our readers?
IK: In addition to off-the-shelf products, we offer tailor-made products and solutions to our customers. Detection Technology has been in the industry for over 25 years, and we have excellent capabilities in customizing solutions even to the most stringent applications. Through successful customer focus and intimacy, we have had 30% annual growth over the last ten years. We are happy to provide more information on our trusted capabilities.
Ilona Karppinen works as Business Development Manager at Detection Technology Plc. She joined the company in September 2017 after spending twelve years as a private equity investor at pension insurance companies. In her current role, she is looking for inorganic growth opportunities and participating in developing new business models. Ilona was in a key role in the acquisition of the French MultiX technology company to Detection Technology in 2018. She is also Chairman of the Board of Directors of a smaller growth company.
Prior to her investment career, Ilona worked six years with the National Technology Agency Tekes as Business and Technology Adviser to software companies. Ilona has graduated from the Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration in Helsinki (Hanken) with a M.Sc. degree in Economics.
As a Technology & Market Analyst, Medical Imaging & Biophotonics, Marjorie Villien, PhD is member of the Life Sciences & Healthcare division at Yole Développement. She is a daily contributor to the development of medical technologies activities with a dedicated collection of market & technology reports as well as custom consulting projects.
As an example, Marjorie was involved in a project focused on videoscopy for endoscopy application, to understand the benefits of the CCD/CMOS solution and identify business opportunities. In parallel, she performed an analysis of the PET detectors technology to evaluate the impact of innovative Solid-State technologies on the evolution of the nuclear medicine industry.
After spending two years at Harvard, Marjorie served as a research scientist at INSERM in the field of medical imaging for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and cancers.
She has spoken in numerous international conferences and has authored or co-authored 11 papers and 1 patent.
Marjorie is daily exchanging with clinicians, researchers and industrial partners to understand technology issues and ensure the connection between R&D and applications.
Marjorie Villien graduated from Grenoble INP and holds a PhD in physics & medical imaging.
X-Ray Detectors for Medical, Industrial and Security Applications 2019
New technologies are finally arriving in the X-ray market and reshuffling the pack of players.