Ford's Scanning Electron Microscope is used to detect tiny defects in materials which are invisible to the naked human eye, and the images it produces are close to abstract art.
"We need to investigate possible reasons why a development part may not meet our stringent requirements," said Roger Davis, of materials engineering and testing, at the UK's Dunton Technical Centre. "In some cases that reason can be the smallest anomalies, something that can be found by using the Scanning Electron Microscope. The machine can magnify a part by up to 200,000 times and make it look quite surreal, but to the trained eye any defects become quickly apparent at these levels of magnification."
The Scanning Electron Microscope is used across Europe created magnified images with electrons rather than light waves, resulting in highly-detailed, three dimensional representations. A sample is place into the microscope's vacuum column through an air-tight door. An electron beam is the "scanned" across the surface by a series of electromagnetic coils.
The electron beam bounces off the sample's face, reflecting into something similar to a cathode-ray TV.
By examining these images, Ford engineers can spot anomalies and allow them to react to imperfections. The result is customer reassurance that every part of a Ford vehicle will have received close scrutiny during the development phase of the vehicle's design.
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