Welcome to the International Association of Certified Thermographers
The International Association of Certified Thermographers is the first and only non-profit interdisciplinary thermal imaging association serving professional thermographers worldwide.
The IACT was conceived in the summer of 2006 in response to a growing demand for a centralized organization that would provide unbiased and cohesive information for the primary professional thermographic disciplines. Our association’s website provides a portal for the general public, along with federal, state, and local agencies, to gain reliable information regarding the professional use of thermal imaging. In this area, the IACT also provides access to quality assurance standards and guidelines for each discipline in which thermography is used
The IACT is proud to be the first and only interdisciplinary association serving both the public and governing agencies in their quest for finding certified thermographers and trustworthy information in the field of thermal imaging.
What is Thermography?
Thermography entails the use of specialized cameras or thermal imagers that are sensitive to the detection of electromagnetic energy (light) in the infrared wavelengths (heat). As such, these imagers serve as a remote sensing system; nothing touches or harms the object under investigation. When the camera’s detectors sense the incoming infrared heat, an electrical signal is produced that generates a visible image display.
Thermography, or infrared imaging, is used in numerous fields such as industrial fabrication, medicine, astronomy, building construction, military applications, surveillance, aerospace sciences, and many others. The most common uses that one would come in contact with are building sciences, condition monitoring, and medicine. The IACT concentrates its efforts on providing an organization and public service for these three main areas of thermography.
While IACT welcomes all thermographers, the primary disciplines on which we currently focus are:
The art of identifying shapes, and patterns in an infrared image; primarily looking for a thermal pattern rather than specific temperature differences of those patterns. Examples include building inspections for; moisture intrusion or issues, differences in structural details (studs, supporting components, grout fill for CMU) and insulation anomalies to name a few.
The science of reading the differences in temperature to monitor the condition of equipment with the intent of anticipating problems or breakdowns before they occur. Examples include electrical and HVAC applications in plants and factories, transformer and power line inspections, etc.
Medical infrared imaging is ideal for applications where physiological information is needed to aid in the differential diagnosis process and/or the monitoring of physiologic responses to treatment. The most common areas of clinical use fall under the categories of breast health and as an aid in determining the primary causes of undiagnosed pain.
Building Sciences -
Building Science uses thermal imaging in a non-invasive manner as a way to inspect, diagnose and monitor the condition of buildings. Through thermal imaging, structural anomalies may be revealed, and much more easily addressed than by conventional inspection methods, leading to cost and time savings and a safer building environment. Using thermal imaging devices, also known as infrared (IR) cameras or imagers, to assist with building diagnostics has greatly increased the speed and accuracy of locating trouble spots, and made ongoing building maintenance and repair a much easier endeavor. Professionally trained thermographers, using thermal imagers, capture heat patterns that allow them to see what's behind the scenes (or in this case, the walls), for a comprehensive and in-depth view of a building's condition. Thermal imaging is used in the building industry to monitor, locate and repair many otherwise hidden conditions such as; heating and cooling loss through improperly insulated areas, air movement through the enclosure, moisture presence from plumbing or rain water issues, termite damage or potential electrical problems.
Figures 1-2 Moisture can become trapped behind or within the exterior walls of a building. The thermal image on the left shows a characteristic warm pattern of moisture just below the window and in the image on the right a cool pattern at a wall junction. Due to water's high thermal capacity it will heat or cool slower then most building materials. This will influence it's relative temperature to the adjacent building materials, presenting a warmer (left image) or cooler pattern (right image).
In the image on the left, wood studs are observed as warm vertical stripes. This is due to the heated interior transferring heat through the higher conductive wood studs.
Figure 3 This thermal image shows warm internal air (light blue) exiting the buildings at gaps within the cladding system. This indicates energy loss via convection (air movement) and is due to failure or lack of a continuous air barrier.
Condition Monitoring -
Condition monitoring (CM) is the process of monitoring machinery, such that a specific type of change becomes indicative of a developing failure CM is a major component of predictive maintenance). Heat is one of the most important indications of failing components. As such, thermography can be successfully applied to the monitoring of high-speed bearings, fluid couplings, conveyor rollers, electrical contacts and terminations, motors and engines, and many other industrial processes.
The use of conditional monitoring allows maintenance to be scheduled, or other actions to be taken to avoid the consequences of failure, before the failure occurs. Machines with defects are more at risk of failure than defect free machines. Intervention in the early stages of deterioration is almost always more cost effective than allowing the machinery to fail. Thermographic condition monitoring has a unique benefit in that the actual heat dissipation that represents normal service can be seen and conditions that would shorten normal lifespan can be addressed before failures occur.
Condition monitoring using IR thermography provides a quick and safe way of detecting problems in many different situations. Modern infrared cameras can be used to detect increases in temperature that indicate potential problems. Being non-contact, infrared thermography provides a condition monitoring technique that can often be safely carried out while equipment is running reducing the requirement for predictive maintenance outages. In turn, this ultimately decreases costs in payroll and production losses.
Figure 4 The thermal image of the motor highlights a bearing problem. Further investigation using vibration analysis confirmed the thermography. Lubricant analysis determined that the lubricant was contaminated.
Figure 5 The thermal image of a large tank, clearly shows the level of the liquid (red area) and buildup of sediment and scale below (green area).
Figure 6 Finding bad electrical connections like the one in this thermal image is very common application for thermography.
Medical Infrared Imaging -
Medical infrared imaging (MIR) entails the use of high-resolution infrared cameras and sophisticated computer processing to produce a topographic heat map display which bears a resemblance to the visible image of the body. Modern computerized thermography produces an accurate and reproducible high-resolution image that can be analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively for minute changes in skin surface heat emissions.
MIR is applied in the clinical environment as an aid in the diagnostic process. It is used for the thermal analysis of patients with various conditions in acute, chronic, and preventative health care.
Figure 7, Bilateral Breast View, The above image shows a relatively cool right breast with a normal pattern of blood vessels. The left breast is significantly hotter along with a network of larger branching blood vessels. Further testing including a biopsy confirmed left breast cancer.
Figure 8, Anterior Neck View, The image seen above shows a hot spot directly over a right sided thyroid nodule. A follow-up exam and laboratory testing was found to be positive for hypothyroidism.
Figure 9, Upper Back View, The image above shows a significant area of heat that is well defined from the center of the spine outward. This image demonstrates how well thermography detects problems with the nervous system. This heat pattern is thermographic evidence of a cervicothoracic sympathectomy. The sympathetic nervous system chain alongside the spine was surgically cut in a precise area. Notice how perfectly the area of heat correlates with the spine and outward as if a line was drawn on the patient. Similar thermal evidence may be seen in any area of the body when there is sufficient nervous system irritation. As such, thermography may help a patient’s doctor find the cause of chronic pain that is responding poorly to treatment.