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High Voltage Generator: Definition and Function

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Do you sometimes find the relationship between a high voltage generator and an X-ray machine a bit troubling?

Frankly, the high voltage generator is a power production device, and power is essential in producing X-ray radiation from an X-ray tube. However, there is a designed power rating that is necessary for different X-ray tube sizes and capacity to generate X-ray radiation. Furthermore, the required component in this high voltage generation process involves a lot of moving parts. Still, knowing the correct definitions and the respective functions of these parts has many benefits besides being the first step in understanding the process. 

So, if you are ready to know more about these high voltage generators, then let’s dig deeper together.



I. What is a High Voltage Generator in an X-ray Machine? 

While the parameters to get a quality image and an accurate result from an X-ray machine is important, the voltage setting of the X-ray tube is still the single most critical parameter among them. The reason is because the capacity of X-ray tubes is different for the various types of X-ray tubes available in the market. Hence, the voltage setting for one X-ray tube may not be suitable for another X-ray tube. Consequently, the challenge then rests on finding a suitable high voltage generator to supply the required voltage that ensures adequate power gets to the X-ray tube.

It is clear from the foregoing that high voltage generators are the supplier of power to the X-ray tube that produces the penetrating X-ray energy for product inspection. However, high voltage generators have advanced from the single-phase generators that were previously used in X-ray machines to the three-phased. Presently, the options for high voltage generators have grown to include constant potential generators and high-frequency generators all of which produce different voltage waveforms and beam spectra. 

Still, while selecting a suitable high voltage generator is important, other factors that further contribute to the accuracy of the result of an X-ray machine include the selection of x-ray quantity, x-ray energy, and exposure time. Ultimately, the selection of these parameters along with a suitable X-ray high voltage generator will largely depend on the intended inspection. 


II. What is the Design of a High Voltage Generator?

While you’ll find various types of high voltage generators for X-ray machines in the market today, single-phase and three-phase high voltage generators remain the most popular. Though the three-phase high voltage generator is a more recent development than the single-phase type it certainly is not the only recent development. You may find that other high voltage generators like the high-frequency and the constant potential generator are equally as popular. 

Nonetheless, whichever high voltage generator you choose, all follow a particular design at the basic level with fundamentally similar components.

These components often include the high voltage transformer which functions as a step-up transformer which converts all voltages that fall below a suitable level to a suitably high level for the intended X-ray tube. Another component in the high voltage generator design includes the filament step-down transformer which is equipped to regulate current going into the filament and tube. 

The third component is the autotransformer which you’ll only find in the single-phase and three-phase generators but serves to regulate voltage changes at the input side. Also, there is the rectifier circuit which is responsible for maintaining the polarity at the both anode and cathode by rerouting the flow of electrons in the generator’s high-voltage circuit irrespective of the polarity waveform. 

Other components that you’ll find in the design of the high voltage generator includes kilovolt meter and the milliampere meter both responsible for taking measurements of the voltage and the current respectively. 


III. Why do you need a High Voltage Generator? 

The fundamental reason you may need a high voltage generator for your X-ray machine is simply to increase the efficiency of your X-ray tube and to increase the speed of electron travel from the cathode to the anode. This increase in electron speed ensures that the radiation can adequately penetrate the test sample and give an accurate result for your quality inspection activity. Also, the increased electron speed often compensates for other important parameter settings. For instance, the exposure time of the test sample to the radiation is significantly reduced as it takes a shorter period for the radiation to penetrate the test sample even for very thick and dense material.

Furthermore, the time of inspection is significantly reduced allowing for more inspection to be done in a single than with the use of low voltage generators. Perhaps the single most important purpose of a high voltage generator may be its ability to protect the X-ray tube from overload as is prone to happen in the case using a low voltage generator. When the settings of the exposure time, X-ray tube current, and the tube potential delivers too much energy to the anode, there is the possibility of damage to the anode in a short period and this is not good economically.




IV. What is the Function of a High Voltage Generator?

To put it simply, the primary function of the high voltage generator is to help the x-ray tube achieve the necessary power needed and required to generate quality radiation for a quality image. Additionally, the high voltage generator conveys the electrical charge to energize the x-ray tube and allows for a suitable selection of exposure time, x-ray energy, and x-ray quantity. 

Over and above that, to control the speed, the electrons travel toward striking the anode from the cathode, a high voltage needs to be sustained in the x-ray tube between the anode and the cathode.



In conclusion, a high voltage generator is important in the final analysis of things if quality image and an accurate inspection result is your goal. For X-ray images, the proper regulation of the high voltage generators allows a controlled power supply and provision of adequate enough energy for the utility of the X-rays machine.

However, because there are various types of high voltage generator out there, it is expedient to adequately consider the type of inspection you intend to carry out and the density of the sample material involved to enable you to select the most suitable high voltage generator.

The ball is now in your court.

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