Flat detector firm prepares to boost manufacturing capacity

March 20, 2007

Trixell, a supplier of flat-panel detectors for OEMs making digital x-ray equipment, plans to boost its manufacturing capacity 40% by the end of this year. The planned increase was prompted by rising demand for Trixell’s existing flat panels, as well as expected demand for a radiography and fluoroscopy detector now being tested.

Trixell, a supplier of flat-panel detectors for OEMs making digital x-ray equipment, plans to boost its manufacturing capacity 40% by the end of this year. The planned increase was prompted by rising demand for Trixell's existing flat panels, as well as expected demand for a radiography and fluoroscopy detector now being tested.

By the end of 2007, the French joint venture among Siemens, Philips, and Thales expects to reach an annual run rate of 7000 detectors, according to Paul Maisonnier, Thales vice president of marketing, sales, and strategy. Current capacity is 5000 units. He predicts that annual capacity could rise to 10,000 within two years.

"We are surprised by the growth of the market," he told DI SCAN at the European Congress of Radiology last week in Vienna. "We are seeing more and more companies coming to get this key component."

An expanding Trixell portfolio will likely stoke demand even more. System integrators are now testing the Trixell prototype of a large-format R/F detector. This product could be built into end-user products shown at the 2007 RSNA meeting, according to Maisonnier. The Pixium RF 4343, at 17 x 17 inches, is being groomed to acquire data for a single radiograph in one second and provide 30 frame-per-second images for fluoro exams.

Further away but already in development is a portable radiography detector. Distinguishing this product will be its wireless transmission of data - allowing the unit to be configured as part of hand-carried or cart-based products - and its cesium iodide scintillator, which allows for high-resolution imaging. The Pixium 3543, measuring 14 x 17 inches, will be equipped with slots that fit into a docking station for optional data transfer and battery charge.

The rising demand for digital x-ray components has been doubly good for Thales. The company benefits from its investment in Trixell, which makes the detectors, and from the sale of accompanying electronics built into the flat-panel detectors that allow the detectors to be easily integrated into x-ray equipment.

More than 30 companies, including Kodak, Swissray, and Toshiba, buy Trixell's three types of flat panels, according to Maisonnier. The company offers a large-format digital radiography detector, as well as a detector for cardiac imaging and another for vascular imaging.

Planned additions will round out the product line, leaving just one glaring deficiency: a detector for mammography. Strategists at Trixell and Thales have no plans to develop such a detector, however, at least not in the near term.

"We believe the resolution for mammography should be in the 50-micron range, and it is difficult to achieve that with the current technology," Maisonnier said.