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Lead, Lead-free or Food Contact Material X-ray Curtains?

Posted by Robert Miller on

X-ray Scanner Curtain Requirements: Lead, Lead-free or Food Contact Material?


Cabinet x-ray systems are used for inspection in a wide variety of applications. Conveyorized systems, whether used for security scanning, food inspection, or industrial product testing, usually require a set of flexible x-ray shielding curtains to protect personnel from radiation while product is moving through the inspection zone.  The curtains need to be replaced many times during the service life of the machine, which can range from 10-20 years.

Whether specifying a new system or replacing curtains on an old system, it is important to select the correct curtain material. There are three major types of x-ray curtain material to consider for conveyor x-ray systems.

curtain material, typical application, and description of different x-ray curtains for scanners

These materials address the major categories, although may need to consider other options related to

  • X-ray attenuation – typically dependent on the system x-ray voltage
  • Coating Material – to improve cleanability, abrasion resistance or strength
  • Compliance – USDA or USP may be required in addition to FDA

Many of these products can be found online at

Equipment manufacturers usually take precautions to make sure the equipment is fit-for-purpose. However, applications in the food industry require specifications above what is required by government radiation protection directives. For example, a foreign manufacturer may not be aware of specific requirements for x-ray curtains used in food contact applications. Furthermore, if a system is being purchased from a distributor or other intermediary, one should ensure the bid documents include the proper specifications for the curtains.

X-ray curtains should be checked for wear during weekly inspections and will be certified during the annually mandated radiation inspection. X-ray curtains do need to be replaced frequently over the system lifespan. When replacing curtains, the cheapest solution is not always the best solution. Leaded rubber can be low cost, but leaded rubber is not acceptable for the food industry. Leaded rubber products used on security x-ray systems vary tremendously in quality, with lifetime ranging from 6 months to over 2 years. Usually the long-life product is the most economical in the long run.

Shop Xray Curtains

Read our last article on how to properly layer x-ray curtains & watch for additional articles from the Lead Free Shields team in the future. For more details or information, you can contact us at


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