In-line quality control of intermediate and final products is essential in various industries. This may imply determining the thickness of a foil or evaluating the homogeneity of coating applied to a pharmaceutical tablet. Such a qualitative and quantitative monitoring in a depth-resolved manner can be accomplished using optical coherence tomography (OCT). In-line quality control based on OCT requires additional consideration of motion effects for the system design as well as for data interpretation. This study focuses on transverse motion effects that can arise in spectral-domain (SD-) OCT systems. The impact of a transverse movement is analyzed for a constant relative speed difference up to 0.7 m/s between sample and sensor head. In particular, transverse motion is affecting OCT system properties such as the beam displacement (distance between adjacent A-scans) and transverse resolution. These properties were evaluated theoretically and experimentally for OCT images of a resolution target and pharmaceutical film-coated tablets. Both theoretical and experimental analyses highlight the shift of the transverse resolution limiting factor from the optics to the beam displacement above a relative speed difference between sensor head and sample of 0.42 m/s (for the presented SD-OCT setup). Speeds above 0.4 m/s are often demanded when monitoring industrial processes, such as a coating process when producing film-coated tablets. This emphasizes the importance of a fast data acquisition when using OCT as in-line quality control tool.
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