3D Imaging, based on X-ray and neutron technologies, is a non-destructive technique that provides 3D images of the internal structure of materials and components. One of the most interesting features of 3D Imaging is the possibility to visualize how the structure of a material changes over time, for instance during operation. This makes 3D imaging a unique tool for product development, product optimisation, and quality control in a wide range of sectors:
- Medico Industry
- Food industry
X-ray computed tomography (X-ray CT)
X-ray computed tomography (X-ray CT) was originally developed for medical imaging in the 1970’s and has evolved to become a widespread technique for industrial applications, where it is used to produce 3D images of the inner structure of materials without having to cut or slice the materials.
X-ray and neutron CT consists in irradiating a material with an X-ray or neutron beam, while the material sample rotates 360°. A detector captures thousands of images based on the material’s ability to absorb the X-ray or neutron beam. The data set captured by the detector is then analyzed thank to sophisticated software and powerful computers, which allow the reconstruction of 3D images of the material. The 3D reconstruction can also be sliced to show the internal structure layer by layer, in analogy to pealing an onion.
X-ray and neutron CT: complementary technologies
X-ray and neutron technologies are complementary and can be used to study different kinds of materials or different properties in materials. Said very basically, neutrons are absorbed by light elements (i.e. with low atomic numbers) such as hydrogen, water, carbon etc., whereas X-ray are absorbed by heavy elements (i.e. with high atomic numbers) like metals for example.
Types of light waves, their relative wavelength and the smallest object they can image:
Example of X-ray image of a vertical section of a fox scull: