Insights from industry

TESCAN’s State-of-the-Art Micro-CT Systems Stay Ahead of the Market

Banner insights from industryWesley de BoeverProduct Marketing ManagerTESCAN 

In this interview, Wesley de Boever, Product Marketing Manager for Dynamic Micro-CT at TESCAN, explains how the micro-CT industry has matured and how TESCAN is able to offer state-of-the-art solutions. 

How has the demand for micro-CT systems changed over recent years?

Standard micro-CT has become a mature technology, with a very big offering on the market. A lot of major technology companies offer micro-CT scanners that can achieve high, sub-micron spatial resolution, or provide high X-Ray energy for rapid inspection of industrial parts.

Micro-CT manufacturers began to differentiate in numerous ways, for example by adding additional imaging modalities (such as X-Ray fluorescence, phase contrast or spectral imaging) to their systems or by enabling 4D (time-resolved) imaging capabilities.

What are some of the most important ways that companies are employing these systems today?

Although new ways of imaging are emerging and gathering momentum, many micro-CT systems are still used to produce detailed insights into a sample’s internal structure, in a non-destructive manner. This basic functionality is still – and will probably remain in the foreseeable future – the main reason why companies invest in a micro-CT system.

Although 4D imaging or different imaging modalities are often high on a companies’ wish list, they are of no use if a scanner is not good at producing high-quality, high-resolution datasets of static samples.

How are these systems being used now in ways that they were not previously?

Rather than for general material characterization, some of our customers are now employing their micro-CT system to characterize material behavior. The ability to perform fast, dynamic scans and image processes in real-time enables these companies to study how a material is influenced by changing conditions, such as increasing load, stress or high-temperature conditions.

Novel tools to improve the reconstruction of large, dynamic datasets, but also their visualization and analysis opened new possibilities for the study of this behavior.

How has TESCAN adapted to these changes?

TESCAN provides high resolution and high-quality micro-CT imaging and complements this with the ability to perform scans at high imaging speeds, in versatile micro-CT systems. It is important that image quality and resolution are maintained as much as possible with increasing scan speed – anyone can scan fast, but the key is to keep good images in a short scan time.

By offering versatile systems with fast detectors, ultimate freedom of all motors inside the micro-CT device and optimized acquisition protocols, TESCAN enables superior image quality and high throughput scanning. This is one of the key drivers in dynamic micro-CT, enabling TESCAN to be arguably the leading manufacturer for dynamic micro-CT.

Furthermore, the TESCAN micro-CT systems are modular on the detector side, making it possible to adapt to new detector technology when it becomes available.

This is an important parameter to consider, as detector technology is evolving at lightning speed, and having the space to fit additional detectors – either for different applications or simply to increase resolution or sensitivity of your X-Ray system – ensures that the large investment of a micro-CT device can last for many years.

How can consumers choose the best micro-CT system for their applications?

By performing in-depth testing and reviewing of all available systems on the market, for all of their applications. A demo – preferably live and with hands-on interaction on a system – is the only way a micro-CT system can really be evaluated.

Careful selection of samples is paramount so that both the basic everyday use of the scanner and the more challenging and future applications can be tested. This means that some samples for static, high-resolution CT can be complemented with samples where some in-situ tests would be of interest, or where phase-contrast imaging could provide additional information.

How does TESCAN help clients pick the bests systems for their needs?

We always discuss possible applications, samples and sample sizes with clients before planning a demo. Understanding the needs of a client, and providing adequate solutions for their challenges is important in the selection of a micro-CT system.

TESCAN application scientists always try to work alongside the customer to come up with new use-cases of micro-CT, or novel insights for potential clients.

Can you explain how elements like speed, image quality and system versatility combine to create the optimal micro-CT experience?

There are many aspects to that question. We understand that the resolution of your micro-CT system needs to be great. It is the first prerequisite to being able to see what you want to see in your samples.

If you complement this with image speed, it means you don’t have to wait for days to get a result. This speeds up research but also allows for high throughput studies with many samples or simply reduces the cost per sample. It also frees up measuring time, so that the micro-CT system can be used by more researchers.

System versatility not only helps optimize a system's speed or resolution but also enables you to fit complex in-situ setups into the micro-CT system, that can be controlled from outside the scanner.

The last point to make about versatility is that it allows complex trajectories to be performed, and the fundamentals of micro-CT to be experimented with.

What are the advantages delivered by expanding from 3D systems to 4D systems?

With time-resolved micro-CT, you can study how materials behave under non-ambient conditions. You can follow processes in real-time and look inside materials while they are changing. It provides unique insights that other methods simply cannot provide.

4D CT allows you to see exactly when and where events happen. This can be sudden pore-filling events in flow experiments or failure of struts or connections in structural materials. Scanning in a truly dynamic way ensures that you never miss one of these events, unlike traditional stationary CT or even time-lapse approaches where a scan is taken once every few minutes or even hours.

What is the key component for reliable analysis and how do TESCAN micro-CT systems meet this criterion?

The most crucial component for reliable analysis is without a doubt image quality, and with that we mean high contrast and low signal-to-noise ratio that allow for better segmentation of images. You need the contrast to be able to tell materials apart, and you need the low SNR to let computer algorithms select the correct material with high confidence.

Optimizing image quality will, therefore, create more reliable results – since different users will get the same conclusion – and allow for a more automated workflow since automatic segmentation algorithms can be used.

Read More on TESCAN's website

About Wesley de Boever

IntervieweeWesley de Boever is the Product Marketing Manager for Dynamic Micro-CT at TESCAN. He graduated from Ghent University with a Doctorate in Geology and Earth Science, with a strong focus on multi-scale and multi-technique approaches for structural and chemical characterization of geomaterials.  As an expert on 3D characterization, computed tomography and material characterization, he joined TESCAN as an Application Development Specialist before moving on to becoming a Product Marketing Manager specializing in Micro-CT.



This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by TESCAN Group.

For more information on this source, please visit TESCAN Group.

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