The CT Scanner Facility at Stellenbosch University in South Africa applies Deben tensile stages in X-ray CT analysis.

Dr  Anton  du  Plessis  is  Manager  of  the CT  Scanner  Facility  at  Stellenbosch  University  in South Africa. The Facility acts as a CT Scan Service provider with the aim to provide a high quality 3D imaging and analysis service, with fast turnaround times. The unit serves clients from both academia and industry from all over South Africa as well as many from overseas.  Dr du Plessis talks about the choice of stages and how they are being used: “We decided to purchase the Deben in situ stages to add value especially in applied research projects from the engineering users of the facility. The acquisition was not for one specific project as ours is  a  multi-user facility focusing  on providing  top quality and unique facilities for  researchers and  industry  to  make  use  of.  In  the  first  year  since  installation, we  have  looked  at  some interesting  samples  using  the in  situ  stages.  These have included compression tests on wood samples and then visualising the cell wall damage that occurs during compression as one nice example.

Some tests have been done on glass and carbon fibre composites where the  interest  is  to  test  different  types  of  layering  patterns  and  to  study  and  optimise  the strength  properties  of  these  composites. There  is  also  an  in-house  research  interest  in  3D printing and  additive  manufacturing  (the  metal form of 3D printing).  It is quite clear  that  the new Deben in situ X-ray CT tensile and compression stages will be applied in this work too and we are very much looking forward to that. In the short term we have already 3D printed some  ABS  plastic  samples  and  started  testing  them  and  plan  on  visualising  the  exact internal point of failure.” An example image set is shown below.

3D CT scans at 40 N show the internal structure of the central section of the tensile sample. The brighter grey is plastic and black is air. The 3D view with plane shows the orientation of the 2D slice view to the left.

“One  of  the  major  advantages  of  CT  imaging  is  the  ability  to  non-destructively  visualise materials  before  and  after  processing  (e.g.  compression  or  pulling),  therefore  having  an in situ  stage  allows  researchers  to  visualise  the  microstructural details  inside  their  samples under  load  for  the  first  time.  Having  it  available  as  a  core  facility  provides  many  more researchers  access  to  this  kind  of  testing  which  has  formerly  been  limited  to  some synchrotrons and a few selected CT facilities worldwide. Our Stellenbosch CT Facility is fully open access so we hope this leads to some great new materials science discoveries.”


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