Applications of X-Ray Microscopy for Fiber Orientation in Composites

X-ray microscopy (micro-CT) is used for the 3D visualization and analysis of fiber orientation in composites, especially for prototyping and production of end use parts for additive manufacturing (AM). The distribution and orientation of fibers within composites greatly affects their mechanical properties. The characterization of fibers requires high image resolution , for which micro-CT is well suited. Polymer composites are the most common materials applied in the aerospace, automotive, sports, medical, architectural, and toy industries.

Left: 3D visualization of segmented fiber system. Right: Deviation of local fiber direction from global mean fiber direction, Dobrovolskij, Dascha et al. “Improved local fiber orientation from μ CT scans of fiber reinforced composites.” (2016).

Improved local fiber orientation from μ CT scans of fiber reinforced composites

Micro-CT is a non-destructive testing technique based on X-ray absorption that permits the 3D-visualization of materials at micron-range resolutions. This study looked at two appication cases: glass fiber reinforced composite components and carbon fiber rovings. “Second  order orientation tensors such as are needed as input for CAD  simulation programs can be obtained from micro computed tomography image data via local orientation analysis.”

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Direct observation and measurement of fiber architecture in short fiber-polymer composite foam through micro-CT imaging

Micro-CT was used in this study to determine internal structure in a polymer foam reinforced with short fibers. Two parameters critical to the behavior of short-fiber-reinforced composites were analyzed: the fiber length distribution (FLD) and fiber orientation distribution (FOD). Phenolic foam reinforced with short glass fibers was used to demonstrate the use of micro-CT, exploiting the large difference in density between the two components. “Direct 2D and 3D images were generated in which individual fibers were clearly resolved, along with portions of the foam structure.”

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Understanding MicroCT for Additive Manufacturing

“The applicability of microCT spans a large part of the overall AM process including characterization of feedstock powders, optimization of build process parameters, and inspection of as-printed or post-processed parts. With powders, microCT image data can be used to detect foreign particle contaminants as well as measure particle size and shape distributions and detect porosity internal to particles.” This brief article has good illustrative videos.

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Related Articles:

X-ray Microscopic Examination of Fiber-Reinforced Polymers for Additive Manufacturing

Learn more about how micro-CT is used for composites research.

Micro-CT Examination of a Hockey Stick

X-ray Microscopic Examination of Fiber-Reinforced Polymers for Additive Manufacturing

 

 

 

 

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