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Micro-CT of a Light Bulb

Micro-CT for Inspection of Assembled Products

As Additive Manufacturing (AM) is changing the manufacturing landscape, it has become important to be able to inspect an entire part because of AM’s layer-based processes. In a single scan, micro-CT can provide high resolution images and dimensional information of both the internal and external surfaces of a volume, such as a light bulb. Micro-CT offers a unique capability for the industrial inspection of complex internal structures and geometries without destroying the part and is being rapidly adopted in industries such as electronics, automotive, aerospace, medical devices, cast materials, injection molding, plastics, and 3D printing (AM).

For our study this month, we utilized our high energy SkyScan 1173 desktop scanner to compare a common incandescent light bulb to a modern LED replacement. We also made use of the large sample volume possible with the SkyScan 1173 to image the entirety of each bulb rather than focusing on a single smaller region.

Figure 1: Cross sectional views of an incandescent (left) and LED (right) lightbulb










Micro-CT Scans of an Incandescent and LED Light Bulbs

Utilizing the reconstructed X-ray attenuation data, two-dimensional views through the bulbs were generated (Figure 1). These views allow us to examine the filament and leads within the incandescent bulb. For the LED bulb, we see the AC to DC converter components along with the main board driving the output through the LED array assembly.

Figure 2: Reconstructed three-dimensional cross-section views of an incandescent (left) and LED (right) lightbulb








The reconstructed images also provide a full three-dimensional rendering of the bulbs, which can be positioned and sliced as needed to provide greater dimensional context to the internal features (Figure 2). In this case, we used a wedge shaped cut to allow us to view into the core of each bulb while still maintaining a good view of the outside surface.

Figure 3: Isolated maximum intensity projection views of incandescent (left) and LED (right) lightbulbs







Micro-CT is being rapidly adopted in fields ranging from structural biology and material science to geology, odontology, and many other manufacturing industries. We hope you found this Image of the Month informative. If you have an Image of the Month sample that you would like us to scan, please contact us by calling Seth Hogg at 610-366-7103 or e-mailing

Scan Specifications


Sample Incandescent Bulb LED Bulb
Voltage (kV) 130 130
Current (µA) 61 61
Pixel Size (µm) 70 70
Rotation Step 0.4 0.4
Scan Time (HH:MM:SS) 00:49:04 01:42:48


This scan was completed on our high energy SkyScan 1173 micro-CT system at the Micro Photonics Imaging Laboratory in Allentown, PA. Reconstructions were completed using NRecon and visualization of 2D and 3D results were completed using DataViewer and CTVox.



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