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Industrial Analytical Instrumentation

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Inspection, test and measurement

DHBW Heidenheim applies µCT scanning to study
reinforced plastics under various environmental
conditions using a Peltier Coolstage from Deben

Deben, a leading provider of in-situ testing stages together with innovative accessories and components for electron microscopy, reports on the application of their CT-Cool stage at the Steinbeis Center for Non-destructive Testing and Measurement, located at the DHBW Heidenheim, Germany. It is being used to study the behaviour of various plastic materials under different temperature conditions.

Professor Nico Blessing is Engineering Programme Director at the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW) at Heidenheim. Located in the Steinbeis Center for Non-destructive Testing and Measurement, the research goals of the group include the analysis of the behavior of plastic materials. In particular, glass- and carbon-fiber reinforced parts are studied under variable temperature conditions. The aim of the research is to simulate environmental conditions of real life parts.

In situ testing of modern materials and measurement of complex parts under real environmental conditions like temperature, compression or tension is getting more and more relevant for the development of many products. This is particularly relevant in the automotive and aerospace industries. Several pan-European and national projects have been conducted in the last five years. Small and medium sized companies are interested in the results of this research because innovative materials such as composites are no longer just applied in these industries but also in areas such as leisure and sports.

Describing the background to obtaining a Deben stage, Professor Blessing spoke about the work of his students. "Over the last three years, my students have worked to develop two different stages. The first offered tension and compression measurements with variable force control up to 5 kN. The second provided environmental control with adjustable temperature and humidity. We then selected the Deben stages because these gave us high accuracy in terms of load and temperature. Also, the stage is perfectly adapted for use in our CT system, a Zeiss METROTOM 800."

The work of the group is illustrated by this montage of four 3D images which show changes in density and pore size of an organic specimen at temperatures from -14.5 °C up to 160 °C.

The Deben Peltier stage for µXCT tomography systems allows samples to be imaged in freezing conditions. A dual layer polystyrene (optional carbon) window prevents icing and allows samples to be rapidly cooled to ‐20 °C. A variable height specimen holder allows samples to be placed at the optimum height for X‐Ray imaging and mounting adaptors are available for a range of µXCT stages. The cooling system is self-contained and does not require an additional water chiller. The connecting pipework is flexible and easily allows 360° rotation.

Deben in profile
Deben are a UK precision engineering company specialising in the field of in-situ tensile testing, motion control and specimen cooling for microscopy applications. Established in 1986 and named after a Suffolk river, Deben now operate from a large, modern business unit in Woolpit near Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk. The product groups are motor control systems, in-situ micro-tensile stages, Peltier heating & cooling stages, detectors for SEMs and electro-static beam blankers. The company also makes custom and OEM versions of these products to specifically meet customer requirements.

Deben provide consultancy, design and prototype manufacturing services. In house facilities include SolidWorks and SolidEdge 3D CAD and COSMOS finite element analysis software, CNC machining, electronics design and manufacture and software design using Visual C++, and DirectX. Utilising these resources and experience, Deben manufacture products for OEMs and end users in the UK and overseas.

Deben UK Ltd. is a subsidiary company of UK based Judges Scientific plc. To obtain full details of the Deben applications and product portfolio, view website:  Refer to page 211

Image 1: 3D images of density and pore-size measurements of an organic specimen: upper left -14.5 °C; upper right 40.0 °C; lower left 100.0 °C; lower right 160.0 °C. Image 2: Professor Nico Blessing of DHBW Heidenheim using a Deben CT Coolstage with his Zeiss µXCT system to study various composite samples.

DHBW Heidenheim
For further information on the institutes of Professor Blessing,  e-mail: or view website:

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