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University engineering and scientific research

The CT Scanner Facility at Stellenbosch
University in South Africa applies Deben tensile
stages in X-ray CT analysis and 3D printing projects

Deben, a leading provider of in-situ testing stages together with innovative accessories and components for electron microscopy, has supplied various tensile stages for use in X-ray computerised tomography (CT) analysis to the CT Scanner Facility at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

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."

Example image set: 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."

Images below: 3D printed ABS plastic tensile samples in the foreground with the Deben in situ tensile stage loaded into a nanoCT scanner. The system comprises the X-ray source - the yellow tube; the Deben stage is the vertical cylindrical stage. In the foreground are some tensile samples which have been 3D printed in different orientations. This results in some being stronger than others due to the direction of plastic layer deposition during printing, relative to the tensile force direction.

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++, Microsoft.net 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. 

For further information, view website: www.deben.co.uk 

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