Exploring Optimal Materials for Industrial CT Scanning

Want to know what materials are best suited for industrial CT scanning inspection? Learn more about material properties, size, and how to get the best results.

Mike Heim
Mike Heim

Industrial quality assurance and inspection have undergone a paradigm shift with the introduction of advanced technologies. Among these, Industrial Computed Tomography (CT) Scanning stands out, revolutionizing how we examine the integrity and composition of materials in various industries.


Materials Suitable for Industrial Computed Tomography


1. Metals:

Metal alloys are known for their durability and strength, making them common in industrial applications.



  • Steel: Renowned for its corrosion resistance and strength, stainless steel finds applications in diverse industries including automotive, construction, and healthcare.
  • Aluminum Alloys: Lightweight and corrosion-resistant, aluminum alloys are extensively used in aerospace, automotive, and marine applications.
  • Titanium Alloys: Exceptionally strong and lightweight, titanium alloys are favored in aerospace, medical implants, and high-performance sports equipment.


Metal alloys typically have higher densities, which can influence X-ray attenuation during CT scanning. This results in increased contrast and clearer delineation of features. However, beam hardening artifacts may occur, causing streaking and distortion in the reconstructed images. A consultative approach with your CT services provider is essential in mitigating these occurrences.


2. Polymer Composites:

Polymer composites offer lightweight solutions for industries like aerospace and automotive. While their heterogeneous composition poses challenges for traditional inspection methods, CT scanning excels in revealing internal structures, voids, and delamination without compromising the integrity of the specimen.



  • Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymers (CFRP): Known for their high strength-to-weight ratio, CFRP is widely used in aerospace, automotive, and sporting goods.
  • Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymers (GFRP): Offering excellent strength and stiffness, GFRP is commonly found in construction, marine, and automotive industries.
  • Aramid Fiber Reinforced Polymers (AFRP): Also known as Twalon and Kevlar, they are renowned for their exceptional impact resistance, heat resistance, and lightweight properties. AFRP is utilized in protective gear, aerospace, and marine applications.


Polymer composites exhibit lower densities compared to metal alloys. This can allow thicker or increased parts of the same type to be scanned simultaneously.


3. Ceramics and Ceramics Matrix Composites:

Ceramics and Ceramics Matrix Composites (CMCs) are valued for their high-temperature resistance and exceptional hardness. CT scanning provides a non-invasive means of evaluating these materials, detecting flaws such as cracks, porosity, and inclusions to ensure their reliability in demanding environments.



  • Silicon Carbide (SiC): Known for its high thermal conductivity and hardness, SiC is used in high-temperature applications such as aerospace components and brake discs.
  • Aluminum Oxide (Al2O3): Recognized for its wear resistance and electrical insulating properties, Al2O3 finds applications in cutting tools, electrical insulators, and biomedical implants.
  • Zirconia (ZrO2): Valued for its biocompatibility and mechanical strength, ZrO2 is utilized in dental ceramics, aerospace components, and thermal barrier coatings.


Ceramics and ceramics matrix composites have high densities similar to metal alloys, resulting in significant X-ray absorption during scanning. This can produce high-contrast images but may lead to beam hardening artifacts and reduced sensitivity to internal features.

4. Plastics and Resins:

Plastics and resins are ubiquitous in various industries, but their complex internal structures can confound traditional inspection methods. Industrial CT scanning offers detailed 3D images of plastic components, facilitating defect analysis, dimensional metrology, and assembly verification with unparalleled precision and efficiency.



  • Polyethylene (PE): Versatile and cost-effective, PE is used in packaging, piping, and consumer products.
  • Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS): Durable and impact-resistant, ABS is commonly found in automotive parts, electronics, and toys.
  • Polyether Ether Ketone (PEEK): Known for its high temperature and chemical resistance, PEEK is utilized in medical implants, aerospace components, and industrial applications.


Plastics and resins exhibit lower densities compared to metals and ceramics, resulting in reduced X-ray absorption during scanning. While this can lead to lower contrast in CT images, it also enables better visualization of internal features and defects within the material.

Industrial CT scanning is not limited to these materials alone. While these are among the more common materials scanned, it is crucial to understand that properties and size play significant roles in determining the suitability for industrial CT scanning. Continue reading to learn more about specific material properties and sizes that can influence scan results.

Impact of Material Properties & Size on Scan Quality:

The density of a material is crucial in determining the quality of CT scans. Materials with higher densities, such as metal alloys and ceramics, exhibit stronger X-ray attenuation, resulting in higher contrast images. However, this can also lead to beam hardening artifacts and reduced sensitivity to internal features. Conversely, materials with lower densities, such as polymer composites and plastics, may produce images with lower contrast but offer better visualization of internal structures.


Understanding the characteristics of different materials is essential for optimizing scan parameters and ensuring accurate and reliable inspection results. Material properties and size play crucial roles in CT scan quality, scan accuracy, feasibility of scans, and number of scans needed.


CT Scanning Tailored with Nel PreTech Corporation 

Nel PreTech Corporation specializes in delivering cutting-edge industrial CT scanning services tailored to your unique requirements. Our state-of-the-art facilities and experienced team ensure the highest quality results, enabling you to unlock new possibilities and enhance product integrity. Our experts can optimize scan parameters. They are adept at selecting appropriate imaging techniques and interpreting scan results effectively.

Whether you're navigating the complexities of metal alloys, polymer composites, ceramics, or plastics, we have the expertise and technology to support your endeavors.


Contact Nel PreTech Corporation today to discover how our industrial CT scanning services can elevate your inspection processes and propel your business toward success. Let us be your partner in innovation and quality assurance.

If you want to make an informed decision about industrial CT scanning services, download our in-depth CT scanning eBbook.

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