High resolution cone beam X-ray computed tomography of 3D-microstructures of cast Al-alloys

Johann Kastner, Bernhard Harrer, Hans-Peter Degischer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


X-ray computed tomography (XCT) has become a very important method for non-destructive 3D-characterisation of materials. XCT systems with cone beam geometry, micro- or nano-focus tubes and matrix detectors are increasingly used in research and non-destructive testing. Spatial resolutions down to 1 μm can be reached with such XCT-systems for heterogeneities in metals with high absorption contrast. High resolution cone beam XCT is applied to five different Al-alloys: AlMg5Si7, AlCu4Mg1, AlZn6Mg2Cu2, AlZn8Mg2Cu2 and AlSi12Ni1. Up to four different types of inhomogeneities are segmented in one alloy using voxel sizes between (0.4 μm)3 and (2.3 μm)3. Target metallography and elemental analysis by energy dispersive X-ray analysis are used to identify the inhomogeneities. The possibilities and restrictions of XCT applied to Al-alloys are discussed. AlMg5Si7 XCT-data with a voxel size of (0.4 μm)3 show inhomogeneities with brighter grey-values than the Al-matrix identified as elongated Fe-aluminides, and those with lower grey-values identified as pores and Mg2Si-particles with a "Chinese script-like" structure. Higher-absorbing interdendritic Al-Al2Cu-eutectic regions appear brighter than the Al-dendrites in the CT-data of AlCu4Mg1 with (1.1 μm)3/voxel, whereas pores > 4 μm appear darker than the Al-matrix. The size and the 3D-structure of the α-Al dendrite arms with a diameter of 50-100 μm are determined in samples from chill cast billets of AlCu4Mg1 and AlZn6Mg2Cu2 alloys. The irregular interdendritic regions containing eutectic segregations with Cu- and Zn-rich phases are > 5 μm wide. Equally absorbing primary equi-axed Al3(Sc, Zr) particles > 5 μm are distinguished in the centres of the dendrites by the level of sphericity values. The distribution of Ni- and Fe-aluminides in a squeeze cast AlSi12Ni1-alloy is imaged with (0.4 μm)3/voxel, but the Si-phase cannot be segmented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-107
Number of pages9
JournalMaterials Characterization
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


  • Aluminides
  • Interdendritic segregations
  • Mg Si
  • Pores
  • X-ray computed tomography


Dive into the research topics of 'High resolution cone beam X-ray computed tomography of 3D-microstructures of cast Al-alloys'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this