spaceXCT: X-ray Techniques for NDT and Damage Characterization of Space Materials and Components

Funding period: 1.06.16 - 30.05.17

One of the main challenges to accelerate the acceptance and use of advanced materials (e.g. polymer matrix composites, additively manufactured parts & electrical, electronic and electro-mechanical components) in the European Space Agency (ESA) is to establish a broadly accepted materials and process quality system, including adequate non-destructive testing (NDT) procedures. However, to profoundly exploit the advantages of advanced manufacturing for space applications, and to ensure highly reliable parts, new approaches to both manufacturing and non-destructive testing (NDT) are needed. NDT procedures must be able to track unique features such as small scale and deeply enclosed porosity, complex part geometry, and subtle internal features.

In the course of spaceXCT we exploit innovations of advanced X-ray imaging technologies, e.g. high resolution X-ray computed tomography (XCT) and grating interferometer X-ray computed tomography (TLGI-XCT), addressing various problems concerning materials science and material processing in space applications. We introduce advanced X-ray technology overcoming disadvantages of standard methods ranging from the inspection of thermally induced crack propagation in polymer composites, void growth during load testing of additively manufactured titanium parts, and crack growth in solder joints of ball grid arrays on multilayer printed circuit boards.

Using advanced X-ray techniques, we will gather detailed information about the amount, type of damage, and propagation of damages that excel existing standard methods, e.g. by detection of sub-pixel micro-cracks. This information will improve the understanding of fatigue and crack growth in advanced materials eventually influencing design concepts and production parameters for aerospace structures. Finally, the cross-cutting approach of spaceXCT complements European space activities simultaneously strengthening the role of Austria and Switzerland as powerful competitors and competent partners in the space sector in relation to advanced manufacturing and NDT.

bellow CSEM

Fig. 1 Talbot-Lau grating interferometer radiography showing clearly visible Ti manufacturing residues (red arrows) in the dark field image (DFC) image in an additively manufactured bellow due to increasing scattering. In contrast, absorption contrast (AC) and differential phase contrast (DPC) show no clear indications of remaining Ti powder (© Image: CSEM SA).


Laboratoire National de Métrologie et d'Essais (LNE), Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM), Dansk Fundamental Metrologi A/S (DFM), National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI), Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), Teknologian tutkimuskeskus VTT Oy (VTT), Aalto-korkeakoulusäätiö sr (Aalto), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Teknologisk Institut (DTI), Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (DTU), Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), FH OÖ Forschungs & Entwicklungs GmbH (FH OÖ), Lithoz GmbH (Lithoz), Medicrea International (Medicrea), Städtisches Klinikum Braunschweig gGmbH (SKBS), The University of Nottingham (UNOTT), BEGO Implant Systems GmbH & Co. KG (Bego), Praxis am Sande (PaS), Xilloc Medical BV (Xilloc)


This project is financed by the Austrian Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology, the FFG and the Austrian Space Applications Programme.

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Dr. Sascha Senck
Project coordinator
FH OÖ Forschungs- und Entwicklungs GmbH
Stelzhamerstraße 23, A-4600 Wels, AUSTRIA
Phone: +43 50804 44426
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