In situ 4D tomography image analysis framework to follow sintering within 3D-printed glass scaffolds

Achintha Kondarage, Gowsihan Poologasundarampillai, Amy Nommeots-Nomm, Peter D. Lee, Thilina D Lalitharatne, Nuwan Nanayakkara, Julian R Jones, Angelo Karunaratne

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We propose a novel image analysis framework to automate analysis of X-ray microtomography images of sintering ceramics and glasses, using open-source toolkits and machine learning. Additive manufacturing (AM) of glasses and ceramics usually requires sintering of green bodies. Sintering causes shrinkage, which presents a challenge for controlling the metrology of the final architecture. Therefore, being able to monitor sintering in 3D over time (termed 4D) is important when developing new porous ceramics or glasses. Synchrotron X-ray tomographic imaging allows in situ, real-time capture of the sintering process at both micro and macro scales using a furnace rig, facilitating 4D quantitative analysis of the process. The proposed image analysis framework is capable of tracking and quantifying the densification of glass or ceramic particles within multiple volumes of interest (VOIs) along with structural changes over time using 4D image data. The framework is demonstrated by 4D quantitative analysis of bioactive glass ICIE16 within a 3D-printed scaffold. Here, densification of glass particles within 3 VOIs were tracked and quantified along with diameter change of struts and interstrut pore size over the 3D image series, delivering new insights on the sintering mechanism of ICIE16 bioactive glass particles in both micro and macro scales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1671-1684
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the American Ceramic Society
Issue number3
Early online date21 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the NIHR Global Health Research (grant number 1613745: NIHR Group on POsT Conflict Trauma in Sri Lanka; PrOTeCT). The 3D printer used in this work was funded via an EPSRC Grant for Graphene 3D networks (EP/K01658X/1). Funding for A.N‐.N. was provided by RCaH‐EP/I02249X/1, and the “Laura” furnace was developed under the grant NE/M013561/. GP acknowledges funding from the EPSRC grant EP/M023877/1 and PDL acknowledges funding from the MRC ImagingBioPro grant (MR/R025673/1), the Research Complex at Harwell and Royal Academy of Engineering (CiET1819/10). The experiment was performed on the Branchline I13‐2 of the Diamond Light Source synchrotron in Oxfordshire, UK, and partly funded by the MT13241: Collaboration Proposal 1809.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Journal of the American Ceramic Society published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Ceramic Society


  • X-ray computed tomography
  • bioactive glass
  • bioceramics
  • image analysis
  • sintering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Materials Chemistry


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