CAF Website: Central Analytical Facilities

CT Scanning, Computed Tomography, X-ray tomography, X-ray microscopy, MicroCT, Industrial CT, 3D scanning … all terms to describe the limitless capabilities of this amazing technology we offer to you as a service. As a CT Scan Service provider, our aim is to provide a high quality 3D imaging and analysis service, with fast turnaround times. We welcome clients from both academia and industry from all over South Africa, as well as international clients, as our rates are very competitive. We are based in Stellenbosch near Cape Town but if you are too far for interactive sessions, just send us your samples and we’ll scan them and send you the data.

Managing the Facility

Dr Anton du Plessis is Staff Scientist of the CT Scanner Facility at Central Analytical Facilities and also Senior Lecturer at Physics. He has a PhD (Physics, 2006), a National Research Foundation Y2 rating and is registered as a scientist with SACNASP (physics – # 400251/07). LinkedIN profile:
Google scholar profile here

Mr Stephan le Roux is Analyst at the CT Scanner Facility at Central Analytical Facilities. He has a MSc in Geology/Environmental Geochemistry. He started at the facility in 2013 as a NRF intern and is now a full time analyst.

NEW: Applications notes

Tech note 1: Porosity / inclusion analysis in metal castings CT tech note 1
Tech note 2: Additive manufacturing part inspection CT tech note 2
Tech note 3: metal powder analysis CT tech note 3
Tech note 4: coordinate measurement CT tech note 4
Tech note 5: Coating analysis CT tech note 5
Tech note 6: Cracks and failure analysis CT tech note 6
Tech note 7: Surface roughness by CT – CT tech note 7

We use two X-ray CT Systems

1) General Electric Phoenix VTOMEX L240 with NF180 additional x-ray source. This system is integrated with Phoenix Datos acquisition and reconstruction software. More details go to:

2) General Electric Phoenix Nanotom S. This system is integrated with Phoenix Datos acquisition and reconstruction software. More details go to:


For analysis we extensively and almost exclusively use Volume Graphics VGStudio Max 3.1, for more details go to:

For more details on microCT data analysis and reporting please see MicroCT data analysis and reporting

We also use and have available FEI Avizo Fire 9.0, for more details do to: 

Click here to see our facility description paper

3D Print

Our new division for 3D printing can be found here:

Academic users

We kindly request academic users to cite this paper when referring to work done at our facility. For more information please see this document: MicroCT data analysis and reporting

YouTube channel

For tutorials on microCT data and the use of the free microCT data viewer myVGL to view your results, see this youtube channel: Stellenbosch CT YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Review us

Satisfied clients, please take a minute and review us on google: Please add review on google


We also do 3D data analysis and image processing from any 3D data sets, eg full 3D rendering from obscure 3D data by manual segmentation. Our facility uses General Electric Phoenix VTomeX L240 microCT scanner and Nanotom S nanoCT scanner, with Datos reconstruction software and 3D analysis is done using software Volume Graphics VGStudioMax with all available advanced modules including reconstruction option. We also use FEI Avizo Fire and Simpleware.

We extensively use the market leading 3D data visualization and analysis software Volume Graphics VGStudioMax 3.0. For more details of the functions available please refer to their website.

We are proudly members of

IntaCT – International Association of Computed Tomography, for which we are a national contact point for South Africa and Africa:

South African Institute for Nondestructive Testing: SAINT

For commercial non-destructive testing we use ASTM standard E1570-11:

Brochures (1 page overviews)

Manufacturing industry brochure: Manufacturing Brochure
Drill core analysis brochure: Marketing brochure drill cores 2013_final

Old news and events

09/2014: The latest is the addition of a nanoCT scanner, see a video introducing the instrument here:

02/2015: Also see a recent article in Mining Weekly: 53203_mining_weekly_6_february_2015

Background to CT

The Industrial Computed Tomography (CT) Scanner is an x-ray inspection machine that allows 2D x-ray inspections of materials as well as 3D CT Scans of materials, to investigate and analyse the inside of any object non-destructively and at high resolution and contrast. The measurement principle is similar to medical CAT scanners. An object is exposed to collimated x-rays and the absorbed radiation is measured with a sensor on the opposite side. This procedure is repeated from different angles around the object which allows a full 3D reconstruction. The technique is used to detect small differences in density and atomic number of the scanned sample. CT scanning provides state of the art non-destructive analysis of material properties for a wide variety of materials. Shown below are the machine itself, and a schematic illustrating the measurement principle.

Phoenix VTomeX L240CT Schematic Phoenix

What is it used for?

CT can be used to measure accurate distances, for example inside mechanical components, can be used to check porosity of materials, can be used to identify cracks, transitions or inclusions in materials, can be used to study the density variations within a sample, can be used to make a 3D CAD surface or volume data sets of the scanned object (eg. for reverse engineering). Standard 2D or 3D inspection reports are available, batch processing of large numbers of samples is possible, data can be provided in various formats such as jpg image slices, image stacks (this allows you to scroll through your object virtually in thin slices), dicom stacks (medical format), stl files (surfaces), or volume files (for self analysis of large volume data). Further analysis and high-end processing hardware and software is also available in our facility.

For students who use our facility, the generic experimental description is provided below with typical parameters (fill in your own parameters, details can be found in the PCA file with your data):

X-ray micro computed tomography (microCT) was used in this study. A General Electric Phoenix V|Tome|X L240 / NF180 was used. X-ray settings were 160 kV and 100 microA, 2000 images were acquired in a full rotation at image acquisition time of 500 ms per image, with no averaging and no skipping of images. Detector shift was activated to minimize ring artefacts. Background calibration was performed and the scan time was approximately 40 minutes per scan. Reconstruction was done with system-supplied Datos reconstruction software. Analysis was performed with Volume Graphics VGStudio Max 2.1 or Visualization Sciences Group Avizo Fire 8.0 commercial 3D analysis software packages.

Sample size