Computed tomography characterisation of additive manufacturing materials

Additive manufacturing, covering processes frequently referred to as rapid prototyping and rapid manufacturing, provides new opportunities in the manufacture of highly complex and custom-fitting medical devices and products. Whilst many medical applications of AM have been explored and physical properties of the resulting parts have been studied, the characterisation of AM materials in computed tomography has not been explored. The aim of this study was to determine the CT number of commonly used AM materials. There are many potential applications of the information resulting from this study in the design and manufacture of wearable medical devices, implants, prostheses and medical imaging test phantoms. A selection of 19 AM material samples were CT scanned and the resultant images analysed to ascertain the materials’ CT number and appearance in the images. It was found that some AM materials have CT numbers very similar to human tissues, FDM, SLA and SLS produce samples that appear uniform on CT images and that 3D printed materials show a variation in internal structure.