New methods for automatic quantification of microstructural features using digital image processing

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Thermal and mechanical processes alter the microstructure of materials, which determines their mechanical properties. This makes reliable microstructural analysis important to the design and manufacture of components. However, the analysis of complex microstructures, such as Ti6Al4V, is difficult and typically requires expert materials scientists to manually identify and measure microstructural features. This process is often slow, labour intensive and suffers from poor repeatability. This paper overcomes these challenges by proposing a new set of automated techniques for 2D microstructural analysis. Digital image processing algorithms are developed to isolate individual microstructural features, such as grains and alpha lath colonies. A segmentation of the image is produced, where regions represent grains and colonies, from which morphological features such as; grain size, volume fraction of globular alpha grains and alpha colony size can be measured. The proposed measurement techniques are shown to obtain similar results to existing manual methods while drastically improving speed and repeatability. The benefits of the proposed approach when measuring complex microstructures are demonstrated by comparing it with existing analysis software. Using a few parameter changes, the proposed techniques are effective on a variety of microstructure types and both SEM and optical microscopy images
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-406
Number of pages12
JournalMaterials & Design
Early online date27 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2018


  • microstructure analysis
  • segmentation
  • watershed algorithm
  • titanium alloy


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