University of Manchester


x-radiograph of kettle

From a 2D detector to a 3D volume

x-radiograph of kettle

Producing 3D visualisations of your data is only the beginning


Once your sample has been scanned you will have a large number of radiographs, each of which shows a projection of the 3D object onto the 2D detector. By combining all radiographs it is possible to reconstruct the 3D structure of the object. This reconstruction process also reveals the internal structure of the object.  Most of imaging systems have their own custom designed reconstruction software.

Once a set of projections has been reconstructed there are a range of software packages available that enable you to visualise your data, either as 2D slices or as 3D volumes.  Most users at MXIF will use Avizo to do their initial data inspection and image analysis, however other open source and free-ware packages are also available.


For most scientific applications, quantification is key. It is the number, or volume, or distribution of a particular feature within a sample that can answer the important research questions. The MXIF has a range of software packages for 3D visualisation and quantification available for users, some image analysis and quantification tools are available within the major commercial software packages (Avizo, VGStudioMax etc.) and others have been developed to meet a particular need (Dhristi, Quant 3D etc.). The MXIF group have a strong emphasis on developing new quantification algorithms in many areas of active research. A member of MXIF staff can advise on your analysis requirements.

Facilities available at the MXIF

As the 3D datasets generated by tomography can be large (several gigabytes) the laboartories at both MXIF sites have several high end workstations dedicated to data visualisation which are available to all users during their visit. These visualisation suites are located in the Henry Moseley X-ray Imaging Facility, University of Manchester and for visitors to Diamond Light Source, the Research Complex, Rutherford Appleton Laboratories. In both locations users have access to dual quad-core workstations for data analysis and visualisation. The majority of our workstations have a minimum of:

  • Dual Quad Core Intel Xeon X5482, 3.20 GHz
  • 64 GB Memory
  • 76.8GB/s nVidia QuadroFX 4600
  • High-speed LAN to the server bank.