An experimental system has been designed to examine the assembly of nanoparticles in a variety of process engineering applications. These applications include the harvesting from solutions of nanoparticles into green parts, and the subsequent sintering into finished components. The system is based on an x-ray microtomography with a spatial resolution down to 5 mum. The theoretical limitations in x-ray imaging are considered to allow experimental optimization. A standard nondestructive evaluation type apparatus with a small focal-spot x-ray tube, high-resolution complementary metal oxide semiconductor flat-panel pixellated detector, and a mechanical rotational stage is used to image the static systems. Dynamic sintering processes are imaged using the same x-ray source and detector but a custom rotational stage which is contained in an environmental chamber where the temperature, atmospheric pressure, and compaction force can be controlled. Three-dimensional tomographic data sets are presented here for samples from the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, biotechnology, and nanoparticle handling industries and show the microscopic features and defects which can be resolved with the system. (C) 2004 American Institute of Physics.