A computer-implemented method for automated thermal computed tomography includes providing an input of heat, for example, with a flash lamp, onto the surface of a sample. The amount of heat and the temperature rise necessary are dependent on the thermal conductivity and the thickness of the sample being inspected. An infrared camera takes a rapid series of thermal images of the surface of the article, at a selected rate, which can vary from 100 to 2000 frames per second. Each infrared frame tracks the thermal energy as it passes from the surface through the material. Once the infrared data is collected, a data acquisition and control computer processes the collected infrared data to form a three-dimensional (3D) thermal effusivity image.