A framework for rapid and reliable design of Volumetric Computed Tomography (VCT) systems is presented. This work uses detailed system simulation tools to model standard and anthropomorphic phantoms in order to simulate the CT image and choose optimal system specifications. CT systems using small-pitch, 2-D flat area detectors, initially developed for x-ray projection imaging, have been proposed to implement Volume CT for clinical applications. Such systems offer many advantages, but there are also many trade-offs not fully understood that affect image quality. Although many of these effects have been studied in the literature for traditional CT applications, there are unique interactions for very high-resolution flat-panel detectors that are proposed for volumetric CT. To demonstrate the process we describe an example that optimizes the parameters to achieve high detectability for thin slices. The VCT system was modeled over a range of operating parameters, including: tube voltage, tube current, tube focal spot size, detector cell size, number of views, and scintillator thickness. The response surface, which captures the effects of system components on image quality, was calculated. Optimal and robust designs can be achieved by determining an operating point from the response equations, given the constraints. We verify the system design with images from standard and low contrast phantoms. Eventually this design tool could be used, in conjunction with clinical researchers, to specify VCT scanner designs, optimize imaging protocols, and quantify image accuracy and repeatability.