Nondestructive Testing (NDT) plays an important role in assuring that structural and mechanical components perform their function in a safe, reliable, and cost-effective manner. NDT technicians perform the necessary tests to locate the indicators and discontinuities that may cause failures or shut downs in such systems. These tests are performed in a manner that does not affect the future usefulness of the object or material – hence, the name “nondestructive.” NDT allows for careful and thorough materials evaluation without the need for deconstruction or damage. NDT is typically used at various points in a part’s life cycle. NDT can be used prior to the use of a component for the sake of quality control. NDT is also employed while components are in use to detect service related conditions caused by wear, fatigue, corrosion, stress, or other factors which affect reliability.
NDT Technologies Include:
Visual and Optical Testing (VT)
Visual Examination can be an effective way to recognize surface imperfections that could adversely affect a part or component. Visual Examiners use knowledge of how a part is manufactured, the function of the human eye, lighting requirements, and precise measuring tools to evaluate materials. Computer controlled camera systems and optical aids such as borescopes may also be used to recognize and measure features of a component.
Radiographic Examination involves using radioactive isotopes (gamma rays) or X-rays on materials to peer qualitatively for indications the same way a doctor looks for fractures or other conditions within the body. Radiation is directed through a part and projected onto film or a digital detection device leaving an image which can be examined by the qualified Radiographer.
Ultrasonic Testing (UT)
Ultrasonic Examination uses high-frequency sound waves which are transmitted into a material to detect discontinuities or locate changes in material characteristics. Sound is introduced into the object being examined and reflections from internal imperfections, areas of acoustic impedance, or varying geometrical surfaces are returned to a receiver.
Magnetic Particle Testing (MT)
Magnetic Particle Examination is accomplished by inducing a magnetic field into a ferromagnetic material and applying iron particles to the surface of the item being examined. Surface and near-surface discontinuities affect the flow of the magnetic field within the part causing the applied particles to gather at locations of flux leakage, thus producing a visible indication of the irregularity on the surface of the material.
Penetrant Testing (PT)
Penetrant Examination is performed with a dye solution. Once applied to the surface, the dye will effectively penetrate any surface-breaking cavity. Excess solution is removed from the object. A developer is then applied to draw out any penetrant that remains unseen. With fluorescent dyes, ultraviolet light is used to make the “bleed-out” fluoresce brightly, allowing imperfections to be readily seen. With visible dyes, a color contrast between the penetrant and developer makes the "bleed-out" easy to see.