Nondestructive testing (NDT) is a fascinating and important field. It is one that is essential to just about any industry where defects and discontinuities in materials could prove expensive and disastrous.
One will note that that covers a lot of different business and organizational needs. With NDT so important in so many different industries, it’s a good idea to at least understand the basics of how it works. That’s why today we’ve put together a helpful guide in order to do just that.
The Basics of Nondestructive Testing
There are quite a few forms nondestructive testing can take. What these methods have in common are in the name: they’re designed not to damage the tested material.
This stands in contrast to processes such as tensile testing or bend tests. While they have their uses, these processes damage the tested part or parts. In most cases, one cannot reuse parts tested with these methods.
One of the biggest benefits of NDT test methods is that they allow for the repair of a given tested item if damage is detected. Meanwhile, if no damage is detected, you can rely on the piece in question to work as intended since nondestructive methods were used!
Repair is almost always cheaper than outright replacing something. Many companies, ours included, even offer repair services so you don’t have to shop around to fix a damaged part. A company should not spend more than it has to.
What Can Be Expected From NDT Jobs?
NDT jobs can be exciting to those interested in testing parts, helping to diagnose issues through the use of complex machines and the careful interpretation of data. In many ways, the job of an NDT technician is that of a puzzle-solver. You must collect data without damaging a given item while also doing your best to confidently say what is (or isn’t) wrong with it.
While there is plenty to be said about the nuances of the job, an NDT technician can expect their day-to-day to involve:
- The conducting of appropriate material tests
- Looking at the gathered data and interpreting it
- Preparing a report so as to convey your conclusions in a way that is meaningful to the layperson
- Calibrating and maintaining testing equipment
- Using your experience to try and improve the organization you work for (and, by extension, your team’s) testing processes
It can be precise work and at the same time, it allows you to use some of the latest and greatest tech, gathering answers in a way that would be impossible without an NDT technician’s help.
What Sort of Tests Do NDT Technicians Perform?
As touched on in the previous sections, NDT technicians use the latest engineering techniques to help gather data on parts and other items in a non-invasive way.
Just a few of the tests an NDT technician might perform include:
- Acoustic Emission Testing (AE)
- Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)
- Vibration Analysis (VA)
- Leak Testing (LT)
- Visual Testing (VT)
- Liquid Penetrant Testing (PT)
- Microwave Testing
- Electromagnetic Testing (ET)
- Neutron Radiographic Testing (NR)
- Laser Testing Methods (LM)
- Magnetic Flux Leakage (MFL)
- Magnetic Particle Testing (MT)
- Radiographic Testing (RT)
- Thermal/Infrared Testing (IRT)
- Ultrasonic Testing (UT)
NDT testing is relatively common on parts that need to contain liquids or gasses, and therefore may be under a great deal of pressure. The advantages of this testing can go beyond its nondestructive nature too. For example, specific types of ultrasonic testing can test hundreds of meters of pipes, all from one location!
What Industries Make the Most Use of NDT?
As we mentioned in our introduction, it can be difficult to find an industry that doesn’t make use of NDT to at least some degree. If parts need to be manufactured or used, especially if their failure could prove a disaster, periodic nondestructive testing of some kind will be used.
That said, some nondestructive testing (such as visual testing) may not be thought of as NDT if your organization didn’t go out and hire a professional NDT technician to assist.
Aeronautics, marine, and oil and gas companies are some of the organizations that make the greatest use of professional nondestructive testing services. These are businesses where part failure can be expensive, even deadly, and where destructive testing may be expensive or impossible.
Nondestructive Testing Helps Avert Disaster
Nondestructive testing is a fascinating field that has seen a great deal of growth, evolving along with technology. For those interested in technology and solving puzzles, it can pay well and will always be needed. For those in industries where precision is key and surprise breakage could be a disaster, it is this testing that can save your hide.
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