Table 1 Commonly used NDT techniques





Visual Inspection

Macroscopic surface flaws

Small flaws are difficult to detect, no subsurface flaws.


Small surface flaws

Not applicable to larger structures; no subsurface flaws.


Subsurface flaws

Smallest defect detectable is 2% of the thickness; radiation protection. No subsurface flaws not for porous materials

Dye penetrate

Surface flaws

No subsurface flaws not for porous materials


Subsurface flaws

Material must be good conductor of sound.

Magnetic Particle

Surface / near surface and layer flaws

Limited subsurface capability, only for ferromagnetic materials.


Visual inspection:

VI is particularly effective detecting macroscopic flaws, such as poor welds. Many welding flaws are macroscopic: crater cracking, undercutting, slag inclusion, incomplete penetration welds, and the like. Like wise, VI is also suitable for detecting flaws in composite structures and piping of all types. Essentially, visual inspection should be performed the way that one

would inspect a new car prior to delivery, etc. Bad welds or joints, missing fasteners or components, poor fits, wrong dimensions, improper surface finish, delaminations in coatings, large cracks, cavities, dents, inadequate size, wrong parts, lack of code approval stamps and similar proofs of testing.


Radiography has an advantage over some of the other processes in that the radiography provides a permanent reference for the internal soundness of the object that is radiographed.

The x-ray emitted from a source has an ability to penetrate metals as a function of the accelerating voltage in the x-ray emitting tube. If a void present in the object being radiographed, more x-rays will pass in that area and the film under the part in turn will have more exposure than in the non-void areas. The sensitivity of x-rays is nominally 2% of the materials thickness. Thus for a piece of steel with a 25mm thickness, the smallest void that could be detected would be 0.5mm in dimension. For this reason, parts are often radiographed in different planes. A thin crack does not show up unless the x-rays ran parallel to the plane 0 the crack. Gamma radiography is identical to x-ray radiography in function. The difference is the source of the penetrating electromagnetic radiation which is a radioactive material such m Co 60. However this method is less popular because of the hazards of handling radioactive materials.

Liquid (Dye) penetrant method:

Liquid penetrant inspection (LPI) is one of the most widely used nondestructive evaluation (NDE) methods. Its popularity can be attributed to two main factors, which are its relative ease of use and its flexibility. The technique is based on the ability of a liquid to be drawn into a "clean" surface breaking flaw by capillary action. .

This method is an inexpensive and convenient technique for surface defect inspection. The limitations of the liquid penetrant technique include the inability to inspect subsurface flaws and a loss of resolution on porous materials. Liquid penetrant testing is largely used on nonmagnetic materials for which magnetic particle inspection is not possible.

Materials that are commonly inspected using LPI include the following; metals (aluminum, copper, steel, titanium, etc.), glass, many ceramic materials, rubber, plastics.

Liquid penetrant inspection is used to inspect of flaws that break the surface of the sample. Some of these flaws are listed below; fatigue cracks, quench cracks grinding cracks, overload and impact fractures, porosity, laps seams, pin holes in welds, lack of fusion or braising along the edge of the bond line.

Magnetic particles:

Magnetic particle inspection is one of the simple, fast and traditional nondestructive testing methods widely used because of its convenience and low cost. This method uses magnetic fields and small magnetic particles, such as iron filings to detect flaws in components. The only requirement from an inspect ability standpoint is that the component being inspected must be made of a ferromagnetic material such iron, nickel, cobalt, or some of their alloys, since these materials are materials that can be magnetized to a level that will allow the inspection to be effective. On the other hand, an enormous volume of structural steels used in engineering is magnetic. In its simplest application, an electromagnet yoke is placed on the surface of the part to be examined, a kerosene-iron filling suspension is poured on the surface and the electromagnet is energized. If there is a discontinuity such as a crack or a flaw on   the

surface of the part, magnetic flux will be broken and a new south and north pole will form at each edge of the discontinuity. Then just like if iron particles are scattered on a cracked magnet, the particles will be attracted to and cluster at the pole ends of the magnet, the iron particles will also be attracted at the edges of the crack behaving poles of the magnet. This cluster of particles is much easier to see than the actual crack and this is the basis for magnetic particle inspection. For the best sensitivity, the lines of magnetic force should be  perpendicular to the defect.

Ultrasonic Inspection:

Ultrasonic Testing (UT) uses a high frequency sound energy to conduct examinations and make measurements. Ultrasonic inspection can be used for flaw detection I evaluation, dimensional measurements, material characterization, and more. A typical UT inspection system consists of several functional units, such as the pulser/receiver, transducer, and display devices. A pulser/receiver is an electronic device that can produce high voltage electrical pulse. Driven by the pulser, the transducer of various types and shapes generates high frequency ultrasonic energy operating based on the piezoelectricity technology with using quartz, lithium sulfate, or various ceramics. Most inspections are carried out in the frequency rang of 1 to 25MHz. Couplants are used to transmit the ultrasonic waves from the transducer to the test piece; typical couplants are water, oil, glycerin and grease.

The sound energy is introduced and propagates through the materials in the form of waves  and reflected from the opposing surface. An internal defect such as crack or void interrupts  the waves' propagation and reflects back a portion of the ultrasonic wave. The amplitude of

The ultrasonic inspection method has high penetrating power and sensitivity. It can be used from various directions to inspect flaws in large parts, such as rail road wheels pressure  vessels and die blocks. This method requires experienced personnel to properly conduct the inspection and to correctly interpret the results.

As a very useful and versatile NDT method, ultrasonic inspection method has the following advantages; sensitivity to both surface and subsurface discontinuities, superior depth of penetration for flaw detection or measurement, ability to single-sided access for pulse-echo technique, high accuracy in determining reflector position and estimating size and shape, minimal part preparation, instantaneous results with electronic equipment, detailed imaging with automated systems, possibility for other uses such as thickness measurements.

Its limitations; necessity for an accessible surface to transmit ultrasound, extensive skill and training, requirement for a coupling medium to promote transfer of sound energy into test specimen, limits for roughness, shape irregularity, smallness, thickness or not homogeneity, difficulty to inspect of coarse grained materials due to low sound transmission and high signal noise, necessity for the linear defects to be oriented parallel to the sound beam, necessity for reference standards for both equipment calibration, and characterization of flaws.


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