Time-of-flight diffraction (TOFD) method of ultrasonic testing is a sensitive and accurate method for the nondestructive testing of welds for defects. TOFD originated from tip diffraction techniques which were first published by Silk and Liddington in 1975 which paved the way for TOFD. Later works on this technique are given in a number of sources which include Harumi et al. (1989), Avioli et al. (1991), and Bray and Stanley (1997).
Bray and Stanley (1997) summarized TOFD as tip-diffraction techniques which utilized the principle that the tips of a crack when struck by a wave will diffract the signals back to the other location on the surface. The depth of these tips can be determined from the diffracted energy.
TOFD was invented in the UK in the 1970s initially as a research tool. The use of TOFD enabled crack sizes to be measured more accurately, so that expensive components could be kept in operation as long as possible with minimal risk of failure.
Measuring the amplitude of reflected signal is a relatively unreliable method of sizing defects because the amplitude strongly depends on the orientation of the crack. Instead of amplitude, TOFD uses the time of flight of an ultrasonic pulse to determine the position of a reflector.
In a TOFD system, a pair of ultrasonic probes sits on opposite sides of a weld. One of the probes, the transmitter, emits an ultrasonic pulse that is picked up by the probe on the other side, the receiver. In undamaged pipes, the signals picked up by the receiver probe are from two waves: one that travels along the surface and one that reflects off the far wall. When a crack is present, there is a diffraction of the ultrasonic wave from the tip(s) of the crack. Using the measured time of flight of the pulse, the depth of a crack tip can be calculated automatically by simple trigonometry. This method is even more reliable than traditional radiographic, pulse echo manual and automated weld testing methods.
Magnetic flux leakage (MFL) is a magnetic method of nondestructive testing that is used to detect corrosion and pitting in steel structures, most commonly pipelines and storage tanks. The basic principle is that a powerful magnet is used to magnetize the steel. At areas where there is corrosion or missing metal, the magnetic field "leaks" from the steel. In an MFL tool, a magnetic detector is placed between the poles of the magnet to detect the leakage field. Analysts interpret the chart recording of the leakage field to identify damaged areas and to estimate the depth of metal loss.
Radiographic Testing (RT), or industrial radiography, is a nondestructive testing (NDT) method of inspecting materials for hidden flaws by using the ability of short wavelength electromagnetic radiation (high energy photons) to penetrate various materials.
Either an X-ray machine or a radioactive source, like Ir-192, Co-60, or in rarer cases Cs-137 are used in a X-ray computed tomography machine as a source of photons. Neutron radiographic testing (NR) is a variant of radiographic testing which uses neutrons instead of photons to penetrate materials. This can see very different things from X-rays, because neutrons can pass with ease through lead and steel but are stopped by plastics, water and oils.
Since the amount of radiation emerging from the opposite side of the material can be detected and measured, variations in this amount (or intensity) of radiation are used to determine thickness or composition of material. Penetrating radiations are those restricted to that part of the electromagnetic spectrum of wavelength less than about 10 nanometers.
Dye penetrant inspection (PT, LPT), also called liquid penetrant inspection (LPI) or penetrant testing (PT), is a widely applied and low-cost inspection method used to locate surface-breaking defects in all non-porous materials (metals, plastics, or ceramics). The penetrant may be applied to all non-ferrous materials and ferrous materials, although for ferrous components magnetic-particle inspection is often used instead for its subsurface detection capability. LPI is used to detect casting, forging and welding surface defects such as hairline cracks, surface porosity, leaks in new products, and fatigue cracks on in-service components.
Visual inspection is a common method of quality control, data acquisition, and data analysis. Visual Inspection, used in maintenance of facilities, mean inspection of equipment and structures using either or all of raw human senses such as vision, hearing, touch and smell and/or any non-specialized inspection equipment. Inspections requiring Ultrasonic, X-Ray equipment, Infra-red, etc. are not typically regarded as Visual Inspection as these Inspection methodologies require specialized equipment, training and certification.
Phased array Ultrasonic (PA) is an advanced method of ultrasonic testing that has applications in medical imaging and industrial nondestructive testing. Common applications are to noninvasively examine the heart or to find flaws in manufactured materials such as welds. Single-element (non-phased array) probes, known technically as monolithic probes, emit a beam in a fixed direction. To test or interrogate a large volume of material, a conventional probe must be physically scanned (moved or turned) to sweep the beam through the area of interest. In contrast, the beam from a phased array probe can be moved electronically, without moving the probe, and can be swept through a wide volume of material at high speed. The beam is controllable because a phased array probe is made up of multiple small elements, each of which can be pulsed individually at a computer-calculated timing. The term phased refers to the timing, and the term array refers to the multiple elements. Phased array ultrasonic testing is based on principles of wave physics, which also have applications in fields such as optics and electromagnetic antennae.
Ultrasonic testing (UT) is a family of non-destructive testing techniques based on the propagation of ultrasonic waves in the object or material tested. In most common UT applications, very short ultrasonic pulse-waves with center frequencies ranging from 0.1-15 MHz, and occasionally up to 50 MHz, are transmitted into materials to detect internal flaws or to characterize materials. A common example is ultrasonic thickness measurement, which tests the thickness of the test object, for example, to monitor pipework corrosion.
Ultrasonic testing is often performed on steel and other metals and alloys, though it can also be used on concrete, wood and composites, albeit with less resolution. It is used in many industries including steel and aluminium construction, metallurgy, manufacturing, aerospace, automotive and other transportation sectors.
Indentation hardness measures the resistance of a sample to material deformation due to a constant compression load from a sharp object; they are primarily used in engineering and metallurgy fields. The tests work on the basic premise of measuring the critical dimensions of an indentation left by a specifically dimensioned and loaded indenter.
Common indentation hardness scales are Rockwell, Vickers, Shore, and Brinell.
Magnetic particle Inspection (MPI) is a non-destructive testing (NDT) process for detecting surface and slightly subsurface discontinuities in ferromagnetic materials such as iron, nickel, cobalt, and some of their alloys. The process puts a magnetic field into the part. The piece can be magnetized by direct or indirect magnetization. Direct magnetization occurs when the electric current is passed through the test object and a magnetic field is formed in the material. Indirect magnetization occurs when no electric current is passed through the test object, but a magnetic field is applied from an outside source. The magnetic lines of force are perpendicular to the direction of the electric current which may be either alternating current (AC) or some form of direct current (DC) (rectified AC).
The presence of a surface or subsurface discontinuity in the material allows the magnetic flux to leak, since air cannot support as much magnetic field per unit volume as metals. Ferrous iron particles are then applied to the part. The particles may be dry or in a wet suspension. If an area of flux leakage is present, the particles will be attracted to this area. The particles will build up at the area of leakage and form what is known as an indication. The indication can then be evaluated to determine what it is, what may have caused it, and what action should be taken, if any.
After the part has been magnetized it needs to be demagnetized. This requires special equipment that works the opposite way of the magnetizing equipment. The magnetization is normally done with a high current pulse that reaches a peak current very quickly and instantaneously turns off leaving the part magnetized. To demagnetize a part, the current or magnetic field needed has to be equal to or greater than the current or magnetic field used to magnetize the part. The current or magnetic field is then slowly reduced to zero, leaving the part demagnetized.
Pull through AC demagnetizing coils: seen in the figure to the right are AC powered devices that generate a high magnetic field where the part is slowly pulled through by hand or on a conveyor. The act of pulling the part through and away from the coil's magnetic field slows drops the magnetic field in the part. Note that many AC demagnetizing coils have power cycles of several seconds so the part must be passed through the coil and be several feet (meters) away before the demagnetizing cycle finishes or the part will have residual magnetization.
AC Decaying demagnetizing: this is built into most single phase MPI equipment. During the process the part is subjected to an equal or greater AC current, after which the current is reduced over a fixed period of time (typically 18 seconds) until zero output current is reached. As AC is alternating from a positive to a negative polarity this will leave the magnetic domains of the part randomized.
AC Demag does have significant limitations on its ability to demag a part depending on the geometry and the alloys used.
Reversing Full Wave DC demagnetizing: this is a demagnetizing method that must be built into the machine during manufacturing. It is similar to AC decaying except the DC current is stopped at intervals of half a second, during which the current is reduced by a quantity and its direction is reversed. Then current is passed through the part again. The process of stopping, reducing and reversing the current will leave the magnetic domains randomized. This process is continued until zero current is passed through the part. The normal Reversing DC demag cycle on modern equipment should be 18 seconds or longer. This method of demag was developed to overcome the limitations presented by the AC Demag method where part geometry and certain alloys prevented the AC Demag method from working.
Halfwave DC demagnetizing (HWDC): this process is identical to full-wave DC demag except the waveform is halfwave. This method of demagnetization is new to the industry and only available from a single manufacturer. It was developed to be a cost-effective method to demagnetize without needing a full-wave DC bridge design power supply. This method is only found on single-phase AC/HWDC power supplies. HWDC demag is just as effective as full-wave DC without the extra cost and added complexity. Of course, other limitations do apply due to inductive losses when using HWDC waveform on large-diameter parts. Also, HWDC effectiveness is limited past 16 inches in diameter using a 12-volt power supply.
Eddy-current testing (ECT) uses electromagnetic induction to detect flaws in conductive materials. There are several limitations, among them: only conductive materials can be tested, the surface of the material must be accessible, the finish of the material may cause bad readings, the depth of penetration into the material is limited by the materials' conductivity, and flaws that lie parallel to the probe may be undetectable.
In a standard eddy current testing a circular coil carrying current is placed in proximity to the test specimen (which must be electrically conductive).The alternating current in the coil generates changing magnetic field which interacts with test specimen and generates eddy current. Variations in the phase and magnitude of these eddy currents can be monitored using a second 'receiver' coil, or by measuring changes to the current flowing in the primary 'excitation' coil. Variations in the electrical conductivity or magnetic permeability of the test object, or the presence of any flaws, will cause a change in eddy current and a corresponding change in the phase and amplitude of the measured current. This is the basis of standard (flat coil) eddy current inspection, the most widely used eddy current technique.
However, eddy-current testing can detect very small cracks in or near the surface of the material, the surfaces need minimal preparation, and physically complex geometries can be investigated. It is also useful for making electrical conductivity and coating thickness measurements.
The testing devices are portable, provide immediate feedback, and do not need to contact the item in question.
Another eddy-current testing technique is pulsed eddy-current testing. A major advantage of this type of testing is that there is no need for direct contact with the tested object. The measurement can be performed through coatings, weather sheetings, corrosion products and insulation materials. This way even high temperature inspections are possible. Compared to the conventional eddy-current testing, pulsed eddy-current testing allows multi-frequency operation.
Guided Wave testing (GWT) is one of latest methods in the field of non-destructive evaluation. The method employs mechanical stress waves that propagate along an elongated structure while guided by its boundaries. This allows the waves to travel a long distance with little loss in energy. Nowadays, GWT is widely used to inspect and screen many engineering structures, particularly for the inspection of metallic pipelines around the world. In some cases, hundreds of meters can be inspected from a single location. There are also some applications for inspecting rail tracks, rods and metal plate structures.
Although Guided wave testing is also commonly known as Guided Wave Ultrasonic Testing (GWUT) or Long Range Ultrasonic Testing (LRUT), it is fundamentally very different from conventional ultrasonic testing. Guided wave testing uses very low ultrasonic frequencies compared to those used in conventional UT, typically between 10~100kHz. Higher frequencies can be used in some cases, but detection range is significantly reduced. In addition, the underlying physics of guided waves is more complex than bulk waves.