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Eddy Current Testing-1

Eddy Current Testing-1

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Published by: hyder_khan74 on Feb 25, 2011
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Electromagnetic testing (ET), especially eddy current testing, is commonly usedto inspect objects throughout their life cycle. Eddy current techniques employalternating currents applied to a conducting coil held close to the test object. Inresponse, the test object generates eddy currents to oppose the alternating current inthe coil. The eddy currents are then sensed by the same coil, separate coils, ormagnetic field sensors.Changes in the induced eddy currents may be caused by changes to a material’selectromagnetic properties and/or changes in geometry, including the abrupt changesin current flow caused by cracks. Thus ET methods are highly effective for thedetection of cracks present on or below the surface of metallic objects. ET equipmenthas become extremely portable and is relatively cheap. It is the second most commonmethod specified for NDT of aircraft. Recent advances in eddy current technologyinclude multi-channel portable instruments, allowing faster inspections of large areas,and new magnetic sensors, such as the giant magnetoresistive sensors (GMR)developed for computer hard drives, instead of coils.
Even though eddy current testing is one of the oldest nondestructive evaluationmethods, it was not widely understood and did not reach full, widespread use until the1980s.[1] Whereas portable ultrasonic instrumentation offering considerableversatility for nondestructive testing (NDT) has been available since the 1960s,comparable eddy current testing equipment was not widely available until the 1980s.In addition, eddy current theory did not become available until the late 1970s. Now,excellent tutorial information is available for scientists and engineers withoutadvanced degrees.  
2-History of Eddy Current Testing
Eddy current testing (Figure 1) has its roots in discoveries that were made inthe 1800s. The most fundamental breakthrough was the discovery of electromagnetism by Hans Christian Orstead in 1820. About a decade later in1831,Michael Faraday discovered electromagnetic induction*. Then in 1834, HeinrichLenz developed the principal that defines how the electromagnetic properties of a testobject are communicated back to the test system. And finally, James Maxwell, who isfamous for his defining equations of electromagnetic theory, discovered eddy currentsin 1864 D.E. Hughes was the first to use eddy current testing in 1879 to conductmetallurgical sorting tests†. More than a half century later, eddy current testing madea leap forward when Friedrich Foerster developed and marketed practical eddycurrent testing equipment in the 1940s. His major contributions led to thedevelopment of the impedance plane display, which greatly aided presentation of testinformation.In addition, he formulated the Law of Similarity, which enables eddy currenttest results to be duplicated under a wide variety of test situations. An equipmentmanufacturer, Inter controlle of France, made the next major advancement in 1974,when the company developed multi-frequency testing. Driving the device at multiplefrequencies enabled eddy current testing to overcome the major limitation of havingto interpret eddy current signals from a single display. Multi-frequency methods canalso optimize conflicting test variables such as sensitivity and penetration. Thedevelopment of microprocessor-based eddy current instruments in the 1980s greatlyenhanced the potential and user-friendliness of the method, and allowed for thedevelopment of automated eddy current inspection equipment. Finally, at the turn of the century in the late 1990s and early 2000s, giant magnetoresistive‡ sensors wereutilized to allow multi-frequency techniques at very low frequencies to probe forflaws deep in multi-layer metallic aircraft structures. 
Eddy current NDT is based on the principals of electromagnetic induction forinducing eddy currents§ in a material or part placed in or adjacent to one or morealternating flux field induction coils.[2] The system is operated at very low powerlevels to minimize heating and temperature changes. The loop currents induced in thematerial produce an additional magnetic field, and a sensor is used to measure thetotal magnetic field near the specimen. The value of the total magnetic field dependson several factors including the following:• Geometry of the induction coil• Geometry of the specimen• Current and frequency in the coil• Electrical conductivity of the specimen• Magnetic permeability of the specimen
 4-How Eddy Current Testing Works
A crack in the surface, or near the surface of the specimen interrupts thecurrent flowing in the specimen (i.e., it locally changes the electrical conductivity)and causes a change in the adjacent magnetic field. The induction coil is scanned over
the specimen, and the magnetic field is measured by a sensor and recorded. In anotherapproach, there is no second or sensing coil, and the reluctance** is measured directlyin the exciting or induction coil to locate a crack.Figure 2 shows the principal elements of four types of typical eddy currentsystems. Figure 2 (a) shows a simple arrangement, in which voltage across the coil ismonitored. Figure 2 (b) shows a typical impedance bridge. Figure 2 (c) shows animpedance bridge with dual coils and Figure 2 (d) shows an impedance bridge withdual coils and a reference sample in the second cell. The location of the eddy currentsin the specimen in the z, or depth direction, is a function of the frequency. As thefrequency is increased, the eddy currents are increasingly concentrated near thesurface of the specimen, and as the frequency is decreased the eddy currents increasetheir penetration into the specimen. Employing a variety of frequencies to probedifferent depths in the specimen can be very useful for analyzing a greater volume of the specimen.
 5-Types of Discontinuities
There are a number of different discontinuities that can be detected with eddycurrent NDT. In metallic structures, welds, fatigue cracks, voids, hidden corrosion andstress corrosion cracks can be detected (Figure 3) and the size of such defects can alsobe determined. The geometry of the part and the defect location dictate the size of theflaw that can be detected.For example, automated and manual eddy current inspection of gas turbineengine disks can reliably detect cracks as small as 0.023 inches in length in bolt holesof seventh stage compressor disks. [3] Defects such as delaminations, voids andbroken fibers from impact damage can be detected in graphite epoxy composites.While in carbon/carbon composites for high temperature use, eddy current NDT canbe used to determine the thickness of the silicon carbide (SiC) coating used onCarbon/carbon composite for oxidation protection. In addition, voids caused byoxidation between the SiC coating and the carbon/carbon base can be detected andcarbon loss due to oxidation can be determined using eddy current NDT. EddyCurrent NDT can be used on conducting materials including metals, alloys,carbon/epoxy composites, carbon/carbon composites, and metallic matrix composites.
There are no special facility requirements for eddy current NDT, and portableinstrumentation is available for field applications such as aircraft inspection, as shownin Figure 4. Rugged eddy current equipment is also available for use in manufacturingenvironments to inspect metallic products as they are being processed. There is nospecial material preparation for testing, but a smooth surface produces optimumresults. Eddy current equipment is calibrated using physical calibration standardsmade of the same material with the same geometry as the part to be tested. Electrodischarge machining (EDM) notches, drilled holes, etc., can serve as flaws, andseveral sizes should be used to encompass the actual flaw sizes expected. Figure 5shows several fabricated discontinuities used as standards in eddy current inspection.Real flaws such as fatigue cracks, stress corrosion cracks, etc., are required forimproved accuracy in sizing of defects. The distance of the inspection coil from thesurface of the sample, called “liftoff” must also be carefully controlled. Theinterpretation of results using the modern, computer-based eddy current equipment is

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