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By Mr. R V S Mani; Branch Manager, IXAAR

NON DESTRUCTIVE TESTING (NDT) is an art of testing without destroying. The

objective of NDT is to establish proof of products usability without affecting the products
Non Destructive Testing in great variety are in world wide use to detect variations in
structure, changes in surface finish, presence of crack or other physical discontinuities,
measure thickness of materials and coatings and other characteristics of industrial
NDT is an important tool for quality control. Most of the NDT techniques are
designed to find out defects, based on which decisions are taken, for the suitability of the
products life and service conditions.
Non Destructive Testing techniques are also used extensively to assure safety and
reliability of components and materials in service through regular condition monitoring and
residual life assessment.
Non Destructive Testing techniques are applied at raw material inspection stages,
manufacturing, assembling and testing stages and thereafter, during shutdown and
servicing of all equipments, process vessels, boilers and heat exchangers Refineries, Power
plants, Fertilizer plants, Oil and Gas exploration fields and other chemical and processing
The correct application of NDT can prevent accidents, save lives, protect
environment and avoid economic loss.
Depending on physical principles and materials in use, NDT testing techniques are
classified. Some important NDT techniques are as follows.
1. Radiographic Testing. RT.
2. Ultrasonic Testing. UT.
3. Magnetic Particle Testing. MT.
4. Liquid Penetrant Testing. PT.
5. Eddy Current Testing. ET.
6. Leak Testing. LT.
7. Visual and Optical Testing. VT.
And Many others.

Radiography is one of the most versatile NDT techniques used in Boilers, Refineries
and Fertilizer industries for examination of Welded components and castings.
A photographic image of a component produced on a Photographic film by
penetrating X-rays or Gamma rays through the component is called a Radiograph and this
kind of testing is called Radiographic Testing.
X and Gamma Rays are electromagnetic radiations having wavelength in the region
of 10-13 to 10-9 meters. The origin of X-ray is from the outer electron orbits of an atom and
the Gamma rays are from the nucleus of an atom. Emission of Gamma Rays occurs in close
association with the emission of Alpha or Beta Particles.
X-rays are produced by sudden deceleration of high-energy electrons by a target
element inside a X-ray generator.
Artificial radioisotopes produced by neutron bombardment in nuclear reactors are
become the source of Gamma Rays.


X-ray generators for radiographic examination up to 300 Kilo volt energy are
available as portable units. High-energy X-ray generators over 1 Million electron volt are
also available and are large fixed units cannot be used for welded components at site
IR. 192 and CO.60 are two gamma sources available in India for Radiographic
Examination. These isotopes are supplied in a lead or depleted uranium shielded approved
cameras for use in the field. When not in use these isotopes are secured inside the shielded
cameras and stored in an isolated isotope storage pit.
The usable range steel thicknesses of X-rays and the Gamma Sources are as follows.
100 Kv X-rays
150 Kv X-rays

upto 6mm steel.

upto 12mm steel.

200 Kv. X-rays

250 Kv X-rays

upto 24mm steel

upto 32mm steel

Ir. 192 Gamma Isotope

Co. 60 Gamma Isotope

upto 70 mm steel.
upto 170 mm steel.

It is possible to use these energies for higher thicknesses also, however the restrictions are
due to high exposure time to produce a good radiograph.
Industrial Radiographic films are also available in different qualities to achieve the
required sensitivity. It is basically depend on the grain size of the silver bromide emulsion
available on the polythene base. Smaller the grains higher will be the sensitivity. However
the speed at which a radiograph can be produced will reduce while using very fine
grain/ultra fine grain films.
The ability of a radiograph to show defects/discontinuities in radiograph basically
depends on the quality of the radiograph produced. The quality of a radiograph is measured
in terms of Image Quality Indicators Hole or wire visibility.
Image quality indicators are available in different type, sizes and sets as required by
specific users. The quality of any radiograph is governed by the image contrast, image
sharpness and film graininess.
Lower energy of source, lower thickness of job, smaller size of the radiation source,
longer distance of source from the object and ultra fine films will lead to high sensitivity.
X-ray radiographs are found to be better in quality as compared to gamma
radiographs because of their Lower and continuous energy levels.
Radiographic examination is very useful in inspecting and testing industrial products
of various kinds. The important application of Radiography in industry is examination of
Welds and castings. Non-metallic materials like Plastics, ceramics, concrete, paper and
wood also can be radiographed to find their integrity. Radiography can also be applied to
gauging of pipe walls and to know the continuity of lines in electronic components.
The major disadvantage of Radiography is health hazard due to radiations. Proper
care shall be taken to avert unnecessary radiation to radiation workers and others who are
not related to Radiography work.


Ultrasonic are sound vibrations having frequency above 20,000 Herts. A
human cannot hear such sound. The testing is based on the behaviors of sound in
When an ultrasonic energy is transmitted into a material it will travel in the materials
unless there is a boundary. At the boundary reflections and transmission takes places
depend upon the product of material density and ultrasonic velocity. This product is called
acoustic impedance. If the acoustic impedance ratio varies considerably the more amount
of ultrasound reflects and the ratio are near to each other transmission will takes place
more. However at the interface both reflection and transmission will takes place.
Ultrasonic vibrations travel inside the materials in different modes and are called
Longitudinal or compression wave, shear or traverse wave and surface wave.
The velocity of ultrasonic will be same in a specific material. Each wave mode will
have different velocity inside the same material.
These properties of ultrasound are used for the testing of materials.
High frequency sound waves above 1 MHz are used for testing of materials. These
frequencies are produced by applying series of electrical pulses to a Piezo- electric element
(transducer) which converts electrical into mechanical energy in the form of pulsed waves
at a nominal frequency. These waves are transmitted into the materials through a suitable
couplant like water or oil. The assembly of Transducer, holder, wear face and the electrical
connector are called the search unit.
When an pulsed ultrasonic energy is transmitted into materials, it travels till it
reaches the interface of another material or its boundary, reflect back as per Snells law.
The law says, the angle of incidence is equal to angle of reflection. If the transmitted angle
is normal to transmitted surface and the reflected surface is parallel or near parallel to the
transmitted surface the transmitted energy will reflect back to the search unit. These
ultrasonic energy may be transmitted at angle between 30 degree to 80 degree to the
contact surface using angle wedges. The search units covers the received sound pulses into
electrical energy and are amplified and presented on a Cathode ray tube screen/digital
screen. By adjusting the sweep range controls in the ultrasonic instrument this displays
(Echo amplitude) can be expanded or contracted to obtain a designated relation between
the displayed signals and the material reflectors from which the signal originates. Thus a
scaled discontinuity and its displayed signal becomes a true relation ship. By comparing the
displayed signal amplitude to those from a reference standard, both location and estimated
discontinuity size may be determined.
Search unit are available at various frequencies and types and sizes as per the need
of the user to find discontinuities in various components for configurations.
For better sensitivity high frequency search unit are used. Good penetrating probability will
be there with low frequency search units. High frequency will give better resolution.
Ultrasonic transmissions on course grain structures are often difficult due to high
attenuation and scattering from the grain boundaries. Hence it is very difficult to test welds
of high nickel and austenitic structures. Low frequency or Longitudinal angle beam
transducers may be required to test such kind of welds. Optimum frequency, crystal size
will give better results for high thick jobs. Quality training and more experience is required
to do ultrasonic examination of material.
Ultrasonic examination may be applied to testing of plates and pipes for finding
laminations, inclusions and other manufacturing discontinuities including cracks. Forging
and bars may be examined by ultrasonic testing. Thickness measurements using Digital
ultrasonic thickness gauges are being done in many industries to know the remaining wall
thickness after use and to asses remaining life of process line and equipments. Ultrasonic
testing is also used to find voids inside the concrete structures of dams, bridges and huge
structures of nuclear reactors. Ultrasonic is also employed in finding change in material


mechanical properties, hardness using ultrasonic velocity measurements and attenuation

techniques. Now a days ultrasonic is also used for examination of welds.
There are automatic and robotic ultrasonic systems are available which reduces the
operators dependence and gives recorded strip charts, color charts and other recording
The major advantage of Ultrasonic over radiography is its sensitiveness towards
planar discontinuities like crack, lack of fusion and lack of penetration, which are severe
and may propagate during service. It totally eliminates the radiation hazards and also
saves times. i.e. No work need to be stopped while doing ultrasonic examination and it is
harm less to the operator and others. High thick objects can be tested with the same time
needed for other jobs. Testing of High thick welds need more time and high-energy
radiation isotopes if radiography is preferred. The applications of Ultrasonic testing are very
wide and economical compared to radiography.
The disadvantages of ultrasonic are as follows.
1. Need a reference block of the same nature of the job to be tested.
2. Auto Ultrasonic systems are limited to specific geometry and size. There is a
need to make changes in the system if geometry and sizes are changed, which
requires more time.
3. For testing high grain size materials a mock up may be required. Which will be
costlier and time consuming to prepare it.


The magnetic particle testing method may be applied to detect cracks and other
discontinuities on or near the surfaces of ferromagnetic materials. Iron, cobalt, nickel and
gadolinium are called ferromagnetic materials.
Types of discontinuities that can be
detected by this method are cracks in castings, forging and welds, forging laps, seams in
bar stocks, cold shuts in castings laminations in plates and pipes and surface and near
surface discontinuities of welds.
The surface required to be tested shall be cleaned and made free from dirt, grease,
paint, oil, weld flux and spatter etc. The area required to be tested shall be magnetized
using the following methods.
1. Prod Technique.
2. Longitudinal Magnetizing technique. (Coil or Cable wrap)
3. Circular magnetizing technique. (Head/Tail Stock or Central Conductor)
4. Yoke Technique, and
5. Multidirectional magnetizing technique.
Ferromagnetic particles Wet (Suspended in kerosene or water) or Dry particles are
applied over the magnetized surface and look for the pattern of particle
accumulation/formation. Each area is examined at least twice, with the lines of flux during
one examination is approximately perpendicular to the lines of flux during the other.
The maximum sensitivity will be to the linear discontinuities oriented perpendicular
to the lines of flux.
The field strength Yoke are generally tested by the lifting force.
The field strength of other methods are depend on the current applied.
A Pie shaped field indicators are generally used to check the field adequacy and


A fluorescent type magnetic particle, which may glow under black light, may be used to
enhance particle visibility and better sensitivity.
This test requires minimum surface cleaning and lesser time to get the
required results when compared to Liquid Penetrant testing. Reveal discontinuities, which
are near surface and also not open to surface.
Major disadvantage of this technique is it applies only to ferromagnetic materials.


Liquid penetrant testing is an NDT method for detecting discontinuities, which are
open to surface of nonporous metals ad materials. It often requires minimum capital
expenditure for implementation and can accommodate variety of test object materials,
shapes and sizes, test locations, and environmental conditions.
Liquid penetrant examination is a physical-chemical NDT method designed to detect
discontinuities exposed to surface in materials. Power sources are not required to the
testing except for inspection. However at good lighting conditions this test can be
conducted with out any electrical power sources.
A liquid penetrant (Visible or Fluorescent) is applied over the surface to be examined
and allow the penetrant to be entered into the discontinuity for some times due to capillary
action. All excess penetrant that are seen on the surface are thoroughly and carefully
removed, the part is then dried and a developer is sprayed over the surface. The developer
function both as a blotter to absorb the penetrant that are trapped inside the discontinuities
and as a contrasting background to enhance visibility of penetrant indications. Fluorescent
penetrants if used shall become visible under black light.
The basis processing steps are:
1. Pre cleaning and drying of the test object surface.
2. Application of Penetrant.
3. Dwell Time.
4. Excess penetrant removal.
5. Application of developer.
6. Inspection.
7. Post cleaning.
The Penetrant classifications are as follows:
1. Solvent removable Penetrants.
2. Post-emulsifiable penetrants.
3. Water Washable penetrants.
The Developers are classified as follows:
1. Dry Developer.
2. Wet Aqueous developer.
3. Wet Non Aqueous developer.
Depend upon sensitivity and surface conditions the selections can be made.


Penetrant testing is one of the best methods of inspection of all types of surface
cracks and porosity and pinholes in solid non-porous materials. Laminations and lack of
bond between layers of Laminated materials can also be detected. It can be employed on
Ferrous, Non Ferrous, other metals and alloys, fired ceramics, powdered metal products,
glass and some types of plastics and synthetics organic materials. These penetrants are
also used for detection leaks in tubing, tanks, welds and components.
The major advantage is rapidity, simplicity, coverage and economy with which it can
be used on a variety of materials with minimum capital investment. Even complex shapes
can be tested with one operation.
The major disadvantage of this NDT is more efforts shall be taken for careful
surface preparation. Improper surface preparation results in poor sensitivity or wrong
results. Cannot detect defects if the defect surface is not opened to the part surface. Also
sub surface defects cannot be tested. It is difficult or impractical on Porous surfaces.