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Use the principal of “electromagnetism” as
the basis for conducting examinations.
Several other methods such as Remote Field
Testing (RFT), Flux Leakage and Barkhausen
Noise also use this principle.
Eddy currents are created through a process
called electromagnetic induction

When alternating current is applied to the
conductor, such as copper wire, a magnetic field
develops in and around the conductor.
This magnetic field expands as the alternating
current rises to maximum and collapses as the
current is reduced to zero.
If another electrical conductor is brought into the
close proximity to this changing magnetic field,
current will be induced in this second conductor.
Eddy currents are induced electrical currents that
flow in a circular path. They get their name from
“eddies” that are formed when a liquid or gas
flows in a circular path around obstacles when
conditions are right.






 Figure 1: Primary field of test coil enters the test part generates eddy currents that generate second field. Strength of the eddy currents decreases with depth of penetration .

the eddy currents become weaker. coming from the material.   Larger eddy currents are produced near the test surface. . The induced eddy currents produce an opposing (secondary) magnetic field. has a weakening effect on the primary magnetic field and the test coil can sense this change. the impedance of the test coil is reduced proportionally as eddy currents are increased in the test piece. This opposing magnetic field. As the penetration of the induced field increases. In effect.

Changes in magnetic flux density may also be detected by Hall effect devices. amplified. and displayed by an eddy current flaw detector. reduces the secondary magnetic field. at a constant clearance and constant rate of speed.    A crack in the test material obstructs the eddy current flow. lengthens the eddy current path. a momentary change will occur in the coil reactance and coil current This change can be detected. . and displayed on PCs and laptop computers. If a test coil is moved over a crack or defect in the metal. and increases the coil impedance. amplified.

. Figure 2: Schematic diagram of basic eddy current instrument.

As the test coil passes over various defects. The AC voltage is converted to DC voltage by a diode rectifier and compared to a stable DC voltage of opposite polarity produced by a battery. With the meter properly zeroed at the start. changes in coil voltage can be measured. .   As shown in the figure 2. an AC generator is used to drive the test coil. the coil impedance and AC voltage changes.

. induction from the magnetic field of one loop of the coil causes a secondary current in all other loops. Z is made up of resistance (R) and inductive reactance (XL).The opposition of current flow. • Impedance (Z) . In a coil.Impedance (Z) in an eddy current coil is the total opposition to current flow.The combined opposition to current flow resulting from inductive reactance and resistance.Resistance to AC current flow resulting from electromagnetic induction in the coil. The secondary current opposes the primary current. Definitions: • Resistance . resulting in a change of electrical energy into heat or another form of energy. • Inductive Reactance (XL) . In an AC coil.

If the material in figure was an insulator. The coil's reactance would remain unchanged at point "PI". The coil is considered to be an "ideal" coil with no resistive losses. . The impedance of the coil in the complex plane shown is a function of the conductivity of the material at distance "A". eddy current losses will occur.     Figure shows an eddy current test coil located at distance A above a conductive material. if the material is a conductor. its conductivity (the reciprocal of resistivity) would be infinite. and the operating point of the system will shift to "P2". However. The coil will signal this change by increases in resistive losses with a simultaneous decrease in reactance.

Coil impedance is dependent on the vector sum of the coil's inductive reactance and the test part's resistance to the eddy current field. With very highly conductive materials. eddy current flow will be very high and the strong secondary field will reduce the reactance of the coil to point "P3". the resistive losses will again approach zero. Since the complex plane approaches a semicircle as conductivity varies from zero to infinity. it can be concluded that the conductivity of a material has the greatest effect on coil impedance.   When the conductivity of the material approaches infinity (a superconductor). .

the diameter of the circle increases. As "A" approaches zero. If A is held constant and conductivity varies. geometry. However. producing the family of impedance plane curves shown. stronger eddy currents are induced in the material. coil impedance remains unchanged regardless of any conductivity changes in the material. and finiteness of coil. the field of the coil does not reach the surface of the test piece or induce eddy currents in it. Due to the need for a wear surface. In this case. At great distances above the surface. a circular curve is produced. as the coil approaches the surface in the stepwise fashion illustrated in Figure. "A" cannot be actually zero .     Another important influence on coil impedance is the clearance or lift-off between the coil and the conductive material surface.

   If the conductivity of the material is held constant and "A" is changed. eddy current probes can be designed to measure nonconductive coating thickness over uniformly conductive materials. In order to minimize variations in lift-off. eddy current coils may be recessed a short distance into the eddy current probe head. Coil impedance can be calculated for any known combination of conductivity and probe clearance. . However. the straight line from point "PI" to "A0" is generated. changes in spacing or lift-off are highly undesirable. and the probe head may be spring loaded to maintain surface contact. When attempting to measure changes in conductivity. since the lift-off effect is linear over a limited probe clearance range.

we have described how eddy current resistance (heating) losses.1416. Thus. = 3. We know that conductive reactance and impedance of the coil are affected by test coil frequency in accordance with Eq.. and defects affect coil impedance.. .(1) where XL = the inductive reactance of the coil in ohms . probe spacing. Assuming that material conductivity is reasonably constant.. conductivity. Figure above shows the effect of holding frequency constant and varying conductivity and vice versa.. we can use the frequency relationship to our advantage.  So far. no mention has been made of the effect of frequency on coil impedance.. (1): XL=2πfL . conductivity and frequency have exactly the same effect on coil impedance. f = frequency in Hertz (Hz) and L = inductance in Henrys (H) • • Equation (1) shows that both inductance and frequency directly affect coil impedance.

. a test coil frequency may be selected that will create a favorable operating point for detecting flaws while differentiating against non-relevant indications. optimum test coil operating frequency can be calculated or determined experimentally. For a particular material conductivity. – The frequency "fg" is the limiting frequency or the point where further increases in frequency will not increase the ohmic losses in the test material. – When material conductivity is known.

Small discontinuities are classified as high-frequency variables because they are isolating at high frequencies. the test frequency selected determines the initial impedance of the eddy current test coil. (13): XL=2πfL where XL = inductive reactance of the coil in ohms π = 3. In turn. the surface eddy current density increases. the maximum eddy current testing speed is determined by test coil frequency.1416 f = test frequency in Hertz (Hz) L = inductance in Henrys (H) .   In theory. If test frequency strength is held constant. The relationship between coil impedance and frequency is given by Eq. empty coil impedance increases. as operating frequency increases.

Lowering the test frequency increases the depth of eddy current penetration. The oscillator section of the eddy current instrument controls the test frequency. Frequency. and permeability affect the formation of the skin effect that limits the depth of eddy current penetration. alloy. Proper selection of frequency. temperature. Chemical composition. there is a range of suitable frequencies centered on the optimum test frequency. material hardness. At a fixed frequency. centering. and adjustment of phase obtain the optimum sensitivity to a known defect. part dimensions. and defects modify frequency. . conductivity. (13). and heat treatment changes produce low-frequency modulation. test frequency affects the inductance of the coil.XL=2πfL As shown in Eq. Lower test frequencies are typically used with ferromagnetic materials because of their low permeability. eddy current penetration will be the greatest in a metal with the lowestpercentage International Annealed Copper Standard (% I ACS) conductivity. In modulation analysis. For any given set of test conditions.

If the characteristic frequency is 100Hz.The ratio of test frequency (f) to limit frequency (fg) provides a useful number for evaluating the effects of various variables based on their impedance diagram. the test frequency that is required for an f/fg ratio of 10 is 1. The characteristic frequency for a solid magnetic rod is calculated by fg = 5060/σμd2 where σ = conductivity μ= permeability d = diameter of the rod . Limit frequency is defined when the mathematical function describing the electromagnetic field within a part is set equal to one. limit frequency equations. The limit frequency.0 kHz. The limit frequency is also known as the "characteristic" frequency of the material. and impedance diagrams are different for solid rods and thin-walled tubing. The limit frequency is the frequency at which additional frequency which increases eddy current losses. A change in f/fg ratio will cause a change in both the phase and magnitude of voltage developed across the test coil.

What is the eddy current depth of penetration Resistivity for Aluminum = 2.9x10-8 ohm-m.Aluminum tube having 30mm outer diameter and 26mm inner diameter was inspected using eddy current encircling coil of 0. susceptibility (Xm)=2. 1-What is the actual frequency of test coil? 2.07x10-5 and uo= 4x10-7 H/m .9 filling ratio at frequency test ratio of f/fg = 10.

When the coil passes over a crack. the impedance of the coil varies by the value shown by the vector point "PI".  In many cases. . we do not want to measure the effect of probe clearance or conductivity on coil impedance. Instead we want to locate and measure the effect of discontinuities on coil impedance and probe output. Figure shows the effect that cracks and defects have on coil impedance.

   A significant change in vector direction occurs and the vector points toward "P0" when probe clearance changes. This change in vector direction is used to advantage by modern instruments as will be described later. . If the conductivity value decreases to point "P2". The planar diagram shows that it is more difficult to distinguish between defect indications and liftoff indications with low conductivity materials. vector direction differences are less significant and it is harder to differentiate between the impedance caused by the crack and the impedance change that caused by probe clearance. The relationship shown at point "P1" applies to a specific value of conductivity.

    Encircling coils are used more frequently than surfacemounted coils. . the degree of filling has a similar effect to clearance with surface-mounted coils. Figure shows the effect of degree of filling on the impedance plane of the encircling coil. The degree of filling is the ratio of the test material cross-sectional area to the coil cross-sectional area. With encircling coils.

As previously discussed. two coils are employed where the primary (field) coil generates the eddy currents and the secondary (pickup) coil detects the change in coil impedance caused by the changes in conductivity and permeability. • • For tubes. Because of the skin effect (eddy current heating). the magnitude of the eddy current depends on frequency of the field current. conductivity and permeability of the test material. and geometry of the test part. the limiting frequency (point where ohmic losses of the material are the greatest) can be calculated precisely from Eq. (2): For most applications. the depth of penetration of eddy currents is relatively small and can be calculated from Eq. 3: .

Depth of Penetration of eddy currents Eddy currents are strongest at the surface of the material and decrease in strength below the surface. material conductivity and permeability. This depth changes with probe frequency. The depth that the eddy currents are only 37% as strong as they are on the surface is known as the standard depth of penetration or skin depth. .

(4) reduces to eq. (4): Tesla • Equation (4) holds true only when the semiconductor has an infinite length towidth ratio. and semiconductor geometry . For practical purposes.• The Hall voltage produced is given in Eq. temperature. Eq. (5): • where k is a constant that combines the Hall coefficient.

75 tesla is simultaneously imposed in a direction perpendicular to that of the current. Some hypothetical metal is known to have an electrical resistivity of 4 X 10-8 (ohm-m).26 X 10-7 V is measured. a Hall voltage of -1. when a magnetic field of 0. Compute the electron mobility for this metal. Through a specimen of this metal that is 25 mm thick is passed a current of 30 A. .

such as coil clearance. The signal-to-noise ratio of the eddy current system can be favorably enhanced through the use of: – – – – Probe design Vector analysis equipment Filtering techniques Elimination of permeability variations in ferromagnetic materials . must be reduced and suppressed. various forms of interference.• For reliable flaw detection with eddy currents.

or magnetic flux density..(6) The magnetic induction... being characterized not only by magnitude..• The externally applied magnetic field. The units for B are teslas [or webers per square meter (Wb/m2)].. and carrying a current of magnitude I. is designated by H. represents the magnitude of the internal field strength within a substance that is subjected to an H field. but also by direction in space. denoted by B. . sometimes called the magnetic field strength. If the magnetic field is generated by means of a cylindrical coil (or solenoid) consisting of N closely spaced turns.. Both B and H are field vectors. having a length l. then H=NI/l .

• The magnetic field strength and flux density are related according to B=uH.... which has a value of 1.. The parameter Bo represents the flux density within a vacuum..(8) where uo is the permeability of a vacuum... Bo=uoH. In a vacuum. which is a property of the specific medium through which the H field passes and in which B is measured...257 X 10-6 H/m. a universal constant. The permeability has dimensions of webers per ampere-meter (Wb/A-m) or henries per meter (H/m). is called the permeability..(7) The parameter u.... .

• Several parameters may be used to describe the magnetic properties of solids. or Ur = u / uo. called the magnetization of the solid. which is unitless. One of these is the ratio of the permeability in a material to the permeability in a vacuum..... the magnetic moments within a material tend to become aligned with the field and to reinforce it by virtue of their magnetic fields... or the ease with which a B field can be induced in the presence of an external H field.. M. is defined by the expression .. B = uoH + uoM . . Another field quantity.. (9) where ur is called the relative permeability.. The permeability or relative permeability of a material is a measure of the degree to which the material can be magnetized.. the term uoM in above Equation (10) is a measure of this contribution..(10) In the presence of an H field..

(11) and Xm is called the magnetic susceptibility..(12) .....The magnitude of M is proportional to the applied field as follows: M=XmH .... which is unitless.The magnetic susceptibility and the relative permeability are related as follows: Xm=ur-1 .....

25 m long and having 400 turns carries a current of 15 A. (c) Compute the flux density inside a bar of chromium that is positioned within the coil. Take the permeability 1.13 X 104. (a) What is the magnitude of the magnetic field strength H? (b) Compute the flux density B if the coil is in a vacuum.A coil of wire 0. The susceptibility for chromium is 3.257x10-6H/m .


Coil Eddy currents Coil's magnetic field Eddy current's magnetic field Conductive material .

Here a small surface probe is scanned over the part surface in an attempt to detect a crack. .Eddy current testing is particularly well suited for detecting surface cracks but can also be used to make electrical conductivity and coating thickness measurements.