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1. INTRODUCTION

1.1 History of Magnetic Particle Inspection

The origins of magnetic particle inspection can be traced to the


1920s although the method did not become fully accepted until the
expansion years of World War II. In the early days battery packs and
direct current were the norm and it was some years before
alternating current proved acceptable.

Magnetic particle inspection superseded the oil and chalk method in


the 1930s as it proved far more sensitive to surface breaking flaws.
Today it is still preferred to the penetrant method on ferromagnetic
material.

1.2 Magnetism

The phenomenon called magnetism is said to have been discovered


in the ancient Greek city of Magnesia, where naturally occurring
magnets were found to attract iron.

The use of magnets in navigation goes back to Viking times or


maybe earlier, where it was found that rods of magnetised material,
when freely suspended, would always point in a north-south
direction. The end of the rod which pointed towards the North Pole
star became known as the North Pole and consequently the other
end became the South Pole.

Hans Christian Oersted (1777-1851) discovered the connection


between electricity and magnetism, to be followed by Michael
Faraday (1791-1867) whose experiments revealed that magnetic
and electrical energy could be interchanged.

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2. THE PHYSICS OF MAGNETISM

2.1 DIAMAGNETISM AND PARAMAGNETISM

All materials are affected by magnetic fields, to a greater or lesser


degree. The change or orbital motion of the electrons in the atoms
of the substance concerned relates to the degree of magnetisation.

Those materials which are:

a) Repelled by a magnetic force are called DIAMAGNETIC.


They have a small negative susceptibility to magnetism.

b) Lightly attracted by a magnetic force are called PARAMAGNETIC.


They have a small positive susceptibility to magnetism.

c c) Materials strongly attracted by a magnetic field are termed


FERROMAGNETIC

2.2 FERROMAGNETISM AND DOMAIN THEORY

Ferromagnetic materials are strongly attracted by magnetic fields.


These are the materials which can be magnetised and thus tested by
magnetic particle inspection.

Ferromagnetism can be explained using the idea of the magnetic


domain. Domains can be considered to be minute internal magnets,
each perhaps comprising 1015 to 1020 atoms. In ferromagnetic
atoms, the configuration dictates that more electrons spin one way
than the other. The resultant magnetic moment of a group of atoms
means that an internal polarity is created. Simply, a very small
internal magnet having a north and south pole.

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Unmagnetised state.
Domains randomly
orientated.

Field

Magnetised state.
Domains orientated
in external magnetic
field.

Field
Field

Saturated state.
Domains orientated
in strong external
field.

Field

Residual state.
Domains remaining
orientated in
absence of external
field.

Field

Demagnetised
state.
Domains randomly
orientated in
opposing field

Field

Figure 1: Domain Theory

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2.3 PERMANENT MAGNETISM

When the external magnetising force is removed from a


ferromagnetic material the domains will remain in a partial alignment
dependent on a number of factors, such as:

Alloying elements
Carbon content
Heat treatment
Temperature

Strong permanent magnets used in magnetic particle inspection are


commonly made of iron alloyed with aluminium, nickel and cobalt.
Hence such trade names as: Alnico or Alcomax.

If a bar magnet is placed under a flat sheet of paper and iron filings
are sprinkled on to the paper, a visual field is created. This is called
a magnetographThe filings are orientated by the magnetic field
created by the lines of force running between the poles of the bar
magnet.

S N

Figure 2: Permanent Magnet

Shown below are a number of rules relating to lines of force:

1. By convention flow from north to south outside the


material and south to north inside

2. Do not cross

3. Repel each other laterally

4. Are in a constant state of tension

5. Are more numerous where the field intensity is greatest

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2.4 ELECTROMAGNETISM

When an electric current flows through a conductor, a magnetic field


is set up around the conductor in a direction at 90 to the electric
current. This is explained by the 'right hand rule', see Fig.3.

If the thumb of the right hand is extended in the direction in which the
current is flowing, then the direction of the magnetic field is
represented by the fingers.

Figure 3: Right Hand Rule

When the conductor is ferromagnetic, strong magnetic flux lines are


created also in the direction of the fingers. This is called circular
magnetism. Circular magnetism is not polar and cannot be detected
externally on a round symmetrical specimen.

Now, if the original conductor carrying the current is bent into a loop,
the magnetic field around the conductor will pass through the loop in
one direction.

Figure 4: Coiled conductor

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The field within the loop has direction and one side will be a north
pole and the other a south pole. By increasing the number of loops, a
coil, or solenoid, is created and the strength of the field passing
through the coil is proportional to the current passing through the
conductor in amperes multiplied by the number of turns in the
solenoid, see Fig.5a.

When a ferromagnetic specimen is placed in an energised coil, the


magnetic field is concentrated in the specimen. One end of the
specimen is a north pole and the other south pole. This is called
longitudinal magnetism, see Fig.5b.

Longitudinal magnetism has polarity and is therefore readily


detectable. Only one type of field can exist in a material at one time;
the stronger will wipe out the weaker. Normally in magnetic particle
inspection, circular tests are done before longitudinal.

Figure 5a: Coil Magnetisation

Figure 5b: Coil Magnetisation

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2.5 MAGNETIC HYSTERESIS

When a ferromagnetic material is influenced by an alternating


magnetising force (H), the variation of magnetic flux density (B) in it
is related to a phenomena known as magnetic hysteresis.

The word hysteresis is derived from the Greek word for delayed and
is used to describe one quantity lagging behind another. The
variation of B to H follows a hysteresis loop and is characteristic to a
particular ferromagnetic material.

Figure 6 is a typical hysteresis loop whose co-ordinates represent


magnetising force (H) on the horizontal axis and flux density (B) on
the vertical axis.

B a

c f
H
o

e
d

Figure 6: Hysteresis

When an unmagnetised ferromagnetic material is exposed to a


gradually increasing magnetising force the corresponding flux
density can be plotted along the dotted line o - a. The level of flux
density is increased until point a is reached and a further increase
of magnetising force produces no increase in flux density. The
specimen is saturated with flux and indeed, point 'a' is called the
saturation point.

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The dotted line o-a is often referred to as the virgin curve. Point a
towards point b is where the hysteresis loop begins.

As the magnetising force is reduced the flux density does not fall
back to zero but follows the line a-b. So at b there is a zero
magnetising force but a flux density o-b remains. The flux is
lagging behind the force and this is what gives ferromagnetics their
permanent magnetism.

To reduce the flux density to zero, or demagnetise the specimen, a


negative magnetising force c has to be applied and maintained. So
as the force increases to produce this the relationship of B to H
follows the line b to c. The force o to c required to
demagnetise the specimen, is called the coercive force.

Increasing the negative magnetising force still further produces a B


to H relationship along the curve c to d. Point 'd' is exactly
opposite point a and represents negative saturation.

As the negative force is reduced, point 'e' is reached, exactly


opposite point b and reversal to a positive magnetising force
achieves a zero flux density at point f, exactly opposite c.
The loop is completed by increasing the magnetising force, giving a
B to H ratio along curve f to a. Note that once the virgin curve is
produced the hysteresis loop does not pass through o again.

The specimen will not be demagnetised until special steps are taken
to achieve that state.

As stated earlier, a hysteresis loop is characteristic to a particular


ferromagnetic material.

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Figure 7: 2 Loops Relating to Iron and Steel.

Alloying Hysteresis Permeability Coerciv Remanence Loss


Element e Force of
Power
Silicon

Manganese
with pearlitic
steels
Manganese
with austenitic
steels
Chromium

Nickel
with pearlitic
steels
Nickel
with austenitic
steels
Aluminium

Tungsten

Vanadium

Cobalt

Molybdenum

Copper

Sulphur

Phosphorus

Increase ( the more arrows the more intense the effect )

Decrease

Unknown

Table 1: Effect of Magnetising Elements

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2.6 DEFINITION OF TERMS

A knowledge of some of the physical terms related to magnetisation


is essential. However, the following definitions are not meant to be
exhaustive but only those which are considered relevant to
understanding the practice of magnetic particle inspection.
BS3683:Part 2:1985 provides a comprehensive glossary.

Flux density

The number of magnetic flux lines per unit area

Symbol = B
SI unit = tesla = T
(It has replaced the gauss and 1 tesla = 104 gauss)

Magnetising force

The total force tending to set up a magnetic flux in a magnetic circuit.

Symbol = H
SI unit = ampere per metre = Am-1

(It has replaced the oersted and 1Am-1 = 0.01256 oersted or 1 Oe =


79.58Am-1).

Permeability

The ease with which a magnetic field or flux can be set up in a


magnetic circuit.

Symbol = (mu)
B
H
=

is the absolute magnetic permeability in Henry/metre


B is the magnetic flux density in tesla (T)
H is the magnetic field strength in amperes per metre (A/M)

For air and non-magnetic materials, is constant and denoted by

= 4 x 10-7 Henries/metre

For ferromagnetic materials it varies considerably according to the


value of H. For convenience we use relative permeability r:

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r =

Relative permeability is therefore a dimensionless ratio which relates


the permeability of the material to that of air.

Saturation

The stage at which any increase in the magnetising force H applied


to a specimen, produces no significant gain in flux density B.
Effectively it is at point 'a' on Fig.6. Saturation on a test specimen,
can be recognised by a high ink background caused by clumping,
furring or blushing of the particles.

Coercive force

The reverse magnetising force required to remove residual


magnetism from a material. On Fig. 6 it is represented by 'o-c'.

Remanence

The magnetic flux density remaining in a material after the


magnetising force has been removed. On Fig.6 it can be any value
of B , between b and e, when

H = O.

Residual magnetic field

The magnetic field remaining in a material after the magnetising


force has been reduced to zero.

Reluctance

A measure of the degree of difficulty with which a component can be


magnetised that is analogous to resistance in an electrical circuit. It
is the reciprocal of permeability.

Retentivity

The magnetic flux density remaining in a material after the


magnetising force has been removed (BS3683 Pt.2), synonymous to
remanence. However, McGraw-Hill, "Dictionary of Scientific and
Technical Terms", defines retentivity as, the residual flux density
corresponding to the saturation induction of a magnetic material.
This corresponds to point 'b' in Fig.6, the maximum remanence.

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2.7 FLUX LEAKAGE

A flux leakage is a break or a discontinuity in a magnetic circuit. Any


abrupt change of permeability within a magnetic specimen will
change the number of flux lines which can flow and thus there will be
a diversion of the field.

Magnetic particle inspection relies on flux leakages being seen on


the surface of a ferromagnetic specimen under test. All defects
produce flux leakages but not all flux leakages are created by
defects.

Magnetic particle inspection relies on:

a) Magnetising the specimen to an adequate flux density.

b) Applying fine ferromagnetic particles over the surface of the


specimen.

c) Being able to see clusters of the magnetic particles which


gather at flux leakages.

The magnetic field must run in a direction so that it can be


interrupted by the defect, thus producing a flux leakage field. Also
the degree of distortion at the leakage must allow the magnetic
particles to provide an adequate degree of contrast between the
leakage and the adjacent material surface, so that it is readily visible.

Flux lines will take the path of least reluctance, hence the highest
permeability. Figure 8a shows flux lines flowing in a ferromagnetic
bar but having to divert around an air gap, creating a flux leakage.

However, if ferromagnetic particles are sprinkled on the bar they will


start to form a magnetic bridge across the flux leakage and a highly
preferred path. If the flux leakage is strong, such as a surface
breaking crack in the optimum direction, then the visual indication will
be plain. See Fig.8b.

a. b.

Figure 8: Flux Leakage

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Whether a flux leakage is made into a visual indication depends on a


number of factors, such as:

a) Size of defect
b) Shape of defect
c) Volume of defect
d) Orientation of defect
e) Depth below surface
f) Permeability of material

2.7.1 Indications

Indications are any particle indications which are seen on the


specimen under test. Just as not all flux leakages are defects,
not all indications are flux leakages.

Indications can be further subdivided into:

Relevant

Spurious

Non-Relevant

2.7.1.1 Relevant indications

Relevant indications are discontinuities or flaws, which


in turn are undesigned imperfections.

When it is considered that a relevant indication will


affect the fitness for purpose of a test specimen, then it
is classified as a defect, but not all defects are cracks.

Product and process knowledge (a knowledge of


product technology and the processes that a test
specimen has been through) is necessary to define
and interpret defects more closely. It is perhaps safer,
without that knowledge, to categorise indications by
their:

a) Size
b) Shape
c) Orientation

2.7.1.2 Spurious indications

Indications which are not held on the surface by a flux


leakage are called spurious. Lint, scale, dirt, hairs,
drainage lines, etc. are examples.

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However, there is one spurious indication called


magnetic writing which is a little different. If two pieces
of steel touch when one of them is in a magnetised
condition local poles are created at the areas of
contact. If magnetic particles are then sprinkled on the
surface the local poles become visible as fuzzy lines.

2.7.1.3 Non-relevant indications

Non-relevant indications are true magnetic particle


patterns actually formed and held in place by leakage
fields. However, they are caused by design features
and the structure of the specimen and only
exceptionally will they affect the fitness for purpose of
the specimen.

Below is a non-exhaustive list:

a) Scores and scratches


b) Key ways
c) Internal splines and drillings
d) Abrupt changes of section
e) Fine threads
f) Force fits
g) Dissimilar magnetic material (HAZ or heat treated
material)
h) Forging flow lines
i) Grain boundaries
j) Brazed joints
k) Cold working

2.7.2 LONGITUDINAL FIELD

It has already been said that the magnetic flux lines must run
in a direction so that they can be interrupted at a defect
causing a flux leakage. So, in order to detect defects, the flux
lines should ideally be at 90 to the direction of potential
defects.

In Fig.9 the magnetic lines of force are longitudinal in a bar


and thus the bar has magnetic poles. Transverse flaws will
easily show; but longitudinal defects such as seams, which
are very straight, will not show. However, it is accepted that
flaws up to 45 to the flux lines will also be shown. In fact,
longitudinal flaws having a transverse component, such as
jagged cracks, will almost certainly show.

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Magnetic Lines 45o Defect


of Force may show

Longitudinal Transverse
Magnetising Defect will Defect will
Current not show show

Figure 9: Longitudinal Field

2.7.3 CIRCULAR FIELD

The longitudinal magnetising field in the bar is now replaced


by a longitudinal current, which creates a magnetic field at 90
to itself. In fact, the current has produced a circular non-polar
field around the bar. Under normal circumstances the circular
field is not detected, due to it having no external poles, but a
longitudinal surface flaw at 90 creates a flux leakage,
creating miniature poles and is thus detectable with magnetic
particles. Fig.10 shows the effect of flaw orientation in
circularly magnetised bar.

Magnetic Lines 45o Defect


of Force may show

Longitudinal Transverse
Magnetising Defect will Defect will
Current show not show

Figure 10: Circular Magnetism

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3. EQUIPMENT

The equipment used for magnetic particle inspection can be divided up


according to size and purpose. The magnetising force may be supplied by
anything from a small permanent magnet to a highly sophisticated fixed
installation, utilising high values of rectified current and finely calibrated
meters.

When electricity is introduced into a specimen in order to magnetise, it is


usually transformed into a low voltage, high amperage supply. Therefore
there is no danger from electrocution, however, specimens do get hot due
toS electrical resistance if the supply is applied for more than a couple of
N seconds.

3.1 Permanent magnets

Permanent magnets produce a longitudinal magnetic field between


the poles. Modern variants of the horseshoe magnet have
adjustable arms, and may have variable geometry removable pole
ends. Optimum defect detectability is at 90 to the poles. Modern
opinion tends not to favour permanent magnets.

Figure 11: Permanent Magnets

Advantages Disadvantages

No power supply needed Direct field only


Cling to vertical surfaces Deteriorate with wear
No electrical contact Have to be pulled from test surface
problems
Inexpensive No control over field strength
No damage to test piece Magnetic particles attracted to poles
Lightweight

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3.2 Electromagnets

Electromagnets are made from soft iron laminates to reduce eddy


current losses, if powered by alternating current (AC).

The yoke laminates are encased in a multi-turn coil, usually powered


by mains electricity.
The legs of modern equipments are normally articulated to allow
area contact on uneven surfaces.

Figure 12: Electromagnet

Electromagnets produce a longitudinal field. Defect orientation is the


same as when using a permanent magnet. Rectified AC current or
DC current from a battery may be used. DC is not favoured as a
magnetising method, due to the possibility of not achieving an
adequate flux density within the specimen.

Advantages Disadvantages

AC, rectified or DC operation Needs power supply


Controllable magnetic field Longitudinal field only
strength
Run direct from mains Carry mains voltage
electricity supply
Can be switched on and off Poles attract magnetic
allowing particles
Easy removal Legs must have area contact
No harm to test piece
Lightweight
Can be used to
demagnetise on AC

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3.3 Prods

Prods induce a circular magnetic field by sending a high amperage


(1000A typically) current through the test piece. The high amperage
can cause arcing between the electrodes and test surface. Contact
points must be carefully cleaned, and electrode materials chosen to
prevent contamination of the test piece.

Figure 13: Prods

Advantages Disadvantages

Variable field strength Danger of arcing


AC or DC fields Danger of overheating
Useful in confined spaces Heavy transformer required
Low voltages Possible to switch on without creating
field
No poles to attract Possible contamination of
particles the test piece by the electrode
Control of amperage

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3.4 Flexible coil

In this technique the current-carrying cable is wound tightly around


the component. It is a longitudinal magnetisation method and will
find defects lying parallel to the cable. If possible the turns should be
spaced so that inspection is possible between them.

Split coils with quick release fasteners are commercially available to


allow coils to be fixed and removed more quickly.

Advantages Disadvantages

Simple to operate Difficult to keep turns apart


No danger of burning Limited inspection cover
AC and rectified current High current capacity
sometimes
Magnetising force is the
product of amps needed
multiplied by turns
Current is adjustable

3.5 Flexible cable and close loop

Working from the basic principle that a current must create a


magnetic field around the conductor, the flexible cable is a useful
means of testing welded constructions, large casting and forgings.
The cable may be laid on to a job, perhaps parallel to a weld and
defects will be found in the direction of current flow, adjacent to the
cable.

When used as a single or a multi-turn threading cable, the conductor


is passed through openings of interest and defects will be found
radially around the hole or longitudinally in the bore. When used on
a pipe, defects will be found parallel to the cable internally and
externally, as well as radially on the ends.

The parallel closed loop is a novel variation which has found some
favour in underwater inspection and the gas industry.

a) The cables or conductors are kept apart by insulators

b) The direction of current in each cable must be complementary,


not opposing

c) Defects will be found within the grid, parallel to the conductors.

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Advantages Disadvantages

Simple application May require long cables


Variable field strength High current draw sometimes
Can cover large areas Difficult to keep cable in position

3.6 Clamps and leeches

Where prods are not suitable because heat damage may be caused,
or the item is too large and awkward, it is often still possible to pass a
current into a specimen. Special 'crocodile' clips with copper woven
braiding on them are one alternative. Another possibility is to use
permanent magnets as leeches to clamp on the job so that the
operator's hands are free to apply the ink or powder. The current is
passed through the leeches and does not affect the permanent
magnetism.

3.7 Mobile Equipment

As the name implies, mobile equipment is too bulky and heavy to


carry and yet needs to be moved to the work. Some mobile units are
capable of supplying output currents up to 20,000A, although 5000A
is a more normal figure.

The current required to test a job may be quite low but losses due to
cable length or bulk of specimen may mean that a portable set
cannot produce enough. Paragraphs 3.3 to 3.6 are relevant to
mobile units as well as portables.

In addition to the normal features on a portable unit, the mobile is


likely to have better current control and a step control to allow
demagnetising.

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3.8 Bench Units

Bench units are fixed installations used to test large numbers of


manufactured specimens. They range in size and output from those
able to test small components at no more than a few amperes to
large cranks and gun barrels capable of 10-20,000A. Essentially, the
electrical components of the mobile are incorporated in the bench
unit together with handling and operating features that make testing
more rapid, convenient and efficient. Among the features normally
found on a bench unit are:

a) Adjustable head and tail stocks on a fixed bed.


Manually, electrically or air operated.
b) Agitated ink trough or reservoir.
c) Recirculating ink supply from reservoir to spray gun.
d) AC and rectified current facilities.
e) Large area copper gauze covered electrodes on head
and tail stock to allow current flow, for circular
magnetisation.
f) Magnetic flow solenoids on head and tail stocks and/or
rigid coil on the bed, for longitudinal magnetisation.
g) Calibrated meters.
h) Controls to vary magnetising force values.
i) Foot switches and hand switches to operate controls.
j) UV-A (black light) lamp (optional).
k) White light lamp (optional).
l) Timers, to adjust operating duty cycle (optional).

3.8.1 Current Flow

The component is fixed firmly between contact heads which


have a soft conductive surface, such as copper braiding. A
low voltage, high amperage current is passed through the
component creating a circular magnetic field around it. The
method favours detection of defects lying in line with the
contact heads and not more than 45 from the ideal.

Field

Current

Figure 14: Current Flow

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3.8.2 Threading Bar

Magnetisation by the threading bar technique is induced by


passing current through an insulated non-magnetic conductor
(aluminium, copper or brass are usual) which is placed in a
bore or aperture in the component. Hollow components such
as tubes and rings, are normally tested by the threading bar
technique. In practice a number of small parts, such as rings,
can be tested at the same time, providing they are not allowed
to touch each other.

Current

Figure 15: Threading Bar

The threading bar technique induces circular magnetisation


and defects in the same direction as the current will be found,
externally, internally, and on end faces. Defects deviating up
to 45 from the ideal will also be found.

3.8.3 Magnetic Flow

Energised solenoids in the bench heads create a longitudinal


magnetic field in a component, which is clamped between the
heads, completing the magnetic circle. Defects, where the
major axes lie transverse to a line joining the heads, are found
best and the method is most applicable for short simple
shapes. The solenoids on bench equipment are energised by
full wave rectified current.

Magnetism

Figure 16: Magnetic Flow

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Where there are large differences between the size of the


bench heads and the ends of the component, shaped
extenders may have to be used to ensure that the flux is
smoothed into the ends of the component. If this is not done,
clumping of magnetic particles on the component will prevent
defect detection.

3.8.4 RIGID COIL

The component is placed in a current-carrying rigid coil with


its longitudinal axis at 90 to the direction of the windings on
the coil. Four to eight turn coils are usual and the specimen is
placed in the bottom of the coil wherever possible.

Longitudinal magnetism is induced into the component, so the


method favours basically transverse defects. Long and
slender components are best tested in coils, although a long
component may have to be re-tested along its length. 300mm
is about the longest that one can expect to inspect at any one
time. Pole extenders should be used on short components,
having a length/diameter ratio less than 5:1.

Current

Figure 17: Rigid Coil

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3.8.5 Induced Current

The induced current technique is not normally a feature of


standard bench equipment but is applicable to particular
components, such as high quality finish bearing races, where
arcing would ruin the part.

The technique induces a circumferential current flow in a ring


specimen by making it the secondary winding of a
transformer. Therefore only alternating current may be used
and only surface defects are revealed.

It is a novel but extremely useful technique, as it eliminates


the possibility of overheating the component under test.
There are many variations, as often the technique has to be
tailored to suit a specific component's inspection need.

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4. CURRENT WAVEFORMS

It is the value of peak current which creates the maximum magnetising


force and therefore the most drive to the magnetic particles to migrate to a
flux leakage. However, few ammeters are calibrated in peak values. In fact
they read some other quantity such as root mean square (rms), mean or
average.

The apparently simple ampere can be read by a meter in many different


ways and it is necessary to be aware of this. It is intended to look at the
more common current waveforms and the more usual ways of reading their
outputs. In view of the many ammeter variations, the safest thing for
operators to do is to check with the equipment manufacturer as to what type
of ammeter is fitted. Then print the peak to actual readout ratio on the
meter scale.

4.1 DIRECT CURRENT

An electrical current flowing in one direction only and effectively free


from pulsation. Therefore, after a small build-up period the current is
at a constant peak value and this is what the meter reads.

-
Figure 18: Direct Current

Direct current is either supplied from a battery pack or a DC


generator. In the early days of MPI, DC was almost universally used.
This is not so today.

Advantages Disadvantages

Sub-surface defects No agitation


Availability from batteries Less sensitive to surface defects

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4.2 Alternating Current

Alternating current is a form of electricity which, after reaching a


maximum value in one direction, decreases, reverses direction and
reaches a maximum in the opposite direction before returning to
zero. It is cyclic and the cycle is repeated continuously.

-
Figure 19: Alternating Current

It is of course, the peak current which creates the maximum


magnetising force, but in reality the meter reads the root mean
square (rms) value as the current is reversing between equal but
opposite peak values it is therefore impossible to measure the mean
value.

By plotting the squares of the current values we can find an average,


since negative as well as positive values become positive. To
measure the square of the current we use a moving iron ammeter.
This type of ammeter consists of two iron rods which are forced apart
as they are magnetised. Their level of magnetisation is proportional
to the current and therefore the force between them is roughly
proportional to the square of the current. The meter is calibrated to
read the root of the mean of the square values and is therefore non-
linear.

Advantages Disadvantages

Availability Will not detect sub-surface defects


Sensitivity to surface defects
Agitation of particles
Demagnetisation

The phenomenon that causes the magnetisation produced by


alternating current to be contained near the surface of a
ferromagnetic component is called skin effect. Therefore if the

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magnetic field produced by AC only exists at or just under the


surface of the component and only surface defects will be revealed
by AC.

If subsurface defects are of interest, rectified or DC current must be


used because they produce an even flux density through the cross
section of the component.

4.3 Half wave rectified (HWR)

This is a pulsed unidirectional current produced by clipping a half


cycle from single phase alternating current. As a result there are
intervals when no current is flowing.
It is the least expensive form of rectification, used on cars and
motorcycles. In the UK it is common in portable, mobile and bench
units.

+
-
Figure 20: Half Wave Rectified Current

Advantages Disadvantages

Penetration like DC Lower sensitivity to surface defects


than AC
Agitation

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4.4 Full wave rectified current (single phase)

This is a form of current where the negative half wave of an


alternating current is converted into a positive wave, so that both
halves of the swing are able to deliver unidirectional current.

Full wave rectified equipment is unlikely to be even nominally


portable, due to the weight of electrical equipment within them.
Bench units using this waveform are most likely to be found where
codes from the USA prevail.

+
-
Figure 21: Direct Current

Advantages Disadvantages

Penetration like DC Lower sensitivity to surface defects


than AC
Agitation

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5. MAGNETISING VALUES

United Kingdom magnetic particle inspection practice is based on research


which recommends that a minimum flux density of 0.72T must be achieved.
Since most engineering steels have a permeability greater than 240 then an
applied field greater than 2400A/m is required. The magnetising values
quoted in this test are therefore derived with the above parameters in mind.

It has been explained that different current wave terms are used in MPI, but
not why. Alternating current is simple to transform, when taken from the
electrical mains, and employ. Because the polarity is changing fifty times a
second the magnetic particles are constantly reversing their direction and
this causes them to migrate or 'walk' to flux leakages. This is excellent
because it gives bright clear indications.

However, because of the skin effect phenomenon the magnetism is


concentrated near to the surface of a component. Therefore only surface
defects can be found using alternating current.

It is considered that subsurface defects are critical and it is believed that


they are likely to be orientated in a way that makes detection possible, then
DC or rectified current must be used. Good HWR circuits will give full depth
magnetic penetration with a pulse effect to help the particles migrate.

Complicated machined specimens with fine threads or key ways might be


difficult to interpret due to flux leakage across changes of section. It is often
possible to use the residual magnetism to produce fine line indications and
reduce the incidence of non-relevant indications. This is called the residual
technique and when employed, rectified current or DC must be used.

Thus, before selecting a magnetising value and wave form for a job, the
type, orientation and depth of likely defects must be deduced.

5.1 Permanent magnets and dc electromagnets

Permanent magnets and dc electromagnets should be able to lift at


least 18kg of ferritic steel with the poles between 75 and 150mm
apart. For pole spacing less than or equal to 75mm the magnet shall
be capable of lifting not less than 0.24Kg/mm.

Each pole should pull off at more than 9kg.

5.2 AC electromagnets

An AC powered electromagnet must be able to lift 4.5kg with the


poles 300mm or less apart. Each pole must pull off at more than
2.5kg. The test area is a circle inscribed by the poles.

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5.3 Prods

If a flat area is to be tested then a pattern similar to that in Fig.22 is


used. The peak current values must be not less than 7.5A/mm of
prod spacing, equivalent to 5.3A/mm AC rms.

When a simple check of a narrow region, such as a weld is required


then the current value can be reduced to 3.75A/mm peak (2.7A/mm
AC rms).

Practically, on a weld, to cover both USA and UK requirements, a


current of 100A/in. (4 A/mm) is adequate, with a maximum prod
spacing of 200mm (8in.).

CF1 CF1 CF2 CF2

CF3 CF3

Figure 22: Prod Test Pattern

5.4 Flexible coil

British Standard 6072 gives two formulae to be used when testing


with a flexible coil. These are shown as follows:

Y2
1 7.5 T

4T a) Using direct or rectified current,
the peak value of the current flowing in a cable shall have a
minimum value of:
where

I = peak current
T = wall thickness (in mm) or radius of component if round
Y = the spacing (in mm) between adjacent windings in the coil.

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b) Using alternating current, the peak value of the current


flowing in the cable shall have a minimum value of:

Y2
I 7.5 10

40
where

I = peak current
Y = the spacing (in mm) between adjacent windings in the coil

K
N x I
L
2
D The UK system requires the cable
windings to be spaced. But in the USA it is accepted that
spacing the windings is extremely difficult and thus the
formula in ASME V shown below applies to flexible close
turn coils:

where:
I = coil current
N = number of turns in the coil or cable wrap
L = part length
D = part diameter
K = 35000

Note: The maximum L/D ratio for calculations is limited to


15:1. The effective field extends on either side of the coil to a
distance approximately equal to its radius.

5.5 Flexible cable

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To achieve most efficient magnetisation the cable should be mounted


at a distance from the test surface (d), see Fig. 23. The width of the
effective inspection area on each side of the cable centreline is then
also d and is related to the peak current value (I) in the cable by:

I = 30d

d2

d1 d1

Figure 23: Flexible Cable

r = radius of influence
d1 = distance from surface
d2 = distance of effective cover

This formula can be extended to give a simple close wrapped flexible


coil formula, where

N x I = 30d

N being the number of turns.

Figure 24: Flexible Coil

5.6 Current flow

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The values for current flow applications are given in Tables 2 and 3.
When components having varying cross section are tested, a single
current value can be used if the diameters of the larger and small
sections are within a ratio of 1.5:1. The large diameter governs the
value.

If the cross section variation is greater than 1.5:1 then each section
is tested in turn, starting with the smallest.

Current Peak or AC Single Single


Waveform DC Source Phase Phase
Source Full Wave Half Wave
Rectified Rectified
Type of A B A B
ammeter
Current for 7.5 5.3 4.8 2.4
Basically
Round
components
per mm of
diameter
Current for 2.4 1.7 1.5 0.75
Non-Round
components
per mm of
perimeter

Table 2: General Engineering Current Values

Current Peak or AC Single Single


Waveform DC Source Phase Phase
Source Full Wave Half Wave
Rectified Rectified
Type of A B A B
ammeter
Current for 28 20 18 9
Basically
Round
components
per mm of
diameter
Current for 9 6.4 5.7 2.9
Non-Round
components
per mm of
perimeter

Table 3: Aerospace Current Values


5.7 Threading bar

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When the threading bar is placed centrally the current values given
in Tables 2 and 3 may be used.

Alternatively, and when the threading bar is offset from the centre,
the surface under test shall lie totally within a circle centred on the
threading bar. The radius (in mm) (r) of this circle is given by:

1
r
15
general engineering

1
r
56
aerospace application

where

I = peak current value

and where I = AC rms current value this becomes


1
r
11
general engineering applications

1
r
40
aerospace applications

When large rings, etc. have to be tested a number of shots, equidistant


around the circumference may be necessary, see Fig. 25.

Test 1

Test 2

Test 5

Test 3

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Figure 26: Threading Bar Test Coverage

5.8 Magnetic flow

There are no formulae applicable to the magnetic flow technique. It


is recommended that the magnetic field strength should lie between
the value which will just saturate the material under test and not less
than one third of the saturation value.

Alternatively, flux indicators are used.

5.9 Rigid coil

32000 22000
Ip or Irms
L L
xN xN
D D The formulae given by
BS6072 is:

Where

Ip is the current peak value

Irms is the rms current value

N is the number of coil turns

L is the testpiece length

D is the testpiece diameter

22000
N x Irms
L/ D This can be usefully transposed to read:

To use the formula, the following conditions apply:

1. The cross-sectional area of the testpiece must be less than


10% of the cross-sectional area of the coil aperture.

2. The test piece should lie against the side or bottom of the coil.

3. L/D ratio of the part must be greater than 5:1 if not, pole
extenders can be clamped to the ends of the testpiece.

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4. If the L/D ratio exceeds 20 then the ampere turn value for a
20:1 ratio should be used. The test should be repeated at coil
length intervals.
5. The major axis of the test piece should be parallel with the axis
of the coil.

6. When using rigid coils of helical form the pitch of the helix
shall be less than 25% of the coil diameter.

7. BS6072 implies that only the section in the coil is tested and
the test must be repeated at coil length intervals. In US
instructions the test area extends 6" beyond the coil on each
side.

Formula:

N= number of turns
I= amperage
D= diameter of specimen
L= length of specimen
X= 32 000 for peak
22 000 for AC rms and FWR
11 000 for HWR

L/D ratio Ampere turns


Peak AC and FWR HWR
4 8000 5500 2750
5 6400 4400 2200
6 5333 3667 1833
7 4571 3143 1692
8 4000 2750 1571
9 3556 2444 1467
10 3200 2200 1100
11 2909 2000 1000
12 2667 1833 917
13 2462 1692 846
14 2286 1571 786
15 2133 1467 733

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Table 5. Fixed coil current for known L/D ratios

5.10 Induced current

A clamp meter is required to find out the value of current induced into
a component. If one is available then the current values used for
current flow apply. However, if the correct type of ammeter is not to
hand, a flux indicator is the alternative.

5.11 Flux Indicators

Field strength meters based on the Hall effect are the best way of
ascertaining adequate field strength at the surface of a test
component. However, they are expensive and the probes used tend
to be fragile. Portable flux indicators are an acceptable alternative.

They:

a) are simple to use


b) provide a clear visual indication of the direction of the surface
field
c c) are a rough guide to the magnitude of the surface field.
This is
only true if the flux indicator abuts intimately with the test
specimen.

Flux indicators consist of a magnetic material which is interrupted by


non-magnetic spacers. When the flux indicator is placed on the
surface of a magnetised specimen, flux is induced in it. The non-
magnetic spacers behave as artificial flaws. If the magnetic field at
the surface of the specimen is sufficiently high, leakage flux above
the artificial flaws can be detected by the application of a magnetic
particle ink or powder.

Flux indicators are made with high permeability magnetic materials


with low coercivity and low remanence so that a flux can be easily
induced into them, yet without permanently magnetising them.
Opinion differs on their efficacy when used with permanent magnets
and DC electromagnets. In every case when a permanent magnet
or electromagnet is used, good area contact of the poles is
imperative or the flux indicator is useless. Results may be
misleading when indicators are used in a coil.

Flux indicators may be divided into two main types:

segment type

foil type

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5.11.1 Segment type

Four or eight identical segments of ferrous metal are joined


with non-magnetic
compound of even thickness into the shape of a flat disc.
One surface of the disc is covered with non-magnetic foil to
prevent magnetic particles getting to the surface and prevent
them giving misleading indications.

The eight segment type, with a fixed foil is popular in the


USA. A four section indicator
with an adjustable foil, giving a varying air gap between them
is called a Berthold penetrameter.

5.11.2 Foil type

The most common foil type indicator is the Burmah Castrol


strip. These indicators consist of a magnetic foil containing
slots to simulate discontinuities, sandwiched between non-
magnetic foils.

Non-magnetic foils are either brass or stainless steel


depending on whether they are for general or
aerospace use.

The simulated discontinuities in a Burmah Castrol strip are


arranged in three parallel lines. These foils are less than
0.2mm thick and flexible, which gives them a significant
advantage over the segment type.

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6. TEST METHODS

The magnetic particle test method may be classified as

Wet or Dry (based upon the detecting media used)

Continuous or Residual (according to when the detecting media is


applied with relation to the magnetising force)

Visible or Fluorescent (according to the nature of the viewing


conditions)

6.1 Dry Powders

Powders comprise finely ground ferromagnetic particles, often iron,


coated or heated to a temperature which will give a distinctive colour.
British Standard 4069, magnetic flaw detection inks and powders,
lays down that the particle size must be less than 200 microns.
However, manufactures quote values well below this size.

Ideally the particle shape should be elongated. However, to allow


dry powders to flow from the dispenser, a mixture of rod shaped
particles and globular ones is used. Typical colours for powders are:

Black

Red

Grey

Yellow

Dry powders are dispersed on to the test component either through a


puffer or a dry spray can. The chosen colour is the one which gives
the best contrast against the specimen background. To enhance the
contrast a white strippable contrast paint may be sprayed or painted
on the specimen. If this is applied lightly, not more than 50 micron
thick, there will be minimal effect on defect sensitivity.

Powders are usually applicable to site work such as welds and


castings, often as an initial check on a weld root pass, where wet
materials would cause contamination. PD6513 states that dry
powders can be used for testing hot components up to 300c but
fluorescent powders may lose their brightness if heated, so should
be used at ambient temperature. We advise that manufacturers'
recommendations should be followed. Invariably powders are
treated as disposable and should not be re-used, due to the danger
of contamination by dirt and moisture.

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6.2 Inks

Magnetic inks are further sub-divided into:

Contrast or fluorescent

Kerosene or water-based

The ink comprises finely ground oxides of iron, having high


permeability and low retentivity, suspended in a liquid. British
Standard 4069 requires the maximum particle size to be no more
than 100 micron, however, contrast particles are typically less than 1
micron and fluorescent less than 10 micron. The reason for the
difference is that the fluorescent particle is dye coated, whereas the
contrast particle is a natural colour of red or black.

Water-based inks are becoming more popular because of:

1. price
2. odour reduction
3. health and safety implications

Inks are usually sprayed, flooded or ladled on to the specimen.


Kerosene based materials are also sold in aerosols. Water-based
inks when used on site are often sprayed from garden dispensers
and when used in bench machines the tanks should be stainless
steel. Although a wetting agent and corrosion inhibitor is added to
the concentrate, the effects of contamination of the ink by corrosion
products cannot be ignored. Water-based inks are sold as a
concentrate and then mixed.

Kerosene based inks are supplied in bulk but to maintain the solid
content at the correct level a small amount of concentrate is added at
intervals. It is not recommended that magnetic inks are made up
with normal kerosene, especially fluorescent inks since:

The fire risk is greater. BS4069 states a minimum flash


point of 65C

There will be a higher odour level

Almost certainly there will be a high background


fluorescence under UV/A light.

Of paramount importance is the maintenance of the ink strength. The


solid content must be constantly monitored as detailed in Control
Checks, Section 9, and the ink must be constantly agitated to keep
the solid content in suspension. The appropriate solid content levels
are 0.1 to 0.3% for fluorescent ink and 1.25 to 3.5% for visible (black)
ink.

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6.3 Continuous technique

The continuous technique implies that the detecting media is applied


before the magnetising force, to a component and continued during
the period of magnetisation. However, ink or powder application
should be stopped before magnetisation is stopped.

Indeed, on low retentivity components it is important to inspect at the


same time as magnetisation and ink application. A classic case of
reporting a spurious indication as a defect is where ink is allowed to
run down the toe of a weld after a test. The solid content forms a
visible line, exactly conforming to the shape of the toe and this line is
often enhanced by the residual magnetism of the heat affected zone.

What is worse is that the inspector notes the indication as spurious


but fails to see small toe defects which are now masked by that
spurious indication.

To avoid overheating the component and the equipment,


magnetisation times should be limited to 2-3 seconds. In fact some
equipment has shot timers on them to avoid the duty cycle being
exceeded.

Table 5 lists the steps in a one shot continuous technique. It should


be pointed out that if full cover of a component is envisaged, a
number of shots will be required.

1. Demagnetise if specified
2. Clean
3. Affix magnetising contacts
4. Apply detecting media
5. Apply magnetising force, 2-3 sec duration
6. Stop detecting media
7. Stop magnetising force
8. Inspect - this should start at operation 5 and
end at 8
9. Demagnetise, if specified
10. Clean
11. Protect

Table 5. Continuous technique

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If demagnetisation is called for, circular magnetising tests are done


first followed by longitudinal. This is so because it is probable that
a residual circular field is not detectable but that residual field will
be removed by longitudinal test applied later. Therefore, the final
residual field to be removed is a longitudinal one, which is
detectable with a field indicator. All current waveforms are
applicable to continuous techniques, depending on the defect
morphology.

6.4 Residual technique

The residual technique uses only DC or rectified forms of AC to


magnetise a component because it is the residual flux density which
is relied upon to attract magnetic particles to the flux leakages
created by defects. Direct current and rectified AC produce a full
cross section magnetisation, whereas AC will only create an effective
flux density in the skin, hence skin effect. Thus, the residual field
from AC is not considered adequate for the residual technique.

Also the residual technique is only applicable on components


which have high retentivity, that is high carbon equivalent steels. It
usually follows that components suitable for the residual technique
are high tensile machine parts, often when we are looking for flaws
in corners or thread roots etc. If the continuous technique is used
on these parts there will be a high build up of detecting media
across such features and these non-relevant indications are likely to
mask an actual defect beneath them. For best defect sensitivity the
detecting media is applied after magnetisation and to allow time for
the particles to migrate. Inspection takes place a short time after
that.

Table 6 lists the steps in a one shot residual technique. The


magnetising values should be the higher ones recommended for
aerospace, using the appropriate electrical current waveform. Again,
circular magnetism shots should be done before longitudinal, as
invariably demagnetisation will be necessary.

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1. Demagnetise
2. Clean
3. Affix magnetising contacts
4. Apply magnetising force, not AC, 2-3 sec
5. Apply detecting media, spray or dip
6. Wait, 30 sec-1 min
7. Inspect
8. Demagnetise
9. Clean
10. Protect

Table 6. Residual technique

6.5 Fluorescence and the Electromagnetic Spectrum

Fluorescence is the property of some materials to absorb


electromagnetic energy of one wavelength and re-emit the energy at
another . The ultraviolet and visible light section of the spectrum,
which is of interest in MPI, lies between 100 and 800 nm, see Fig.27.
(A nanometre (nm) is 1 millionth of a mm.) In MPI long wavelength
ultraviolet (black light) light sources are used having a waveband
between 315 and 400nm. This is UV-A radiation. Fluorescent inks
absorb energy at approximately 365nm and re-emit at about 550nm.
Industrial radiography

Microwaves Electric Waves

Ultra violet
Infra red TV

10-10 10-8 10-6 10-4 10-2 1cm 102 104 106 108
Wavelength

Figure 27 : Ultraviolet spectrum

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6.5.1 Types of UV-A Lamp

By far the most common type of light source used to inspect


components tested with fluorescent ink is the mercury vapour
arc lamp. In fact, the mercury arc lamp is a street or
workshop lamp which has a filter over it to reduce the visible
light to a minimum but allow the UV-A to be transmitted.

The filter is called a Woods in the UK and a Kopp in the USA.


On the Philips type of lamp the filter is integral with the outer
envelope but on the Magnaflux unit, using either a GE or
Westinghouse lamp, it is separate.

The mercury arc is drawn between electrodes enclosed in a


quartz tube. The resistor limits the amount of current in the
starting electrode. The quartz tube is mounted and enclosed
in the outer glass envelope which serves to protect it and filter
out any possible hazardous radiations.

400W mercury vapour arc flood-lamps can be used where


very large components are tested or to give a background
illumination in an inspection area. However, background light
in a darkened area can be more economically provided by UV
strip lights.

6.5.2 Safety Precautions and Operating Instructions

Under normal working conditions, there are no known long


term harmful effects arising from the use of UV-A (black light)
sources, providing simple safety precautions and operating
instructions are observed. The precautions and instructions in
these notes are general. For full advice the manufacturers'
data on a particular light should be followed.

Safety precautions when using a UV-A mercury vapour arc


lamp

a) Avoid looking directly at the light source

b) The light must not be used without a correctly fitted filter

c) Do not operate the light with a chipped or cracked filter

d) Avoid contact with the lamp housing as it becomes hot

e) Keep the light cables away from liquids, to avoid


contamination or shorting

f) Ensure that regular electrical earth continuity checks are


carried out on the lamp unit

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6.5.3 Operating instructions for a UV-A lamp

a) Allow 5 minutes warm up period after switch on, before


inspecting with the lamp

b) If the lamp is switched off and then immediately


switched on again, allow a minimum of 10 minutes
before recommencing inspection. The bulb will not re-
light until its temperature reduces.

c) Avoid repeated switching on and off, as this will reduce


bulb life significantly

d) Angle the light with respect to the specimen being


inspected, to avoid reflections which reduce inspection
efficiency

e) Clean the lamp filter regularly, with lint-free material


moistened with a mild detergent/water solution

f) Check the light output of the lamp regularly. This


should be done in accordance with paragraph 6.1 of
BS4489. The lamp must achieve a UV-A irradiance
level of 0.8mW/cm2 at the testing surface.

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7. DEMAGNETISATION

British Standard 6072 recommends that demagnetisation should only be


carried out if specifically requested. In certain industries the consequences
of not demagnetising can be catastrophic.

Demagnetisation should be carried out:

1. before testing, if residual fields could affect test results

2. between tests except for when a similar shot is to be applied


but at a higher amperage. An exception can be made if a
subsequent shot is to be applied at 90 to the original and the
original field strength is to be exceeded

3. after testing, when applicable

Post demagnetising must be done:

1. on aircraft parts, where magnetic compasses and electronic


equipment may be affected

2. on rotating parts, where magnetic debris might adhere and


cause excess wear

3. where automatic arc or electron beam welding is to be carried


out and arc wander may be caused by residual magnetic
fields

4. if residual magnetic fields may affect subsequent machining


processes. Reamers and taps become magnetic as well and
thus can break in use, if swarf is not cleared from flutes.

5. when a high quality finish, such as electro-plating is to be


applied. The particles attracted will prevent or reduce
adhesion.

It is not usually necessary to demagnetise specimens which are to be heat


treated. This is provided that the heat treatment is beyond the Curie point,
about 700c. At and above the Curie point, ferromagnetic materials
become paramagnetic.

Often it is not possible or practical to demagnetise a specimen completely,


therefore a maximum residual field level must be agreed. An agreed
deflection on a calibrated or uncalibrated magnetic field indicator is the most
common.

For critical situations a compass test is recommended. The component


under test is positioned at an agreed distance from a suitable compass and
rotated through 360. The compass needle must deflect by less than 1.

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7.1 Principle of Demagnetisation

Looking at a typical hysteresis loop for a ferromagnetic material


Fig.6, after the initial magnetising force is applied and then removed,
it is well nigh impossible to end the test with a zero flux density.
Even if a negative coercive force is applied it will only keep the flux
density at zero, as long as it continues to be applied.

Figure 28 shows that the key to demagnetisation is that a reversing


and reducing magnetising force must be applied, so that the
hysteresis loop reduces until all the parameters achieve zero. There
are a number of ways to achieve this.

Field
Strength

Figure 28: Demagnetisation Process

7.2 Methods of Demagnetisation

7.2.1 Aperture coil, removal

The component is passed through an aperture type coil,


whose major axis is aligned in an east-west direction and
which is carrying AC. The component is removed from the
coil to a minimum distance of 1.5m before the current is
switched off.

Special demagnetisers of this type are usually multi-turn coil,


working directly from a single phase AC supply. However, a
hand held coil made from a portable unit cable may be
adequate for site use. If the component cannot be passed
through the demagnetising coil there is no reason why the coil
should not be passed over the component to achieve the
same result.

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7.2.2 Aperture coil, reducing AC

Where it is not possible to remove either the component or


the coil from the vicinity of each other, then the AC can be
reduced to zero to achieve the same demagnetising effect.
Modern units use a capacitor discharging to achieve an
almost instantaneous result.

7.2.3 Aperture coil, reversing DC

Sometimes if a component has been magnetised using DC or


rectified AC, it is nearly impossible to reduce the residual flux
density to a satisfactory level using AC. This is especially true
if the component is a complex shape.

Therefore, a reversing and reducing DC, or more usually full


wave rectified and smoothed AC, is used. The component is
usually left in the coil but with long components the operation
is carried out several times along its length.

Each reduction of current should be 50% of the preceding


one, down to a reasonable minimum.

7.2.4 Electromagnet, reversing DC

The same principles apply as with the reversing DC aperture


coil method, but in this case the component is clamped
between the poles of an electromagnet in a field strong
enough to saturate it magnetically. The field is then reduced
and reversed in 50% increments to near zero.

7.2.5 Electromagnet, AC yoke

A most useful way to remove local residual fields on


components in situ, on a structure than cannot easily be
moved or removed, is by means of a portable AC powered
electromagnet. The energised yoke is pulled over and off the
component, to a distance of about 450mm and then switched
off. If the level achieved is not adequate, the operation is
repeated in the same way and direction until the residual field
is removed.

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8. CONTROL AND MAINTENANCE CHECKS

In order to ensure that the equipment ancillaries and materials are up to


standard it is necessary to carry out a number of control checks. It is also
important to make sure that the system performs consistently each day.
Common sense dictates that the equipment, etc is maintained properly.

The checks covered in this section are meant to be guides to proper


practice. In different organisations there will obviously be variations and
therefore the code or standard specified for a particular job must be the
overriding factor.

8.1 Ink settlement test

This test is carried out daily or at each shift. Additionally, it is carried


out whenever the ink is changed in a bench unit or a new batch is
made up. A 100ml settlement flask, sometimes called a centrifuge
tube, is used.

The ink is agitated for 5 min and then a 100ml sample is poured into
the settlement flask. The sample is allowed to settle for 60 min and
the volume of solid is then read off the flask scale.

Section 6.2 mentions the recommended concentration maxima and


minima.

8.2 Fluorescent ink intensity

Fluorescent inks should be discarded if there is evidence of


fluorescence in the carrier fluid (supernatant liquid). This can
happen due to over-vigorous agitation, causing the fluorescent dye
to break off the magnetic particles.

Also, a sample of unused agitated ink should be compared with a


similar sample of in-use material under UV/A light. If there is any
significant loss of brightness of the used material, it must be
discarded.

9.3 Equipment performance check

This test is carried out to find any changes that may have occurred
during the day to day use of the equipment or materials. The test is
carried out at the start of work or at shift change.

British Standard 4069, Figures 2, 3 and 4 show detailed views of


these test pieces, although the magnetic flow/coil often has five
holes drilled transverse to the major axis at varying depths.

To carry out the test the appropriate test piece is processed and the
minimum ammeter readings which give satisfactory build-up of

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particles at each hole, are established and noted. This is normally


first done when everything else about the unit is in total control, e.g.
ink renewed, ammeters calibrated, etc and is repeated for each
current waveform.

At each successive check the relevant hole should be visible at the


appropriate amperage.

There are variations on this method but the principle is followed in


BS4069, Appendix B, paragraphs B2 and B4 and BS6072, Appendix
C.

9.4 Viewing efficiency

The output of the ultraviolet (UV-A) lamps used in magnetic particle


inspection will deteriorate with age. In addition, the output can vary
due to:

a) Displacement and tarnishing of the reflector


b) Dirt and other contaminants on the filter
c) Variations of the voltage to the lamp

It is therefore necessary to check the output of all UV-A lamps


regularly. This check involves the use of a radiometer which will
respond to radiation in the UV-A range (400nm-315nm) (nm = 1
nano metre = 10-9m). The test procedure is as follows. Position the
radiometer with the detector at a distance of 400mm, or working
distance, from the front surface of the lamp. If the reading at this
distance exceeds the full scale of the meter, use such longer
distances as will bring the reading to approximately 2/3 scale. Move
the detector in a plane normal to the axis of the beam from the lamp
until a maximum reading is obtained. Record on the lamp calibration
label the radiometer reading, the distance of the lamp from the
radiometer if greater than 400mm and the date. This test, repeated
at regular intervals, will reveal any deterioration in performance or
the need for maintenance of the lamp.

Ultraviolet, UV-A, lamps should be changed if the output at working


distance falls below 0.8mW/cm2 or 800 W/cm2 (mW = milli watt,
W = micro watt) at test surface.

The background light in an inspection area should be darker than 10


lux. If black ink is being used in white light conditions, the level of
light at the work face should exceed 500 lux. This is equivalent to an
80W strip light at 1 metre.

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9.5 Magnetising units

This is a general check for wear, abuse and general cleanliness.

9.6 Tank levels

A surprising amount of ink, including solid particles, is carried off on


components during testing. Ink level and strength checks are
underrated items and are ignored at the inspector's peril.

9.7 Ultraviolet lamp maintenance

A considerable loss of light output can be experienced because of


dirty filters. Before condemning a lamp, clean it and the filter in a
detergent solution.

9.8 Ammeters

Must be checked and calibrated regularly with a meter traceable to


national standards. Most major manufacturers will provide a service
if ownership of a master meter is not considered economic.

9.9 Demagnetiser

Often forgotten until something goes wrong. There does not seem to
be a national standard but a major aerospace manufacturer
recommends that demagnetisers should have a minimum internal
field strength of 5.57kA/m. As with ammeters, the major MPI
equipment manufacturers will provide a service when requested.

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