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General definition of nondestructive testing (NDT) is an examination, test, or evaluation

performed on any type of test object without changing or altering that object in any way, in order
to determine the absence or presence of conditions or discontinuities that may have an effect on
the usefulness or serviceability of that object.
Nondestructive tests may also be conducted to measure other test object characteristics, such as
size; dimension; configuration; or structure, including alloy content, hardness, grain size, etc.
The simplest of all definitions is basically an examination that is performed on an object of any
type, size, shape or material to determine the presence or absence of discontinuities, or to
evaluate other material characteristics.
Nondestructive examination (NDE), nondestructive inspection (NDI), and nondestructive
evaluation (NDE) are also expressions commonly used to describe this technology.
Nondestructive testing, in fact, is a process that is performed on a daily basis by the average
individual, who is not aware that it is taking place. For example, when a coin is deposited in the
slot of a vending machine and the selection is made, whether it is candy or a soft drink, that coin
is actually subjected to a series of nondestructive tests. It is checked for size, weight, shape, and
metallurgical properties very quickly, and if it passes all of these tests satisfactorily, the product
that is being purchased will make its way through the dispenser.
The human body has been described as one of the most unique nondestructive testing
instruments ever created. Heat can be sensed by placing a hand in close proximity to a hot object
and, without touching it, determining that there is a relatively higher temperature present in that
object. With the sense of smell, a determination can be made that there is an unpleasant
substance present based simply on the odor that emanates from it. Without visibly observing an
object, it is possible to determine roughness, configuration, size, and shape simply through the
sense of touch. The sense of hearing allows the analysis of various sounds and noises and, based
on this analysis, judgments and decisions relating to the source of those sounds can be made. For
example, before crossing a street, one can hear a truck approaching. The obvious decision is not
to step out in front of this large, moving object. But of all the human senses, the sense of sight
provides us with the most versatile and unique nondestructive testing approach. When one
considers the wide application of the sense of sight and the ultimate information that can be
determined by mere visual observation, it becomes quite apparent that visual testing (VT) is a
very widely used form of nondestructive testing.
In industry, nondestructive testing can do so much more. It can effectively be used for the:
1. Examination of raw materials prior to processing
2. Evaluation of materials during processing as a means of process control
3. Examination of finished products
4. Evaluation of products and structures once they have been put into service
To summarize, nondestructive testing is a valuable technology that can provide useful
information regarding the condition of the object being examined once all the essential elements
of the test are considered, approved procedures are followed, and the examinations are conducted
by qualified personnel.

A Discontinuity is defined as an imperfection or interruption in the normal physical
characteristics or structure of an object (crack, porosity, inhomogeneity, etc.). On the other hand,
a Defect is defined as a flaw or flaws that by nature or accumulated effect render a part or
product unable to meet minimum applicable acceptance standards or specifications (defect
designates rejectability). It should be clear that a discontinuity is not necessarily a defect. Any
imperfection that is found by the inspector is called a discontinuity until it can be identified and
evaluated as to the effect it will have on the service of the part or to the requirements of the
specification. A certain discontinuity may be considered to be a defect in some cases and not a
defect in some other cases because the definition of defect changes with the type of component,
its construction, its materials and the specifications or codes being used.
Discontinuities are generally categorized according to the stage of the manufacturing or use in
which they initiate. Therefore, discontinuities are categorized in four groups which are:
Inherent discontinuities (This refers to the discontinuities that originate during the initial
casting process (when the metal is casted into ingots for further processing) and also it
includes the discontinuities that are produced when metal is casted as parts of any given)
Primary processing discontinuities (This refers to the discontinuities that originate during
hot or cold forming processes like extrusion, forging, rolling, drawing, welding, etc.)
Secondary procession discontinuities (This group refers to the discontinuities that
originate during grinding, machining, heat treating, plating and related finishing
Service discontinuities (This group refers to the discontinuities that originate or develop
while the component is in service. The service conditions (loading, mechanical and
chemical environment, maintenance) of a component affect its expected life)

NDT Test Methods

Test method names often refer to the type of penetrating medium or the equipment used to
perform that test. Current NDT methods are: Acoustic Emission Testing (AE), Electromagnetic
Testing (ET), Guided Wave Testing (GW), Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), Laser Testing
Methods (LM), Leak Testing (LT), Magnetic Flux Leakage (MFL), Microwave Testing, Liquid
Penetrant Testing (PT), Magnetic Particle Testing (MT), Neutron Radiographic Testing (NR),
Radiographic Testing (RT), Thermal/Infrared Testing (IR), Ultrasonic Testing (UT), Vibration
Analysis (VA) and Visual Testing (VT).

The six most frequently used test methods are MT, PT, RT, UT, ET and VT. Each of these test
methods will be described here, followed by the other, less often used test methods.
Destructive testing has been defined as a form of mechanical test (primarily destructive) of
materials whereby certain specific characteristics of the material can be evaluated quantitatively.
In some cases, the test specimens being tested are subjected to controlled conditions that
simulate service. The information that is obtained through destructive testing is quite precise, but
it only applies to the specimen being examined. Since the specimen is destroyed or mechanically
changed, it is unlikely that it can be used for other purposes beyond the mechanical test. Such
destructive tests can provide very useful information, especially relating to the materials design
considerations and useful life. Destructive testing may be dynamic or static and can provide data
relative to the following material attributes:
Ultimate tensile strength
Yield point
Elongation characteristics
Fatigue life
Corrosion resistance
Impact resistance

Other than the fact that the specimen being examined typically cannot be used after destructive
testing for any useful purpose, it must also be stressed that the data achieved through destructive
testing are specific to the test specimen. Another destructive test commonly used to measure a
materials resistance to impact is the Charpy test. In this test, a specimen that is usually notched is
supported at one end and is broken as a pendulum is released and impacts in the region of the
notch. The measure of the materials resistance to impact (or notch toughness) is determined by
the subsequent rise of the pendulum.

Hardness is also an important material characteristic. The hardness test measures the materials
resistance to plastic deformation. There has always been a minor dispute as to whether this test
was nondestructive or destructive, since there usually is an indentation made on the surface of
the material. If the hardness test is made without indentation (as is the case when using eddy
currents or ultrasonics), it can be considered truly nondestructive. Although it is assumed in
many cases that the test specimen is representative of the material from which it has been taken,
it cannot be said with 100% reliability that the balance of the material will have exactly the same
characteristics as that test specimen. Key benefits of destructive testing include:

Reliable and accurate data from the test specimen

Extremely useful data for design purposes
Information can be used to establish standards and specifications
Data achieved through destructive testing is usually quantitative
Typically, various service conditions are capable of being measured
Useful life can generally be predicted
Limitations of destructive testing include:
Data applies only to the specimen being examined
Most destructive test specimens cannot be used once the test is complete
Many destructive tests require large, expensive equipment in a laboratory environment
Benefits of nondestructive testing include:
The part is not changed or altered and can be used after examination
Every item or a large portion of the material can be examined with no adverse
Materials can be examined for conditions internal and at the surface
Parts can be examined while in service
Many NDT methods are portable and can be taken to the object to be examined
Nondestructive testing is cost effective, overall

Limitations of nondestructive testing include:

It is usually quite operator dependent
Some methods do not provide permanent records of the examination
NDT methods do not generally provide quantitative data
Orientation of discontinuities must be considered
Evaluation of some test results are subjective and subject to dispute
While most methods are cost effective, some, such as radiography, can be expensive
Defined procedures that have been qualified are essential

In conclusion, there are obvious benefits for requiring both nondestructive and destructive
testing. Each is capable of providing extremely useful information, and when used jointly can be
very valuable to the designer when considering useful life and application of the part.


visual inspection is probably the most widely used among all the non-destructive test. It is
simople easy to apply, quickly carried out and usually low in cost. Even though a component is
to be inspected using other NDT methods a good visual inspection should be carried out first. A
simple visual test can reveal gross surface defects thus leading to an immediate rejection of the
component and save much time and money. With the advent of microprocessor and computers
visual examinations can be carried out very reliable and with minimum cost.


1. The general condition of the component

2. The presence or absence of oxide film or corrosive products on the surface
3. The presence or absence of cracks, orientation of cracks and position of cracks
4. The surface porosity , unfilled craters, orientations of the interface between the fused
weld bead and the adjoining parent metal
5. Potential source of mechanical weakness such as sharp notches or misalignment
6. The results of visual examinations may be of great assistance to other test.

The use of optical instrument in visual inspection is beneficial and is recommended to

a) magnify defects that cannot be detected by the unaided eye
b) Permit visual checks of areas not accessible to the unaided eyes

Magnifying devices, Measuring devices and lighting aids should be used wherever appropriate.
The general area should be checked for cleanliness, presence of foreign objects, corrosion and
damage. The devices normally used are
1. Microscope
2. Borescope
3. Endoscope
4. Flexible Fibre optic Borescope( Flexiscope)
5. Telescope
6. Holography

Magnifier (Microscope)

The magnifier can increase the image size of the viewed object. The power of the magnification
is expressed as follows:
Magnifying power = 10 focal length (in inches)
The following is an example of determining the magnification power of a lens: A piece of paper
is held in one hand and a magnifying lens in the other. The image of a light source (e.g., a
candle) is visible on the paper. After focusing the image on the paper by moving the lens toward
and away from the paper, measure the distance from the center of the lens to the paper. This
distance is the focal length of the lens. Divide ten by the focal length distance in inches. The
resultant quotient is the magnifying power of the lens. For example, assume the focal distance
was 2 inches; the power of the lens is ten divided by 2 inches, which equals a magnification
power of five (5)
Another unit of measurement for the magnifier is the diopter. This is a measurement of
the refractive power of lenses equal to the reciprocal of the focal length in meters. A five
diopter lens has the magnification power of five times.
Two common visual magnification devices are hand-held lenses and pocket magnifiers
or microscopes. Hand-held lenses with a frame and handle may contain one lens or multiple fold-
out lenses. They are generally plastic (acrylic) or glass. Normal sizes range from one half inch to
six inches. The other common magnifying device is the pocket microscope.

Light Sources (Direct)

When employing magnification devices, additional light sources are usually required. Several
lighting devices are available that permit light to be concentrated on a small spot. The most
common of these is the hand-held flashlight. This light source is usually held at some angle to,
and within inches of, the specimen to be examined. Another common source of auxiliary light is
the drop light, which is usually a 100-watt light bulb encased in a protective cage with a
reflective shield connected to a length of electric cable. Again, the actual light intensity is
dependent upon angle, distance, and wattage. A light meter can be placed on the specimen
surface and the actual light intensity measurement can be made.

Measuring Devices
There are a multitude of measuring devices available for different. For the sake of brevity, only a
few will be discussed here. The direct visual inspection method is frequently augmented by the
use of several common tools used to measure dimensions, discontinuities, or range of inspection.
Among these are linear measuring devices, outside diameter micrometers, ID/OD calipers, depth
indicators, optical comparators, gauges, templates, and miscellaneous measuring devices.
The most common linear measuring device is the straightedge scale. Typical scale lengths are 6
inches (15 cm) and 12 inches (30 cm) long. Additionally, 25-foot to 50-foot tape measures are
frequently utilized.
Micrometers are used to measure outside or inside diameters. They are very accurate measuring
devices commonly utilized to measure to the nearest one thousandth of an inch. Micrometers are
available that can be used to measure to an accuracy of one ten thousandth of an inch. The
outside diameter (OD) micrometer is made up of several parts, including the anvil, stirrup,
spindle, sleeve, thimble, internal screw, ratchet, and knurled knob.
The vernier caliper is a variation of the basic caliper. A caliper is usually used to measure the
outside diameter of round objects. A common application is the measurement of remaining stock
on a part in a machine lathe. If transfer calipers are used, the calipers are placed with the two
contact points touching opposite sides of a round object. The calipers are removed and compared
to the distance between the contact points as measured on a linear scale. Vernier calipers have
inside diameter (ID) and OD capabilities, depending on which set of points or jaws are utilized.
Depth indicators (dial indicators) are frequently used to measure surface discontinuity depths.
Examples of discontinuities are pits, corrosion, or wastage. Verification of dimensions can also
be conducted. In either case, zero depth must first be verified. The dial indicator or the digital
read-out indicator is placed on a flat surface and zeroed. It is then moved over the depression.
The spindle movement indicates the depth of the depression.
Optical comparators are frequently used in machine shops where close tolerance measurements
are desired. A comparator produces a two-dimensional enlarged image of the object on a large
smoked (frosted) glass screen. The reflected light or background lighting is utilized to cast a
magnified image onto the glass screen. This image is compared with a template of the object to
check for dimensional accuracy.
The welding, fabrication, and construction industries use templates extensively to measure fillets,
offset, mismatch, weld reinforcement, undercut, and other dimensional attributes. A common
application is a template with minimum and/or maximum dimensions made from sheetmetal
stock. The actual weld or base metal is compared to the template to determine go or no-go
status. Accurate and actual measurements would still require linear measuring devices.
Miscellaneous measuring devices come in many sizes and configurations. Snap gauges, feeler
gauges, radius gauges, temperature gauges, pitch gauges and diameter gauges are just a few.
Some applications could have a gauge custom made for a specific need or requirement.

A borescope camera is used to see in walls, inspect pipes and see inside engines. A borescope
inspection is performed in automotive, HVAC, plumbing and machine maintenance and repair,
because a borescope camera allows for the nondestructive inspection of hard-to-reach places
such as drains, sewer pipes, heating vents, air ducts, furnaces, motors, pistons, gears, valves,
compressors, boilers and condenser tubes. Thanks to flexible cables and lightweight enclosures,
borescope cameras are extremely agile and mobile. A borescope inspection camera helps the user
locate potential problems quickly and easily without the need to dismantle a system or machine,
allowing corrective measures to be taken before costly downtime occurs.

A video borescope is used by industrial quality control professionals as well as by mechanics,

plumbers, pipefitters, electricians, engineers, building inspectors, security and law enforcement
officers, locksmiths, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians. A
borescope is the ideal tool for practical applications such as investigating the internal
components of a larger mechanism. In addition, a borescope is used for research in schools and

There are several types of cables that can be used with a borescope. For example, rigid or semi-
rigid cables can be used to inspect fuel injectors or automotive cylinders, while flexible cables
work well for navigating inside pipes and other complex pathways.

Another alternative is the borescope cable with an articulating camera head. A cable with 2-way
or 4-way articulation allows the camera head to be placed at different angles (sometimes rotating
up to 360 degrees) to inspect around U-bends and view tunnel sidewalls

The endoscope is much like a borescope except that it has a superior optical system and a high
intensity light source. Various viewing angle can be used. A unique feature of endoscope is that
objects are constantly in focus from about 4mm to infinity. Actually when the tip is about 4mm
from the surface being inspected a magnification factor of about 10 X is achieved. The no-
focusing feature of the endoscope makes it much easier to use than a borescope, which needs to
be focused at the inspection area. Endoscope are available in diameter down to 1.7mm and in
lengths from 100 to 1500 mm.
Telescope is used to obtain magnified images of objects at considerable distance from the eye. It
is particularly useful for providing visual examination of the surface which is otherwise
inaccessible. It consist of two lenses called the objective and eye piece. The telescope can be
used in conjunction with a periscope for viewing a concealed surface. But closed Circuit
television is also used for the purpose.

Holography is the name given to the method of obtaining an accurate 3-D image of the given
object. The basic method of optical holography is to use a beam of coherent light from a laser
and split this into two beams. One part illuminates the specimen surface and the other part is
used as a reference beam. When these two beams are recombined the result is a hologram which
is normally recorded on a special (holographic emulsion) film. When this hologram is in turn
illuminated with laser light an image of the specimen can be seen, with interference fringes
superimposed when there is any change in position of the specimen surface. The image is seen
three-dimensionally. The frequency and width of these fringes is a measure of surface
displacement and so of local stress. The image can also be recorded on a television camera.

Flexi scope

Flexible fiber optic borescope permit manipulation of the instrument around the corner and
through passage with several directional changes. Woven stainless steel sheathing protects the
image relay bundle during repeated flexing and maneuvering. these devices are designed to
provide sharp and clear images of parts and interior surfaces that are normally impossible to
inspect.Remote end tip deflection allows the view to thread the fiberoscope through complex and
series of bends. The end tip is deflected using a rotating control mechanism mounted on the
handle. Most of the devices have a wide angle objective lens that provides a 100 degree field of
view and tip deflection of + or - 90 degree.


Visual examinations and other nondestructive test methods cover the spectrum of examining
materials from raw product form to the end of their useful lives. Initially, when raw material is
produced, a visual examination is conducted to locate inherent discontinuities. As the material is
further transformed through the manufacturing process, a product results. At this stage, the visual
examination method is used to find discontinuities that are produced during the primary
processing steps. When the product is further developed into its final shape and appearance, the
secondary processes that give the product its final form can also introduce new discontinuities.
Finally, the product is placed into service and is subject to stresses, corrosion, and erosion while
performing its intended function. The process concludes when the material has reached the end
of its useful life and is removed from the source. At every stage, the visual examination method
is applied using various techniques to ascertain the physical condition of the material that
became the component, system, or structure serving the needs for which it was intended.
After material is produced, visual examination is used to assure that a product will meet the
specification requirements prior to processing into a product form for use in its intended service.
The technology associated with visual testing (VT) and remote visual testing (RVT) includes a
spectrum of applications, including various products and industries such as:
Tanks and vessels
Fossil-fuel power plants
Nuclear power plants
Turbines and generators
Refinery plants

Tanks and vessels usually contain fluids, gases, or steam. Fluids may be as corrosive as acid or
as passive as water, either of which can cause corrosion. Tank contents are not always stored at
high pressure. Conversely, vessels usually contain substances under substantial pressure. This
pressure, coupled with the corrosive effects of fluids and thermal or mechanical stresses, may
result in cracking, distortion, or stress corrosion of the vessel material.
Buildings also serve as a source for a myriad of RVT applications. These applications include
location of clogged piping; examination of heating and cooling (HVAC) heat exchangers; and
looking for cracking, pitting, blockages, and mechanical damage to the components. Structural
damage that may be present in the support systems, beams, flooring, or shells, such as cracking,
corrosion, erosion, or warpage can also be detected.
Fossil-fuel power plants have piping, tubing, tanks, vessels, and structures that are exposed to
corrosive and erosive environments as well as to other stresses. These components may require
Turbines and generators, existing at both fossil-fuel and nuclear power plants, are vulnerable
to damage due to high temperatures, pressures, wear, vibration, and impingement of steam,
water, or particles. Accessing the small openings and crevices to reach damaged turbine blades
becomes a very tedious job and a serious challenge, but the effort of per-forming remote
inspections through limited access ports reduces the need and cost of downtime and disassembly
of major components.
VT and RVT technologies and techniques are used in nuclear power plants as well. Water used
for shielding and cooling is exposed to both ionizing radiation and radioactive surface
contamination. The use of water as a coolant and radiation shield in a nuclear environment places
additional requirements on RVT evaluation. The equipment must not only be waterproof, but
also tolerant of radioactive environments.
Due to process requirements in refineries, the containment of pressure and temperature is a
necessity of paramount importance, as is the containment of hazardous materials. These same
materials can be a source of corrosion to piping, tanks, vessels, and structures, all of which are in
constant need of monitoring.