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Charles J. Hellier III, Hellier and Associates, Niantic,

George C. Wheeler, Materials and Processes
Consultants, Schenectady, New York
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PART 1. Fundamentals of Radiographic


Radiographic interpretation is the art of one out of three cases or 67 percent

extracting the maximum pertinent agreement. On a second independent
information from a radiographic image. reading of the same radiographs, a
This requires subjective judgment by the physician would disagree with his or her
interpreter and is influenced by the own previous diagnosis in an average of
interpreters knowledge of (1) the one out of five cases or 80 percent
characteristics of the radiation source and agreement.
its energy levels with respect to the Under the best circumstances of
material being examined; (2) the training and experience, qualified film
characteristics of the recording media in interpreters may disagree. Therefore, in all
response to the selected radiation source applications where quality of the final
and its energy levels; (3) the processing of product is critical for safety or reliability, a
the recording media with respect to minimum of two qualified interpreters
resultant image quality; (4) the object should evaluate and pass judgment on the
being radiographed; (5) the possible and radiographs.
most probable types of discontinuities Reference radiographs are a valuable
that may occur in the test object; and training and interpretation aid. An
(6) the possible variations of the in-house library of radiographs and
discontinuities images as affected by accompanying photographs of
radiographic technique and other factors. macrosections of various discontinuities
Accurate interpretation is strongly are also recommended.
influenced, not only by the viewing
conditions and by the interpreters vision
acuity, but also by the interpreters
knowledge and experience. Therefore, Steps of Radiographic
training of the interpreter is essential to Testing
the reliability of the results of the
interpretation. Because the experience and The five essential steps of radiographic
knowledge of interpreters vary widely, nondestructive testing are the following:
training is also an essential factor in (1) supplying a suitable form and
improving the agreement level between distribution of radiation from an external
interpreters. source to the object being tested;
In a program conducted by a research (2) modification of the radiation
laboratory,1,2 a comparison was made distribution within the test object as a
among five certified film interpreters who result of the variations in radiation
were trained by a master apprentice absorption within the object caused by
program. These five certified film discontinuities or differences in material
interpreters reviewed 350 radiographs and properties that correlate with
reached agreement on 238 radiographs or serviceability of the object; (3) detection
disagreed 32 percent of the time. of these changes in radiation distribution
The results of this research were then by a sensitive detector such as
incorporated into a unified training photosensitive film or paper or an
program, using discontinuity categories electronic system; (4) recording this
from the welding process. Subsequently, a radiation distribution in a form, such as a
procedure was developed wherein nine radiographic image, suitable for
certified film interpreters trained under interpretation; and (5) interpretation of
the unified training program were the image to comply with applicable
compared to nine certified film codes and standards or to provide other
interpreters trained under the master information sought about the object.
apprentice program. Using 96
radiographs, the master apprentice group
disagreed 44 percent of the time; the Specifying Nondestructive
unified training group disagreed only
17 percent of the time. Tests4-6
In a similar study of medical Nondestructive tests must be designed
radiology,3 the reproducibility of a and specified for validity and reliability in
tuberculosis diagnosis was examined. This each individual application. The tests are
study revealed an average disagreement in specific to the problem; no nondestructive

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test is applicable to every kind of material, 3. Limiting the area being viewed may
part, structure, function, or operating improve detection of fine details.
condition. Instead, each nondestructive 4. Use a good 2 or 3 magnifying glass
test must be based on a thorough to assess some indications.
understanding of (1) the nature and 5. Use a transparent scale or ruler to
function of the part being tested, measure indications may be useful in
(2) workmanship standards during differentiating acceptable from
manufacturing and fabrication, and rejectable indications.
(3) the conditions of the parts service. 6. Visually examine the test object, if
These fundamentals are part of the possible, whenever there is any
basic experience and knowledge that a question as to whether an indication
radiographic interpreter must possess. represents a surface condition.
Specific radiographic procedures must be 7. When evaluation of an image or detail
prepared and adhered to in both the is uncertain, radiograph the area
production and the interpretation of the again, if possible, for verification.
resultant radiographic image. These Change the exposure geometry if a
procedures should be based on applicable discontinuity may be unfavorably
specifications, codes and standards and oriented or is near the edge of the film
the interpreter must be thoroughly (Figs. 1 and 2) except for transmitted
familiar with their requirements to beam radiographs.
properly assess the image and product 8. When the depth of a discontinuity
quality. (within the thickness of the object) is
important use triangulation exposures
Interpretation of Radiographic to determine its depth.
The basic steps in interpretation of images
produced by radiography, whether film, Standards, Codes and
paper or electronic images, are the
following. Specifications
1. Ensure by appropriate tests that the All radiography (except research and
interpreter has adequate vision acuity development) should be performed in
under proper viewing conditions. accordance with written procedures
2. Establish proper viewing conditions to developed from applicable standards,
ensure that the interpreter can use codes or specifications, as required by
that vision acuity in interpreting the contractual agreement. This means that
images. the radiographic interpreter must have
3. Assess the quality of the radiographic both a working knowledge of and ready
images that are to be interpreted, access to pertinent documents to verify
including presence of required the technique and quality level
identification information, freedom requirements of (1) the radiography and
from artifacts that might mask (2) the product.
discontinuities, display of the required However, radiographic personnel
penetrameter (image quality indicator) should understand that specified quality
quality level and display of the correct
station/location markers.
4. Assess the quality of the object being FIGURE 1. Schematic diagram of effective (or
tested in the areas of interest. This is projected) focal spot of X-ray tube.
the step that requires the greatest
training, experience and knowledge, True focal spot
particularly in understanding of the
20 degrees
radiographic process and its effects on
the radiographic image.
Some aids useful in detection and
identification of discontinuities include
the following.
1. Slowly moving the radiograph back
and forth often helps in detecting
small or low contrast details, because
the eye is sensitive to moving objects. Effective focal spot
2. Tilting the film or changing the
viewing angle will also improve the
apparent contrast of low contrast
details. This may aid in differentiating
film artifacts from discontinuity Normal X-ray axis

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levels may vary depending on the clear: regardless of the radiographic

specifications in effect and that technique used, there can never be the
radiographic quality levels are considered assurance of a component totally free of
minimum requirements that may be discontinuities. Hence, a thorough
exceeded. understanding of radiographys
Product quality levels should be based limitations is essential for choosing the
on the service (use) of the component optimum techniques to achieve the
being examined, even though this is not desired radiographic quality level.
always addressed in the governing code or
specification. Ideally, the product quality
level should be established by appropriate
engineering personnel in conjunction
with the radiographic specialist, thus
providing the maximum degree of
inspectability and ensuring that the most
critical discontinuities can be detected.
Carlton H. Hastings succinctly defined
material as a collection of defects, with
acceptable material being a [fortunate]
arrangement of defects and rejectable
material being an unfortunate
arrangement of defects.7 The message is

FIGURE 2. Diagram showing change of shape

and size of projected X-ray focal spot as
function of position in X-ray field.
(a) Target focus


(b) B


A. Nominal center film, directly in line with orthogonal
projection from X-ray tube window, may give
average sized focal spot projection.
B. Optimum focal spot projection in this example.
C. Poor projection

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PART 2. Viewing in Radiographic Testing

possible responses (two with no

Vision Acuity and orientation, four with orientation) and
(2) it includes astigmatic effects. The four
Perception orientations are horizontal H, vertical V,
Vision acuity as it applies to radiography oblique right R and oblique left L.
requires both the observation of fine
detail and the detection of small
differences in brightness or contrast. It is
FIGURE 3. Examples of reference acuity tests
significantly affected by environmental,
showing line orientations and dimensions:
physiological and psychological variables.
(a) vertical, contrast 0.85, sharp; (b) rotated
The major controllable factors are the
90 degrees, horizontal, contrast 0.85, sharp;
ambient light level in the viewing area
(c) oblique/left, contrast 0.1, blurred;
and the light level illuminating the
(d) oblique, rotated 90 degrees, contrast
radiographic image, that is, passing
0.1, blurred.
through the film, falling on the paper or
emitted from a fluorescent or real time (a)
The vision acuity of an individual may FRONT BACK
vary from moment to moment, hour to V

hour and day to day, as well as over
longer time periods, depending on many 13 mm
variables. These include emotions, fatigue, (0.5 in.) 0.85
light levels and wavelength of the light,
light and dark adaptation of the eyes and

the characteristics of the images being
sought, that is, their shape, size and
Acuity alone, as usually measured, does (b)
not guarantee detection. The eye and the
brain together must discriminate patterns 0.85 H

from the background. This requires

thorough knowledge of the target patterns

30 mm
and how they may vary as a function of (1.2 in.)
radiographic exposure technique
variables. Discrimination also depends on S

the scanning technique, which includes,

as in ultrasonic testing, the pattern,
coverage and speed of scanning. (c)
Annual vision examinations cannot
account for all of these variables. They
0.1 L

establish only the ability, at the time of

the examination, to detect known targets
50 mm
with simple shapes (letters, numbers and (2 in.)
others) that usually have high contrast
relative to their background. This suggests B

that, for highly critical work, more

frequent examinations with more
variables should be used or that multiple
interpreters should be used for such work. (d)
The vision test described below was
developed using microdensitometer scans 0.1 R

of discontinuities taken from actual

radiographs.8 Samples of the acuity test

slides are presented in Fig. 3. The

optotype (acuity test target) is a thin line
darker than the background. Line B

orientation serves two important

functions: (1) it increases the number of

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The recommended parameters for this In most cases subdued lighting in the
test are summarized in Table 1. The viewing area is preferable to total
background luminance (brightness) of the darkness. However, when relatively broad
test chart is kept constant at 85 5 cdm2 areas, about 6 mm (0.25 in.) wide or
or 25 1.5 ftl (see footnotes to Table 1 for more, of very low contrast and low
definitions of these units). Three contrast sharpness, such as shallow, blended
levels and line widths are recommended. depressions or microshrinkage, must be
The length of the lines is kept constant at detected or their dimensions measured, it
107 min of arc. These angular measures may be desirable or even necessary for the
are based on a viewing distance of interpreter to practice extended dark
400 mm (16 in.). Two levels of line adaptation. Adaptation times of as much
sharpness are included: one with a sharp as 30 to 45 min have sometimes been
edge similar to most optotypes used in found necessary to ensure adequate vision
vision testing and one with a blurred edge to resolve such features.9,10
like that in many actual radiographs. The room lighting must be arranged so
These slides are designed for self-testing that there are no reflections from the
as well as testing by designated examiners. surface of the image being interpreted.
The front of the slides contain only the Adequate table surface must be provided
optotypes (Fig. 3) with all necessary on either side of the viewing device to
information given on the reverse side. accommodate film and to provide a
This procedure assumes that for writing surface for recording the
self-testing the examinee will look at the interpretation. Quick and easy access
side giving the correct response (H, V, R or should be provided to a suitable
L) only after evaluating the target densitometer; reference radiographs; and
orientation. applicable codes, standards and
specifications. In addition, it is important
for the film interpreter to be free of
distractions, including telephone and
Viewing Conditions and visitors, to maintain concentration.
Equipment For radioscopic techniques that require
viewing of a computer screen or electronic
Viewing conditions are important for imaging console, the same general
achieving good interpretation and conditions apply but may vary depending
evaluation results. Interpretation and on the specific system being used. Direct
evaluation of radiographic images should viewing generally requires dark
be done under conditions that afford adaptation: 20 min of dark adaptation is
maximum visibility of detail together considered good practice. Red light up to
with a maximum of comfort and a 30 times brighter than white will not
minimum of fatigue for the interpreter. affect dark adapted eyes. Red goggles
outside the viewing area and red light in
the viewing rooms are useful to maintain
eye sensitivity. A remote viewing system
TABLE 1. Vision acuity test parameters.
with a video presentation allows
Quantity of individual control of brightness and
Variable Conditions Conditions contrast for maximum vision acuity.9
If the interpretation of the radiographic
Figure and ground 1 Dark on light image is to be meaningful, it is essential
Background luminancea 1 85 5 cdm2 (25 1.5 ftL) that proper viewing equipment be in
Contrast 3 0.1, 0.3, 0.85 good working condition. If slight density
Line width (plane angle) 3 220 rad (0.75 min), variations in the radiographs are not
290 rad (1.0 min) and observed, rejectable conditions may go
440 mrad (1.5 min) unnoticed. In many cases, various types of
Line width (plane angle) 1 31.13 mrad (107 min) discontinuities are barely distinguishable
Viewing distance 1 400 mm (16 in.) even with optimized techniques and fine
Blur 2 sharp, blurred grained film. To optimize the interpreters
Line orientation 4 perpendicular or horizontal, ability to properly evaluate the
oblique right, oblique left radiographic image, appropriate viewing
Light source (viewer) 1 Incandescent, fluorescent conditions and suitable equipment are
Total (combinations) 72 absolutely necessary.
a. The unit for luminance in the International System of Units (SI) is candela
per square meter (cdm2). The English unit for luminance, the footlambert High Intensity Illuminators
(ftl), is equal to 3.426 cdm2.
A radiograph that meets the density
b. The unit for plane angle in the International System of Units (SI) is radian
(rad), equal to 3437.75 minutes (min) and equal to 52.296 degrees (deg),
requirements of current codes and
where 1 deg = 60 min = 1.745 102 rad. specifications will permit only a small
fraction of the incident light to pass
through it. The optical density of a

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radiographic film can be expressed as a viewing area is rectangular and the area of
logarithmic function: illumination may be adjusted to conform
to the film dimension by using metal or
I0 cardboard masks.
(1) Density = log
It The area viewers are designed to
accommodate large films up to
where Density is the degree of blackness 360 430 mm (14 17 in.). The
resulting from radiographic exposure; Io is illumination is generally provided by
the incident light intensity (from the high fluorescent lights or a bank of
intensity illuminator or densitometer); photographic flood bulbs. The fluorescent
and It is the light transmitted through a light intensity may not have suitable
specific region of the radiograph. brightness to permit effective examination
If a film is perfectly clear, the optical through the higher densities and this
density will be 0: could result in a serious limitation. The
combination spot and area viewers (Fig. 5)
provide the interpreter with spot
= log (1) = 0
Density = log capability while allowing the viewing of a
large area of film. A switch determines
which light source will be activated.
A film that permits 1 percent of the
incident light to be transmitted will have Heat. Because light of high intensity also
an optical density of 2.0. generates significant amounts of heat, it is
Following the same procedure, it can necessary that the illuminator have a
be seen that a film optical density of 3.0 means of dissipating or diverting the heat
permits only 0.1 percent of the incident to avoid damaging the radiographic film
light to pass through and a film optical while viewing. Light sources in
density of 4.0, a mere 0.01 percent. illuminators of typical film viewers consist
Typically, radiographic density of one or more photographic flood bulbs.
requirements through the area of interest Other light sources such as flood lights
range between 2.0 (1 percent light and tungsten halogen bulbs are also used.
transmission) and 4.0 (0.01 percent light Diffusion. To minimize variation in the
transmission); this explains the need for a intensity of light across the area being
source of high intensity viewing light. viewed it is also important that the light
There are many types and styles of be diffused over the area used for viewing.
high intensity illuminators, although they This diffusing is accomplished with a
are generally classified into four groups: diffusing glass, usually positioned between
(1) spot viewers, (2) strip film viewers, the light source and the viewing area, or
(3) area viewers and (4) combination spot with a white plastic screen at the front of
and area viewers. the viewer.
Spot viewers provide a limited field of Intensity Control. Another essential
illumination, typically 76 to 102 mm feature of the illuminator is the variable
(3 to 4 in.) in diameter. These viewers are intensity control. This permits subdued
usually the most portable and least intensity when viewing lower densities
expensive. and maximum intensity as required for
The strip film viewer (Fig. 4) permits the high density portions of the
interpretation of strip film including radiograph.
90 430 mm (3.5 17 in.), 115
430 mm (4.5 17 in.), 100 250 mm
(4 10 in.) and 125 175 mm (5 7 in.)
and the 35 mm or 70 mm sizes. The FIGURE 5. High intensity combination
illuminator with iris diaphragm spot viewer
and large viewer.
FIGURE 4. High intensity illuminator designed
for viewing strip film.

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Masks. Masks can be extremely helpful film reading area, include (1) supply of
when attempting to evaluate a small wax marking pencils to mark the film;
portion of a larger radiograph or when the (2) rulers (the most appropriate would be
radiograph is physically small. The intent clear, flexible plastic); (3) a small
is to illuminate that portion of the flashlight to reflect light off the
radiograph identified as the area of radiographic film to assist in the
interest, while masking other light from identification of film artifacts such as
the eyes of the interpreter. Some spot scratches, roller marks, dirt and others;
viewers are equipped with an iris (4) gloves, usually cotton or nylon, to
diaphragm that permits the spot size to be minimize direct contact between the film
varied with the simple adjustment of a and the fingers of the interpreter;
lever. This feature is especially helpful (5) charts, tables and other technical aids
when small areas or fine details must be that will assist in the prompt
examined. establishment of density range (for
Precautions. The illuminators front glass example, see Table 2), determination of
or screen touches the film and should geometric unsharpness and other data
always be clean and free of blemishes on related to the applicable codes or
both sides. Scratches, nicks, dirt or other specifications.
imperfections on the front glass or screen
will cast shadows on the radiograph, Viewing Paper Radiographs
causing unnecessary images.
Typically, paper radiographs are reviewed
Another precaution will help minimize
under normal lighting conditions using
film scratches. The front of the viewer
white light reflected from the radiograph.
should be carefully examined to ensure
It is essential that the light be of suitable
that there are no sharp edges or other
obstructions; these could cause scratches
to the sensitive surface of the radiograph
as it is moved or positioned on the viewer. FIGURE 6. Comparator with etched glass
reticle: (a) comparator; (b) reticle.
Normally, radiographs can be effectively (a)
evaluated without magnification devices.
There may be occasions, however, when
such devices are helpful. For example, if
the article being radiographed contains
very small discontinuities or consists of
minute components, magnification may
be essential. This application will
generally require fine grained film that
can be suitably magnified. Some of the
coarser grained films are difficult to view
with magnification because the graininess
is also enlarged; this can make
discernment of slight optical density
changes impossible. (b) Compares
There is a wide assortment of hole
magnifiers appropriate for the evaluation diameters
of radiographs. The most common is the
handheld magnifying glass, available in
many shapes, sizes and powers. For
convenience, a gooseneck magnifier may
be employed. Because this magnifier is
free standing and attached to a weighted Measures
metal base, it leaves the interpreters dimensions
hands free during use. One device that
offers magnification and measuring
capabilities is a comparator with an
etched glass reticle (Fig. 6).
If any form of magnification is
employed, it should be done with caution
and limited to only those applications
where it is necessary.

Viewing Accessories
Additional accessories that aid the Compares
interpreter and should be available in the thicknesses

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intensity and, in some cases, positioned at

an angle to prevent glare. Various lighting
sources have been successful, including
the high intensity reading lamps and
specular lights (light focused from a
reflector). Magnifiers containing
fluorescent bulbs also provide an effective
means of evaluating the paper radiograph,
while magnifying the image. High
magnification (above 5) is not usually
beneficial because of the normal
graininess and lack of sharpness inherent
in the paper radiograph. See discussions of
paper radiography elsewhere for more

TABLE 2. Density range table based on

densities of +30 percent and 15 percent.
Densities less than 2.0 and more than 4.0
are considered unacceptable by some
codes and specifications.
Density through Maximum Minimum
Penetrameter (+30 percent) (15 percent)

1.5 1.95 1.28

1.6 2.08 1.36
1.7 2.21 1.45
1.8 2.34 1.53
1.9 2.47 1.62
2.0 2.60 1.70
2.1 2.73 1.79
2.2 2.86 1.87
2.3 2.99 1.96
2.4 3.12 2.04
2.5 3.25 2.13
2.6 3.38 2.21
2.7 3.51 2.30
2.8 3.64 2.38
2.9 3.77 2.47
3.0 3.90 2.55
3.1 4.03 2.64
3.2 4.16 2.72
3.3 4.29 2.81
3.4 4.42 2.89
3.5 4.55 2.98
3.6 4.68 3.06
3.7 4.81 3.15
3.8 4.94 3.23
3.9 5.07 3.32
4.0 5.20 3.40

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PART 3. Densitometers

The densitometer is an instrument that The operation of modern

measures film density (Figs. 7 and 8). densitometers is quite simple. After
Before the invention of portable calibration, using a density strip with
densitometers, densities were estimated by known values for a number of different
comparing the radiographic density to a densities, the radiograph is positioned
comparator strip. The strip contained a between the light source, usually located
series of densities established by at the base of the densitometer, and the
cumbersome and unwieldy early head, which contains a photomultiplier.
densitometers. Many of these early Because the transmitted light intensity
radiographic density determinations were decreases as radiographic film density
simple, visual estimates. increases, less light reaches the
photosensitive surface in the head and
the voltage output from the
photomultiplier (to the meter or digital
FIGURE 7. Digital transmission densitometer. display) will indicate a higher density
reading. Conversely, as more light passes
through a lower density region of the
radiographic film and interacts with the
photosensitive surface in the head, a
lower density is indicated on the meter or
digital display.
An aperture is installed near the light
source to establish the precise region of
the film that is being measured. Changing
apertures requires recalibration.

The first step in the proper use of the
densitometer is warmup. Most
instruments now contain solid state
circuitry and warmup time is minimal. It
is good practice to wait at least five
minutes after the densitometer has been
turned on before taking density readings.
FIGURE 8. Battery powered densitometer. This provides ample time for electronic
The next step is the most important
one. No matter how simple the
densitometer may appear to be, it must be
calibrated. Calibration is accomplished
with a calibrated density strip. Because
different densitometers have different
controls and procedures for calibration,
the specific instruction manuals should be
consulted. After calibration is
accomplished, a series of readings for a
number of density steps should be taken
using the calibrated strip. This should be
repeated frequently during the
densitometry to detect electrical shifts or
inadvertent changes to the controls.
It is good practice to record calibration
readings in a daily log book. Some codes
and specifications require a master density
strip traceable to a standards organization.
The master strip can be used to calibrate

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other density strips that are typically used readings of paper radiographs are
for daily calibration. As the daily achieved by measuring reflected light.
calibration strips wear out or become There are a number of commercially
damaged from use, new ones can be available reflection densitometers and
prepared by comparison to the master several transmission densitometers that
strip. also have the ability to read reflected
After calibration, the densitometer is densities.
ready to use.

Precautions Microdensitometers
Several precautions should be kept in Densitometry for conventional
mind. radiographic equipment and procedures is
1. The densitometer is a sensitive done with the transmission densitometer.
electronic instrument and must be This instrument is generally suitable for
treated with care. ensuring compliance with radiographic
2. The densitometer must be kept clean technique requirements. However, it may
at all times. The aperture, glass not provide sufficient information for
portions of the head and the reflective certain specialized radiographic analyses.
mirror (if used) should be cleaned with The transmission densitometer is limited,
care using a cotton swab moistened in certain respects, by its relatively large
with alcohol. aperture and by its inability to
3. To avoid damaging the densitometer automatically scan a film or produce a
and to ensure accurate readings, never permanent record. These limitations may
take density readings if the film is not dramatically affect the accuracy of relative
completely dry. (Wet film density is density determinations, especially if the
not the same as dry film density.) area of interest on a film is small (two or
4. When replacing the bulb, exercise three millimeters). The scanning
extreme care; make sure the microdensitometer (SMD), which is also
densitometer is unplugged and take called a recording microdensitometer, was
time to remove smudges resulting designed to overcome these limitations.
from handling. The scanning microdensitometer
5. Keep both the daily and master automatically scans a predetermined area
calibration strips in a protective cover on a film and produces a graphic
or envelope. depiction of the density changes
It is reasonable to expect readings with occurring in the scan path. The accuracy
an accuracy of 0.02 when the of the scanning microdensitometer is
densitometer is properly maintained. greatly enhanced by its adjustable
Repeatability should generally fall within aperture, which may be set for openings
0.01. If the readings vary from these as small as 3 m (1.2 104 in.), hence
tolerances, the equipment should be the prefix micro. The scanning
checked for possible corrective action. microdensitometer concept is based on
the synchronous combination of an
elaborate densitometry system and a
compatible scanning/recording system.
Optical Density of Paper
Radiographs Description of Equipment and
Density readings of radiographic film are Operation
made using a transmission densitometer. The principle of operation for
In the case of paper radiographs, density conventional scanning microdensitometer
must be measured with a reflection equipment (Fig. 9) is based on a true
densitometer because light cannot be double beam light system, in which two
transmitted effectively through paper. beams, emanating from a single light
Reflection density can be determined source, are switched alternately to a single
by using Eq. 2: photomultiplier. One of the light beams is
directed, through a series of prisms and
I0 mirrors, to the aperture that actually scans
(2) DR = log the film; the other light beam is directed
to an aperture that sends it through a
mobile calibrated gray wedge.
where DR is the reflection density, Io is the Any differences in light intensity are
incident light intensity and IR is the automatically corrected so that both
reflected light intensity. apertures transmit the same light
While this equation is similar to the quantity. During a scan, the film is placed
one used to determine the transmission on an automatically propelled carriage
density in radiographic film, density

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that transports the film across the (4) B = FR + RR

apertures light beam (the aperture
remains stationary). As the film traverses
where FR is face reinforcement thickness
the light beam, continuous density
and RR is root reinforcement thickness.
readings are transmitted to a computer
These values are shown in the cross
that feeds these readings to the gray
sectional drawing of Fig. 10 and the
wedge portion of the apparatus.
scanning microdensitometric graphs of
The mobile gray wedge (which is
Fig. 11.
calibrated based on degree of density
change per centimeter) will shift its
position so that the density through the Advantages and Limitations of
gray wedge matches the density of the Scanning Microdensitometry
film being scanned. The mobile gray
The scanning microdensitometer was
wedge is mechanically attached to a
designed to overcome the scanning,
recording pen assembly; the recording
recording and accuracy limitations of
pen is in contact with graph paper that is
conventional densitometry equipment.
mounted on a graph carriage moving at
With these limitations eliminated, a broad
the same rate as the film carriage. The end
array of information can be derived from
result of this system is a graphic depiction
the scanning microdensitometer.
of the density changes occurring in the
The instrument provides numerous
scan path of the film:
means by which accuracy can be
A B enhanced or optimized. The aperture
(3) = opening may be set as small as three
D1 D2 micrometers to provide information
associated with film grain dispersion and
where A is shim thickness; D1 is film grain size. The ratio arm will allow for
density change from area of base metal to graph-to-scan path ratios of 1:1, 2:1, 5:1
that of base metal plus shim; D2 is the and so on, which is very beneficial for
film density change from base metal to scanning small areas. The ratio arm
total weld thickness; and B is thickness setting can also be used to optimize
difference between weld area and base accuracy, provided other equipment
material. The definition of B is further adjustments are set accordingly. The scan
specified in Eq. 4: graph itself can be incorporated into
radiographic records to demonstrate
verification of dimensional tolerances or
adherence to density tolerances. The
FIGURE 9. Double beam microdensitometry schematic. scanning microdensitometer can be a very
useful and cost effective radiographic tool;
Recording carriage
however, its limitations should not be
Graph paper overlooked.
The major limitation of this equipment
Density plot is ensuring that it will produce
interpretable results. Some graph peaks

Recording Aperture
pen assembly Light beam FIGURE 10. Typical convexity scan path.
Gray wedge
D1 D2

Shim A FR
Light source

processing unit

Aperture Film
A = shim thickness
Scan Specimen (film) B = total material thickness difference between weld
path carriage area and base metal
FR = additional thickness at face reinforcement
RR = additional thickness at root reinforcement
Control panel
D1 = film density change from base metal to shim
D2 = film density change from base metal to total
weld thickness

196 Radiographic Testing

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are signals (relevant) and others are noise involved. Ideal situations are infrequent
(nonrelevant). The ability to distinguish in pipe radiography, however, and the
between signal and noise is highly majority of pipe weld joints are
dependent on the aperture opening and inaccessible for visual testing of the weld
its relation to the film being scanned. If a root. In a large portion of these situations,
very grainy high contrast film is scanned, an additional radiograph, showing a
a large aperture (90 m, or 3.5 103 in.) profile view of the questionable
should be used. Otherwise, the condition, will provide the information
signal-to-noise ratio of the scan graph will necessary to support or determine the
make interpretation difficult. Conversely, film interpreters judgment. Additional
if a fine grained film is scanned, a small radiography is normally an effective
aperture opening is appropriate. means for determining the accept/reject
The scanning microdensitometer status of a radiograph; however, the
operator should be thoroughly familiar additional time, cost and material
with the variables of the equipment so required with this technique frequently
that the scanning technique can be make scanning microdensitometry more
optimized on the basis of the objective of suitable.
the scan and the data producing The scanning microdensitometer graph
capabilities of the film. (Fig. 11) allows conversion of density
differences to material thickness
Applications differences (provided there is an item of
known thickness on the radiograph, such
Scanning microdensitometry equipment as a shim). This, in turn, allows the X-ray
can be very useful for certain industrial film interpreter to determine the degree of
radiography applications. Among these the weld condition without additional
applications are X-ray focal spot radiography. (A shim of known thickness
measurements and determination of total can be used as a visual reference for
radiographic unsharpness. A common go/no-go thicknesses of reinforcements on
application of the scanning welds.)
microdensitometer in industrial The scanning microdensitometer is also
radiography is verification of dimensional used for determining adherence to
tolerances of questionable piping weld dimensional tolerances of assemblies such
root conditions. as nuclear fuel elements, artillery fuses
The ideal technique for verifying the and other assemblies where hidden
dimensional tolerances of a given weld component tolerances are critical. Where
root condition is by performing a visual physical density variations are a matter of
test and actually measuring the condition concern, the scanning densitometer is

FIGURE 11. Scanning microdensitometry graph.

Shim scan Weld scan

Density change D

D1 = 0.37 D2 = 0.42

Lowest point

Film scan path (2:1 scale)

D1 = film density change from base metal to shim
D2 = film density change from base metal to total weld thickness

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useful for controlling the density of

matrix and composite materials.
In an unusual application, high voltage
radiography and a microdensitometer
with a double light beam source were
used to measure the stress in rock
specimens when mine rock anchor bolts
of various types were inserted.11
The scanning microdensitometer will
generally transfer certain information
from a radiograph to a medium (a graph)
that can be understood by
nonradiographic personnel. It should be
noted, however, that some degree of
interpretation is necessary to understand
fully the information provided by the
microscan graph. Therefore, the
microscan graph should only be
interpreted by knowledgeable and
qualified personnel.
The limitations of scanning
microdensitometer systems must be
realized. The actual scanning technique
must be devised based on the objective of
the resultant graph.

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PART 4. Radiographic Interpretation Reporting

When reporting and documenting the 1. The contract or purchase order should
results of radiographic film interpretation, clearly delineate the applicable codes,
complete and accurate information must standards, specifications and
accompany the radiographs. procedures, including acceptance
Consistent with the importance of criteria and personnel qualification
accurate information is correct requirements. Exceptions to codes,
terminology. Slang should be discouraged standards or specification
in any formal reports. Furthermore, requirements, if any, should also be
interpretation reports should use noted.
terminology consistent with acceptance 2. Required quality levels and techniques
criteria. As an example, where the as referenced in the applicable codes,
acceptance criteria limit rounded multifilm techniques if used, section
indications, a report identifying porosity thicknesses, penetrameter (image
may be misleading or even incorrect a quality indicator) selection and
small void with a tail may meet the placement for each thickness range
description of an elongated or linear covered.
indication (and rounded and linear 3. General exposure techniques used
indications may have different size include the following: (a) shooting
limits). sketches, including film coverage and
Subsequent customer review and identification; (b) kilovoltage, time,
regulatory agency review may not occur milliamperage, target-to-film distance
until long after the completion of the and target size (for X-rays); source type
radiographic test and acceptance by the and becquerel (or curie) strength,
fabricator or supplier. Lack of explanatory source-to-film distance and physical
information and documentation can source size (for gamma rays); (c) film
result in costly delays for resolving types and intensifying screens used;
apparent or suspect indications on the (d) calculated geometric unsharpness;
radiographs. This information is typically (e) blocking and masking; (f) manual
documented on the film readers or automatic processing; (g) quality
interpretation report, sometimes called a level required and obtained; and
readers sheet. (h) film density required and obtained.
Suppose, for example, that there is a 4. Repairs should be documented so that
surface discontinuity in a casting mold the ultimate reviewer knows the cause
and this results in a number of castings and corrective action as an aid to
that have the same discontinuity. The interpretation. Radiographs taken after
castings are subsequently radiographed repair should be so indicated. Also,
and the radiographs reveal the same indications determined to be surface
indication. The condition of the mold is conditions on the test object should
well known to the initial film interpreter, be recorded as such, together with any
who might therefore neglect to make note corrective action. If not radiographed
of it. Later reviewers will not have this after corrective action, that fact should
basic information and must then develop be noted.
it. This generally requires reconstruction 5. Disposition of each radiograph should
of the shooting sketch and visual be noted. All relevant indications
examination of the casting, frequently a (indications requiring evaluation)
time consuming task, particularly if the within the allowable acceptance
shooting sketch does not adequately criteria should be classified and sized
identify reference points and the (for example, Station No. 7, slag,
indication is on an inside surface. To 6 mm long) and entered on the
further complicate matters, the casting interpretation report.
may be unavailable for routine visual These data are typically entered on the
examination. interpretation report. Figure 12 is an
Documentation needed to minimize example of such a form for weld
confusion during interpretation includes, interpretation; Fig. 13, for castings.
but is not limited to, the following items.

Radiographic Interpretation 199

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FIGURE 12. Typical radiographic interpretation report (readers sheet) for welds.

200 Radiographic Testing

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FIGURE 13. Typical radiographic interpretation report (readers sheet) for castings.

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PART 5. Radiographic Artifacts

Indication Description Artifacts Caused before

Because most nonrelevant indications can Processing
be readily related to their actual causes,
this category of indications is
comparatively easy to interpret. False and Film Scratches
actual discontinuity indications will be Radiographic film emulsion is quite
presented here to provide guidance for sensitive and scratches can be caused by
the radiographic film interpreter. most abrasive materials; fingernails and
The interpretation of radiographs is not rough handling during loading or
a precise science. As mentioned earlier in unloading are examples. Film scratches
this chapter, even those qualified film can be identified by reflecting light at an
interpreters with years of experience will angle to the film surface.
often disagree on the nature of
discontinuities and their disposition. The
descriptions and illustrations12 contained Crimp Marks
in this chapter may be used as a general Crimp marks are caused by bending the
guideline to help identify similar film abruptly, usually when loading and
indications encountered during the unloading the film holder. If the film is
interpretation process. crimped before exposure, it will produce a
crescent shaped indication that is lighter
in density than the adjacent film density
(Fig. 14). If crimped after exposure, the
False Indications (Film film will produce an indication that is
Artifacts) darker than the adjacent film density.
The radiographic process is very intolerant
of dirt and careless handling of the
recording media. Violations of good FIGURE 14. Crimp marks resulting from poor handling of
darkroom practice in film loading, individual sheet of film: (a) before exposure; (b) after
unloading and processing will result in exposure.
artifacts that must be recognized for what
they are, not what they may appear to be. (a) (b)
Erroneous interpretations may be made
as the result of not recognizing artifacts.
Emulsion scratches are a common cause
of such misinterpretation. These and
many other artifacts are quickly
recognizable by viewing both surfaces of
the film with reflected light.
The double film technique is one of
the most effective steps in recognizing
artifacts, by simply comparing the area of
interest on both films. If the indication is
on one film and not the other, is not in
the same place or has changed in
appearance, it is an artifact.
There are many different types of
artifacts, some of which can be confused
with actual discontinuities. It is extremely
important to identify these false
indications and to note their presence in
the film interpreters report. In some cases
the existence of artifacts in the area of
interest may require reradiography. It is
therefore important to take every
reasonable step to minimize artifacts.

202 Radiographic Testing

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Pressure Marks screens, it is imperative that they be

absolutely clean, smooth, free of
Pressure marks are caused by severe
imperfections and foreign matter.
localized applications of pressure to the
A word of caution: manufacturers of
film. For example, a part may be dropped
screens often apply a thin plastic coating
on the film holder during setup. This will
to protect the screen from scratches
produce an artifact on the processed film
during processing. This coating must be
(Fig. 15).
removed before using a new screen as it
will absorb much of the emissions that
Static Marks would otherwise provide the desired
Static charges may develop when the intensification.
radiographic film is handled roughly or
moved rapidly during loading or Fog
unloading the film holder. It may also be
Fog is an overall, small density increase
caused by rapid removal of the paper
caused when unexposed film is exposed
wrapper used as an interleaf. The
to some chemicals, low levels of radiation,
appearance of static marks will range from
high humidity, small darkroom light leaks
branchlike, jagged dark lines to irregular,
or an inadequate safelight. Information
abrupt dark spots.
regarding safe light intensity limits can be
obtained from the film manufacturer.
Screen Marks
Scratches and other blemishes in a lead Light Leaks
screen will become intensified and can
Exposure to light usually results in
create significant indications on the film
noticeable local film blackening (Fig. 17).
image. This may be especially noticeable
when the film holder containing the lead
screens is bent to accommodate part
configuration. Dirt on fluorescent screens FIGURE 16. Words front and back scratched in
will interfere with light transmission to the surface of front and back lead foil
the film and a light area will result after screens before radiography of a 25 mm
the film is processed. Dirt on lead screens (1.0 in.) welded steel plate. Hairs placed
interferes with electron bombardment of between respective screens and film are
the film and also produces a light area in visible as light marks preceding inscribed
the image (Fig. 16). Screens should have a words.
unique serial number inscribed in a corner
to identify these problems and to make it
easier to locate the faulty screen.
Small bits of foreign material (such as
lint, tobacco, paper or dandruff) between
the film and fluorescent or lead screens
will cause light spots in the processed
film. To minimize false indications from

FIGURE 15. Pressure mark caused before

exposure, visible as low density.

FIGURE 17. Light leaks.

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Film holders should be examined

regularly to eliminate the problem. FIGURE 19. Light spots caused before
development: (a) by stop bath splashed on
Finger Marks film; (b) by fixer splashed on film.
Marks such as fingerprints are normally (a)
easy to recognize. They may be darker or
lighter images on the film.

Artifacts Caused during


Chemical Streaks
During manual processing, streaks on the
film may result if chemicals from previous
processing are not adequately removed (b)
from the hanger clips (Fig. 18). Overall
film streaking may also result when the
film is placed directly into a water rinse
without first placing it into the stop bath
solution. Developer carryover into the
fixer may cause an overall streaking
condition. A further cause of streaking is
insufficient agitation of the film hanger
during development.

If fixer solution comes in contact with the
film before development, light areas or
spots will result (Fig. 19). If drops of
developer or water inadvertently reach the
film before placing it into the developer,
dark spots can result (Fig. 20). FIGURE 20. Dark spots caused before
development: (a) by water splashed on film;
(b) by developer splashed on film.

FIGURE 18. Streaking caused by inadequately (a)

cleaned film hangers.


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Another spotting condition may occur Pi Lines

from water droplets on the film surface.
These lines run across the film,
During the drying process, these droplets
perpendicular to the direction of rolling,
take longer to dry and leave a distinct
when an automatic processor is used.
circular pattern on the film surface. Water
They occur at regularly spaced intervals,
spots can be reduced by using a wetting
3.14 times the roller diameter. This
agent before drying.
condition is apparently caused by a slight
deposit of chemicals on the rollers by the
Delay Streaks leading edge of the film (Fig. 22).
These are uneven streaks in the direction
of film movement through an automatic Pressure Marks
processor. A delay in feeding successive
Pressure marks may be caused by a buildup
films may result in the drying of solutions
of foreign matter on rollers in an
on the processor rollers. Cleaning the
automatic processor or by inadequate
exposed rollers with a damp cloth should
clearances between rollers. Rollers should
eliminate delay streaks.
be thoroughly cleaned and properly
adjusted to minimize this condition
Air Bells (Fig. 23).
Air bells are caused by air bubbles clinging
to the surface of the film when it is Kissing
immersed in the developer. An air bell
Film that comes in contact with other
prevents developer from reaching the film
film, especially in the developer during
surface, thus causing light spots on the
manual processing, will result in a severe
film image. If the film hanger is tapped
blotch in the area of contact.
abruptly against the side of the tank then
properly agitated, the air bubbles should
become dislodged.
FIGURE 22. Pi lines. Two or more lines recur
Dirt at interval of roller diameter.
If dirt or other contaminants accumulate
on the surface of the developer or fixer, a
noticeably dirty pattern will probably
appear on the film. If the rinse water is
not adequately replenished, it can also
cause a similar problem, especially if the
water coming into the wash tank is dirty
and filtration is not used (Fig. 21). This Pi lines
condition can be verified by observing the
surface of the film in reflected light.

FIGURE 21. Surface deposits caused by

contaminated wash water in automatic
processor. FIGURE 23. Pressure marks caused by foreign
matter on rollers or improper roller

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Artifacts Caused after


Scratches result from rough handling.
Even after processing, the emulsion is
sensitive to all types of abrasion and care
should be taken to minimize damage to
the emulsion.

These occur when improperly handling
the film, as can happen during
interpretation. Film should be handled
with care by the edges or corners
whenever possible. To prevent
fingerprints, radiographs should be
handled with cotton or nylon gloves.

Radioscopic Artifacts
Radioscopic artifacts are also operator
dependent and must be recognized. They
are caused primarily by electronic noise
generated in video systems and can be
corrected by filtering. Dust on the lens
surface is another common cause of real
time artifacts. When using image
enhancement techniques on radiographs,
a very careful examination of the film
should be made to identify all artifacts
before enhancement. Otherwise, the
artifacts will also be enhanced and could
possibly be difficult to identify in
subsequent evaluations. This is also true
when radiographs are duplicated or

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PART 6. Discontinuity Indications

and sizes but can be generally categorized

Discontinuity Indications as an inclusion (short, isolated piece) or as
a slag line (relatively narrow but having
for Welds length). Inclusions are evaluated based on
The various discontinuities found in size, quantity and length.
weldments are illustrated and described In welds, slag inclusions are often
here strictly as representative conditions. elongated or linear, often aligned with the
Cross sectional photographs or sketches length of a weld. This condition is
are also shown. These examples are for associated with multipass welding
illustrative purposes; actual discontinuities
vary in shape, size and severity.
FIGURE 24. Porosity: (a) photomacrograph;
Porosity (b) radiographic image.
These are voids that result from gas being
entrapped as the weld metal solidifies (a)
(Fig. 24). Porosity is generally spherical
but may be elongated. In some cases,
porosity may appear to have a tail as a
result of the gas attempting to escape or
move while the weld metal is still in the
liquid state. Porosity is often uniformly
scattered to different degrees of severity
but may also appear as a cluster where
there is a concentration of pores in a
relatively small area. Linear porosity is a
condition that involves a number of pores
aligned and separated by a distance
usually stipulated in the acceptance
standards. Piping porosity is severely
elongated gas holes that are well defined
and may vary in length from very short to
as long as 380 mm (15 in.) or more. This
type of porosity is sometimes referred to
as worm hole porosity. Hollow bead (Fig. 25)
is an elongated gas void that is usually (b)
centrally oriented in the root pass and
may also extend for a significant length.
In general, porosity is not considered a
critical discontinuity unless (1) it is
present in large quantities (a percentage,
according to specification, of the cross
section in which it occurs), (2) it contains
sharp tails or (3) it is aligned in significant
numbers in a relatively short distance.
The severity of piping and wormhole
porosity or hollow bead conditions is
generally determined by length and

Slag or Inclusions
Also referred to as nonmetallics, these
indications are caused by nonmetallic
materials usually silica or complex
sulfides or oxides entrapped in the
weld metal between weld passes or
between weld metal and base metal
(Fig. 26). Inclusions occur in all shapes

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processes that provide a slag covering to Incomplete Penetration

retard heat loss. When this slag layer is
Incomplete penetration or inadequate
not properly cleaned it becomes trapped
penetration is an area of nonfusion in the
between weld layers.
root area (Fig. 28).
Incomplete penetration is characterized
Dense Inclusions by one or both weld joint sides not being
Dense inclusions have greater melted and fused at the toe or toes of the
radiographic density than the weld metal, root. For double-sided weld joints
so they appear as light spots in the incomplete penetration occurs near the
radiograph. They are generally rounded in midpoint through the weld thickness, or
shape and sharply defined but sometimes weld throat.
may blend gradually into the surrounding This may result from inadequate heat
metal. The most common dense while the root pass is being deposited. It
inclusions are pieces of tungsten electrode may also be caused by faulty joint design
that have broken off and been entrapped or problems with the welding procedure.
in the weld metal (Fig. 27). This condition is considered more severe

FIGURE 25. Hollow bead: FIGURE 26. Slag inclusion:

(a) photomacrograph; (b) radiographic (a) photomacrograph at 4.7;
image. (b) radiographic image at 1.1.
(a) (a)


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than the porosity or slag discontinuities discontinuity is not always readily

because it is more of a stress raiser. detected by radiography. When it is
Incomplete penetration is usually easy to observed, it may not be clearly defined
detect and identify radiographically but will have a telltale linear alignment,
because of its location in the weld and its running in the same direction that the
relatively straight, well defined image. weld was deposited.

Lack of Fusion Underfill

Lack of fusion is an area of nonadhesion Underfill is a condition where the weld
between successive weld passes or joint is not completely filled, as evidenced
between a weld pass and the side wall of by a depression or lack of weld metal at
the base material (Fig. 29). It is primarily the face of the weld. This condition is
the result of improper welding techniques readily observed by an increase in the film
or poor joint design. Many lack-of-fusion density in the weld area; the extent
conditions are relatively narrow and in should be confirmed by physical
some cases angularly oriented, so this measurement.

FIGURE 27. Tungsten inclusion: FIGURE 28. Incomplete or inadequate

(a) photomacrograph at 4.5; penetration: (a) photomacrograph;
(b) radiographic image at 1.2. (b) radiographic image.
(a) (a)


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Undercut Overlap
Undercut is generally described as a groove Overlap is an extension of unfused weld
or depression located at the junction of metal beyond the fusion zone. In many
the weld and base material (the fusion cases the overlap forms a tight stress riser
zone) on the weld surface (Fig. 30). This notch and is not easily seen in the
depression is caused by a melting away of radiograph. It is generally considered
the base metal during the welding process severe when it is detected and confirmed
and can occur at the weld root. Undercut visually.
can be readily seen and identified on a
radiograph but the extent should be Excessive Penetration
measured physically, if possible.
Generally, undercut is not considered to This is sometimes referred to as convexity
be a serious condition if it is relatively and results from excessive heat input
shallow (within specification while the root pass is being deposited
requirements) and not sharp.

FIGURE 30. Undercut on outside diameter:

FIGURE 29. Side wall incomplete fusion: (a) photomacrograph at 4.6;
(a) photomacrograph at 4.5; (b) radiographic image at 1.
(b) radiographic image at 1.1.


210 Radiographic Testing

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(Fig. 31). The reinforcement of the root the weld that may then be less than the
becomes excessive and, in some cases, required thickness. Because the condition
results in a corner or notch condition on is usually a gradual dimensional change,
the inside surface at the toe of the weld. it shows as a slight and gradual density
When excessive penetration occurs in change in the radiograph. The extent
short or intermittent droplets, it may be should be determined by physical
referred to as icicles and is usually measurement but may be estimated by
accompanied by a burnthrough area that density measurements.
lacks weld metal (Fig. 32).
High Low
Concavity High low and mismatch are terms that
Concavity is a concave condition in the denote a misalignment in pipe welds that
root pass face that results from results in an offset union of the two
insufficient heat input while depositing sections being welded (Fig. 34).
the root pass (Fig. 33). Concavity causes a
dimensional change in the thickness of
FIGURE 32. Burnthrough area:
(a) photomacrograph; (b) radiographic
FIGURE 31. Excessive penetration: image.
(a) photomacrograph at 4.5;
(b) radiographic image at 1.2. (a)


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Cracks Transverse Crack. Transverse cracks

(Fig. 36) are approximately perpendicular
Cracks are fractures or ruptures of the
to the longitudinal axis of the weld.
weld metal occurring when the stresses in
a localized area exceed the weld metals Underbead Crack. Underbead cracks form
ultimate tensile strength. Hot cracks occur in the heat affected zone and are usually
as tears while the weld metal is in the short but may also be an extensive
plastic condition whereas cold cracks and network.
delayed cracks occur after the weld metal Toe Crack. Toe cracks begin at the toe of
has cooled. Delayed cracks are cold cracks the weld and propagate along the plane of
that may occur hours after the weldment highest stress.
has cooled. There are a number of crack Root Crack. Root cracks (Fig. 37) are
types associated with weldments. longitudinal cracks located in the root
Longitudinal Crack. Longitudinal cracks pass.
(Fig. 35) are oriented along the length or Crater Crack. Crater cracks are usually star
approximately parallel to the longitudinal shaped patterns that occur in the crater (a
axis, of the weld. depression at the end of a weld bead).

FIGURE 33. Concave root surface: FIGURE 34. High low defect, also called
(a) photomacrograph at 4.3; mismatch: (a) photomacrograph at 4.4;
(b) radiographic image at 1.2. (b) radiographic image at 1.1.
(a) (a)

(b) (b)

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intended for any purpose other than

Discontinuity Indications guidance.
for Castings Porosity
Casting discontinuities, as with weld
discontinuities, will vary in shape, size Porosity occurs when gas dissolved in the
and appearance depending on many metal, entrained by turbulence during
variables, including material type, mold pouring or given off by the mold material,
design, casting process, casting size and is entrapped in the casting during
foundry control. The examples used to solidification. Porosity can be individually
illustrate the various discontinuities found identified and defined in the radiograph
in castings are typical and are not as distinct, globular gas voids (Fig. 38).
Individual pores may vary in size and
concentration and these characteristics are
used for classification of porosity. Such
FIGURE 35. Longitudinal crack: voids may be present at the surface of the
(a) photomacrograph at 4.5; casting or throughout the cross section.
(b) radiographic image without collimated
source at 1.1; (c) radiographic image at
1.1 with same conditions as Fig. 35b but
with collimation. FIGURE 36. Transverse crack:
(a) photomacrograph; (b) radiographic
(a) image.





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Gas Voids that occur when the hot, molten metal is

deposited into a mold containing
The most serious gas voids are referred to
moisture or other impurities. The
as gas holes (Fig. 39), wormhole porosity or
extremely hot metal causes the moisture
blow holes. A larger, darker (film density)
or impurity to change rapidly to steam or
porosity condition is called a gas hole to
gas that develops a series of linear voids
distinguish it as a more severe condition
extending into the metal from the surface.
compared to typical porosity. Wormhole
porosity is so named because of its
likeness to a wormhole. The shape is Inclusions
caused by the tendency of entrapped gas Sand Inclusion. Sand inclusions are pieces
to escape during solidification and this, in of sand that have broken off the sand
turn, occurs because the gas is mold. Radiographically, they resemble a
considerably lighter in density than the pocket of sand with a granular appearance
cast metal. During its escape attempt, the if observed closely.
gas forms a tail like linear pattern
resembling a wormhole. Slag Inclusion. Slag inclusions (Fig. 40) are
The most severe gas voids are called impurities introduced into the mold with
blow holes: severe, well defined cavities the molten metal. They may also be the
result of oxide or impurities that did not
rise to the surface before metal
FIGURE 37. Crack adjacent to root: Dross. Dross is sometimes referred to as
(a) photomacrograph; (b) radiographic the scum of the melt. Dross may become
image. entrapped, resulting in a general zone of

FIGURE 38. Porosity.


FIGURE 39. Gas holes, also called blow holes.

214 Radiographic Testing

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impurities. Dross is usually irregular metal cools further below the melting
compared to slag and may be point. When a large section is being fed
accompanied by gas voids. through a section having a smaller
Dense Inclusion. Dense inclusions (Fig. 41) volume, the smaller will usually freeze
can result from the inadvertent addition before the larger one, thus choking off the
of more dense objects (such as core wire, supply of molten metal needed to fill the
bits of metal or other high density larger volume. This results in a shrink or
materials) to the molten cast metal. These shrinkage cavity.
dense inclusions will result in a lighter There are several forms of shrinks.
area of film density in the radiograph. They may be open to the casting surface
or totally beneath the surface. They may
lie at the center line or be associated with
Shrinkage and Shrinks a chaplet, core, gate or other feature of
The term shrinkage is common but can the casting. Large, individual voids will
cause confusion about the source of this often have a rough, jagged surface of
type of discontinuity. A useful term for an dendritic (treelike) metal grains and
individual discontinuity is a shrink. appear in the radiograph as large, irregular
Shrinks are voids that occur when voids (Fig. 42) or as rough, branching
there is insufficient liquid metal to indications that may be mistaken for
compensate for the reduction in volume cracks or hot tears.
of the metal as it solidifies. The cast Microshrinks and Sponge Shrinkage.
molten metal solidifies from the mold Shrinks may also occur as arrays of small
inward, shrinking as it freezes and voids (microshrinks or microshrinkage)
continuing to contract as the solidified having a feathery (Fig. 43) or spongelike
(Fig. 44) radiographic appearance. The
feathery form is most often seen in
magnesium castings. The sponge form
FIGURE 40. Slag inclusions.

FIGURE 42. Shrinkage.

FIGURE 41. Dense inclusions.

FIGURE 43. Microshrinkage.

Radiographic Interpretation 215

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often occurs in nickel base and cobalt Radiographically, hot tears appear as
base alloys. The small voids forming these jagged linear indications, sometimes
shrinks are sometimes difficult for the branching.
naked eye to see on a polished surface. Cracks. Cracks (Fig. 46) are formed after
Relatively large areas of such shrinks may the metal has completely solidified and
produce only faint, barely detectable while it is cooling to ambient
radiographic images. In coarser form, temperature. If open to the surface, they
sponge shrinkage occurs in many metals. will have sharp edges. When exposed they
Hot Tears. Hot tears (Fig. 45) are cracks display oxidized surfaces if cracking
that form before complete solidification occurred while the casting was still quite
of the metal section. They are usually hot or no oxidation if cracking occurred
caused by stresses resulting from uneven near room temperature. Radiographically,
cooling of a large volume of metal they will be less open (narrower) than hot
adjacent to a smaller volume of metal, tears and usually show little if any
such as where a thick flange meets the branching.
wall of a valve body. They are almost
always open to the surface and have Cold Shuts
rounded edges at the surface. When
exposed, the crack face often shows a Cold shuts are essentially a lack of fusion
rough, heavily oxidized, dendritic surface. between adjoining portions of the cast
metal. They may be caused by excessive
oxidation of one or more portions of the
molten metal, by too low a temperature
FIGURE 44. Sponge shrinkage. of the molten metal or by entrapment of
a thin layer of slag or dross between the
adjoining portions of molten metal. In a
radiograph, cold shuts usually appear as
smooth straight or curved lines.

Unfused Chaplets and Inserts

Chaplets are metal devices used to
support the core inside the mold or to
separate parts of the mold to fit a wall
thickness or other dimension of the
casting. Chaplets are usually made of the
same material as the casting and generally
will be consumed when the molten metal
comes in contact with them. If this does
not occur or if only part of the chaplet
melts, the condition that results is
referred to as an unfused chaplet.
FIGURE 45. Hot tears. Unfused chaplets and other unfused
inserts are special cases of cold shuts in
that they exhibit a lack of fusion.
However, in these cases it is lack of fusion
of the casting metal with solid metal
portions of the mold structure that had
been intended to be fused into the

FIGURE 46. Cracks.

216 Radiographic Testing

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finished casting. Unfused chaplets appear when the surface can be observed are
as circular (Fig. 47) or short rectangular visually apparent.
lines, depending on the shape of the
chaplet post or as segments of circles or Segregation
rectangles. Unfused inserts appear as
straight or curved lines corresponding to Segregation is a local deviation from the
all or part of the shape of the insert. average composition of the metal in the
casting. Certain alloys of some metals
such as copper, often exhibit segregation
Shifts because some constituents of the alloy
A shift is a mismatch of two parts of a freeze at a substantially higher
casting at the parting line or an temperature than other constituents.
unintended variation in wall thickness Radiographically, segregation may appear
because of a core having shifted during as mottled areas or banded areas of greater
casting (Fig. 48). Both are often clearly or lesser density, depending on the
evident on radiographs unless the shift is materials that have segregated,
slight or only one wall is imaged on the Radiographically detectable segregation
radiograph. may be of engineering concern,
depending on its severity and location, as
Misruns well as the intended use of the casting.

A misrun is failure of the metal to fill the

mold, either because of trapped gas or
insufficient molten metal reaching a part Conclusion
of the mold cavity. Misruns (Fig. 49) are There are many of structures, assemblies,
easy to identify radiographically and, materials and components that can be
effectively radiographed. Interpretation, if
it is to be meaningful, must only be
FIGURE 47. Unfused chaplet. attempted with a complete understanding
of the following: (1) material, (2) part
dimensions and configuration,
(3) radiographic technique used,
(4) processing used on test object,
(5) applicable code, (6) acceptance
standard and (7) other information
desired from the examination.
The key to successful interpretation,
after all other variables are optimized,
rests with the individual doing the
interpretation. Judgment must be based
on complete knowledge of the
radiographic process and a thorough
understanding of the test object, coupled
with extensive radiographic interpretation
experience and training.

FIGURE 49. Misrun.

FIGURE 48. Core shift.

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