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Assessment of discontinuities influence of manufacture and material

The procedural steps discussed so far will result in the presentation for analysis or interpretation
of a magnetic particle pattern caused by a defect, flaw or discontinuity. This section will deal
with interpretation of the discontinuity and comment on the effect of the flaw when the part is
placed in service.
In non-destructive testing terms such as indication, defect, discontinuity and flaw are often
wrongly interchanged. Formally, an indication is a response requiring an interpretation to
determine its significance. In magnetic particle inspection, this could be any magnetically held
magnetic particle pattern on the surface of a part being tested. A defect is a discontinuity whose
size, shape, orientation or location makes it detrimental to the useful service of the part. A flaw is
an imperfection in an item or material, which may not be harmful.
When viewing a magnetic particle indication it is necessary to know something of the parts
history and intended use. This will simplify interpretation and may also assist in determining
whether an indication is surface or sub-surface. The trained technician can assess from codes,
standards or engineering guidelines whether the discontinuity or flaw is likely to be harmful to
the parts intended service.
Discontinuity position
Surface indications
Discontinuities open to the surface usually produce sharp, distinct, tightly held indication
patterns. This is especially true of very fine tight cracks, etc., which are difficult to see but are
especially harmful.
Sub-surface indications
Discontinuities below the surface tend to produce less distinct indications. They have a more
diffused or fuzzy pattern than surface indications.
Processing discontinuities
These discontinuities are related to occur during various manufacturing processes such as
forming, extruding, rolling, machining, welding, heat treatment and plating etc.
Processing discontinuities and magnetic particle indications
Indications from a seam are usually straight, sharp and fine. They are often intermittent when the
seam is partially sub-surface and may present very little indication.
Since in most cases a lap is not normal to the surface, the indications will be heavy and irregular
due to the defect being present in the metal at an angle. If scale is included in the lap, small fern
like indications will stem from the main indication.
Magnetic particle inspection is an effective method to inspect ferrous materials for surface or
near surface bursts. They give indications similar to heat treatment cracks except that the lines
are less jagged or broken. Another difference is that bursts will not be related to design features.
Machining tears
This type of discontinuity will be typified by short, irregular lines which show up at right angles
to the direction of machining.
Heat treatment cracks
Heat treatment cracks form a distinct well defined thin sharp magnetic particle pattern,
characteristically a group of short, jagged lines grouped together and quite often in a curved
Grinding cracks
Grinding cracks characteristically form a fine shallow network. The defect root is very sharp and
would provide a notch for the initiation of a fatigue failure. Because of their limited depth,
grinding cracks will seldom provide a heavy build up of indicating medium. The orientation of
the discontinuity will vary from the single line indication to groups with varying orientation.
Welding discontinuities and magnetic particle indications
Magnetic particle inspection is used extensively on welds particularly in irregular sections where
the contour of the part or the configuration of the surface at the welded junction makes both
radiography and ultrasound inapplicable. The following is a listing of the more prominent types
of welding discontinuities.
Lack of penetration
Lack of penetration is, by its nature, the deepest of the weld defects and should be inspected for
by using dry powder DC magnetizing current. The indication will be broad and fuzzy which is
typical of a sub surface discontinuity. Magnetic particle inspection is a surface or near surface
inspection and should not be regarded as capable of inspecting for this condition to a depth
exceeding 6 mm.
Inclusions found in elements may be of any shape, and may be metallic or non-metallic (i.e.
oxides, sulphides, slag). Elongated slag inclusions are usually found at the fusion zone, but
isolated irregularly shaped inclusions may be found at any area in the weld. The magnetic
particle (MP) testing method is confined to machine weldments where the discontinuities are
surface or near surface and even then would in most cases provide an unpronounced indication,
jagged and irregularly shaped.
Gas pockets occurring in the weld metal appear as voids. Magnetic particle testing can locate
only near surface pores.
Shrinkage cracks
An uneven cooling rate or contraction of the weld may result in sharp discontinuities called
shrinkage cracks. These are common in welding and are adequately located by magnetic particle
Incomplete fusion
Failure of the weld metal to fuse to the base metal will cause the discontinuity known as lack of
fusion. The indication that results is of weak pattern denoting either a surface or subsurface
defect which follows the weld edge.
Cracks in the weld metal, crater cracks and cracks in the heat affected zone are easily detected by
magnetic particle inspection. Cracks may occur in any direction with respect to the axial
direction of the weldment.
Other indications
Near surface conditions such as slag inclusions, gas pockets, and other voids may be detected if
they are of the size and shape to create a sufficient disturbance of the magnetic lines of force.
Service discontinuities responding to magnetic particle testing
The defect types covered in this series are those which occur from the operational loadings and
the environment to which the component may be subjected in operation.
The exposure of a part to loading much in excess of the design performance constitutes an
overload. The potential damage, which will occur at notches or fillets, will, if incipient, be
apparent as a sharp distinct indication and easily distinguishable by magnetic particle inspection.
Fatigue cracks
When a part is subjected to cyclic applications of stress, microscopic cracks develop in or
adjacent to areas of stress concentration and will grow with repeated stress applications until
fatigue cracks develop and component failure occurs. This would occur at oil holes, fillets,
keyways, splines and threads, generally where design was faulty or the material has been
damaged. Since fatigue cracks originate at a surface they are readily indicated in ferromagnetic
materials by magnetic particle examination. They give a sharp clear pattern which is generally
uniform and unbroken throughout its length.
The occurrence of corrosion is significant in that stress-raisers may develop from corrosion pits,
plus the material structure may be weakened by reduction of the cross section. The indication
which results during the magnetic particle examination should be analysed for two effects: the
extent of surface damage and the possibility of further underlying defects.
Stress corrosion
Defect types vary from very shallow to very deep cracks, usually following the grain flow of the
material. This defect type is most prevalent in nonmagnetic materials. However, when a
ferromagnetic material is being inspected for stress corrosion, magnetic particle inspection can
Non-relevant magnetic particle indications
Design features or material properties can lead to leakage fields which will result in real
magnetic particle inspection (MPI) indications. These indications are termed non-relevant and
the operator must have the ability to recognize these indications as being not significant.
Structural changes
A magnetized part with an abrupt change in section will have an increase in internal flux density
at the change. When this flux leaves the material, external poles will be formed and can cause an
indication. Because of its proximity to a change in section, and the different quality of the
indication, it is usually possible to distinguish such an indication from a structural change.
The most damaging feature of this type of non-relevant indication is that it might mask an actual
Magnetic writing
When two ferromagnetic materials come in contact with one another and when one or both are
magnetized, external poles will be formed at the points of contact, these will attract the
indicating medium and form an indication. The most common occurrence is when parts come
into contact with each other during inspection. While magnetic writing usually presents vague
diffused indications, under certain inspection circumstances it can be distinct and clear enough to
look like a defect. If suspected a part may be easily checked for the magnetic writing effect by
demagnetizing and re-inspecting.
When the MPI method is used on ferromagnetic materials joined by brazing, the result will be a
particle pattern outlining the joint. This indication is not related to harmful discontinuity, but to
the flux fields encountering a nonmagnetic interface. Magnetic particle inspection is not feasible
here and another inspection method would be required to investigate more fully.
Magnetically dissimilar materials
The inadvertent joining of hard steel to soft steel by welding will result in sharp change in
permeability. The welded joint will act as a concentrated leakage field and a magnetic particle
pattern will be formed which will be indicative of the serviceability of the welded joint.
Cold working
When metal is plastically deformed at a temperature below that of recrystallization, this cold
working hardens the steel, with a consequent change in permeability. The difference in
permeability between the affected area and the remainder of the part is quite often sufficient to
provide an indication. The indication from cold working will re-appear under repeated
magnetization and can thus be distinguished from the similar indications of magnetic writing.
Longitudinal magnetization
When a part is longitudinally magnetized using a coil or a magnetic yoke, poles are formed at the
ends of the part and where the yoke arms contact the surface. The indicating medium will be
attracted to and concentrate in these areas, forming an indication.
False indications
False indications are those in which the indication has no relation to the magnetic disturbances
associated with the inspection method. The indications thus found are caused by poor inspection
practices such as poor cleaning, poor drainage, or the entrapment of the medium by a coarse
surface. These problems can be eliminated by proper inspection technique.