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   Rev.01                                                                    LIQUID PENETRANT TEST (PT)                              Prepared by: Eng.

: Mohammad Hassan Abdel‐Gawad 




Prepared by:
Eng.: Mohammad Hassan Abdel-Gawad

   Rev.01                                                                    LIQUID PENETRANT TEST (PT)                              Prepared by: Eng.: Mohammad Hassan Abdel‐Gawad 

CH 1: Introduction
 Liquid penetrant testing is a nondestructive means of locating surface
discontinuities based on capillary action.
 In the liquid penetrant method, the liquid is applied to the surface of the specimen
and sufficient time is allowed for penetration of surface discontinuities.
 After sufficient time has passed for the Penetrant to enter the discontinuity.
 The Surface of the part is cleaned, capillary Action is again employed to act as a
Blotter to draw penetrant from the Discontinuity.
 To insure visibility, the liquid penetrant contains either a colored dye easily seen in
white light, or a fluorescent Dye visible under black (ultraviolet) light.

PT Steps:
A. Penetrant applied to surface B. Time allowed for penetrant to
seep into the opening.

C. Surface penetrant removed D. Developer applied to draw

penetrant out of opening.

   Rev.01                                                                    LIQUID PENETRANT TEST (PT)                              Prepared by: Eng.: Mohammad Hassan Abdel‐Gawad 


E. Specimen visually examined F Post cleaning

 Anything that could block the penetrant from entering the discontinuity must be
 A list of contaminants that must be removed:

– Dirt.
– Grease.
– Rust.
– Scale.
– Acids.
– And even water.
 Surface preparation by shot or sandblasting is not recommended because
discontinuities that were open to the surface may be blocked by the shot or

   Rev.01                                                                    LIQUID PENETRANT TEST (PT)                              Prepared by: Eng.: Mohammad Hassan Abdel‐Gawad 


 Historically, Penetrant inspection was called the "oil and whiting method. It used
kerosene and a white powder for the inspection & then the process has been
 The liquid penetrants used in nondestructive testing can be categorized by the type
of dye they contain.
1- Visible dye penetrants: contain a colored (usually red) dye.
2- Fluorescent penetrants: contain a fluorescent dye.
3- Dual sensitivity: penetrants contain a combination of visible and
fluorescent dyes.
 Penetrants can be further categorized by the processes used to remove the excess
penetrant from the specimen:
1. Water-washable: penetrants are either self-emulsifying or removable with plain
2. Post-emulsified penetrants: require a separate emulsifier to make the penetrant
water washable.
3. Solvent removable penetrants: must be removed with a solvent which is typical
when using visible dye in pressurized spray cans.
 The selection of the best process depends on:

1. Sensitivity required.

2. Number of articles to be tested

   Rev.01                                                                    LIQUID PENETRANT TEST (PT)                              Prepared by: Eng.: Mohammad Hassan Abdel‐Gawad 

3. Surface condition of part being inspected.

4. Configuration of test specimen

5. Availability of water, electricity …etc.

 Penetrant testing is successfully used on metals, (Aluminum, Magnesium, Brass,

Copper, Cast Iron, Stainless Steel, and Titanium) and most other common alloys.
 Test other materials such as: Ceramics, Plastics, Molded Rubber, Powdered metal
products or Glass.
 Penetrant testing is limited by its inability to test materials with discontinuities that
are not open to the surface or having an extremely porous surface.

   Rev.01                                                                    LIQUID PENETRANT TEST (PT)                              Prepared by: Eng.: Mohammad Hassan Abdel‐Gawad 

CH 2: PT Equipment's & Materials
Cleaning Equipment's:
Proper cleaning is essential to liquid penetrant test for two reasons:
1- if the specimen is not clean and dry, penetrant testing is ineffective.
2- if the specimen of penetrant materials are not removed after the test, they may
have harmful effect on the specimen (chlorine and sulfur may affect some

Pre-cleaning Equipment's:
– Immersion tanks and detergent.
– Vapor degreasing (oil – grease- organic contamination).
– Steam (large unwieldy articles).
– Solvent cleaning (used in immersion tanks or maybe used in a wipe).
– Acid or alkaline remover (rust and surface scale).
– Paint removal.
– Etching (use on articles that have been ground or machined to remove metal
from surface discontinuities).

Prohibited methods:
– Blasting
– Wire brush (Automatic - Manual)

These processes tend to close discontinuities by peening or cold working the surface
of the specimen.

   Rev.01                                                                    LIQUID PENETRANT TEST (PT)                              Prepared by: Eng.: Mohammad Hassan Abdel‐Gawad 

Caution about Metal Smearing
Some machining, surface finishing and cleaning operations can cause a thin layer of
metal to smear on the surface and prevent penetrant from entering any flaws that may
be present.
Etching of the surface prior to inspection is sometimes required.

Penetrant Test Equipment (Portable)

Both visible and fluorescent dye penetrants are available in kits, which can be used at
a remote location or when testing a small portion of a large article.

A visible dye penetrant kit usually contains:

1. Pressurized spray cans of cleaning or removal fluid.
2. Pressurized spray cans of visible dye penetrant.
3. Pressurized spray cans of non-aqueous developer.
4. Wiping cloths and brushes.

A fluorescent dye penetrant kit usually contains:

1. A portable black light and transformer.
2. Pressurized spray cans of cleaning or removal fluid.
3. Pressurized spray cans of fluorescent dye penetrant.
4. Pressurized spray cans of non-aqueous developer.
5. Wiping cloths and brushes.

Black light equipment:

Required in fluorescent penetrant testing. The black light emits a special light with
wavelengths that fall between visible and ultraviolet cause the penetrant to fluoresce.

   Rev.01                                                                    LIQUID PENETRANT TEST (PT)                              Prepared by: Eng.: Mohammad Hassan Abdel‐Gawad 

Provided that the filter is not broken or cracked, there is no danger of injury to the human
eye so it is suggested that the filter be checked prior to each use. At least a five minute
heat-up time is required to reach the correct arc temperature when using mercury arc

Penetrant Testing Materials

1. Water washable penetrants:

Contain an emulsifying agent which makes them easily removable by a water rinse or
wash, this penetrant material can be obtained with either a visible or fluorescent dye.

2. Post emulsifiable penetrants

Are highly penetrating oily visible or fluorescent penetrants which are not soluble in
water. These penetrants must be treated with an emulsifier before they can be removed
by a water rinse or wash.

3. Solvent-removable penetrants:

They are oily penetrants that do not contain an emulsifying agent and are removable
only by solvents specifically designed for that purpose.

4. Emulsifiers:

When applied to a penetrant - coated specimen make the resultant mixture removable
by water rinse or wash.

Emulsifiers have low penetrant characteristics and do not remove indications from the
specimen surface.

   Rev.01                                                                    LIQUID PENETRANT TEST (PT)                              Prepared by: Eng.: Mohammad Hassan Abdel‐Gawad 

5. Removers (solvent):

Are designed to be used in conjunction with specific penetrants. Typical removers are
available in bulk or pressurized spray containers.  

6. Dry developers:

Are a fluffy, absorbent white powder that is used in both fluorescent and visible dye
penetrant tests. It functions to draw the penetrant indications to the surface thus making
them visible.

7. Wet developers:

Function similarly to dry developers except that they are a mixture of a developing
powder and water.

8. Non aqueous wet developers:

Differ from wet developers in that the developer powder is mixed with a rapid drying
liquid solvent.

9. Low sulfur and low chlorine:

Penetrant materials must be specifically designed to avoid the harmful effects caused on
some nickel and titanium alloys by the sulfur and chlorine content.

   Rev.01                                                                    LIQUID PENETRANT TEST (PT)                              Prepared by: Eng.: Mohammad Hassan Abdel‐Gawad 

Safety Precautions:

 The materials used in penetrant inspection can be flammable and can cause skin
 The ultraviolet spectrum of light rays generated from the mercury arc lamp can
cause sunburn and may be injurious to the eyes. However, if the proper filter
for fluorescent dye inspection is used. The harmful rays will be filtered out.
 Fire many penetrant materials are flammable
 Skin irritation-skin irritation can be avoided by preventing unnecessary
contact and by the use of gloves and protective hand creams.

   Rev.01                                                                    LIQUID PENETRANT TEST (PT)                              Prepared by: Eng.: Mohammad Hassan Abdel‐Gawad 

CH 3: Surface preparation and penetrant application


The effectiveness of liquid penetrant testing is based upon the ability of the
penetrant to enter surface discontinuities so all paint, carbon, oil, varnish, oxide,
water, dirt, and similar coating must be removed before application of the penetrant.

 The following are typical cleaning methods discussed earlier:

– Detergent cleaning – Vapor degreasing

– Steam cleaning – Ultrasonic cleaning

– Paint removal – Etching

– Rust and surface scale removal

Penetrant Properties

1. The ability to hold a dye material in suspension.

2. The ability to carry the dye into any discontinuity open to the surface.

3. The ability to bring up the dye as it is coaxed “back to the surface”.

4. The ability to be easily removed.

 There are two types of dye used in modern penetrants:

1. Visible: a brightly colored dye that is highly visible under normal lighting conditions.

2. Fluorescent: an almost colorless dye which emits visible light rays when reviewed
under black light.
   Rev.01                                                                    LIQUID PENETRANT TEST (PT)                              Prepared by: Eng.: Mohammad Hassan Abdel‐Gawad 

 dual sensitivity: contains both a visible dye for examination in white light
and a fluorescent dye for a more sensitive evaluation of small discontinuities

Penetrants (fluorescent or visible) can be applied by any one of the following means:
– Spraying: usually using pressurized spray cans
– Brushing: usually applied with rags cotton waste or brushes.
– Immersion: the entire part is dipped into a tank of penetrant.
– Pouring: the penetrant is simply poured over the surface.

 Penetration (dwell) time:

 The time which the penetrant is permitted to remain on the specimen is a vital
part of the test.
 The temperature of the specimen and temperature of the penetrant can affect the
required dwell time.
 Warming the specimen to 700F or will accelerate penetration and shortens dwell
time. However care should be taken not to overheat the specimen since too much
heat may cause evaporation of the penetrant from the discontinuity.
 The penetrant manufacturer will provide suggested dwell times for the various
penetrants that it produces.

Penetrant Testing Processes

 There are two types of PT processes:

1. Water washable (visible or fluorescent)

2. Post emulsification (visible or fluorescent)

3. Solvent removable (visible or fluorescent)

   Rev.01                                                                    LIQUID PENETRANT TEST (PT)                              Prepared by: Eng.: Mohammad Hassan Abdel‐Gawad 

Water Washable Penetrants:

Have a built-in emulsifier and the penetrant is easily removed by a water rinse.

A water rinse Care must be taken to insure that the spray volume and force does not
wash penetrant out of the discontinuity.

Water washable penetrants are usually preferred for use on articles with a rough surface
or if they contain threads or keyways and other hard to reach locations but has the
disadvantage of poor reliability in detecting wide or shallow discontinuities.

Solvent Removable Penetrants

 Have the advantage of portability without using heavy complex equipment.
 They are excellent for many maintenance inspections
and for checking portions of a larger structure.
 Penetrant is often applied from a pressurized spray can
which makes the system very portable.
 After dwell time the excess penetrant is first removed
by wiping with absorbent towels. 
 Then cleaned with towels dampened with solvent.
 Solvent is never applied directly to the specimen as it
might wash-out or dilute the penetrant in the

   Rev.01                                                                    LIQUID PENETRANT TEST (PT)                              Prepared by: Eng.: Mohammad Hassan Abdel‐Gawad 

Post-emulsification penetrants:
 Require a two-step removal process.
 The emulsifier is usually applied by dipping or immersion but not by brushing
as the bristles of the brush may enter the discontinuity.
 The emulsifier will break down the penetrant and make it water soluble.
 The amount of dwell time in the emulsifier is in the range of one to four minutes
in accordance with manufacturers' recommendations & the type of defects
 The resultant emulsifier-penetrant mixture is removed by water rinse

The sketch represents the steps in a post-emulsification penetrant test.

   Rev.01                                                                    LIQUID PENETRANT TEST (PT)                              Prepared by: Eng.: Mohammad Hassan Abdel‐Gawad 

 Too short emulsification time: if too short an emulsification time is used not
all penetrant will be removed which will cloud over discontinuities
 Too long emulsification time: if too long a time is used, penetrant within the
discontinuities will also become water soluble and be washed away with excess

Fixing and Recording Indications

1. Photographs.

2. Special wax and plastic film developer.


   Rev.01                                                                    LIQUID PENETRANT TEST (PT)                              Prepared by: Eng.: Mohammad Hassan Abdel‐Gawad 

CH 4: Developer Application

 Developing is accomplished when a highly (absorbent powder is applied to the

item being tested after excess penetrant is removed.
 The penetrant is actually drawn out of the discontinuity by the strong capillary
action of the developer.
 There are two common types of developers in use today:
1. Wet developers:
A. Non aqueous developer is held in suspension in a solvent base and is
usually supplied in pressurized cans.

B. Another type of wet developer holds the white powder in suspension in

a water base.

 This type of wet developer is generally used with water washable or P.E
 Ap‫س‬2plied by dipping or spraying.
 A short time is allowed for the water to evaporate leaving a thin layer of
white powder.

2. Dry developers:
 Are applied directly to the article as a powder.
 Done with slight air pressure or by dipping articles.
 It is very necessary to have a dry surface prior to application of a dry powder.
 A wet surface will result in uneven layers of powder.
 Dry developer is usually used on fluorescent penetrants.

   Rev.01                                                                    LIQUID PENETRANT TEST (PT)                              Prepared by: Eng.: Mohammad Hassan Abdel‐Gawad 

Advantages of "wet" developers:
 Better on smooth surf aces where the dry developer will not adhere.
 When a wide, shallow discontinuity is sought. A wet developer will leave a
more even coat of developer.

Advantages of "dry" developers:

 On rough surfaces, and on sharp fillets. Holes, and threaded articles, the
wet developer tends to leave too much developer.

   Rev.01                                                                    LIQUID PENETRANT TEST (PT)                              Prepared by: Eng.: Mohammad Hassan Abdel‐Gawad 

CH 5: Inspection & Evaluation

proper lighting should be the first consideration in the inspection of an article.
Typical indications in penetrant inspection:
All indications found with the liquid penetrant method will be surface
discontinuities, but the indications may or may not affect the usefulness of the

I- False Indications:
The most common source of false indications is poor washing.
To avoid false indications, care should be taken so that no outside contamination
such as the following occurs:
1. Penetrant on operator's hands.
2. Contamination of developer.
3. Penetrant transferred to clean specimen from other indications.
4. Penetrant on inspection table.

II- Non-relevant indications:

 Such as articles that are keyed, splined, or riveted.

 Non-relevant indications could also include loose scale or a rough surface on
a forging or casting.

   Rev.01                                                                    LIQUID PENETRANT TEST (PT)                              Prepared by: Eng.: Mohammad Hassan Abdel‐Gawad 

III- True Indications:
True indications are subject to evaluation as to the cause and the effect they
will have on the service life of the article.

True indications could be divided into five basic categories:

Continuous line:
– This type of indication is often caused by cracks, Cold shuts, Forging laps, Scratches
or die marks.
Intermittent line:
– These indications could be caused by any of the discontinuities mentioned above
provided they were very tight or where the part had been peened, Machined or ground.
– Usually caused by porosity open to the surface.
Small dots:
– Tiny round indications caused by the porous nature of the specimen, coarse grain
structure or micro shrinkage.
Diffused or weak:
– These indications are difficult to interpret and often the part must be cleaned and
retested. In many cases the diffused or weak indications turn out to be false indications
caused by an improper penetrant procedure.

Depth determination of penetrant discontinuities:

The greater the depth of a discontinuity, the more penetrant it will hold and the larger
and brighter the indication.

   Rev.01                                                                    LIQUID PENETRANT TEST (PT)                              Prepared by: Eng.: Mohammad Hassan Abdel‐Gawad 

Post cleaning:
after the specimen has been inspected it is very important that it be thoroughly
cleaned. Post cleaning usually will involve the same types of cleaning operations
as were used in Precleaning.

How to measure penetrant sensitivity?

Aluminum test blocks:
They should be used for comparisons
The blocks are heated and
quenched to produce an overall
crack pattern.

Advantages of Penetrant Testing:

 Relative ease of use.
 Can be used on a wide range of material types.
 Large areas of parts/materials can be inspected rapidly and at low cost.
 Parts with complex geometries are routinely inspected.
 Indications are produced directly on surface of the part providing a visual image.
 Initial equipment investment is low.
 Aerosol spray cans can make equipment very portable.

   Rev.01                                                                    LIQUID PENETRANT TEST (PT)                              Prepared by: Eng.: Mohammad Hassan Abdel‐Gawad 

Limitations of Penetrant Testing:
 Only detects surface breaking defects.
 Requires relatively smooth nonporous material.
 Precleaning is critical. Contaminants can mask defects.
 Requires multiple operations under controlled conditions.
 Metal smearing from machining, grinding and other operations inhibits detection.
 Post cleaning is necessary to remove chemicals.

The End …