NDT – Applications of Non Destructive Testing

Non destructive testing or NDT encompasses a range of techniques used for the inspection of parts and equipment in various industries. Some of the more common industries include power, energy and the related sectors, the chemical process industry, and industries such as aerospace and defence, to name a few.

Most NDT companies offer at least 3 main types of testing, magnetic particle inspection, dye penetrant testing and visual inspection. Though most also offer some of the more advanced forms such as ultrasonic testing, eddy current testing, radiographic testing and acoustic emission testing.

As well as inspection techniques, the industry focuses on similar applications, and as such has a selection of application specific qualifications that can be gained to ensure thorough inspection of certain kinds of equipment.

API 570 for instance, named after the American Petroleum Institute, specialises in the inspection of pipelines, and provides a benchmark for the rigor of inspection carried out. A similar qualification exists for storage tanks in the form of EEMUA 159.

As well as being used on large objects such as pipelines, storage tanks, pressure vessels and boiler tubes, non destructive testing is used on small parts, such as those used in aircraft and space exploration. NDT provides the advantage of being able to assess the integrity of the part without damaging it, making it invaluable to check the integrity of parts before use in critical applications.

This application is often taken a step further with the automated inspection of items on the assembly line, providing automatic checking for parts as they leave the line ensuring an extra, high speed quality assurance check.

Largely application is useful for two main reasons. At the time of inspection data can be gathered and used to provide information on the appropriate actions to be taken if any such as discarding a part, making a repair, or monitoring the condition more closely. Secondly, in the event that something unforeseen should happen at a later date, such as a pipeline bursting, a record of inspection can be produced to prove that there was no indication of failure, or that every possible action had been taken to prevent the situation. This is highly useful when it comes to insurance or legal proceedings.

Overall NDT provides a valuable service to the industries it serves, with both applications and methods continuing to evolve to save money, protect equipment and ensure high standards of safety are maintained.

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