The Significance of Non-Destructive Testing in the Metal Industry

Reading time: 4 minutes | 11 June 2024

Testing components, materials, and systems inform us about their strengths, weaknesses, and the types of projects and installations they are suitable to be used for. Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) and Destructive Testing (DT) are the two methods used to evaluate and detect defects early in the manufacturing process to ensure the correct specification is used.

This blog post looks at what NDT is and how it differs from DT, and where it is most commonly used.

What Is NDT?

Non-destructive testing or NDT refers to inspection methods that are used to evaluate the strength or otherwise of, for example, materials or components, without permanently altering or damaging it. This method is the opposite of DT which, as the name suggests, destroys samples usually by bending or crushing them or exposing them to chemical stressors to find out their tolerance levels.

NDT is used in a range of industries to test whether infrastructure, components, machinery, materials, and equipment are properly maintained and working as they should. For example, if you require an X-ray or MRI in a hospital, these are NDT methods that are used to find out more about your injury or illness.

NDT methods

This type of testing covers a broad spectrum of techniques from the naked eye through to sophisticated tools and sensors. Essentially it is any method that is used to check that something is safe, working properly, or find out what is causing a particular issue.

Some of the most common methods include:

  • Visual testing. This is the most basic method of inspecting or examining an object by collecting visual data about its appearance and functionality.
  • Ultrasonic testing. This method relates to transmitting high-frequency sound waves into a material or object to identify any changes to its properties. This non-destructive testing method is commonly used to identify defects or imperfections in the surface of materials.
  • Radiographic testing. Imperfections in materials are identified using this method by using gamma or x-radiation. This method is used to detect alterations to a material’s density that aren’t obvious to the naked eye.

How do we ensure quality assurance in our coded welding work?

Welding inspection, quality control, assurance, and safety are key aspects of what we do at Washington Components. We work in accordance with ISO 14001 and ISO 18001 and are an ISO 9001:2015 (quality management system) and ISO 3834 (welding) certified company.

Quality is essential to us and we know how important it is to our customers as well. Our weld quality assurance and management system enables us to achieve this with the processes and procedures we implement. We are proud of the quality of the products we manufacture on a daily basis and our high standards are achieved through continuous investment in our people and equipment.

Our welding co-ordinator is qualified to CSWIP 3.2 Level 3 and ensures that all welding processes including joint and weld preparation, conform to the demands of your exact specifications. Our quality control processes include working closely with local suppliers so that we can provide independent NDT solutions.

The Importance of NDT Methods

Testing plays a vital role in pretty much every production and manufacturing process as a means of ensuring the final product is fit for purpose and of the required quality and standard. Non-destructive testing enables early detection of weaknesses without the need for all of the equipment or products to be taken apart.

This form of quality control has benefits that include saving money, resources, and time as no damage is caused during the testing process. That means that routine checks can be carried out easily which ensures high standards in terms of safety and security both for staff and the equipment.

NDT methods provide an efficient and quick means of identifying defects in machinery and other equipment without it being taken out of service to be tested. This enables regular testing that provides prompt and thorough results.

Where is NDT used?

The appeal of NDT methods is that they can be used in a wide range of industries from automotive to marine and medical. It has become an increasingly popular testing method that allows greater automation of defect detection without the need for human intervention.

Computers record the results of the inspection saving time and resources so that staff can concentrate on more skilled and intricate tasks.

NDT is considered to be an indispensable method of maintaining the functionality and reliability or numerous products and infrastructures. For example, the techniques are used to test the safety and performance of critical aircraft components, to inspect pipelines and tanks to detect potential failures and leaks in the oil and gas industry, and to ensure the structural integrity of buildings and machinery in construction, power generation, and manufacturing processes. 

NDT in the Metal Industry

NDT in metal industries such as steel fabrication ensures that demanding performance and safety standards are met. Tests are carried out during the fabrication and welding processes to guarantee they are reliable, robust, safe, and completed to a high standard by identifying costly defects early in the process.

NDT methods are used in a range of ways in the metal industry, for example, by inspecting the quality of a weld. Welds are the most common part of industrial assets therefore they must be of the highest standard.

Non-destructive testing techniques ensure that the weld is fit for purpose, and identifies whether it has potential defects that could compromise its integrity and ultimately cause it to break.

Some of the errors picked up this way include:

  • Flaws as a result of incorrect techniques.
  • Environmental damage due to moisture, incompatible metals, or temperature extremes.
  • Fatigue as a result of human error.

How Can Washington Components Help?

With over 40 years of industry experience, the team at Washington Components works closely with approved suppliers to provide the highest-quality testing services. Our project management services include ensuring the correct NDT techniques are used to comply with your specific requirements.

Get in touch with our team today to discuss your NDT requirements and find out how we can help.

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