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Penetrant Inspection: Best Way For Finding Surface Defects

By Expert Author: Golden State

Penetrant inspection involves the procedure of finding surface defects in nonferrous and some ferrous materials. Typical problem areas would be cracks, stress fractures and fatigue in ceramics, metals, plastics and rubber. It is a safety procedure to guard against premature damage and destruction to key components, such as those that might be associated with aircraft struts, wings, engine parts and fuselage panels, for example. The technique is rather easy to perform and cost-effective.

Dye Inspection

Dye penetrant Inspection, also called liquid penetrant inspection, is common in the manufacturing and machine industry. The process is non-destructive because it has no physical aftereffects on the part being inspected. The process involves cleaning the suspect part to remove any foreign chemicals or debris, which allows the testing material to properly adhere to the surface. A small swath of dye is applied to the surface and the excess is removed, leaving only a thin film of dye. The dye penetrates into the tiny recesses of the surface and adheres to it. A developer is added which then reacts with the dye, causing a contrast that exposes minute flaws in the surface, such as pressure cracks, stretching, blisters and other irregularities.

The process works well enough for an inspector to visibly see the damage with the naked eye or with the aid of a magnifying glass. Ordinarily, tiny cracks and pressure fractures would be difficult to detect under normal viewing. In some cases, an ultraviolet light is used to cause the surface irregularities to fluoresce, showing finer detail and greater depth. The test person then examines the surface with a critical eye, noting whether it can pass manufacturing parameters or must be repaired or replaced. An inspection is a highly regarded safety procedure as much as it is a guard against mechanical malfunction.

Liquid Penetrant Inspection Uses

A liquid penetrant Inspection can be performed on used or new components. Industries that use milling machines, stamps, rollers, presses, conveyors, hydraulic equipment, assembly lines, robotic arms and other machinery parts that undergo repeated stress are good candidates for this procedure. Normal inspection routine guards against costly breakdown, accident and production loss. It is a valuable tool in determining if a piece of equipment has suffered damage after a rough impact or breakdown. It is also educational in that repeated failures can be brought to the attention of the manufacture so improvements can be made to strengthen or modify a part.

The process of penetrant inspection is ideal during the manufacturing process of new parts and components. It serves as a quality control measure in the research and development phase. Rubber parts, seals and gaskets can be tested and inspected a multitude of times under various conditions, exposing material flaws that might have escaped notice. It serves a vital purpose in the heavy construction industry where parts are subjected to heavy loads, extreme torque, bending and stress.

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