Meeting stringent technical standards are the need of the day as interdisciplinary industries update and modernize. In this milieu, non-destructive testing (NDT) methods are fast evolving as advancements in computers, electronics and material science put forth new testing challenges.
“Accepting that no single method can provide all the necessary NDT information, industry participants are working toward integrating several methods with the idea that complimenting capabilities offer greater detectability, and overlapping enhances reliability,” says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Vijay Shankar Murthy. “Ultrasonic and eddy current testing equipment using core hardware and interchangeable transducers and modules are now available and software packages process data obtained from various NDT methods.”
However, NDT techniques such as phased array ultrasonics and digital radiography need to tackle limited awareness, which will affect demand for the relatively newer techniques. While customers are still partial to NDT, many are demanding a host of features from the equipment that cannot be incorporated due to technological or economic reasons. In fact, certain NDT techniques have in built flaws that can detract from their testing abilities.
Ultrasound testing for example can be influenced by background noise, which may result in off the mark measurements. The selected method and inspection requirements depend on the inspected structural configuration and the lifecycle stage.
The future of NDT techniques appears strong despite these setbacks. Part of the reason for this is that the industrial and scientific communities have used combinations of techniques to test components and materials. The idea of using combinations of techniques is fast becoming a major trend within the industry.
Advanced materials necessitate the need for specialized equipment capable of testing the performance of these in simulated as well as real-time environments. The resulting demand for NDT is expected to counter the effects of other technology barriers such as difficulty in detecting minute cracks in the structure, delaminations in composites hindering accurate testing, among others.
Further support for NDT techniques is likely to pour in from all quarters due to rapid evolution of all industries. For instance, advent in microelectronics has led to devices integrated with software especially among testers and this miniaturization is leading to reduction in cost, instrumentation weight, and size with greater enhancement of the capability.
Phased array technology with the potential of revolutionizing the entire NDT technology landscape has moved from medical to the manufacturing industry as a result of increased demand. The electronically controlled multiple probes preset in phased array technology reduce the time taken for inspection, which would gradually help in reducing overall cost of the final product.
"The emergence of composite structures as a material of choice for aircraft manufacturers has also brought with it sophistication of techniques used to inspect them," explains Murthy. "The transition from X-ray inspection to non-film digital methods of testing structures within the aerospace industry is a direct result of use of new and cost effective methods for manufacturing of composites."
Major applications for this technology are expected in the aerospace, automotive, nuclear and power generation industries. Growing interdependence of industries and steady growth in technology combined with increased credibility and customer awareness enforce a durable future for NDT techniques.
Emerging Trends in Non-Destructive Testing is part of the D920 vertical subscription service and it examines basic NDT methods such as visual inspection, surface inspection, radiographic inspection, ultrasonic inspection and acoustic emission testing in detail. This study also provides a synopsis of the emerging techniques, an identification of commercial applications and a report on technology drivers, restraints and challenges. Executive summaries and analyst interviews are available to the press.
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Emerging Trends in Non-Destructive Testing
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Keywords in this release: non-destructive testing, NDT, eddy current testing, ultrasound testing, phased array testing, x-ray inspection