Physical Testing is Alive and Well Throughout the Engineering World

In this digital world, it may be hard for some to believe that there’s still a place for anything manual or physical – especially in the engineering realm. And, while it’s true that today’s technologies have cut into the dependence on physical testing, real-world data remains the lifeblood of the product lifecycle.

From product design to troubleshooting in-service equipment, next generation product planning, and all phases in between, testing remains critical to the design, manufacture, quality, performance, and evolution of virtually all products.

Non-Destructive Testing

One can verify that a part, product, or structure meets certain standards in many ways. For example, a car crash test is an example of a testing method where that being tested is destroyed. While this is acceptable for prototype testing, it is not acceptable for in-service equipment or parts coming off the manufacturing line.

Non-Destructive Testing (NDT), also known as Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE), includes a variety of analysis techniques used to evaluate the properties of materials, parts, or systems without causing damage. NDT is widely used in maintenance, certification, safety, or verification scenarios or in a manufacturing environment to verify that a part meets quality standards before being shipped to the OEM or customer.

There are several forms of NDT including Eddy-Current, Liquid Penetrant, Magnetic-Particle, Radiographic, Ultrasonic, and Vibrational testing. Visual inspection is another form of non-destructive testing. There are also several variations/special techniques for some of these methods that can apply to certain applications.

These methods are routinely applied in industries where failure would result in significant hazard or economic loss.  Examples include product quality inspection and weld integrity verification.

Weld Verification

NDT is a common practice used to verify weld integrity for vessels and other structures and in-service equipment found throughout the aerospace, automotive, industrial manufacturing, petrochemical, and power generation industries. This form of testing helps to ensure that the weld has the strength to do the job for which it is intended. For example, lawn mower decks contain structural welds that are designed to withstand vibration up to a specific level. But welds on a bridge structure are more critical. Manufacturers must be sure that the weld can handle tremendous loads and move without cracking.

Professional NDE Services Group offers third-party assistance for all NDT methods. The company’s emphasis is on responsive, reliable, and professional customer service and its services include Level 3 services, training, audits, and Best-Practice implementation. The company’s Business Development Manager Mark Koehler says that weld failure can be traced to any number of areas.

“Weld failure is often traced to over-cycling, over-stressing, it might also be simply under-designed. Or in other words, the engineering wasn’t correct on the front end. Improper weld technique can also cause failure — such as if the weld hasn’t properly fused to the base material. Obviously, any inherent defects that are present in the weld can propagate and cause the weld to crack or otherwise fail.”

Koehler sums it up by explaining, “Weld failure can be traced to any number of areas from engineering, design, and materials, to processes, conditions, or workmanship. Non-destructive testing allows welds to be evaluated before failure can occur.”

Read the entire article here in Power & Motion Magazine.