Nondestructive Testing and Evaluation

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Archived Viewpoints

2000

About This Technology

July 2000

NDTE is an essential part of many manufacturing procedures, providing information about engineering parameters, product safety, and material quality both during and after fabrication. A wide variety of techniques provide users with the speed, accuracy, and cost-efficiency that their particular needs demand. From high-value/low-volume materials to low-value/high-volume operations, NDTE techniques have developed to facilitate the primary requirements of quality control and product fitness for purpose. NDTE methods also apply to routine and in-service assessment.

Most developed industrial nations of the world have a mature and well-established NDTE infrastructure including research and development groups and vendors of commercial equipment. The economics of NDTE are well established, especially in the safety-critical and high-risk industries such as oil and gas exploration, aerospace, and power generation. However, many of today's advanced manufacturing strategies place a high premium on new technologies that can provide input/output with reliability, speed, and accuracy and on techniques that provide fundamentally new capability at acceptable cost. Currently, new niche applications provide the most exciting market opportunities in the traditional NDTE community, though industrially developing nations in Europe and the Pacific Rim will likely create a more buoyant market for conventional equipment, too, in the next ten years.

Raw materials, advanced engineering components, and fully assembled systems are all subject to hidden faults and defects that can cause failure and impaired performance during operation. Competitive markets, safety issues, legal requirements, and long-term economics all fuel the desire to correct, reject, or monitor these irregularities at the earliest opportunity. The topic of online quality control is of great importance and should be the focus of creative NDTE attention; typically, in industrial testing, less than a third of NDTE and measurement equipment is integrated into the process or used online. This result indicates that many opportunities still exist for entrepreneurial NDTE groups to provide valuable improvements in the production environment.