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Non-Destructive Testing & Examination (NDT/NDE)

NDT & NDE obtains valuable information without damaging critical components, assemblies, or materials.

What is Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) and Non-Destructive Examination (NDE)?

NDT and NDE are the processes of inspecting, testing, or evaluating materials, components or assemblies for discontinuities, or differences in characteristics without destroying the serviceability of the part or system. Outside of NDT/NDE, most other methods or tests are destructive in nature and the tests are generally performed on a random or representative number of samples, rather than on the actual materials, components or assemblies being incorporated into the project or put into service.

NDT/NDE focuses on the discontinuities and differences in the materials and their characteristics, which the other destructive tests are used to determine the general physical properties of the specific materials. Properties such as impact resistance, ductility, yield and ultimate tensile strength, fracture toughness and fatigue strength.

Today modern nondestructive tests are used in manufacturing, fabrication and in-service inspections to ensure product integrity and reliability, to control manufacturing processes, lower production costs and to maintain a uniform quality level. During construction, NDT/NDE can be used to ensure the quality of materials and joining processes during the fabrication and erection phases, and in-service NDT/NDE inspections are used to ensure that the products in use continue to have the integrity necessary to ensure their usefulness and the safety of the public. NDT/NDE plays a crucial role in everyday life and is necessary to assure safety and reliability. Typical examples are found in aircraft, spacecraft (shuttle), motor vehicles, pipelines, bridges, trains, power stations, refineries, buildings and oil platforms which are all inspected using NDT/NDE. NDT/NDE is also a Quality Assurance (QA) management tool which can give impressive results when used correctly. Materials, products and equipment which fail to achieve their design requirements or projected life due to undetected defects may require expensive repair or early replacement. Such defects may also be the cause of unsafe conditions or catastrophic failure, as well as loss of revenue due to unplanned plant shutdown.

Nondestructive testing can be applied to each stage of an item’s construction. The materials can be examined using NDT/NDE and either accepted, rejected or repaired. NDT/NDE techniques can then be used to monitor the integrity of the item or structure throughout its design life.

NDT/NDE is used typically for the following reasons:

  • Accident prevention and to reduce costs
  • To improve product reliability
  • To determine acceptance to a given requirement
  • To give information on repair criteria.