How Non-Destructive Testing Creates a Safer World

Today’s innovative technology has helped the field of non-destructive testing (known as NDT) grow to new heights, and that has meant safer construction and safer materials testing in so many different fields. How does NDT equipment make testing safer, and how does this kind of analysis work?

What is NDT?

Since many people aren’t that familiar with this field, it would be best to explain the concepts first. Testing materials is often “destructive”, because samples must be taken. Even tiny samples can damage or weaken a material which creates a conflict in what you are trying to accomplish. Another damaging aspect of materials testing is that the components you need to examine are not accessible, possibly underground or within a wall. So NDT was developed.

A range of methods and techniques are used. It’s not one single form of testing. Ultrasonic examination, ground penetrating radar, X-rays, magnetic testing, electric current resistance, and liquid tracing are a few popular NDT examples. All of these can be completed without doing any damage whatsoever to the materials in question.

How it Helps

The biggest benefit you get from doing NDT is that materials can be tested in detail in situations where they wouldn’t have been tested at all in the past. Structures can be examined from the inside now, whereas it was impossible to do so in the past without breaking walls open. In such a situation, either holes were made (making the structure weaker) or the tests were avoided completely. Neither of these options is particularly safe or smart.

Now we can test the materials in an internal structure without breaking into it, such as seeing what kind of metal framework is behind the external concrete for example. Faults in metal structures can be isolated without having to do further damage during testing. This is especially true when testing metal weld joins. Finding microscopic cracks in a weld before it goes into use is a very effective safety measure.

Underground excavating is far safer when you can check for hidden obstacles or hazards before you begin. Electrical lines, water pipes, old foundations and even just huge rocks can be avoided before the shovel hits the ground.

NDT doesn’t only make our world safer, it also makes us healthier. Many of the same non-invasive techniques have been adapted to medical diagnostic testing. X-rays, MRIs, barium traces, CT scans and ECG examinations are all vital tools in today’s health care, and they all use the same non-destructive approach. No samples are taken, no incisions are made and no additional harm has to come to the patient.

One final benefit of NDT is that it makes construction and maintenance less expensive. It’s not strictly for safety only. Testing can be done easier and more quickly when there is no need for destructive sampling (and the repairs that may come afterwards).

So the next time you are planning a construction project, you may want to ask about getting some NDT testing done to help keep the costs down and to improve safety.