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Main Focus

Wire type
IQI, ISO IQI
will be equal
to EN IQI
except for the
denomination
ISO

Image quality
in industrial
radiography
a crucial safety
factor
By Heinrich Heidt, ISO/TC 138,
Non-Destructive Testing, Subcommittee SC 5, Radiation methods

ndustrial radiography makes an


important contribution to public
safety and industrial reliability:
industrial plants and power stations,
gas tubes and pressure equipment need
inspection by Non-Destructive Testing
(NDT) methods. Besides ultrasonic
inspection, radiography is the only (and
oldest) method for the discovery of
inner flaws and defects in welds, castings, aircraft and many other devices in
our technical environment.
A radiograph is the projection
of a specimen onto an imaging device,
traditionally an X-ray film. The source

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ISO Focus November 2004

of radiation may be an X-ray tube or a


radioisotope, i.e. Cobalt 60 or Iridium
192. The evaluation of the radiograph
traditionally film reading is mostly done by a human, well-trained film
interpreter.
The detectability of small
defects, i.e. cracks, depends on a sufficient image quality of the radiograph.
Good image quality means parameters
for unsharpness, contrast and graininess which are adapted to the capabilities of the human eye, eventually supported by a magnifying glass. The radiographer can influence the image quality in a wide range by the selection of
tube voltage, geometric distances, film
type, exposure time, etc.

How can image quality


be checked ?
The interpreter has to check
whether the radiographer carried out
an adequate job and whether the radiographic image has the full information
content required for safe interpretation;
if it does not, the radiograph must not
be used since the result of interpretation will be incomplete and possibly
dangerous.

Radiographic weld inspection for a pressure


vessel.

It is important to prove the


image quality by a method which is
independent from the specimen under
inspection. For about 70 years, two
basic types of Image Quality Indicators (IQI) are in use : the wire type IQI
and the step-hole type IQI. Both are
placed on the source side of the specimen, and are imaged on the radiograph
as reference objects. Both are sensitive
to contrast and, in part, to unsharpness.
Because of the low cost, these reusable IQIs are used for nearly 100 % of
radiographs worldwide.

From national to
International Standards
About 20 years ago, we had
manifold national standards for wire
type and step-hole type IQI (Image
Quality Indicators). There were differences in diameter, in number of wires
per IQI, in the form of plaquettes for
step-hole type IQI, etc. In international trade, some goods were rejected because of wrong IQIs on the
accompanying radiographs ! To avoid
this situation, some radiographers used
several IQIs on the same film, causing
additional cost and covering up useful
information on the radiograph.
This became, then, an urgent
problem, in Europe to begin with.
Within the European Committee for
Standardization, CEN/TC 138, WG 1
started with an investigation of which
IQIs were most frequently used, and
which IQIs were redundant. Finally,
one design for wire IQI and one for
step-hole type IQI were selected and

standardized in EN 462 parts 1 and


2 (1994).
In 1992, the outdated, very
imprecise and hardly applicable
ISO 1027:1983 was due for revision
or withdrawal. Since the series of
standards under EN 462 had meanwhile been developed to a generally
acknowledged system of five parts,
including an originally British IQI for
unsharpness evaluation, ISO/135/SC 5
proposed to adapt the CEN Standard
instead of making a revision of ISO
1027.
After a 100 % approval from the
ISO member bodies via the Fast Track
Procedure, the new ISO 19232, Nondestructive testing Image quality of
radiographs Part 1 : Image quality
indicators (wire type) Determination
of image quality value, appeared in
July 2004, and will be applied worldwide. ASTM has similar IQIs under
E 747-97 and E 1025-98 with a different design.

erwise, the appropriate IQI number


requirement can be determined by an
experiment carried out according to
ISO 19232 part 4 under well defined
exposure conditions.
If the requirement is fulfilled,
the film interpretation is safe and may
proceed ; the radiograph has the technically achievable information content.
Otherwise the exposure must be
repeated under improved conditions.

Radiograph of a welded tube.

The radiographic image


has to have the full information content required
for safe interpretation.
Regular versus poor, grainy image of a weld.

Reading the Image


Quality Indicators
When the film interpreter recognizes a certain smallest wire or
hole of the IQI, he will protocol the
number of this detail and compare it
to the minimum required IQI number.
This required IQI number can be taken from ISO 19232 part 3, if the specimen is made of ferrous materials. Oth-

Step-hole type IQI

About the author


Dr. Heinrich
Heidt, Chair of
SO/TC 135/SC 5,
Radiation
Methods, and
ead of department at the
Federal Institute
or Materials
Research and
Testing (BAM),
Berlin, Germany, has been involved in the
standardization of Non-Destructive Testing
(NDT) methods for more than 20 years. As
Convenor of German, European and international committees, he has contributed essentially to a uniform, worldwide application of
radiographic inspection methods. A number
of trade barriers and superfluous expensive
multiple inspections of objects have been
removed by ISO/TC 35s standards.
E-mail : heinrich.heidt@bam.de
ISO Focus November 2004

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Main Focus
From X-ray film to
electronics
In the 1990s, radiography started a fast change from film radiography
to electronic imaging devices. Nowadays there are radioscopic real time systems, different types of imaging plate
systems with reusable storage phosphor
screens, high resolution film digitizers,
and several kinds of direct and indirect
converting digital detector arrays (socalled flat panels). All give access to
image enhancement and quantitative
evaluation, some are capable of automatic image interpretation.
The simple IQIs of ISO
19232 were developed for film radiography and cover only a part of the image
quality parameters and control settings
of electronic systems. For the analysis
of the requirements of the users of electronic imaging devices and the preparation of additional standards, an international Task Group Digital Industrial
Radiology was founded by the International Institute of Welding (IIW),
Sub-Commission VA Radiographybased Weld Inspection Topics . Experts
are still welcome to join this work !
Standards have to reflect a changing state of the art , and their application must be effective, efficient and generally accepted. For industrial radiography, the quality of the image is crucial
for the safety of the inspected specimen.
With the inexpensive Image Quality
Indicators described in ISO 19232, each
radiographer and film interpreter has a
reliable tool to check the basic properties of the radiograph.

Real time radioscopic system for wheel


inspection.

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ISO Focus November 2004