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2. PHYSICAL PRINCIPLES OF THE TEST

2.1 DESCRIPTION OF THE METHOD

Liquid penetrant inspection methods provide a means for the detection of discontinuities that
are open to the surface. They are applicable to in-process, final and maintenance inspection.
They can be effectively used in the inspection of non-porous metallic materials, both ferrous
and non-ferrous and non-porous non-metallic materials such as ceramics, plastics and glass.
Discontinuities open to the surface such as cracks, seams, laps, cold shuts, laminations,
through leaks, or lack of fusion are indicated by these methods.

In general, a liquid penetrant is applied evenly over the surface of the part being tested and
allowed to enter discontinuities. After a suitable dwell time or residence time, the excess
penetrant is removed and the part dried. A developer is then applied which draws the
entrapped penetrant out of the discontinuity. The test part is then inspected visually to
determine the presence or the absence of indication. The selection of a particular method and
type of penetrant inspection procedure depends upon the nature of the application, conditions
under which the inspection is to be performed, availability of the processing equipment, and
type of materials used, the nature of the part under inspection, i.e. size, shape, surface
condition, type of discontinuities expected, etc. The method indicates the presence, location,
and to some extent the nature and magnitude of the discontinuities detected. The essential
procedural steps involved in the liquid penetrant method are indicated in Figure 2.1.

Figure 2.1: Sequence of liquid penetrant test.

2.2 PROPERTIES OF PENETRATING LIQUIDS

A satisfactory penetrant must meet several requirements, some of which are more or less in
conflict with each other. High on the list of desirable characteristics is the penetrativeness or
the ability to enter extreme fine discontinuities that are open to surface and remain there
while the cleaning or the removing operation is carried out. A second major requirement is
suitable removability of the penetrant from the surface of the part after the penetration into
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defects has taken place. A third characteristic, of importance and at least equal to the
penetrativeness, is visibility or contrast between the penetrant indication and the background
against which it is viewed by the inspector.

2.2.1 Wettability

The word wettability essentially describes the ability of the penetrant materials to wet the
surface of the test piece. This is a compulsory requirement for a penetrant to be ultimately of
good penetrativeness. The penetrant thus makes a good contact with the surface of the test
piece and starts getting into surface open fine discontinuities under capillary action. It is
though very desirable that the surface of the test piece be free from extraneous material which
may become a source of false indications or a cause for preventing the entry of the penetrant
into discontinuities by partially closing the opening of the discontinuities. The penetrant with
good wettability meets the basic requirement of its spread evenly and completely the surface
of the test piece even if the surface has some degree of contamination. On the other hand the
area will be not fully covered with penetrant in case the penetrants are of poor wetting ability.

2.2.2 Viscosity

Liquids have the ability to flow because molecules of the liquid can slide over each other. The
resistance of liquid to its flow is called viscosity (Figure 2.2). In other words, viscosity of a
liquid is a measure of its internal resistance to flow.

Figure 2.2 : Viscosity of a liquid. The velocity of flow of liquid nearer to the sides of tube is
less than the velocity of flow in the centre of tube.

The resistance to flow is because of the internal friction among the layers of molecules.
Liquids which flow very slowly like honey or glycerine have high viscosities as compared to
ether and water having low viscosities.

If a liquid flowing in a tube is considered as made up of a series of layers, the layer of the
liquid in contact with the walls of the tube remains stationary. The layer in the centre of the
tube has highest velocity. Each layer exerts a drag on the next layer and causes resistance to
flow.

The coefficient of viscosity is denoted by‘’. Its S.I units are Kg m-1 S-1.

1 poise = 10-1 Kg m-1 S-1

2.2.3 Penetration

A good penetrant is the one that has a high penetrativeness. Parameters such as viscosity and
wetting ability have an influence on the liquid to be a good or bad penetrant. Low viscosity
materials run off parts more rapidly and may not remain on the test surface long enough to
permit complete penetration. On the other hand, high-viscosity material may be dragged out
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in such quantity as to be un-economical in use. Wetting ability has an important effect on


overall performance of the penetrant.

2.2.4 Bleeding

The term bleed out implies the action of the entrapped penetrant in spreading out from
surface discontinuities to form an indication. The process of bleeding can be described as to
be a reverse-capillary action. The developer acts as a `blotter' helping the penetrant to come
up to the surface to form an indication. The rate and extent of the action associated with
capillarity depends upon such factors as forces of cohesion and adhesion, surface tension and
viscosity. The ultimate requirement of a penetrant to be of desired characteristics are met if
we select those fluids which have low surface tension values but exert high capillary
pressures. These pressures will enable them to enter into very fine discontinuities at a
reasonable speed.

2.2.5 Influence of surface state, the contamination and temperature

The principle of all penetrant processes is that the penetrant must enter the surface openings
of discontinuities if it is later to identify them. Therefore unless the part is clean and free from
foreign materials that may cover the discontinuities, or perhaps later confuse the indications,
reliable inspection cannot be made. Scale and rust as contaminations have to be got rid of
from the surface of the test part. They tend to cover defects or may cause confusing
indications by trapping and holding penetrant on the surface of the part. For soft materials,
the methods such as shot blasting, sandblasting, emery cloth, wire brushing or metal scraping
are not recommended as they may cover the defects by peening or cold working the surface.
Solid contamination such as carbon, engine varnish, paints, and similar materials should be
removed by vapour blast, chemical dip and other acceptable methods. Oil and grease on
surface should also be completely removed from the test part as many oils are somewhat
fluorescent and are also good penetrants. They can thus fill the discontinuities and also
produce false indications due to fluorescence under black light.

Acids and chromates should also not be left on the surface of the test parts or within the
surface discontinuities because these chemicals adversely affect some penetrants. It is
essential that the parts pre-cleaned for inspection should be thoroughly dry. Any liquid residue
will hinder the entrance of the penetrant. Drying may be accomplished by drying the parts in
drying ovens with infrared lamps, forced hot air, or exposure to ambient temperature. Parts
temperature should not exceed 125 ºF (52 ºC) prior to the application of the penetrant.

The requirement of inspection to be carried out within (10-52) ºC is mainly because of the
following facts:-

i) In case of fluorescent dyes, their fluorescence is reduced by heat. Resistance to heat is


therefore, of greater importance. This is so, as loss of fluorescence mean loss of
sensitivity to fine or any defect.

ii) In situations where colour contrast penetrant with red dye are shipped or stored at
0ºF or low, there may occur possibility of the separation of the dye out of solution.
This may reduce the brilliance of the penetrant due to loss of dye content. If this
occurs then warming of the can up to (70ºF or above) and agitation can help in re-
dissolving the dye.
iii) At higher temperatures the volatile constituents of the carrier fluid may evaporate
significantly, thus there can be no fluid left to make the tracer dye get into the defects
as its carrier.
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2.3 CONCEPTS OF SOLUTIONS AND COMPARISONS

2.3.1 Solvents

The penetrant must have high solvent ability. The penetrant contains fluorescent or coloured
visible dyes, the later at a high concentration. The penetrant must be capable of dissolving the
dyes at ambient temperature and retaining them in solution at possible low temperature
during storage or transportation.

2.3.2 Dispersive agents

The liquids used in the penetrant making should also possess the ability to distribute the dye
evenly and completely over the surface to be inspected, and carry it to any defects present on
the test surface. This ability is in addition to the above mentioned characteristic of retaining
the dye in solution or suspension. The carrier liquid of the penetrant should be of strong
wetting ability to be a strong dispersive agent. The carrier material with good wetting ability
will help spread the penetrant evenly and smoothly over the surface even in the presence of
surface contamination.

2.3.3 Emulsifiers

Emulsifier is a liquid that combines with an oily penetrant to make the penetrant water
washable. In penetrants which are water-washable, this emulsifier is already incorporated into
them. If washing of parts becomes noticeably difficult, the emulsifier should immediately be
checked. The most possible cause of deterioration of emulsifier is its contamination with
water. The loss of effectiveness in removing excessive penetrant is generally accompanied by
a change in appearance or physical properties. The low-tolerance (water-tolerance) materials
generally become viscous or gel completely. The high tolerance emulsifiers may become
cloudy or show a tendency to thicken.

2.4 MECHANISM OF DEVELOPMENT

2.4.1 Powder granulometry


The dry-developers are employed generally with fluorescent penetrants. They are applied to
the part after the excess penetrant has been removed; all moisture dried from the surface of
the test parts. To achieve maximum sensitivity with dry fluffy developer, parts should be
placed in a bin of developer and developer is applied in the form of dust. Use of hand powder
bulb or powder gun can be made for this application. After application of dry powder, a
typical development time period equal to one half of the penetration time should be allowed
to permit the developer to blot-up the penetrant. The developer action appears to be a
combination of solvency effect, adsorption and absorption. Adsorption is a surface
phenomenon. The adsorbed substance remains sticking to the outer surface because of the
attractive forces of the molecules. The effects adsorption and absorption differ from each
other. In adsorption we expect more concentration at the surface while absorption involves
penetration into the bulk of the solid. The extent of adsorption depends upon the following
factors:

i) Nature of the penetrant and developer


ii) Surface area of the developer
iii) Experimental conditions e.g. temperature, pressure etc.
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Absorption refers to assimilation of liquid into the bulk of an absorbent material. The
developer powder exerts a combination of adsorptive-absorptive effect on penetrants
residues, drawing entrapped penetrants to the test part surface. As the penetrant disperses in
the developer powder, it forms test indications that can be readily observed by the inspector.
In case of the non-aqueous wet and film-type developers, solvent action has been shown to
play a part in promoting the withdrawal action and enhancing the penetrant indications.

2.4.2 Suspension

Two types of aqueous wet developer are in common use in penetrant inspection. The first
consists of insoluble developer particles suspendible in water, while the second contains a
developer that is actually soluble in water. Aqueous wet developers usually contain wetting
agents and corrosion inhibitors to minimize attack on test objects. The solvent based
developers are generally used in connection with visible dye penetrants.

2.5 BASIC CONCEPTS RELATING TO COLOUR AND FLUORESCENCE

2.5.1 Dyes

The liquid penetrant and the corresponding test procedures can be classified in terms of their
tracer dyes as follows:-

i) Visible (colour contrast) tracer dye penetrants.


ii) Fluorescent (brightness contrast) tracer dye penetrants.
iii) Dual response penetrants with colour dye and fluorescent dye tracers.

2.5.2 Fluorescent pigments

Fluorescent pigments are more sensitive than visible dye penetrant for minute indications
such as cracks or pinholes. The fluorescent pigments classifies the liquid penetrant inspection
methods into three categories depending upon the mode of the removal of excess penetrant.

2.5.3 Ultraviolet and light radiation

Ultraviolet radiation is commonly measured in microwatt per square centimeter (W/cm2).


The meter J-221 is one of the portable devices used for measuring the intensity of the
ultraviolet energy emitted from ultraviolet lamps. Meter read out is in microwatt per square
centimeter (W/cm2). The meter has two scales A and B. The scale B which reads up to 6000
watt/cm2 is to be used with multiplier screen. The intensity readings are taken directly by
illuminating the surface with black light source and placing the meter at the location of the
interest. The readings are normally taken with sources of light placed at a distance of 40 cm
(15 inch) or others as specified by a reference code.
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For inspection of fluorescent indications use of black light is made. Black light radiation of
wave length 3650 Å is employed. The recommended intensity of lamp is 1000 Watt/cm2 on
the surface of the part being inspected. The check of black light intensity after every 8 hours
and whenever the work station is changed. A minimum of 5 minutes should be allowed to
warm the lamp. Use of black light is also made at the time of removal of excess fluorescent
penetrant to see the effectiveness of the cleaning process.

2.6 COMPOSITION OF OILY AND NON-OILY PENETRANT LIQUIDS

The penetrants for use in the water-wash process are not simple dye solutions but rather
complicated formulations of a number of ingredients. These include penetrating oils, dyes,
emulsifying agents and stabilizing agents. The constituents are added or incorporated into
such proportions so as to give a penetrant with high penetrativeness, dye solubility, ease of
washing and stability of dye i.e. it does not separate itself under wide variations in
temperatures and other operating conditions.

For some applications a non-combustible penetrant is required, having brilliance and


sensitivity comparable with the more commonly used organic liquid penetrant. Such
penetrants have been developed and are use in certain cases where combustible or utilizable
liquids can not be tolerated as for instance in fuel containers and systems of missiles for
handling liquid oxygen.

2.7 COMPOSITION AND PROPERTIES OF REMOVERS

2.7.1 Organic solvents

In solvent cleaning, test objects are immersed and soaked in tanks of common organic liquid
solvents. Organic solvents are normally used at or near room temperature. Oil and grease are
removed from metal surfaces, with agitation. Since contamination removed from test parts is
retained in the solvent, both cleaning efficiency and the final cleanliness of test objects can
decrease with continual use. Solvent cleaning is often used in combination with separate
acidic or alkaline cleaning procedures for removal of complex soils. Common organic
solvents include aliphatic petroleum or chlorinated hydrocarbon (similar to those used in
vapour degreasing) or blend of two or more solvents. Aliphatic petroleum includes familiar
fluids such as kerosene, naphtha, mineral spirits, and stoddard solvent. Other solvents include
alcohols (ethanol, methanol or isopropanol), ketones, benzol, toluol, 1,1,1- trichloroethene,
and glycol ethers, as well as unsaturated chlorinated hydro carbon such as trichloroethylene.

2.7.2 Emulsifiers

Emulsifiers are liquids used to emulsify the excess oily penetrant on the surface of the part,
rendering it water washable. There are two basic types of emulsifiers: oil-base and water-
base. The lipophilic or oil base emulsifiers were the early type of emulsifiers to be used in the
post emulsification of the penetrant. These emulsifiers being oil base dissolve readily and
diffuse into oily penetrant at a some what uniform rate. They are used as supplied by the
manufacturers. Figure 2.3 shows the basic action of the lipophilic emulsifiers during the
removal of surface penetrant. The diffusion rate (emulsification time) will vary depending on
the viscosity of the lipophilic emulsifier. Emulsifiers with viscosity of 60 to 100 mm2/s
(centistoks) are relatively slow acting as emulsifiers (2 to 4 minutes). Low-viscosity
emulsifiers (in the range of 30 to 50 mm2/s) are relatively fast acting emulsifiers (under 2
minutes emulsification).
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Solution and diffusion


Penetration Add Emulsifier begins

Diffusion proceeds Rinsing Clean surface

Figure 2.3 : Mechanism of action of lipophilic emulsifier.

A red dye is incorporated in the emulsifier fluorescing pink under black light so that when
washing a part under black light it is easy to follow the progress of removal of both emulsifier
and penetrant. The most recent development is that of water-based or hydrophilic emulsifier.
This type of emulsifier is dry powder or concentrated liquid, and must be dissolved or diluted
in water before use. The desirable concentration depends upon the method by which the
emulsifier must be applied to the test parts. Hydrophilic emulsifiers when applied by spraying,
function by their detergent and scrubbing action. Figure (2.4) illustrates the mechanism of
action of hydrophilic emulsifiers.

Immerse in aqueous Diffusion and


Penetration remover solution emulsification begins

Agitation and emulsification Rinsing Clean surface


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Figure 2.4 : Mechanism of action of hydrophilic emulsifier.

2.8 COMPOSITION AND STATE OF DEVELOPERS

2.8.1 Dry developers

Dry powder was the type first to be used with fluorescent penetrants. Today the powders are
still very widely used with fluorescent methods. As regards their nature, the first powders to
be used were simply chalk or talc. Later as the action of developers and their desired
characteristics were understood, these developers were found to be not satisfactory. Recently
much lighter amorphous silica powders are used and they are in many ways superior. Today
the best dry powder developers are the combination of powders carefully selected to give all
the characteristics in a developer. For safe and effective performance dry powder should be:-

1. Transparent to ultraviolet and fluorescent radiation.

2. White or essentially colourless.

3. Uniform in particle size.

4. Low in bulk density.

5. Chemically inert.

6. Non-toxic; free from sulphur and halogen contamination.

7. In some cases hydrophobic (water repellent).

2.8.2 Wet developers

2.8.2.1 Aqueous wet developers

Aqueous wet developers are normally supplied as dry powders to be suspended or dissolved
in water, depending on the type of the wet developer. They differ from dry and other non-
aqueous developers in that the developer is applied directly after washing and before drying
of the test parts. A typical aqueous suspendible developer is composed of the following
constituents:-

i) Inert insoluble pigment


ii) Dispersing agent
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iii) Wetting agent


iv) Corrosion inhibitors

The developer particles are inert, insoluble, transparent pigments such as metallic oxides,
insoluble carbonates, and selected clays. Dispersing agents are required to avoid particle
lumping together. The wetting agents act to provide good wetting properties. They also aid
in post removal of the dried developer, at the time of post cleaning.

2.8.2.2 Solvent suspendible developers

Solvent-suspendible developers are composed of a dispersion of selective developer particles


in a volatile solvent system which also acts as a solvent for the penetrant within the defect,
thus enhancing the flaw detection capability. The characteristics desired are in general like
those of the aqueous wet developers.

Dispersants which are essentially dispersive agents, and surfactants, are employed to ensure
uniform developer particle distribution within the developer suspension These chemicals also
serve to reduce the developer particle to make lump by collecting many powder particles
within themselves. The solvent suspendible developers, when used properly are the most
sensitive developers available today.