False Indications

With the penetrant inspection, there are no false indications in the sense that they occur in the magnetic particle inspection. There are, however, two conditions which may create accumulations of penetrant that are sometimes confused with true surface cracks and discontinuities.

The first condition involves indications caused by poor washing. If all the surface penetrant is not removed in the washing or rinsing operation following the penetrant dwell time, the unremoved penetrant will be visible. Evidences of incomplete washing are usually easy to identify since the penetrant is in broad areas rather than in the sharp patterns found with true indications. When accumulations of unwashed penetrant are found on a part, the part should be completely reprocessed. Degreasing is recommended for removal of all traces of the penetrant.

False indications may also be created where parts press fit to each other. If a wheel is press fit onto a shaft, penetrant will show an indication at the fit line. This is perfectly normal since the two parts are not meant to be welded together. Indications of this type are easy to identify since they are regular in form and shape.

Eddy Current Inspection

Electromagnetic analysis is a term which describes the broad spectrum of electronic test methods involving the intersection of magnetic fields and circulatory currents. The most widely used technique is the eddy current.

Eddy currents are composed of free electrons under the influence of an induced electromagnetic field which are made to “drift" through metal.

Eddy current is used in aircraft maintenance to inspect jet engine turbine shafts and vanes, wing skins, wheels, bolt holes, and spark plug bores for cracks, heat or frame damage. Eddy current may also be used in repair of aluminum aircraft damaged by fire or excessive heat. Different meter readings will be seen when the same metal is in different hardness states. Readings in the affected area are compared with identical materials in known unaffected areas for comparison. A difference in readings indicates a difference in the hardness state of the affected area. In aircraft manufacturing plants, eddy current is used to inspect castings, stampings, machine parts, forgings, and extrusions. Figure 8-5 shows a technician performing an eddy current inspection on an aluminum wheel half.

Basic Principles

When an alternating current is passed through a coil, it develops a magnetic field around the coil, which in turn induces a voltage of opposite polarity in the coil and opposes the flow of original current. If this coil is placed in such a way that the magnetic field passes through an electrically conducting specimen, eddy currents will be induced into the specimen. The eddy currents create their own field which varies the original field’s opposition to the flow of original current. The specimen’s susceptibility to eddy currents determines the current flow through the coil. [Figure 8-6]

The magnitude and phase of this counter field is dependent primarily upon the resistance and permeability of the specimen under consideration, and which enables us to make a qualitative determination of various physical properties of the test material. The interaction of the eddy current field with the original field results is a power change that can be measured by utilizing electronic circuitry similar to a Wheatstone bridge.

The specimen is either placed in or passed through the field of an electromagnetic induction coil, and its effect on the impedance of the coil or on the voltage output of one or more test coils is observed. The process, which involves electric fields made to explore a test piece for various conditions, involves the transmission of energy through the specimen much like the transmission of x-rays, heat, or ultrasound.

Eddy current inspection can frequently be performed without removing the surface coatings such as primer, paint, and anodized films. It can be effective in detecting surface and subsurface corrosion, pots and heat treat condition.

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