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Cutting-Edge Eddy Current Nondestructive Testing Solutions to Ensure Quality & Safety

Eddy current is a fast, effective means of nondestructive testing

Eddy current nondestructive testing (NDT) is widely used and respected across many industries, including power generation, oil and gas, manufacturing, aviation, automotive, and rail. Eddy current technology uses electromagnetic currents to map the surface and near-surface areas of conductive materials. Doing so allows technicians to pinpoint cracks, flaws, and other defects which may lead to equipment failure, structure failure, or unsafe working conditions. Detection is the first step towards correction; eddy current NDT allows companies to correct small flaws before they become costly issues.

Developing eddy current programs and using eddy current testing (ECT) efficiently and effectively requires a sound understanding of the technology’s basic concepts, the specifics of the application, and the capabilities of the equipment and software being used. Technicians should be trained and certified, and leaders should be deeply familiar with all aspects of the process.

Over decades of providing high-quality ECT equipment and software, Zetec has continually produced informational articles on eddy current technology and its applications. To provide a guide for those seeking to educate themselves on eddy current testing, we’ve collected a sheaf of our latest posts on the subject. Reading through the articles in this guide will provide you with an understanding of the basics of eddy current technology and its applications. 

Understanding Eddy Current Technology

While eddy current testing is a powerful and effective NDT method, it isn’t perfect for every application. Knowing which materials and equipment eddy current NDT works best on helps managers develop effective NDT programs. Complete NDT programs involve a mix of methods, and eddy current testing serves as an indispensable part of many testing regimens.

Read more about the advantages and disadvantages of ECT technology

To find the best application for eddy current NDT, it’s important to understand why eddy current testing is typically used. Understanding these principles allows managers to make smart decisions between NDT methods in uncertain areas. The main applications for ECT are crack and fatigue detection in conductive materials. Learning how to calibrate the frequencies used in ECT to match material properties allows technicians to produce the best possible picture of internal structures, improving flaw detection.

Read more about finding the best application of eddy current NDT technology

Eddy Current Equipment and Software

Once the basic concepts of eddy current NDT are understood, the next step is deciding which equipment to procure for a company’s NDT program. Learning the capabilities of different types of equipment—and the several components which make up a complete eddy current testing system—allows managers to make informed procurement decisions. Knowing the prices of different eddy current solutions is insufficient; company managers must also know the value they provide.

Read more about eddy current testing equipment price evaluation

If all other factors are equal, more effective eddy current equipment will provide better results. Innovative eddy current equipment can help detect flaws sooner, scan difficult geometries more effective, and cover more inspection areas in less time. These benefits improve maintenance results and reduce the cost of the NDT program, as they increase the efficiency of technicians and their equipment.

Read more about improving surface inspection techniques with innovative NDT equipment

Eddy current testing sometimes takes place in the laboratory, but more often takes place in the field. Technicians routinely cover significant distances when testing remote or extensive installations, like pipelines or edge-of-campus holding tanks. In addition, many testing applications involve immovable structures or large equipment, requiring technicians to work at odd angles or on platforms. Choosing portable eddy current equipment can improve work results by lessening the load technicians have to carry between each scan, increasing the number of scans possible.

Read more about eddy current testing for defects with portable instrumentation

The most powerful eddy current equipment ever built would be useless with a software program to interpret its sensor data. Eddy current software serves indispensable functions, controlling the testing device, interpreting and displaying results, and maintaining records for compliance documentation. Well-programmed software will expand user capabilities while maintaining simplicity and ease-of-use.

Read more about eddy current analysis software

Eddy current probes direct electromagnetic currents into the materials being scanned. As such, they are a necessary component of all eddy current inspections. Different probes have different properties, and have each been developed for specific applications. An application’s geometry and material can inform the decision of which probe to use. Knowing which probe to choose for which application helps technicians perform scans correctly and managers provide their employees the tools they need to perform.

Read more about eddy current probe selection

Tips and Best Practices for Using Eddy Current Technology

Using eddy current technology is a science, but also an art. Many variables affect calibration, probe selecting, and interface choices. Each application is unique, but also typically fits into a band of similar applications. Best practices developed for applications such as coating thickness measurements can help technicians make the best testing decisions when encountering various testing challenges in the field.

Read more about conductive vs. nonconductive coating thickness measurement inspection tips.

Galvanized steel can be successfully inspected using eddy current technology. However, the zinc coating applied to galvanized steel poses unique challenges for NDT inspectors using this technology. Following a set of best practices for testing galvanized steel improves inspection results and broadens the reach of your NDT testing program. 

Read more about best practices for eddy current testing of galvanized steel

Hollow cylinders, commonly known as tubes, are a frequent application for eddy current technology. Their large amount of surface area makes eddy current technology an ideal inspection choice. However, their unique empty, curved shape requires particular calibration, probe, and procedure choices. By following the right best practices, technicians can decrease tube inspection times and improve inspection fidelity.

Read more about the eddy current testing of tubes

Eddy Current for Heat Exchangers and Chiller Tubes

Heat exchangers are one of the most common and important applications for eddy current testing. Their geometric and material properties render them ideal for eddy current inspection, while their criticality demands continuous testing. Certain best practices have been developed to precisely perform eddy current scans on heat exchanger tubes.

Read more about best practices for eddy current testing of heat exchanger tubes

Chiller tubes, like heat exchanger tubes, are also a ubiquitous and critical application for eddy current testing. As the failure of a chiller tube can generate significant costs relating to downtime and repairs, NDT inspections must be performed regularly. The data gathered by these inspections helps inform future inspection schedules and procedures.

Read more about the eddy current testing of chiller tubes

Industry-Specific Eddy Current Advice

Eddy current testing is used in a broad range of industries, including the manufacture of medical devices. Subject to rigorous safety regulations and compliance burdens, companies must take special care to perform accurate tests and maintain complete documentation. As the properties of medical devices vary widely, company managers and technicians must take care in developing successful scanning protocols.

Read more about eddy current testing of medical device materials and components

Aircraft maintenance is heavily regulated and carefully detailed. Each aircraft is subject to continual inspections on a periodic basis. However, maintaining profitable fleet operations requires that aircraft are in the air more and in the shop less. Choosing the right eddy current testing equipment for a company’s aircraft maintenance can reduce inspection times, increasing flight time.

Read more about efficient aircraft NDT inspections and maintenance management

Aircraft wheels require special testing considerations, which vary from aircraft to aircraft. Eddy current testing can detect internal flaws and defects in wheels in time for safe repair or replacement. Finding the right probes and settings for aircraft wheel inspection requires a solid understanding of eddy current principles and the available tools.

Read more about choosing the most efficient aircraft wheel NDT inspection tools

Railroads tracks run through every state in the U.S. and most of the countries in the world. But they can be subject to deterioration and damage, requiring periodic safety inspections. Portable eddy current equipment can be used to ensure railway safety. Eddy current testing improves on other NDT methods for railway inspections in speed, portability, and flaw detection capability.

Read more about utilizing NDT railway track inspection technology

Nuclear safety guidelines detailed in 10 CFR Part 21 require effective inspection solutions for nuclear power plants. Modern eddy current equipment can meet the inspection standards detailed in the CFR. Powerful, embedded software can also document each inspection, allowing companies to develop a deep compliance log. Appropriate testing equipment is required for a power plant to operate.

Read more about meeting 10 CFR Part 21 standards with eddy current equipment

Effective eddy current testing equipment is a requirement for many, if not most, heavy industries. Detecting internal cracks, fatigue, and other flaws allows companies to provide an efficient maintenance response. The data gathered by continual testing informs future preventative maintenance schedules. In industries where scanning is required by regulation, modern software can provide solid records of compliance. 

Zetec has provided eddy current testing solutions and information for decades. To learn more about using eddy current technology in your industry, contact us today!