Visual testing is the most commonly used test method in industry. Because most test methods require that the operator look at the surface of the part being inspected, visual inspection is inherent in most of the other test methods. As the name implies, VT involves the visual observation of the surface of a test object to evaluate the presence of surface discontinuities. VT inspections may be by Direct Viewing, using line-of sight vision, or may be enhanced with the use of optical instruments such as magnifying glasses, mirrors, boroscopes, charge-coupled devices (CCDs) and computer-assisted viewing systems (Remote Viewing). Corrosion, misalignment of parts, physical damage and cracks are just some of the discontinuities that may be detected by visual examinations.
Magnetic Particle Testing uses one or more magnetic fields to locate surface and near-surface discontinuities in ferromagnetic materials. The magnetic field can be applied with a permanent magnet or an electromagnet. When using an electromagnet, the field is present only when the current is being applied. When the magnetic field encounters a discontinuity transverse to the direction of the magnetic field, the flux lines produce a magnetic flux leakage field of their own.
Ultrasonic testing uses the same principle as is used in naval SONAR and fish finders. Ultra-high frequency sound is introduced into the part being inspected and if the sound hits a material with a different acoustic impedance (density and acoustic velocity), some of the sound will reflect back to the sending unit and can be presented on a visual display. By knowing the speed of the sound through the part (the acoustic velocity) and the time required for the sound to return to the sending unit, the distance to the reflector (the indication with the different acoustic impedance) can be determined.