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The Measurement of Dry Film Thickness of Coatings on abrasive blast cleaned

Structural Steelwork
SSPC PA 2-type 2 gauge
The purpose of this procedure is to describe the equipment and techniques used to measure the
dry film thickness of coatings over abrasive blast cleaned substrates.
The presence of a textured or profiled surface results in a gauge reading, when coated, which is
somewhat higher than the actual thickness, meaning that the thickness of paint applied may be
significantly less than that specified. It is important that the applied film adequately cover any
rogue peaks produced by the blast cleaning process, otherwise earlier coating failures will occur
including ore-mature rust spotting will occur.
This procedure applies to measurement of dry film thickness on the steel substrates, which have
been abrasive blast cleaned in accordance to the specified abrasive blast cleaning standards
including Sa 1 & Sa 2

Dry Film Thickness - the thickness of the coating measured, above the peaks of the
surface profile of the substrate.

Gage Reading -A single instrument reading

Spot Measurement: -The average of three or at least three gage readings made within
1 diameter circle

Area Measurement: -The average of five spot measurements over each 100 square feet of
coated surface

BMR Base Metal Reading average of 10 readings on prepared rough surface


SSPC PA 2 Standard procedure for conformance to the requirements of dry film

thickness of non magnetic coating on magnetic surfaces

ISO -19840 Measurement of and acceptance criteria for the thickness of dry
film on rough surfaces


6.1 Apparatus

Elcometer 456 Electronic Gages working on the principle of

Electronic circuitry converts reference signal to coating thickness (type 2)


6.2 Calibration:
Coating thickness gages must be calibrated by the manufacturer or a qualified
lab. A Certificate of Calibration or other documentation showing traceability is
required. There is no standard time interval for re-calibration, nor is one
absolutely required. Calibration intervals are usually established based upon
experience and the work environment. A one-year calibration interval is a
typical starting point suggested by gage manufacturers.
6.3verification of gauge accuracy and its adjustment:
When verifying the accuracy of Type 2 gages, the user can employ a single
point or two-point process. For single point verification, a single reference
plastic shims with known thickness is selected which is at or close to the
thickness to be measured. The thickness range over which this adjustment
achieves the required accuracy will vary with gage design. Assuming that the
coating thickness to be measured is 100 -150 microns, a reference standard of
approximately 125 microns should be used verify gage accuracy.
For two point verification, two reference standards are selected - one above
and one below the expected film thickness to be measured. Assuming that the
coating thickness to be measured is 125 microns, and then reference standards
of 75 microns and 175 microns are appropriate for establishing a range of
The gage is adjusted to match the shim or foil thickness by placing a shim or
Foil of known thickness directly onto the prepared, uncoated structure or part
under the same conditions of air and surface temperatures that the coating will
be measured under. This also compensates for curvature of the component or
structure, the alloy of the steel, proximity to edges or other surface conditions.

When using the zero plate for gauge verification. The correction value
shall be deducted according to the surface roughness evaluated as per the
standard ISO 8503 to compensate the effect of rough surface on DFT gauge
The correction value shall be the average of 10 readings on prepared rough
surface after the gauge is zeroed and verified accuracy (it is known as BMR
Base metal reading) and ensure prepared surface is free from pits
Note: zero plate shall be smooth free from milscales, rust and pitted and
Minimum of 3 mm thickness with dimensions of 25 *25 mm
ISO 8503
Profile Grade

Value (m)

value (mils)










Note: if the surface profile roughness is unknown correction value of 25

microns is default
Note: gauge accuracy shall be verified and adjusted according to the
manufacturers instructions as mentioned above
Note: Dont take the readings which is mentioned on shims /foils blindly .it
shall be verified by using micrometer
Note: To prevent acquiring measurements with an inaccurate gage, the gage is
checked at least at the beginning and the end of each work shift with one or
more of the shims or reference standards. If the gage is dropped or suspected of
giving erroneous readings during the work shift, its accuracy must be rechecked.

6.4Conformance to the specified DFT:

The specification shall specify the minimum and maximum range of DFT unless
it is mentioned, the specification specifies only a single value as a required DFT
.the minimum and maximum value shall be the plus-minus 20% of the stated
The specification can provide the restriction level as prescribed otherwise
Restriction Level 3 as default
Restriction levels (SSPC - PA 2)




As specified
As specified

As specified
As specified


As specified
120% of

As specified
As specified

Level 3


As specified



80% of
120% of

Level 4


As specified



80% of
150% of

Level 5


As specified



80% of

Level 1
Level 2

As specified

As specified


6.5Measuring thickness on Steel Beams:

The SSPC PA 2 provides a frequency for measuring coating thickness on steel
beams or girders. A full determination and sample determination are described.

The sample determination is based on two lengths of steel beams those that are
less than 20 feet and those that range from 20 feet up to 60 feet. The tolerance of
each of the spot measurements is the default restriction level, which is 80% of the
minimum specified thickness and 120% of the maximum specified thickness.
Similarly, the average of all of the spot measurements must conform to the
specified thickness range.
Note: The measurement locations on stiffeners and other attachments are
arbitrarily selected
For sample determination, the number of spot measurements is based on the beam
length. For beam lengths less than 20 feet, two spot measurements randomly
distributed in all twelve areas or a total of 24 spot measurements are acquired. For
beam lengths between 20 and 60 feet, three spot measurements randomly
distributed in all twelve areas or a total of 36 spot measurements are acquired.
Again, each spot measurement is the average of at least three gage readings, and
the edges of the flanges may not be included, reducing the overall number of spot
For a full determination, the total length of the beam is divided into five equal
sections. For example, a beam that is 75 feet long is divided into five 15 foot
For steel beams fabricated with a web that is greater than or equal to 36 in
height, one spot measurement is acquired in each of 14 locations per section, for a
total of 70 spot measurements. Each spot measurement is the average of at least
three gage readings.
For steel beams fabricated with a web that is less than 36 in height, one spot
measurement is acquired in each of 12 locations per section, for a total of 60 spot
measurements. Again, each spot measurement is the average of at least three gage

6.6 Area of non conformance:
If Coating Thickness Restriction level 3 is invoked (or is the default), then no
single spot measurement can be less than 80% of the specified minimum dry film
thickness and no single spot measurement can be more than 120% of the specified
maximum dry film thickness. The average value of the spot measurements on
each surface must conform to the specified dry film thickness.
6.7 Limitations:
The accuracy and precision of measurement of dry film thickness may be affected by a
number of factors, including but not limited to the following:
Calibration - The instrument shall be calibrated in accordance with the
manufacturers instructions, prior to use. Where instrument calibration has been shown to
be subject to drift, re-calibration shall be carried out with sufficient frequency to ensure
accuracy and precision.
Edge effects - Measurements should not be taken close to an edge, a hole or
inside corner of a test surface.

Curvature - Measurements may be affected by the curvature of the substrate.

Surface profile and roughness - Measurements are influenced by the surface of
the substrate and of the coating. Rough surfaces and surface profile can cause both
systematic and random errors.
Foreign particles - Coating thickness gauge probes rely on true contact with the
coating surface to ensure accuracy and precision, and both probe and paint surfaces should
be checked for cleanliness before taking measurements.

Soft coatings - Soft or partially cured coatings may be deformed by the probe,
leading to readings which are lower than the actual film thickness.
Probe pressure - Excessive pressure on the probe may damage a coating and give
erroneous readings.
Electromagnetic fields - Instruments might not operate correctly in the presence
of strong electromagnetic fields.
Temperature effects - Extremes of temperature may influence both the readings
obtained from the instrument and the deformation properties of the coating being

6.7 Reports:
Film thickness records may take the form of hand written report or a print out from the
instrument memory or displayed readings