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How Dye Penetrant Examination Works in Welding

Dye Penetrant Examination is commonly used for the inspection of surface associated
discontinuities in weld components. In this technique low viscosity liquids are allowed to
penetrate in the surface openings and after penetration, liquid is made to extract out again
by means of some developers. That is why it is also known as Liquid Penetrant Examination
for the evaluation of weldment. The examination includes five steps which are associated
with the use of a cleaner, penetrant and developer.

See the Comparison of Dye Penetrant with Magnetic Particle Inspection.


Before Dye Penetrant Examination to start, the test surface is need to be cleaned with the
help of wire brush or some old cloth using a suitable cleaner. The surface must be cleaned
from organic compounds (oil and grease), dust, scale and other pollutants because an even
surface is essential part for easy removal of penetrant in the later stage.

Introducing Penetrant

After cleaning, penetrants are introduced to the surface which fills the surface openings.
The Penetrants are available in different categories depending on type of examination
technique. The Penetrant must be thin enough that can penetrate into small cracks and also
easily removable when required otherwise it may get entrap into the weldment, which
causes adverse effects in welded equipment in later stages. Normally the penetrants are
available in spray bottles which are used to spray on test surface. After spraying the
penetrants are allowed to remain there, for a particular period of time (normally referred to
as Soak Time), to achieve complete penetration throughout the test section. Soak time is
very essential part of examination so that no crack miss out by the inspector. Also see the
pre-requisites of Visual Inspection. Normally the recommended Soak Time ranges from five
minutes to half an hour. Dont extend the duration of Soak Time because in doing so, the
penetrant may dry off, reducing the effectiveness of examination.

Penetrant Removal
After the penetrant completely penetrates into the cracks/openings by giving suitable soak
time, the next step is to remove it from the test surface. The test section is cleaned with the
help of clean piece of rag/cloth. (Note the rag should not be old or worn out, use a new
one). Use special cleaner on rag to make the surface, free from penetrant.

Introducing Developer

The next step is to introduce developer on the surface and wait to allow liquid penetrant to
come out from the cracks, making an indication. The time spent during this process is also
termed as Dwell Time which normally ranges from ten minutes to an hour. The developers
are also available in spray cans and are gently sprayed on the parts under examination.


Indications must be examined within the time proposed in examination procedure. The
indications help in evaluation of discontinuities (nature, shape, depth) due to which they are
accepted or rejected according to acceptance criteria proposed by codes and standards.
After examination, it is recommended to clean the test section by removing developer. As it
is stated earlier substances (penetrant and developer) may cause defects in weldment in
later stages.

Important Points to Follow

Dye Penetrant is an easy examination technique but operator must heed the following

Before examination clean the weld part with the use of cleaner as proposed in
Give suitable soaking time to the penetrant and developer.
Dye penetrant requires strict post-cleaning. Penetrants and developers after
inspection must be removed.
Observe the weld part within proposed time after applying developer because any
delay may lose the effectiveness of examination.

Working Principle of Weld Magnetic Particle Examination


Magnetic Particle testing is most common non-destructive weld inspection technique used
for the examination of surface flaws/openings in ferromagnetic materials. Basic magnetic
principles are used to make the indication of surface cracks and other subsurface
discontinuities. The test part is made magnetized with the help of some magnetizing system
and then some magnetic particles are applied on the test surface. The behavior of those
magnetic particles in the presence of magnetic field, provides the obvious manifestation of
surface discontinuities. Below is the demonstration for How the Magnetic Particle
Examination Works in evaluating the Weld components.

Also See Comparison between Magnetic Particle and Dye Penetrant Examination.


Magnetization of material can be done by different techniques, normally the Yoke Technique
is most common in weld and weld repair. Magnetic field is generated in the test part by
applying strong magnetic flux to it. Say if the test material is clean and free from any kind of
flaw then the magnetic field lines will pass straight through it without any interruption. If
there is any breaking in surface, the magnetic field lines gets interrupted and consequently
cause the leakage of field which is often referred to as Leakage Field. These leakage
fields are responsible to attract any magnetic material in surrounding.

As no strict conditions are required for cleaning the test material before magnetic particle
inspection. Less level of cleaning is needed to remove dust, organic pollutants, oil and paint
etc. Normally less level of surface pollutants dont create troublesome effects during
Introducing the Magnetic Particles
Different types of magnetic particles are used, depending on the certain application and
magnetizing technique. Fluorescent and colored magnetic particles are available in market.
Pigmented magnetic particles make color contrast for indication while fluorescent particles
are viewed by mean of some black light (ultraviolet).
After applying on surface, excess particles are removed with the help of low pressure air jet
because in excess they cant help proper examination. The leakage fields if present due to

discontinuities, tends to attract these particles. The accumulation of particles make a clear
investigation of cracks, openings or breaking if present any.
The technique is easy to perform however there are some critical points that need to be
focused. Leakage fields are only formed if the magnetic field lines are at ninety degrees to
discontinuities. Say if the surface breaking is parallel to these magnetic lines, the particles
will not get entrap thus giving no indication. For this, equipment is applied on test weld part
in two directions provided one direction is perpendicular to other. The Inspector must make
sure that test weld is examined in both directions. See the pre-requisites of visual
Indication and Evaluation
The accumulation of particle over the surface flaws, direct the indication to the inspector.
The weld discontinuities are evaluated (giving the size and shape).
Post Cleaning
After examination, it is sometimes necessary to demagnetize the test weld components and
the magnetic particles are removed from the surface.
Last comments
The evaluation of weld discontinuities using magnetic particle technique, requires suitable
light intensities. Codes/standards codifies the minimum amount of light which must be
fulfilled before the examination to start. The test must be carried out in perpendicular
directions in order to provide adequate magnetic flux to discontinuities. Make sure the
equipment is kept in good condition and must be calibrated according to standards.

9 Useful Aspects of Magnetic Particle Examination


Magnetic particle testing is used to inspect the defects on surface or very near to the
surface of ferromagnetic materials. The principle of this type testing explains that when a
magnetic flux is applied to a material, the surface imperfections promote the formation of
Leakage Fields. These leakage fields tends to attract magnetic particles towards
themselves thus making an investigation of surface imperfections. By using special
pigments, a contrast is formed among substrate and magnetic particles. The procedure is
only applied to ferromagnetic materials over a wide range of temperature.

What is MPE?
MPE stands for Magnetic Particle Examination, new name for magnetic particle testing. It is
defined as the investigation of surface or near surface imperfections by using basic
magnetic principles. Simple magnetism and magnetic field phenomenon is applied that are
not only easy to operate but also helps in certain ways. Following are the key points that
make magnetic particle testing an exceptional technique.

1. Ferromagnetic Materials
Type of non-destructive testing that is used in inspection of surface defects only in
ferromagnetic materials.

2. Easy to operate
Less level of skills are expected from the operator and easy in manipulation. A personal
need less duration of time for training. There are many institutes in worldwide that offer
training programs for MPE.

3. Cost effectiveness
The testing equipment and apparatus are cost effective and produce highly optimal results
for a very low expenditure as compared to other non-destructive inspection techniques.

4. Swift Inspection

Time saving Inspection technique that provides expeditious results. Investigation of surface
imperfections can be made swiftly but in efficient manner. Cracks are appeared directly on
surface by background contrast.

5. Sensitivity
The technique shows strong sensitivity towards minor defects of surface and quickly detects
them. This behavior is only observed in ferromagnetic materials. Also the cracks which are
close to surface (within 3mm) can be detected by MPI.

6. Less Surface Preparation

No hard conditions are required for surface preparation before magnetic particle inspection.
Normally less level of surface preparation is required because surface pollutants may not
hinder the inspection as happen in other inspection techniques. Also the post cleaning is
normally not required after inspection.

7. Portable
Magnetic Particle Inspection can easily be carried out during manufacturing and repair
works of pressure equipment and structural constructions. Portable equipments are also
available in market for the examination of small sections and components.

8. Safety
Magnetic particle examination is a safe process because materials and equipment are nonhazardous. Less level of risk is expected for injuries and accidents. No poisonous and
combustible materials are used during examination.

9. Direct Visibility
Surface imperfections are made directly visible on surface by using pigmented materials.
Magnetic particles which are used for investigation are available either in wet (suspension in
liquid) or in dried form. A contrast is made between the imperfection and background.

Sometimes magnetic particles are made visible and sometimes background is made white
by coating.

Last comments
Cheap Non-destructive Examination Technique with safe materials, used for examination of
surface discontinuities in ferromagnetic materials only. Although nothing is without
limitations. Same with MPI, there are some disadvantages that hinder its use in certain

Comparison Between Dye Penetrant and Magnetic Particle


Both Magnetic Particle and Dye Penetrant are widely using non-destructive testing
techniques which are applied for the examination of surface related discontinuities. Although
used for the same job but there are some key features that differentiate them for certain
areas of application. Also there are some features which are common in both techniques.
Described below is a brief comparison between magnetic particle and dye penetrant

1. Cost
Magnetic particle testing offers lower cost equipment and materials.
Dye Penetrant also offers lower cost for materials and equipment.
2. Time

MPE is fast inspection technique.

DPE is relatively slower process.
3. Materials
MPE can only be applied in examination of ferromagnetic materials because they are highly
responsive to magnetic principles. It cannot be applied on all metals and non-magnetic
Dye penetrant provides optimal results in all metals and alloys.
4. Discontinuities
Dye penetrant testing only detects discontinuities which are on surface while magnetic
particle testing detects not only surface cracks but also those imperfections that are very
near to surface.
5. Surface conditions
Strict pre-cleaning is required before dye penetrant inspection to start. The test surface
must be clean adequately, providing smooth and precise inspection. While in case of
magnetic particle inspection no such pre-cleaning and post-cleaning processes are
necessary because the surface pollutants dont have any adverse effect on inspection
6. Temperature
Dye Penetrant Examination is limited to temperature conditions normally (5-60 degree
Celsius). Outside this range DPE is not applicable because at high temperature the used
penetrant becomes dry while at low temperature the penetrant liquid becomes highly
viscous, thus impeding the penetration phenomenon and reducing the efficiency of testing.
On the other hand Magnetic Particle Inspection is applicable at extreme temperatures and
can be carried out over a considerable range of temperature (normally below Curie
temperature). Curie temperature is a point at which, change of magnetic properties occurs
in materials and this point is different for different for different materials.
7. Equipment
In MPE fluorescently or (colored) visibly pigmented magnetic particles are employed which
when apply on the test section, indicate the presence of surface flaws/ imperfections. While
in Dye penetrant fluorescent or visible penetrants are employed along with developer, for
8. Safety
Equipment and materials which are employed in both magnetic and dye penetrant
examination are safe to use. Less level of risk for any loss or injury to operator.

9. Working Principle
Both non-destructive techniques are used for the same examination purpose but with
different working principle. In Dye penetrant technique, liquid penetrants penetrate the
surface breakings/ flaws. After that a developer is applied that allows the penetrant to come
out from breakings again, making an indication.
In MPE, the test material is magnetized by using equipment. The magnetic flux at surface
flaws/cracks tends to form Leakage Fields. Magnetic particles when employ, gets attracted
by these leakage fields over the cracks, providing an instant examination.
10. Manipulation
Both techniques are easy to operate when compare to other non-destructive examination
techniques. Least amount of training is required and an operator gets full command after
making few practices and exercise. Many institutes for non-destructive examination
courses, are working on training programs for interested candidates.


Dye Penetrant
Comparatively slower
than MPE
Minimum Risk of loss
or injury


On all metals and alloys


Minimum required

Magnetic Particle
magnetic particles.
Fast inspection
Only on