July 2017
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Magnetic Particle Testing

Magnetic particle inspection (MPI) is a non-destructive testing (NDT) process for detecting surface and subsurface discontinuities in ferroelectric materials such as iron, nickel, cobalt, and some of their alloys. The process puts a magnetic field into the part.

The piece can be magnetized by direct or indirect magnetization. Direct magnetization occurs when the electric current is passed through the test object and a magnetic field is formed in the material. Indirect magnetization occurs when no electric current is passed through the test object, but a magnetic field is applied from an outside source. The magnetic lines of force are perpendicular to the direction of the electric current which may be either alternating current (AC) or some form of direct current (DC) (rectified AC).

The presence of a surface or subsurface discontinuity in the material allows the magnetic flux to leak. Ferrous iron particles are applied to the part. The particles may be dry or in a wet suspension. If an area of flux leakage is present the particles will be attracted to this area. The particles will build up at the area of leakage and form what is known as an indication. The indication can then be evaluated to determine what it is, what may have caused it, and what action should be taken, if any.

A common particle used to detect cracks is iron oxide, for both dry and wet systems. Wet system particle range in size from 0.5 to 10 micrometers for use with water or oil carriers. Particles used in wet systems have pigments applied that Fluoresce at 365 nm (Ultraviolet Light) requiring 1000 µW/cm2 (10 W/m2) at the surface of the part for proper inspection. Normally Green and Yellow created by the fluorescing particles. Green and Yellow fluorescence was chosen because the human eye reacts best to these colors. Dry particle powders range in size from 5 to 170 micrometers, designed to be seen in white light conditions.