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Magnetic Particle Inspection

Magnetic particle testing

Magnetic particle testing, or inspection, is a nondestructive method for detecting surface cracks, seams, inclusions, segregation, porosity, and similar discontinuities in magnetic materials. It is not applicable to non-magnetic materials. This method will detect surface discontinuities which are too fine to be seen by the naked eye, defects which lie slightly below the surface and – with special equipment – even deep-sub-surface discontinuities.

Not all discontinuities in metal are detrimental to its efficient service. The inspector must be able to interpret magnetic particle indications and decide which discontinuities are to be regarded as defects.

Since one can expect a wide variation in evaluation of the results, the following points should be agreed upon when inspection is being considered:

  1. What techniques to use (specified in detail)
  2. What types of discontinuities shall be rejected
  3. What types of discontinuities may be accepted
  4. The definition of reworking and subsequent retesting which may be permissible. Method: a magnetic field is induced in the piece to be inspected and the piece is covered by finely divided magnetic particles. The magnetic field escapes from the workpiece at discontinuities, and the magnetic particles align themselves with magnetic poles produced at the edges of the discontinuity to form a pattern which outlines the shape of the discontinuity

Information on this type of testing is provided by the following specifications:

  • ASTM E125 Reference Photographs for Magnetic Particle Indications on Ferrous castings (revised 1993)
  • ASTM E709 Guide for Magnetic Particle Testing and Inspection
  • ASTM E1444 Practice for Magnetic Particle Testing and Inspection