Have you ever wondered how safe your planes were when boarding? Wondered if there were any cracks in the wings?
Have you ever seen an X-ray and found a crack in a bone? What about an ultrasound on an expectant mother used by doctors to check on babies?
What do all these things have in common? They all use the technologies used in the field of Non-Destructive Testing (NDT). Many are familiar with NDT technologies in the medical industry, but X-rays and ultrasound are also used in the manufacturing industry. Some of the inspection methods being used right now are: radiography, ultrasound, electromagnetic eddy current inspection, dye penetrant, magnetic particle, laser shearography (as seen in the picture to the left) and thermography.
Ogden-Weber Tech College in northern Utah, provides educational training in the non-destructive testing (NDT) or non-destructive inspection (NDI) field. The technologies that are used in NDI are similar to those used in the medical industry, but nonliving objects are the subjects of the inspections. NDI is used in many manufacturing processes to verify product compliance, as well as applications in a variety of ways. This includes museums (like looking at mummies and paintings) to oil refineries to aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul and power production facilities such as nuclear power plants.
NDT is a very broad, interdisciplinary field that plays a critical role in assuring that structural components and systems perform their function in a reliable and cost effective fashion. NDT technicians and engineers define and implement tests that locate and characterize material conditions and flows that might otherwise cause planes to crash, reactors to fail, trains to derail, pipelines to burst, and a variety of less visible, but equally troubling events. These tests are performed in a manner that are safe and don’t interfere with a product’s final use.
When it comes to NDI, the largest employer sector in northern Utah is the aviation manufacturing and repair industry. Companies include: US Air Force at the Ogden Air Logistics Complex, Orbital ATK, Boeing, Albany Composites, Kihomac and others. The NDI field is also used by automotive manufacturers such as Autoliv, which looks for defects in airbag assemblies before installation in automobiles.
So the next time you get on a plane, have an X-ray done, or see an ultrasound, think about how important those machines are and the technology it entails. These technicians are required to be extremely detail-oriented in finding any slight flaw that exists to provide the best quality and the highest safety standards. This NDI field is extremely important to society and proper training is essential in the industry.