The Importance of Visual Testing in Welding Inspection Services

11 December 2017

Versatile electronic tools are employed by weld inspectors. The instruments emit sound or radio waves. As a reflected signals returns, the integrity of a weld area is confirmed or a concealed defect is exposed. Despite this service, visual testing strategies are held in high regard. Dependent on nothing more than a trained pair of eyes, why is this very human sense so important when there are machines to do the job?

Calling All Experienced Weld Auditors 

An inspector’s visual acuity is worth a dozen testing instruments. That figure jumps higher if the testing authority is trained and experienced. First of all, those X-ray machines and radiographic testers are expensive. A visually conducted weld inspection doesn’t require monetary expenditure. In lieu of spending money, a seasoned technician unpacks his test kit. Handheld gauges and rulers come out of a zippered pouch. A flashlight flicks into life, then the visual inspection really commences. Next, a digital camera comes out so that the image can be recorded in living colour.

Determining the Benefits of Visual Testing 

In the field of weld inspection, non-destructive tests are favoured whenever possible. A simple look at the fused join area comes first. After all, there’s no sense in calling in some expensive test rig until the weld fails its visual check. Does the weld satisfy all application criteria, as determined by the relevant engineering guidelines? That’s a requirement that can be satisfied via a pair of trained eyes. The size of the fused area is easy enough to read here, as is the surface conditions and coverage area of that weld. Electronic sensors are incredibly accurate, but a lonesome inspector, armed with a test kit, will easily discern this basic data.

Augmenting the Data Sets 

Sure, the instruments mentioned earlier are built to elevate this action, but there are other tools, ones that don’t require a super-sensitive electronic eye. Still locked into a visual testing methodology, the tech pulls out his kit again. Mounted alongside the gauges and magnifying lenses, a small bottle of red dye aids the human eye. Used judicially, the possibly fluorescent liquid pools around a surface discontinuity so that a weld defect is clearly revealed. Equipped with flashlights, lenses, cameras, and gauges, welding inspection services progress far before ever calling upon a surface-penetrating gadget.

The human eye is a highly effective machine in its own right. Granted, an ultrasonic instrument can detect hidden flaws, but this human sense is also gifted with sensory prowess. While that electronically rendered image shows a thin weld defect, the eyes of the inspector are looking just as deep. They see colour irregularities around the fused area. They even see surface contrasts and textural flaws that a gifted electronic sensor misses entirely.

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