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Using ultrasonic thickness testing to prevent equipment corrosion

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article image Pitting corrosion close to a weld in 904L alloy in high-pressure piping

Ultrasonic thickness testing is increasingly being used in various industries as an efficient diagnostic tool to predict, detect and prevent the problem of corrosion in equipment.

Employed in the aviation, aerospace, military and nuclear power industries as a proven non-destructive testing procedure for weld and flaw detection, ultrasonic thickness testing (UTT) is now being applied in other sectors such as manufacturing and quality control to detect corrosion.

A problem that costs companies billions of dollars every year, corrosion occurs when iron and steel are exposed to moisture, oxygen and other elements such as salt and heat, which then cause the metal to eventually weaken or disintegrate due to excessive pitting on the surface. Reliable testing is, therefore, necessary to detect any sign of corrosion in plant and equipment, and take suitable measures to ensure their ongoing performance. UTT is unquestionably the best way of avoiding equipment problems in corrosive environments.

Ultrasound gauges available in the market today are operator-friendly and lightweight with some devices weighing as little as 340g and operable using one hand. UTT involves the introduction of high frequency sound waves into one side of the material, which are then reflected back to measure wall thickness. Since ultrasonic waves travel through metal at a constant speed, the thickness of the wall can be measured through a formula of dividing the duration of the waves’ round trip by the known sound velocity through that particular material. The calculations provide an accurate assessment of the material wall and will instantly reveal any sign of thinning, usually caused by corrosion. UTT requires only one side of the sample for testing.

Functioning as an early warning system for a variety of problems, ultrasonic thickness testing provides hard evidence of any suspected equipment corrosion. UTT prevents equipment failure by providing advance notice for preventative maintenance; prolongs the life of equipment or limits repairs to a clearly defined area; enhances condition-monitoring and supports quality control; and provides direction for future capital projects.

Through regular testing of equipment using this non-intrusive technology, engineers can avoid corrosion problems and save significantly on repair costs, costly downtime and lost production.

Nexxis offers a comprehensive range of cost-effective ultrasonic thickness gauges for sale, rent or lease.

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