Penetrant Testing

Penetrant Testing (PT)

Test objects are coated with visible or fluorescent dye solution. Excess dye is then removed from the surface, and a developer is applied. The developer acts as a blotter, drawing trapped penetrant out of imperfections open to the surface. With visible dyes, vivid color contrasts between the penetrant and developer make “bleedout” easy to see. With fluorescent dyes, ultraviolet light is used to make the bleedout fluoresce brightly, thus allowing imperfections to be readily seen.

Liquid penetrant inspection is a method that is used to reveal surface breaking flaws by bleedout of a colored or fluorescent dye from the flaw. The technique is based on the ability of a liquid to be drawn into a “clean” surface breaking flaw by capillary action. After a period of time called the “dwell,” excess surface penetrant is removed and a developer applied. This acts as a blotter, which draws the penetrant from the flaw to reveal its presence. Colored (contrast) penetrants require good white light while fluorescent penetrants need to be used in darkened conditions with an ultraviolet “black light”.

The advantage that a liquid penetrant inspection (LPI) offers over an unaided visual inspection is that it makes defects easier to see for the inspector.