5 popular non destructive testing methods in the automotive industry

GET YOUR INSPECTION DONE – Anywhere. Anytime. Fast.

The­re are num­e­rous fields of appli­ca­ti­on for non-des­truc­ti­ve test­ing methods in the auto­mo­ti­ve indus­try. In addi­ti­on to qua­li­ty con­trol rela­ted to safe­ty stan­dards, pro­to­ty­pes can also be inspec­ted befo­re they go into mass production.

Non-des­truc­ti­ve test­ing also pro­vi­des a more sus­tainable way to use raw mate­ri­als, which is beco­ming incre­asing­ly important in today’s world. Becau­se com­pon­ents are not chan­ged in the pro­cess by non-des­truc­ti­ve test­ing methods, the results of an inspec­tion can be signi­fi­cant­ly more relia­ble. Com­mon methods include visu­al inspec­tion, radio­gra­phy, indus­tri­al CT, eddy cur­rent and ultra­so­nic inspec­tion. For ins­tance, indus­tri­al com­pu­ted tomo­gra­phy can be used to crea­te three-dimen­sio­nal models of com­pon­ents and assem­blies by using rever­se engi­nee­ring (rever­se engi­nee­ring of com­plex com­pon­ents with CT | Micro­vis­ta) to impro­ve or deve­lop new products.

Visual Inspection

Visu­al inspec­tion is a non-des­truc­ti­ve test­ing method in which the part to be inspec­ted is visual­ly exami­ned to iden­ti­fy sur­face defects such as cracks, scrat­ches, holes or wear marks. This inspec­tion method does not requi­re any spe­cial equip­ment or tools and only needs suf­fi­ci­ent illu­mi­na­ti­on and visi­bi­li­ty of the part.

Visu­al inspec­tion is used in many indus­tries, such as auto­mo­ti­ve, aero­space, elec­tro­nics and con­s­truc­tion, to ensu­re that parts meet requi­re­ments. The­r­e­fo­re, spe­cial tools such as magni­fy­ing glas­ses, mir­rors or endo­sco­pes are used to exami­ne are­as that are dif­fi­cult to access.

Radiographic Testing

Indus­tri­al radio­gra­phic test­ing uses X‑rays to exami­ne the insi­de of mate­ri­als and com­pon­ents. In this pro­cess, the X‑rays are emit­ted from an X‑ray source and pas­sed through the mate­ri­al or com­po­nent. The absorp­ti­on of the X‑rays by the mate­ri­al crea­tes a two-dimen­sio­nal shadow image on a detec­tor, which can then be ana­ly­sed by a qua­li­fied inspector.

Riss im Krümmer wird mit dem zerstörungsfreien Prüfverfahren industrielle CT sichtbar

Industrial CT

With this non-des­truc­ti­ve test­ing method, it is pos­si­ble to crea­te three-dimen­sio­nal images of the inte­ri­or of an object. The object is pene­tra­ted by an X‑ray source and the atte­nua­ti­on of the radia­ti­on is recor­ded by a detec­tor. In con­trast to simp­le radio­gra­phic test­ing, a high-reso­lu­ti­on 3D repre­sen­ta­ti­on of the object can be crea­ted by com­bi­ning the data from dif­fe­rent beam directions.

Indus­tri­al CT is used across indus­tries such as auto­mo­ti­ve to inspect com­pon­ents and mate­ri­als for inter­nal defects such as voids, cracks, inclu­si­ons or mate­ri­al irre­gu­la­ri­ties. In the pro­cess, CT test­ing can also make details visi­ble in the micro­met­re ran­ge that are not visi­ble with other test­ing methods.

CAD target/actual comparison

A CAD target/actual com­pa­ri­son may be neces­sa­ry, for exam­p­le, if a pro­duc­tion batch is reor­de­red after a lon­ger peri­od of time. It is neces­sa­ry to check whe­ther the­re are any dis­crepan­ci­es bet­ween the pre­vious batch and the cur­rent CAD. Micro­vis­ta uses sta­te-of-the-art com­pu­ter tomo­gra­phy to ensu­re that the new pro­duc­tion batch is not lost.

Wit­hout the use of non-des­truc­ti­ve test­ing, the­re would nor­mal­ly is a risk that unwan­ted devia­ti­ons and other defects would only be detec­ted during final assem­bly or even during test runs. In such a case, the enti­re batch would not be usable or would have to be tes­ted at random.

CAD Soll-Ist-Vergleich eines Bauteils

Assembly and joint control

When a vehic­le is not func­tion­al after it has been assem­bled, the cau­se must be found as quick­ly as pos­si­ble. Howe­ver, dis­as­sem­bly is not always allo­wed or is too time-con­sum­ing. Indus­tri­al com­pu­ted tomo­gra­phy can check the vehic­le for com­ple­ten­ess or com­pon­ents for cor­rect sea­ting and joi­ning. In this way, blo­cked bat­ches can be released again quick­ly and cost-effectively.

Eddy Current Testing

This non-des­truc­ti­ve test­ing method is used to exami­ne elec­tri­cal­ly con­duc­ti­ve mate­ri­als. An elec­tro­ma­gne­tic alter­na­ting field is gene­ra­ted that cau­ses eddy curr­ents in the mate­ri­al. The reac­tion of the­se curr­ents is mea­su­red to gain infor­ma­ti­on about the mate­ri­al. Eddy cur­rent test­ing is often used on main cylin­ders, bea­ring rings and pis­tons for crack detec­tion and hard­ness test­ing. Here, modern eddy cur­rent sys­tems have the advan­ta­ge of a high sam­pling fre­quen­cy, which makes it pos­si­ble to test even at very high line speeds. Delay­ed alarm out­put signals are used to con­trol down­stream mar­king units or acceptance/selection gates, which faci­li­ta­tes the auto­ma­ti­on of test­ing processes.

Air-Coupled Ultrasonics

In con­trast to con­ven­tio­nal ultra­so­nic methods, no cont­act is requi­red bet­ween the pro­be and the mate­ri­al to be tes­ted, as the sound is trans­mit­ted via an air cou­pling mecha­nism. This eli­mi­na­tes the need for time-con­sum­ing clea­ning and the risk of dama­ge to the test object.

The air cou­pling mecha­nism is rea­li­sed by means of an ultra­so­nic trans­du­cer that emits sound into the air on one side and picks up the recei­ved signals on the other side. The sound is trans­mit­ted from the air to the mate­ri­al to be inspec­ted, whe­re it encoun­ters defects and is reflec­ted. The reflec­ted signals can then be used to draw con­clu­si­ons about the con­di­ti­on of the material.

Example plastic tailgate

Pla­s­tic tail­ga­tes are regu­lar­ly spot-che­cked within the pro­duc­tion pro­cess. The Atli­ne sys­tem — a qua­li­ty con­trol sys­tem in pro­duc­tion instal­led at a sta­tio­na­ry loca­ti­on near the pro­duc­tion line — is desi­gned to detect defects in the pla­s­tic joints.


For com­plex com­pon­ents such as tail­ga­tes, an ultra­so­nics method using air-cou­pling mecha­nisms is ide­al becau­se all cor­ners and edges can be rea­ched and cor­rect­ly ana­ly­sed. This is done ful­ly auto­ma­ti­cal­ly with the help of You­Scan (YoU­Scan! — non-des­truc­ti­ve mate­ri­al test­ing with air-cou­pled ultra­so­nics). A per­cen­ta­ge indi­ca­tes how much area of the glued seam is dama­ged or undamaged.

Luftultraschall als zerstörungsfreies Prüfverfahren - Screenshoot Software

Conclusion

Non-des­truc­ti­ve test­ing methods such as indus­tri­al com­pu­ter tomo­gra­phy or air-cou­pled ultra­so­nic test­ing replace cos­t­ly manu­al qua­li­ty con­trol pro­ce­du­res. The eva­lua­ti­on for qua­li­ty ana­ly­sis of the com­pon­ents can often be car­ri­ed out auto­ma­ti­cal­ly, thus saving time and costs.

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