Nondestructive testing or Non-destructive testing (NDT) is a wide group of analysis techniques used in science and industry to evaluate the properties of a material, component or system without causing damage. The terms Nondestructive examination (NDE), Nondestructive inspection (NDI), and Nondestructive evaluation (NDE) are also commonly used to describe this technology. Because NDT does not permanently alter the article being inspected, it is a highly valuable technique that can save both money and time in product evaluation, troubleshooting, and research. Common NDT methods include ultrasonic, magnetic-particle, liquid penetrant, radiographic, remote visual inspection (RVI), eddy-current testing, and low coherence interferometry. NDT is commonly used in forensic engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, civil engineering, systems engineering, aeronautical engineering, medicine, and art.
NDT methods may rely upon use of electromagnetic radiation, sound, and inherent properties of materials to examine samples. This includes some kinds of microscopy to examine external surfaces in detail, although sample preparation techniques for metallography, optical microscopy and electron microscopy are generally destructive as the surfaces must be made smooth through polishing or the sample must be electron transparent in thickness. The inside of a sample can be examined with penetrating electromagnetic radiation, such as X-rays or 3D X-rays for volumetric inspection. Sound waves are utilized in the case of ultrasonic testing. Contrast between a defect and the bulk of the sample may be enhanced for visual examination by the unaided eye by using liquids to penetrate fatigue cracks. One method (liquid penetrant testing) involves using dyes, fluorescent or non-fluorescent, in fluids for non-magnetic materials, usually metals. Another commonly used method for magnetic materials involves using a liquid suspension of fine iron particles applied to a part while it is in an externally applied magnetic field (magnetic-particle testing). Thermoelectric effect (or use of the Seebeck effect) uses thermal properties of an alloy to quickly and easily characterize many alloys. The chemical test, or chemical spot test method, utilizes application of sensitive chemicals that can indicate the presence of individual alloying elements. Electrochemical methods, such as electrochemical fatigue crack sensors, utilize the tendency of metal structural material to oxidize readily in order to detect progressive damage.