Radiographic testing: advantages and disadvantages you need to know

Traditionally, radiographic testing had many drawbacks. Immovable equipment and large exclusion ones that require huge areas of a site to be shut down.  

But as technology has advanced, a lot of these disadvantages have now been, if not eliminated, then certainly minimised. 

In this blog, we weigh up the pros and cons of this non-destructive testing technique and explain how these new technologies can reduce your allow for responsive onsite testing and reduce your site’s operational disruption. 

What is radiographic testing?

Radiographic testing, also known as radiography or X-ray inspection, is a non-destructive testing (NDT) technique used to examine the internal structures of objects without causing any harm or making any changes to them. 

Before we think any more about radiographic testing, it’s important that we understand non-destructive testing (NDT). NDT is a set of techniques used to examine and evaluate the integrity and quality of materials, components, and structures without causing any damage or permanent change to them. Radiographic testing is one of many NDT methods; other methods include magnetic particle inspection, eddy current inspection and phased array, amongst others. 

Now that we know what NDT is, let’s think about radiographic testing. This involves the use of X-rays or gamma rays to penetrate the object being inspected, creating an image on a radiographic film or a digital detector. These images reveal internal defects such as cracks, voids, or flaws that may compromise the integrity or functionality of the object. 

Radiographic testing is widely applied in industries such as aerospace, manufacturing, construction, and oil and gas to ensure the quality, safety, and reliability of components and structures. 

At NDT Group, we have the capacity to carry out radiography services in our Bay at our site in Sandycroft, but we also have a mobile radiography darkroom which is able to travel to your site. Our Saferad set allows us to make onsite inspections quickly.

Interested? Read more about our radiography services here

When can you use radiographic testing?

Radiographic testing can be used in a wide range of situations where a thorough examination of internal structures is necessary. It can be used in industries such as aerospace, manufacturing, construction, and oil and gas. 

It is used to inspect critical components, assess weld quality, examine structural elements, and ensure the integrity of pipelines and storage tanks. 

Advantages of Radiographic Testing

Let’s think about the advantages of radiographic testing. 

1. Detection of internal defects 

Firstly, radiographic testing allows the detection of internal defects such as cracks and voids that may not be visible from the surface. This is particularly useful in industries where the integrity and safety of components or structures are essential.

2. Versatility 

Radiographic testing can be applied to a wide range of materials, including metals, plastics, composites, and ceramics. This versatility makes it a valuable tool in industries where different materials are used.

3. Quantitative results 

Radiographic images provide quantitative data, allowing for accurate measurements of the defects that have been found. This allows engineers and technicians to assess the severity of the flaws and make informed decisions regarding the integrity and fitness-for-use of the tested objects.

4. Permanent Record

Radiographic images can be stored digitally or as physical film, providing a permanent record of the components that have been inspected. This documentation is essential for quality control purposes, compliance with regulations, and comparison during future inspections.

5. Large object inspection 

Radiographic testing can be used to examine large and complex objects, such as pipelines, and storage tanks. This advantage makes it a preferred choice when other NDT techniques may not be feasible or effective.

Disadvantages of Radiographic Testing

However, there are some disadvantages of radiographic testing. 

1. Safety concerns 

The use of X-rays or gamma rays in radiographic testing poses potential health hazards to the personnel involved. Proper safety measures, such as the use of shielding and monitoring equipment, must be strictly followed to minimise the risks. Additionally, radiation exposure regulations and guidelines must be adhered to for the safety of both the workers and the general public. 

2. Time-consuming process 

Radiographic testing can be a time-consuming process, especially for large-scale inspections. The setup, exposure, and development of radiographic films or digital images require meticulous attention to detail, which can lead to longer inspection times compared to some other NDT methods. 

To combat this, we have invested heavily in Radiographic systems that help reduce the length of operational disruption you may experience. Our SafeRad system significantly reduces the area you need to cordon off when conducting the tests, meaning personnel do not need to vacate the whole area and operations can continue as much as possible. 

Interested? Learn more.

3. Limited portability 

Without investment in the latest technologies, the equipment used in radiographic testing, such as X-ray generators or gamma-ray projectors, can be bulky and heavy. Traditionally, this had limited the portability of the technique, making it less suitable for certain field inspections or remote locations.

However, at NDT Group, we strive to use the most up-to-date equipment which includes a mobile darkroom. This darkroom can travel to any site which means we can develop films on-site in most locations and we can produce instant results. 

Interested? Learn more.

4. Environmental impact 

The disposal of radiographic films and the management of radioactive waste generated during radiographic testing can have environmental implications. Proper disposal methods are essential to reduce the environmental impact. 

To support our environment policy, we have embraced digital solutions to radiographic testing. Our Real-time Radiography system (RTR) allows us to capture images digitally, reducing the amount of waste generated by developing films. 

Interested? Learn more.

Radiographic testing: versatile and effective 

In the past, radiographic testing had many drawbacks. But with the advancement of technology, a lot of these disadvantages have now been, if not eliminated, then certainly minimised. Technology now allows us to reduce operational disruption, make testing portable and reduce radiography’s environmental impact. 

Responsive testing that delivers assurance that your equipment is safe.

Contact us for a quality testing service with a fast report turnaround. We can respond to any challenge.


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