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Home > News > How Can NDT Be Used to Detect Defects in the Automotive Industry?

How Can NDT Be Used to Detect Defects in the Automotive Industry?

Feb. 22, 2023

In an industry fraught with high risks and stringent quality requirements, automotive manufacturers are always looking for faster and more affordable ways to ensure impeccable products. Non-destructive testing (NDT) is an ideal solution. This method allows you to test the product without damaging the part itself.


There are different NDT methods that can be used on a wide range of parts. From speeding up production lines to improving accuracy and maintenance processes, NDT has a wide range of uses and benefits. Learn more about NDT for the automotive industry.


Common defects in the automotive industry

Many consumers get into the habit of thinking of their cars as individual units or products, but those in the industry know that there are thousands of parts. One source estimates that the average consumer car requires approximately 30,000 parts. Each one of these parts could pose a threat. It can range from something as simple as a strange rattling noise that annoys the driver to something potentially dangerous that could lead to a road accident.


Defects in these components can occur in many areas, such as casting metal parts, welding two parts together, or applying a coating. Problems can also arise over time as parts corrode, crack, or otherwise deteriorate due to environmental stresses. Some of the common automotive manufacturing defects that NDT can help detect include


Cracks and defects in materials and surface finishes

Heat treatment problems such as delayed or short quenching, shallow hardening layer depth, or lack of finish

Changes in hardness due to problems in the material mixing process

Thread and feature problems such as missing or inaccurate features, broken taps or damaged threads, incorrect, oversized, or undersized dimensions

Improper assembly, e.g. missing or incorrectly oriented parts

Poor welds, slagging or inadequate depth of fusion

These parts require care and precision during the engineering, production and quality control phases. The non-invasive nature of the NDT allows you to check parts for a range of defects, including material characteristics, component manufacture, and damage.

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How can NDT be used to detect defects in the automotive industry?

You will find NDT in all stages of the automotive industry, including research and development (R&D), engineering, production and maintenance. It is an important part of advancing technology, ensuring public safety, maximizing profits, and achieving other goals.


Some of the ways in which companies use NDT in the automotive industry include


  • Assessing production methods and quality assurance: NDT can help assess the quality of production or manual processes. You can use it to spot check automated production lines or inspect tasks that are prone to variation, such as manual welding. NDT can provide clear, objective data to guide operations and provide quality verification. Because NDT does not damage parts, you can use it on countless parts that will be put into service. Send components to customers with confidence, without relying on spot checks of components that must be destroyed.


  • Improved defect identification: the human eye is far from perfect. Even the highest quality images won't help if the reader can't spot a defect. NDR can be used in conjunction with Assisted Defect Recognition (ADR), which provides tools to help technicians accurately read defects and improve defect detection. Automatic Defect Recognition adds artificial intelligence to identify defects.


  • Standards compliance: The automotive industry must comply with strict quality regulations to ensure public safety, and NDT can help you meet these requirements. Testing is also a great way to ensure that you meet internal quality standards and can help you live up to your name. Some NDT methods are completely digital, so you don't need to worry about physical documentation and can easily share results across your company.


  • Increase production speed: many forms of NDT are very fast. They can be used in-line during the manufacturing process and limit the delays caused by destructive methods. Some types, such as computed radiography (CR), can even reduce supply chain concerns for consumables such as film or liquid penetrants.


  • Diagnostic issues: Because it does not damage parts, NDT is often used during maintenance or repair. If someone suspects a problem with a vehicle or component, NDT images may reveal internal problems and help repair the part. It can be used on in-service vehicles, parts that have failed quality checks, or even for research and development.


  • Researching new technologies: R&D teams can use NDT to evaluate various new ideas or strategies. They might inspect a part after it has come off a newly configured piece of manufacturing equipment, or scan a new material mixture used in a part. These tests can provide detailed insights that go beyond pass-fail assessments.


  • Reduce costs: In many cases, NDT can save money. You can save money directly by reducing test supplies and damaged parts, or indirectly by increasing productivity, reducing the number of recalls, improving compliance, and increasing customer satisfaction.

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