Quality Innovations: Blue Light Solution
Baby coral and nondestructive testing (NDT) applications may not seem to have much in common, but a background in marine biology helped Charles Mazel develop a light for fluorescent NDT inspection.
“When you work underwater, you have to think in terms of portability, ease of use and handling,” Mazel says.
Many corals are fluorescent, and Mazel, the president of BlueLine NDT (Bedford, MA), had long been developing lights to exploit that fluorescence as a tool for finding tiny juvenile corals in the complex reef environment. The prototype of the FL5000 was developed for finding those subjects in the daytime. If the crowds surrounding his booth at a recent trade show were any indication, the product also fills a need in the NDT marketplace.
The BlueLine Model FL5000 is a flashlight for fluorescent NDT inspection. It does the job that inspectors are used to doing with high-powered UV lights, but does it more conveniently. By combining it with the specially matched BlueLine filter glasses, the reflected blue light is blocked and inspectors can see fluorescent indications with maximum contrast. In addition, the FL5000 incorporates a unique flashing mode that makes it much easier to see indications when there is ambient light present.
Mazel demonstrated that the camera can take fluorescence photographs that look like they were taken in the dark, yet the lights were on. He took the first order for the camera system the week after the ASNT show.
“We just sort of stumbled into the NDT application by accident,” he says. Mazel was selling lights to sport divers and marine scientists when an NDT technician and commercial diver from Florida called to ask about a high power underwater ultraviolet light that was offered. Mazel eventually visited his location in Florida, tried out the blue light instead of the ultraviolet, and it took off from there. It turns out that the blue light is as effective as ultraviolet at making most existing particles and penetrants fluoresce. “So you don’t have to change the way you prepare parts for inspection to be able to use the lights,” Mazel says.
Mazel attended the 2006 ASNT show in Houston with some of the underwater products, as a way of testing the waters, so to speak. With the interest from the NDT community he found in the product, he decided to form a new company.
“I was driven by the enthusiasm of those in the field,” Mazel says. “That gave me the confidence. It never works to come into a field and force things down people’s throats.”
Blue LightThough Mazel thought that the initial battle would be getting people to replace ultraviolet with the blue light, he said this has not been the case.
One of the niches has been people using fluorescence in places they were not before, Mazel reports. “Companies that can’t use the light in their inspection booth because of code requirements are putting the light into other parts of their process,” he says. Mazel is working with the code agencies to allow for methods other than ultraviolet, but until that is settled, the product can still be used in other areas.
According to Mazel, NDT personnel can use their existing techniques to perform the inspection as per the standards, but with the BlueLine light, when they send parts back to the shop floor for rework the welders can see the indications for themselves without the need for a dark booth. This allows them to see exactly what they need to repair, and as they are grinding the area, they can easily re-check with the light to see that they have reached the needed depth. This results in fewer round trips of pieces from the shop floor to the NDT station for final acceptance.
While other forms of lighting need a power cord and warm-up time, this rugged, waterproof light does not. It also does not get hot and there is no bulb to break or burn out. It uses safe blue wavelengths.
Features include two high-intensity 3W LEDs with current-regulated output, a custom made interference filter to trim spectral output and focusing optics for an intense spot beam. It also has two operating modes-steady and flashing-and a non-breakable locking switch that prevents accidental actuation.
It has a pistol-style grip, with the front lens protected by heavy rubber boot for drop protection, as well as non-corroding ABS and polycarbonate plastic construction. The product is compact and lightweight, with instant ON/OFF, low power consumption and a flash mode for ambient light.
It also is environmentally sealed and waterproof to 500 feet.
The FL5000 blue light system is $495 and includes a pair of the filter glasses, which are available in three styles.
“My own enthusiasm has been very much driven by people in the field,” Mazel says. “It’s nice to be out there showing people something new.”
Technology ContactFor more information on the BlueLine Model FL5000, contact:
- Charles Mazel
34 Dunelm Rd., Bedford, MA 01730 USA
- Intensity: >2,000 µWatts/cm2 at 15 inches
- Lamp life: >10,000 hours
- Batteries: 4 C-cell alkaline
- Weight: 25 oz.
- Size: 5 inches L x 3.2 inches D