The U.S. nondestructive testing equipment market currently stands at $1.38 billion.

NORWALK, CT-The U.S. nondestructive testing (NDT) equipment market currently stands at $1.38 billion but is projected to grow at an average annual growth rate of 5.1%, reaching $1.77 billion by 2008, according to a report from Business Communications Company Inc. The report, RGB-177U Nondestructive Testing: An Expanding Market, states the potential market for nondestructive testing equipment continues to expand with emphasis on product quality, lean manufacturing, just-in-time inventory practices, and advances in nanomaterials and related manufacturing and testing.

The NDT techniques expected to experience the fastest growth during the next five years are X-ray radiography and infrared and thermal imaging, according to the report. Growth in radiography technology markets can be attributed to the need to combat terrorism and other issues related to homeland security. Transportation security, cargo and baggage inspection is estimated at $440 million. This segment is projected to increase an average of 7.1% annually to reach $621 million by 2008.

Research and development in materials science, computers, electronics, automation and related fields continue to mold the industry, and the drive to integrate several NDT methods will continue. Companies remaining in the NDT industry are making nondestructive technology their prime focus and enhancing their market position through mergers and acquisitions. These companies are expected to incorporate technology such as telerobotics, wireless communications, neural networks and use of the Worldwide Web into their future products. Such features will enable remote monitoring where centrally located know-how, database, analytical software and decision-making criteria will be available to inspectors.

Electronic manufacturers, in particular, are expressing strong demand for nondestructive inspection equipment, such as radioscopy, infrared and acoustic imaging systems that can be integrated into production lines for quality assurance purposes. The use of visual and optical inspection technology is projected to grow at a measurable rate because of the needs of electronic products manufacturing. Eddy current and ultrasonic NDT equipment at manufacturing plants are a key component in maintenance programs designed to reduce plant shutdowns, operating costs and process control aimed at producing consistent quality. The companies participating in the NDT market will continue to develop smaller and smarter instruments and systems, with a focus on ease-of-use and high speed.

While most NDT techniques are experiencing various levels of growth, film-based radiographic testing, liquid penetrant and magnetic particle testing are expected to continue to decline. These techniques do not easily lend themselves to automation or computerization, causing many end users to adopt other techniques such as eddy current, ultrasound, real time radiography or infrared.