Explore the options of NDT at ASNT's annual fall conference.

Digital X-rays, ultrasonic flaw detectors, wireless communications and nondestructive equipment that allows 100% test inspection are just some of the trends that attendees may see at an NDT conference next month.

Nondestructive testing (NDT) is the examination of an object or material by using a process that does not impair the object or material. Playing an important role in safety and quality, NDT is used to ensure product reliability, prevent accidents and save lives. Attendees can learn more about the latest NDT trends at the American Society for Nondestructive Testing's (ASNT) fall conference.

An estimated 80 exhibitors will be showcasing their wares from Nov. 4 to 8 in San Diego. In addition, about 90 education seminars are scheduled, including half-day and full-day sessions that offer continuing education credits.

The show's heart
Education is the heart of the conference. Highlights include a presentation on the Civil War submarine USS Hunley and a panel discussion on NDT certification issues.

In addition to the main conference, the show also includes five short courses. These half-day programs, which require a separate fee to attend, provide 0.4 CEUs per course. The programs include: Acoustic Emission Theory and Application; Infrared Thermography -- Equipment, Applications, Theory; Corrosion -- Causes, Detection and Prevention; Basic Eddy Current Theory; and Unique Visual Inspection.

A post-conference seminar also has been scheduled for Friday, Nov. 8, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The seminar, Inspection Reliability -- Issues and Prospects, will be delivered by Ripudaman Singh of Karta Technolgies Inc.

The keynote address will be given by Dr. Yoseph Bar-Cohen, a physicist special-izing in ultrasonic nondestructive evaluation (NDE), who also is the resident NDE expert at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The address, which will be given on Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 8 a.m., is entitled "Making Science Fiction an Engineering Reality Using Biologically Inspired Technologies."

What will they see?
In conjunction with the show, Quality surveyed companies in several nondestructive testing segments to uncover some industry trends. These are some of the trends that were identified.

Alan G. Julier, national sales manager for Agfa NDT Inc., Krautkramer Ultrasonic Systems (Lewistown, PA), manufacturer of ultrasonic thickness gages, flaw detectors, sensors and systems, says, "Industry trends include, but are not limited to, the use of phased-arrays, whereby the ultrasonic beam can be focused and shaped electronically as opposed to mechanically, the combination of portable computers with hardware and software packages allowing the computer to perform as an ultrasonic flaw detector and the move toward wireless sound transmission and reception. The industry is headed toward more automation and more use of standard computers as opposed to customized computer systems."

Rich Engel, sales manager for Dakota Ultrasonics (Santa Cruz, CA), manufacturer of ultrasonic testing equipment, explains that while the market segment has moved from analog to digital over the years, "principles and practices have been in place. The technology has been there, and now bells and whistles are being added."

Customers are looking for cost effective, cost efficient systems, says Richard Kazares, director of sales for North America for Physical Acoustics Corp. (Princeton Junction, NJ). Kazares further explains that customers are holding onto their money longer and therefore have more complete information about equipment and services when it does come time to spend money.

Scott Thams, president of X-Ray Industries (Troy, MI), a lab group and NDT equipment distributor specializing predominantly in radiography, says the trend in his segment of the industry is to move from film toward digital. He explains the advantages of such a move are similar to the move from film photography to digital photography: eliminate the cost of film, images can be e-mailed, images last forever, it is easy to put information on CD and images are easily stored.

"Discrete manufacturing companies are striving to reduce both warranty and scrap costs by implementing 100% automated inspection. Companies cannot afford to produce defective components. For metallic components, eddy current testing systems can usually be integrated into existing assembly line manufacturing processes, thus ensuring that 100% of the parts are tested for cracks, flaws, correct material hardness and correct material properties," says Dan DeVries, market segment manager for Zetec Inc. (Issaquah, WA), a provider of eddy current testing.

Date: Nov. 4 to 8
Show hours:
Monday, Nov. 4, 5 to 8 p.m., Welcome reception
Tuesday, Nov. 5, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 6, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Various conferences and courses are offered Nov. 4 to 8
To register, visit www.asnt.org or call (800) 222-2768.