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Volume 9

Visual Testing

Patrick O. Moore

Technical Editors
Michael W. Allgaier
Robert E. Cameron

1941 American Society for Nondestructive Testing
Copyright 2010
American Society for Nondestructive Testing, Incorporated
All rights reserved.
ASNT is not responsible for the authenticity or accuracy of information herein. Published opinions and statements do
not necessarily reflect the opinion of ASNT. Products or services that are advertised or mentioned do not carry the
endorsement or recommendation of ASNT.
IRRSP, Level III Study Guide, Materials Evaluation, NDT Handbook, Nondestructive Testing Handbook, The NDT Technician
and www.asnt.org are trademarks of the American Society for Nondestructive Testing. ACCP, ASNT, Research in
Nondestructive Evaluation and RNDE are registered trademarks of The American Society for Nondestructive Testing, Inc.
ASNT exists to create a safer world by promoting the profession and technologies of nondestructive testing.

American Society for Nondestructive Testing, Incorporated

1711 Arlingate Lane
PO Box 28518
Columbus, OH 43228-0518
(614) 274-6003; fax (614) 274-6899

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Visual testing / editor, Patrick O. Moore -- 3rd ed.
p. cm. -- (Nondestructive testing handbook ; v. 9)
Rev. ed. of: Visual and optical testing, 1993
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-1-57117-186-3 (alk. paper)
1. Nondestructive Testing. 2. Engineering inspection. 3. Optical
measurements. I. Moore, Patrick O., II. American Society for Nondestructive
Testing. III. Visual and optical testing.

TA417.2.V57 2010

Errata if available for this printing may be obtained from ASNTs Web site, <www.asnt.org>.

first printing 05/10

Published by the American Society for Nondestructive Testing

Presidents Foreword

ASNT exists to create a safer world by

promoting the profession and
technologies of nondestructive testing.
The dedicated efforts of the Technical
and Education Council continue to
advance NDT technology through their
tireless efforts in creating new NDT
education and resource materials. Their
important achievements are a testimonial
to the efforts of these dedicated
One of the best ways to promote NDT
technology is to update and maintain our
handbooks as science and technology
advances. The NDT Handbook series is one
of ASNTs premier products. It is
recognized both nationally and
internationally as a valuable study and
reference resource for NDT.
Visual Testing, Volume 9 of the third
edition, is the result of the dedicated
efforts of volunteers and ASNT staff to
update the handbook and align with
todays technological advancements.
Vision is an integral part of everyday
life. It is not surprising that visual testing
is usually the initial examination
performed on components, parts and
As the demand for inspectors continues
to increase, there will be a significant
demand to keep materials current and
develop new NDT technology handbooks.
As technology continues to advance,
ASNT will continue to keep its library of
resources current and useful as an
essential resource to the NDT community.
The opportunities for the NDT
professional are endless. Involvement on
the Technical and Education Committee
is an excellent way to give back to this
proud profession. I encourage each ASNT
member to become involved and give
back to the profession of NDT. I guarantee
that you will get more than you give.

Joel W. Whitaker
ASNT President, 2009-2010

Visual Testing iii


take great pains to ensure that their

Aims of a Handbook documents are definitive in wording and
technical accuracy. People writing
The volume you are holding in your hand contracts or procedures should consult
is the ninth in the third edition of the the actual standards when appropriate.
Nondestructive Testing Handbook. In the Those who design qualifying
beginning of each volume, ASNT has examinations or study material for them
stated the purposes and nature of the draw on ASNT handbooks as a quick and
NDT Handbook series. convenient way of approximating the
Handbooks exist in many disciplines of body of knowledge. Committees and
science and technology, and certain individuals who write or anticipate
features set them apart from other questions are selective in what they draw
reference works. A handbook should from any source. The parts of a handbook
ideally provide the basic knowledge that give scientific background, for
necessary for an understanding of the instance, may have little bearing on a
technology, including both scientific practical examination except to provide
principles and means of application. The the physical foundation to assist handling
third edition of the NDT Handbook of more challenging tasks. Other parts of
provides this knowledge through method a handbook are specific to a certain
specific volumes. industry. This handbook provides a
The typical reader may be assumed to collection of perspectives on its subject to
have completed a few years of college broaden its value and convenience to the
toward a degree in engineering or science nondestructive testing community.
and has the background of an elementary The present volume is a worthy
physics or mechanics course. Additionally, addition to the third edition. The editors,
this volume allows for computer based technical editors, ASNT staff, many
media that enhance all levels of education contributors and reviewers worked
and training. together to bring the project to
Standards, specifications, completion. For their scholarship and
recommended practices and inspection dedication, I thank them all.
procedures are discussed for instructional
purposes, but at a level of generalization Richard H. Bossi
that is illustrative rather than Handbook Development Director
comprehensive. Standards writing bodies

iv Visual Testing

The first visual testing report is found accessible. As the light source progressed
written in the book of Genesis, He saw from a candle to a light bulb, to a fiber
that it was good. optic cable, to an illumination bundle,
Visual testing is the test that precedes the limiting factor was the lens optic
every other test. For years, a certification system and eventually the fiber optic
in magnetic particle testing or liquid system.
penetrant testing would suffice to be the The main content difference of this
equivalent of a visual testing edition of the visual volume of the NDT
qualification. Handbook is the significant addition of the
The inspector had to look at the topic of indirect (or remote) visual testing.
object, part, component or system before Coupling the recent advances in remote
performing any other nondestructive visual test techniques with modern image
testing (NDT) to see if the surface was recording capabilities makes the recording
suitable for further testing. and transferring of visual images a major
Its primary role as first test makes it the advance in recording, transferring and
most important of all the methods of retaining visual data of a test object. This
nondestructive testing. For years, how to technology is a major advantage over
look at something defined visual testing. other NDT methods.
What the inspector is looking at entails a Visual testing allows direct
broad spectrum of applications. This is interpretation of test results without
probably why visual testing was encoding, decoding, extrapolating and
formalized so late in industry codified evaluating data from other NDT methods.
by the nuclear industry, in the 1980s, and To assess the condition of the test object,
appearing last in the sequence of NDT what the inspectors see is what they get.
Handbook volumes, in 1993. Visual is the most directly useful test
Its main limitation is that the test method to assess the condition of an
surface must be accessible. Direct visual object.
testing has always addressed direct line of
sight from the eyeball to the test surface. Michael W. Allgaier
With the help of a candle and a mirror, Robert E. Cameron
otherwise inaccessible surfaces became Technical Editors

Visual Testing v
Editors Preface

Early in 1986, Robert McMaster sat up in One of the intriguing things about VT
his hospital bed and handed me a piece of is that very few publications have been
paper from a technical committee dedicated to it as nondestructive testing,
member. On the paper was scratched an distinct from fields such as astronomy or
outline for the book you are now reading. medical endoscopy. By 1990, there were
This book on visual testing (VT) began two books on VT, one on borescopes and
with Robert McMaster. McMaster was one mainly on direct viewing.
ASNTs president from 1952 to 1953. He The next step was taken by Michael
compiled and in 1959 published the first Allgaier and ASNTs VT Committee.
edition of the NDT Handbook. That Allgaier collected available material, and
edition was a milestone in the history of in 1993 ASNT published it as Volume 8 in
nondestructive testing (NDT). the second edition of the NDT Handbook.
McMaster is revered in ASNT because That volume defined the method.
of two major visions that he imparted. Henceforth, VT was to include both direct
First, he believed that NDT had a mission, and indirect techniques. It would be
an important role among applied sciences scientifically grounded in the physics of
such as engineering: NDTs purpose was to light. Its study would include basic
improve the quality of products and optometry, since the eye is the primary
services, to preserve not just the quality of sensor. VTs representation in standards
life but to preserve life itself through for industries such as energy and
public safety. He often compared petroleum would be duly noted.
nondestructive inspectors to physicians, Before that book, the method would
saving lives. Without NDT, airplanes crash usually go unnoticed: inspectors would
and buildings fall and boilers explode. not even realize that their visual
Second, McMaster wanted to ground inspection was actually nondestructive
NDT solidly as a material science. He had testing. After that book, the foundation
studied under Enrico Fermi and Robert was laid for an ASNT method with
Millikan at CalTech. McMaster believed in trainers, qualifying examinations and a
the nobility of science, that it improved literature for study.
our lives through understanding natural The present volume builds on the
laws and applying that understanding. success of that 1993 volume. Information
His first edition of the NDT Handbook has been added on digital capabilities that
was monumental, 54 sections in two inspectors use routinely. The coverage of
volumes. There were fifteen sections for indirect techniques (sometimes called
radiographic testing and two for visual remote inspection) has been updated to
testing. That the visual method was reflect current technology for cameras and
represented at all is remarkable, and measurement. The discussions of
reflects McMasters scientific bent and the optometry and physics are updated. The
conviction that NDT should be chapter on metals is completely revised
represented in every band in the with an eye for practicality. The material
electromagnetic spectrum, even the visible on direct techniques is presented in one
radiation we call light. But on that winter chapter. References are updated
afternoon in 1986, an exasperated throughout. The entire book has been
McMaster pointed to the brief outline: revised to be clearly organized and
Its just a list of different kinds of functionally complete.
borescopes! Just borescopes! McMasters stay in the hospital in the
The challenge for the writer of that winter of 1986 was one of several that
outline, as for McMaster in 1959 and for would end with his death in July. I like to
others since, is precisely how the method think that, if he had lived to see it, he
is to be defined. For some, it was defined would have celebrated this book and VTs
by its instruments, mainly the industrial place as an NDT method.
endoscopes called borescopes. Others Dozens of contributors and reviewers
believed, wrongly, that the term visual freely shared their expertise; in particular
denoted viewing unmediated by lenses Technical Editors Michael Allgaier and
and that another word, optical, was Robert Cameron provided leadership and
needed to include instruments such as encouragement. On ASNT staff, Senior
borescopes. For McMaster, however, as for Manager of Publications Timothy Jones
every volume of the third edition of the provided essential administrative support.
NDT Handbook, the word visual carved out My colleague, Technical Publications
a niche in the electromagnetic spectrum Supervisor Hollis Humphries, proofed the
somewhere between infrared and X-rays entire book and supervised all its graphics.
(both of which, by the way, are also A hearty thanks to them all.
mediated through optics). Still, as late as
the 1980s, some people assumed that the Patrick Moore
term visual testing meant only vision NDT Handbook Editor
acuity examination.

vi Visual Testing

All contributors are also reviewers but are Contributors

listed once, as contributors.
Michael W. Allgaier, Mistras
David R. Atkins, Packer Engineering
Handbook Development David R. Bajula, Acuren Inspection
Committee Bruce L. Bates
Thomas D. Britton, General Electric
Richard H. Bossi, Boeing Aerospace Sensing and Inspection Technologies
Michael W. Allgaier, Mistras Brian P. Buske, General Electric Sensing
David R. Bajula, Acuren Inspection and Inspection Technologies
Albert S. Birks, Naval Surface Warfare Donald R. Christina, Boeing Company
Center John C. Duke, Jr., Virginia Polytechnic
Lisa Brasche, Iowa State University Institute and State University
James E. Cox, Zetec, Incorporated Mohamed El-Gomati, University of York,
David L. Culbertson, El Paso Corporation United Kingdom
James L. Doyle, Jr., NorthWest Research Nat Y. Faransso, KBR
Associates Gregory W. Good, Ohio State University,
Nat Y. Faransso, KBR College of Optometry
Gerard K. Hacker, Teledyne Brown Doron Kishoni, Business Solutions USA,
Engineering Canada
Harb S. Hayre, Ceie Specs Douglas G. Krauss, Huddleston Technical
Eric v.K. Hill, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Services, Redstone Arsenal
University William J. Lang, Lenox Instrument
James W. Houf, American Society for Company
Nondestructive Testing Trevor Liddell, General Electric Sensing
Frank A. Iddings and Inspection Technologies
Morteza K. Jafari, Fugro South Zheng Liu, Research Officer, National
Timothy E. Jones, American Society for Research Council Canada
Nondestructive Testing Joseph L. Mackin, Team Industrial Services
John K. Keve, DynCorp Tri-Cities Services Stephen L. Meiley, Champion
Doron Kishoni, Business Solutions USA, International
Canada Richard T. Nademus, Exelon Corporation
Xavier P.V. Maldague, University Laval Yoshihiro Ohno, National Institute of
George A. Matzkanin, Texas Research Standards and Technology
Institute Donald Parrish, Southern Company
Ronnie K. Miller, Mistras Services
Scott D. Miller David A. Pasquazzi, David Pasquazzi and
Mani Mina, Technology Resource Group Associates
David G. Moore, Sandia National Stanislav I. Rokhlin, Ohio State University
Laboratories Donald J. Roth, National Aeronautics and
Patrick O. Moore, American Society for Space Administration, Glenn Research
Nondestructive Testing Center
Stanislav I. Rokhlin, Ohio State University Gregory C. Sayler, MD Helicopters
Frank J. Sattler Roderic K. Stanley, NDE Information
Fred Seppi, Williams International Consultants
Kermit A. Skeie Marvin W. Trimm, Savannah River
Roderic K. Stanley, NDE Information National Laboratory
Consultants Hiroyuki Ukida, University of Tokushima,
Stuart A. Tison, Millipore Corporation Japan
Noel A. Tracy, Universal Technology Michael A. Urzendowski, Valero Energy
Corporation Robert W. Warke, LeTourneau University
Satish S. Udpa, Michigan State University
Mark F.A. Warchol, Alcoa
Glenn A. Washer, University of Missouri Reviewers
Columbia Steven E. Anderson, Canam Steel
George C. Wheeler Jerry D. Beasley, Omaha Public Power
Gary L. Workman, University of Alabama, Kenneth Becker, Sigma Transducers
Huntsville James J. Bogner, GPR Testing and

Visual Testing vii

Richard H. Bossi, Boeing Research and Walter R. Matulewicz, Tinker Air Force
Technology Base
Lisa Brasche, Iowa State University Charles H. Mazel, BlueLine NDT
Robert H. Bushnell Eugene A. Mechtly, University of Illinois
James R. Cahill, General Electric Sensing at Urbana-Champaign
and Inspection Technologies John W. Miller
Robert E. Cameron Scott D. Miller
Eugene J. Chemma, Arcelor Mittal Steel Van B. Nakagawara, Federal Aviation
David Clark, LightDancer Interactive Authority, Civil Aerospace Medical
Technologies Institute
Christopher I. Collins, Olympus Industrial David K. Park, Olympus Industrial
Systems Europa America
Jackson R. Crissey, Jr., Plant Performance Bruce A. Pellegrino, General Electric
Services Sensing and Inspection Technologies,
Claude D. Davis, Unified Testing Services Everest RVI
Edward R. Generazio, NASA Langley William C. Plumstead, Sr., PQT Services
Research Center Frank J. Sattler
Lawrence O. Goldberg, Seatest David Sentelle, American Society for
Jack K. Harper, Babcock and Wilcox, Oak Nondestructive Testing
Ridge Robert E. Stevens, United Airlines
James W. Houf, American Society for Mark F.A. Warchol, Alcoa
Nondestructive Testing Stanley L. Weatherly, Boeing Company
Charles P. Longo, American Society for
Nondestructive Testing

viii Visual Testing


Chapter 1. Introduction to Chapter 7. Machine Vision for Visual

Visual Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157
Part 1. Nondestructive Testing . . . . . 2 Part 1. System Architecture of
Part 2. Management of Visual Machine Vision
Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 158
Part 3. History of Visual Part 2. Algorithms and
Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . 164
Part 4. Measurement Units for References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177
Visual Testing . . . . . . . . . 34
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Chapter 8. Visual Testing of
Metals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179
Chapter 2. Light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Part 1. Metal Processing . . . . . . . . 180
Part 1. Physics of Light . . . . . . . . . 42 Part 2. Visual Testing of Cast
Part 2. Refraction and Color . . . . . 45 Ingots . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182
Part 3. Photometry . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Part 3. Visual Testing of Forgings
and Rolled Metal . . . . . . 185
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
Part 4. Visual Testing of
Welds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191
Chapter 3. Vision Acuity for Part 5. Discontinuities from
Nondestructive Testing . . . . . . . 61 Processes Other than
Part 1. Vision . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Welding . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197
Part 2. Vision Acuity . . . . . . . . . . . 66 Part 6. Service Induced
Part 3. Vision Testing . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Discontinuities . . . . . . . . 200
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 210

Chapter 4. Visual Test Imaging . . . . . . . 83 Chapter 9. Chemical and Petroleum

Part 1. Photography in Visual Applications of Visual
Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84 Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211
Part 2. Digital Processing and Part 1. Chemical and Petroleum
Archiving for Visual Industry . . . . . . . . . . . . . 212
Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 Part 2. Visual Acceptance Criteria
Part 3. Video . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 for Welds . . . . . . . . . . . . 215
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108 Part 3. Petroleum Tubular
Specifications . . . . . . . . . 220
Part 4. Visual Testing of Pipe
Chapter 5. Direct Visual Testing . . . . . 111
Threads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 223
Part 1. Circumstances of References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 229
Viewing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
Part 2. Illumination . . . . . . . . . . . 116
Chapter 10. Electric Power
Part 3. Magnification . . . . . . . . . . 121
Applications of Visual
Part 4. Surface Characteristics . . . 127
Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 233
Part 5. Dimensional
Measurement . . . . . . . . . 130 Part 1. Visual Testing of
Welds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 234
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134
Part 2. Visual Testing of Various
Components . . . . . . . . . . 250
Chapter 6. Indirect Visual Testing . . . 135 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 264
Part 1. Introduction to Indirect
Visual Testing . . . . . . . . . 136
Part 2. Borescopy . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141
Part 3. Camera Based
Measurement . . . . . . . . . 148
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155

Visual Testing ix
Chapter 11. Aerospace Applications Chapter 13. Visual Testing
of Visual Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . 265 Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 303
Part 1. Visual Testing of Aircraft Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 304
Structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . 266 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 322
Part 2. Visual Testing of Jet
Engines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 274
Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 323
Part 3. Visual Testing of
Composite Materials . . . 278
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 283 Figure Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 330

Chapter 12. Techniques Allied to

Visual Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 285
Part 1. Indications Not from
Visual Testing . . . . . . . . . 286
Part 2. Replication . . . . . . . . . . . . 291
Part 3. Etching . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 297
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 302

x Visual Testing

Introduction to
Visual Testing

Mohamed El-Gomati, University of York, Heslington,

North Yorkshire, United Kingdom (Part 3)
William J. Lang, Lenox Instrument Company, Trevose,
Pennsylvania (Part 3)
Marvin W. Trimm, Savannah River National Laboratory,
Aiken, South Carolina (Part 2)
PART 1. Nondestructive Testing

pressure testing is a form of proof testing

Scope of Nondestructive that sometimes destroys the test object.
A gray area in the definition of
Testing nondestructive testing is the phrase future
Nondestructive testing is a materials usefulness. Some material investigations
science concerned with many aspects of involve taking a sample of the test object
quality and serviceability of materials and for a test that is inherently destructive. A
structures. The science of nondestructive noncritical part of a pressure vessel may
testing incorporates all the technology for be scraped or shaved to get a sample for
process monitoring and for detection and electron microscopy, for example.
measurement of significant properties, Although future usefulness of the vessel is
including discontinuities, in items not impaired by the loss of material, the
ranging from research test objects to procedure is inherently destructive and
finished hardware and products in service. the shaving itself in one sense the true
Nondestructive testing examines materials test object has been removed from
and structures without impairment of service permanently.
serviceability and reveals hidden The idea of future usefulness is relevant
properties and discontinuities. to the quality control practice of
Nondestructive testing is becoming sampling. Sampling (that is, less than
increasingly vital in the effective conduct 100 percent testing to draw inferences
of research, development, design and about the unsampled lots) is
manufacturing programs. Only with nondestructive testing if the tested sample
appropriate nondestructive testing can the is returned to service. If steel bolts are
benefits of advanced materials science be tested to verify their alloy and are then
fully realized. The information required returned to service, then the test is
for appreciating the broad scope of nondestructive. In contrast, even if
nondestructive testing is available in spectroscopy in the chemical testing of
many publications and reports. many fluids is inherently nondestructive,
the testing is destructive if the samples are
poured down the drain after testing.
Nondestructive testing is not confined
Definition to crack detection. Other anomalies
Nondestructive testing (NDT) has been include porosity, wall thinning from
defined as those methods used to test a corrosion and many sorts of disbonds.
part or material or system without Nondestructive material characterization
impairing its future usefulness.1 The term is a field concerned with properties
is generally applied to nonmedical including material identification and
investigations of material integrity. microstructural characteristics such as
Nondestructive testing is used to resin curing, case hardening and stress
investigate specifically the material that directly influence the service life of
integrity or properties of a test object. A the test object.
number of other technologies for
instance, radio astronomy, voltage and
current measurement and rheometry
(flow measurement) are nondestructive
Methods and Techniques
but are not used specifically to evaluate Nondestructive testing has also been
material properties. Radar and sonar are defined by listing or classifying the
classified as nondestructive testing when various techniques.1-3 This approach to
used to inspect dams, for instance, but nondestructive testing is practical in that
not when used to chart a river bottom. it typically highlights methods in use by
Nondestructive testing asks Is there industry.
something wrong with this material? In In the Nondestructive Testing Handbook,
contrast, performance and proof tests ask the word method is used for a group of test
Does this component work? It is not techniques that share a form of probing
considered nondestructive testing when energy. The ultrasonic test method, for
an inspector checks a circuit by running example, uses acoustic waves at a
electric current through it. Hydrostatic frequency higher than audible sound.
Infrared and thermal testing and

2 Visual Testing
radiographic testing are two test methods satisfaction and maintain the
that use electromagnetic radiation, each manufacturers reputation, (5) to aid in
in a defined wavelength range. The word better product design, (6) to control
technique, in contrast, denotes a way of manufacturing processes, (7) to lower
adapting the method to the application. manufacturing costs, (8) to maintain
Through-transmission immersion testing uniform quality levels and (9) to ensure
is a technique of the ultrasonic method, operational readiness.
for example. These reasons for widespread and
profitable nondestructive testing are
sufficient in themselves but parallel
developments have contributed to the
Purposes of technologys growth and acceptance.
Nondestructive Testing
Since the 1920s, the art of testing without Increased Demand on Machines
destroying the test object has developed In the interest of greater performance and
from a laboratory curiosity to an reduced cost for materials, the design
indispensable tool of fabrication, engineer is often under pressure to reduce
construction, manufacturing and weight. Weight can be saved sometimes
maintenance processes. No longer is by substituting aluminum alloys,
visual testing of materials, parts and magnesium alloys or composite materials
complete products the principal for steel or iron but such light parts may
nondestructive test for quality. not be the same size or design as those
Nondestructive tests in great variety are in they replace. The tendency is also to
worldwide use to detect variations in reduce the size. These pressures on the
structure, minute changes in surface designer have subjected parts of all sorts
finish, the presence of cracks or other to increased stress levels. Even such
physical discontinuities, to measure the commonplace objects as sewing
thickness of materials and coatings and to machines, sauce pans and luggage are also
determine other characteristics of lighter and more heavily loaded than ever
industrial products. Scientists and before. The stress to be supported is
engineers of many countries have known as dynamic stress or dynamic
contributed greatly to nondestructive test loading, as opposed to static stress. It
development and applications. often fluctuates and reverses at low or
How is nondestructive testing useful? high frequencies. Frequency of stress
Why do thousands of industrial concerns reversals increases with the speeds of
buy the test equipment, pay the modern machines, so components tend to
subsequent operating costs of the testing fatigue and fail more rapidly.
and even reshape manufacturing Another cause of increased stress on
processes to fit the needs and findings of modern products is a reduction in the
nondestructive testing? Modern safety factor. An engineer designs with
nondestructive tests are used by certain known loads in mind. On the
manufacturers (1) to ensure product supposition that materials and
integrity and in turn reliability, (2) to workmanship are never perfect, a safety
avoid failures, prevent accidents and save
human life (Figs. 1 and 2), (3) to make a
profit for the user, (4) to ensure customer
FIGURE 2. Boilers operate with high internal steam pressure.
Material discontinuities can lead to sudden, violent failure
with possible injury to people and damage to property.
FIGURE 1. Fatigue cracks caused damage to aircraft fuselage,
causing death of flight attendant and injury to passengers
(April 1988).

Introduction to Visual Testing 3

factor of 2, 3, 5 or 10 is applied. However, accident. This demand for personal safety
a lower factor is often used that depends has been another strong force in the
on considerations such as cost or weight. development of nondestructive tests.
New demands on machinery have also
stimulated the development and use of Rising Costs of Failure
new materials whose operating
characteristics and performances are not Aside from awards to the injured or to
completely known. These new materials estates of the deceased and aside from
could create greater and potentially costs to the public (because of evacuations
dangerous problems. For example, an occasioned by chemical leaks, for
aircraft part was built from an alloy whose example), there are other factors in the
work hardening, notch resistance and rising costs of mechanical failure.
fatigue life were not well known. After These costs are increasing for many
relatively short periods of service, some of reasons. Some important ones are
the aircraft using these parts suffered (1) greater costs of materials and labor,
disastrous failures. Sufficient and proper (2) greater costs of complex parts,
nondestructive tests could have saved (3) greater costs because of the complexity
many lives. of assemblies, (4) a greater probability that
As technology improves and as service failure of one part will cause failure of
requirements increase, machines are others because of overloads, (5) the
subjected to greater variations and probability that the failure of one part
extremes of all kinds of stress, creating an will damage other parts of high value and
increasing demand for stronger or more (6) part failure in an integrated automatic
damage tolerant materials. production machine, shutting down an
entire high speed production line. In the
past, when production was carried out on
Engineering Demands for Sounder many separate machines, the broken one
Materials could be bypassed until repaired. Today,
Another justification for nondestructive one machine is often tied into the
tests is the designers demand for sounder production cycles of several others. Loss
materials. As size and weight decrease and of such production is one of the greatest
the factor of safety is lowered, more losses resulting from part failure.
emphasis is placed on better raw material
control and higher quality of materials,
manufacturing processes and
workmanship. Classification of Methods
An interesting fact is that a producer of The National Materials Advisory Board
raw material or of a finished product (NMAB) Ad Hoc Committee on
sometimes does not improve quality or Nondestructive Evaluation classified
performance until that improvement is techniques into six major method
demanded by the customer. The pressure categories: visual, penetrating radiation,
of the customer is transferred to magnetic-electrical, mechanical vibration,
implementation of improved design or thermal and chemical/electrochemical.3
manufacturing. Nondestructive testing is A modified version of their system is
frequently called on to confirm delivery presented in Table 1.1
of this new quality level. Each method can be completely
characterized in terms of five principal
Public Demands for Greater Safety factors: (1) energy source or medium used
to probe the object (such as X-rays,
The demands and expectations of the ultrasonic waves or thermal radiation),
public for greater safety are widespread. (2) nature of the signals, image or
Review the record of the courts in signature resulting from interaction with
granting high awards to injured persons. the object (attenuation of X-rays or
Consider the outcry for greater reflection of ultrasound, for example),
automobile safety as evidenced by the (3) means of detecting or sensing
required automotive safety belts and the resultant signals (photoemulsion,
demand for air bags, blowout proof tires piezoelectric crystal or inductance coil),
and antilock braking systems. The (4) means of indicating or recording
publicly supported activities of the signals (meter deflection, oscilloscope
National Safety Council, Underwriters trace or radiograph) and (5) basis for
Laboratories, the Occupational Safety and interpreting the results (direct or indirect
Health Administration, the Federal indication, qualitative or quantitative and
Aviation Administration and other pertinent dependencies).
agencies around the world are only a few The objective of each method is to
of the ways in which this demand for provide information about one or more of
safety is expressed. It has been expressed the following material parameters:
directly by passengers who cancel (1) discontinuities and separations (such
reservations following a serious aircraft as cracks, voids, inclusions and

4 Visual Testing
delaminations), (2) structure or Classification by Test Object
malstructure (such as crystalline structure,
Nondestructive test techniques may be
grain size, segregation and misalignment),
classified according to how they detect
(3) dimensions and metrology (such as
indications relative to the surface of a test
thickness, diameter, gap size and
object. Surface methods include liquid
discontinuity size), (4) physical and
penetrant testing, visual testing and moir
mechanical properties (such as reflectivity,
testing. Surface/near-surface methods
conductivity, elastic modulus and sonic
include tap, holographic, shearographic,
velocity), (5) composition and chemical
magnetic particle and electromagnetic
analysis (such as alloy identification,
testing. When surface or near-surface
impurities and elemental distributions),
methods are applied during intermediate
(6) stress and dynamic response (such as
manufacturing, they provide preliminary
residual stress, crack growth, wear and
assurance that volumetric methods
vibration), (7) signature analysis (such as
performed on the completed object or
image content, frequency spectrum and
component will reveal few rejectable
field configuration) and (8) heat sources.
discontinuities. Volumetric methods
Material characteristics in Table 1 are
include radiography, ultrasonic testing
further defined in Table 2 with respect to
and acoustic emission testing.
specific objectives and specific attributes
Through-boundary techniques include
to be measured, detected and defined.
leak testing, some infrared thermographic
Methods that use electromagnetic
techniques, airborne ultrasonic testing
radiation (Table 3) can be divided
and certain techniques of acoustic
according to the segment of the spectrum
emission testing. Other less easily
each uses as interrogating energy: radar,
classified methods are material
thermography, visual testing and
identification, vibration analysis and
X-radiography (Fig. 3). Methods using
strain gaging.
vibration and ultrasound are in a different
No one nondestructive test method is
spectrum: the acoustic.
all revealing. In some cases, one method
The limitations of a method include
or technique may be adequate for testing
conditions (such as access, physical
a specific object or component. However,
contact and surface preparation) and
in most cases, it takes a series of test
requirements to adapt the probe to the
methods to do a complete nondestructive
test object. Other factors limit the
test of an object or component. For
detection or characterization of
example, if surface cracks must be
discontinuities or attributes and limit
detected and eliminated and if the object
interpretation of signals or images.
or component is made of ferromagnetic

TABLE 1. Nondestructive test method categories.

Categories Test Objectives

Basic Categories

Mechanical and optical color; cracks; dimensions; film thickness; gaging; reflectivity; strain distribution and magnitude; surface
finish; surface flaws; through-cracks
Penetrating radiation cracks; density and chemistry variations; elemental distribution; foreign objects; inclusions; microporosity;
misalignment; missing parts; segregation; service degradation; shrinkage; thickness; voids
Electromagnetic and electronic alloy content; anisotropy; cavities; cold work; local strain, hardness; composition; contamination;
corrosion; cracks; crack depth; crystal structure; electrical conductivities; flakes; heat treatment;
hot tears; inclusions; ion concentrations; laps; lattice strain; layer thickness; moisture content;
polarization; seams; segregation; shrinkage; state of cure; tensile strength; thickness; disbonds; voids
Sonic and ultrasonic crack initiation and propagation; cracks, voids; damping factor; degree of cure; degree of impregnation;
degree of sintering; delaminations; density; dimensions; elastic moduli; grain size; inclusions;
mechanical degradation; misalignment; porosity; radiation degradation; structure of composites;
surface stress; tensile, shear and compressive strength; disbonds; wear
Infrared and thermal anisotropy; bonding; composition; emissivity; heat contours; plating thickness; porosity; reflectivity;
stress; thermal conductivity; thickness; voids; cracks; delaminations; heat treatment; state of cure;
moisture; corrosion
Chemical and analytical alloy identification; composition; cracks; elemental analysis and distribution; grain size; inclusions;
macrostructure; porosity; segregation; surface anomalies
Auxiliary Categories
Image generation dimensional variations; dynamic performance; anomaly characterization and definition; anomaly
distribution; anomaly propagation; magnetic field configurations
Signal image analysis data selection, processing and display; anomaly mapping, correlation and identification; image
enhancement; separation of multiple variables; signature analysis

Introduction to Visual Testing 5

material, then magnetic particle testing then ultrasonic testing or radiography
would be the appropriate choice. If the would be chosen. The exact technique in
material is aluminum or titanium, then each case depends on the thickness and
the choice would be liquid penetrant or nature of the material and the types of
electromagnetic testing. However, if discontinuities that must be detected.
internal discontinuities are to be detected,

TABLE 2. Objectives of nondestructive test methods.

Objectives Attributes Measured or Detected

Discontinuities and Separations

Surface anomalies roughness, scratches, gouges, crazing, pitting, imbedded foreign material
Surface connected anomalies cracks, porosity, pinholes, laps, seams, folds, inclusions
Internal anomalies cracks, separations, hot tears, cold shuts, shrinkage, voids, lack of fusion, pores, cavities, delaminations,
disbonds, poor bonds, inclusions, segregations
Microstructure molecular structure; crystalline structure and/or strain; lattice structure; strain; dislocation; vacancy;
Matrix structure grain structure, size, orientation and phase; sinter and porosity; impregnation; filler and/or reinforcement
distribution; anisotropy; heterogeneity; segregation
Small structural anomalies leaks (lack of seal or through-holes), poor fit, poor contact, loose parts, loose particles, foreign objects
Gross structural anomalies assembly errors; misalignment; poor spacing or ordering; deformation; malformation; missing parts
Dimensions and Measures
Displacement, position linear measurement; separation; gap size; discontinuity size, depth, location and orientation
Dimensional variations unevenness; nonuniformity; eccentricity; shape and contour; size and mass variations
Thickness, density film, coating, layer, plating, wall and sheet thickness; density or thickness variations
Physical and Mechanical Properties
Electrical properties resistivity; conductivity; dielectric constant and dissipation factor
Magnetic properties polarization; permeability; ferromagnetism; cohesive force, susceptibility
Thermal properties conductivity; thermal time constant and thermoelectric potential; diffusivity; effusivity; specific heat
Mechanical properties compressive, shear and tensile strength (and moduli); Poissons ratio; sonic speed; hardness; temper
and embrittlement
Surface properties color, reflectivity, refraction index, emissivity
Chemical Composition and Analysis
Elemental analysis detection, identification, distribution and/or profile
Impurity concentrations contamination, depletion, doping and diffusants
Metallurgical content variation; alloy identification, verification and sorting
Physiochemical state moisture content; degree of cure; ion concentrations and corrosion; reaction products
Stress and Dynamic Response
Stress, strain, fatigue heat treatment, annealing and cold work effects; stress and strain; fatigue damage and residual life
Mechanical damage wear, spalling, erosion, friction effects
Chemical damage corrosion, stress corrosion, phase transformation
Other damage radiation damage and high frequency voltage breakdown
Dynamic performance crack initiation, crack propagation, plastic deformation, creep, excessive motion, vibration, damping,
timing of events, any anomalous behavior
Signature Analysis
Electromagnetic field potential; intensity; field distribution and pattern
Thermal field isotherms, heat contours, temperatures, heat flow, temperature distribution, heat leaks, hot spots, contrast
Acoustic signature noise, vibration characteristics, frequency amplitude, harmonic spectrum, harmonic analysis, sonic
emissions, ultrasonic emissions
Radioactive signature distribution and diffusion of isotopes and tracers
Signal or image analysis image enhancement and quantization; pattern recognition; densitometry; signal classification, separation
and correlation; discontinuity identification, definition (size and shape) and distribution analysis;
discontinuity mapping and display

6 Visual Testing
methods. The following section briefly
Nondestructive Testings describes major methods and the
applications associated with them.
In manufacturing, nondestructive testing Visual Testing
may be accepted reluctantly because its
contribution to profits may not be Visual testing is the subject of the present
obvious to management. Nondestructive volume and of a volume in the previous
testing is sometimes thought of only as a edition.4
cost item and can be curtailed by industry Principles. Visual testing (Fig. 4) is the
downsizing. When a company cuts costs, observation of a test object, either directly
two vulnerable areas are quality and with the eyes or indirectly using optical
safety. When bidding contract work, instruments, by an inspector to evaluate
companies add profit margin to all cost the presence of surface anomalies and the
items, including nondestructive testing, so objects conformance to specification.
a profit should be made on the Visual testing should be the first
nondestructive testing. The attitude nondestructive test method applied to an
toward nondestructive testing is positive item. The test procedure is to clear
when management understands its value. obstructions from the surface, provide
Nondestructive testing should be used adequate illumination and observe. A
as a control mechanism to ensure that prerequisite necessary for competent
manufacturing processes are within design visual testing of an object is knowledge of
performance requirements. When used the manufacturing processes by which it
properly, nondestructive testing saves was made, of its service history and of its
money for the manufacturer. Rather than potential failure modes, as well as related
costing the manufacturer money, industry experience.
nondestructive testing should add profits Applications. Visual testing is widely used
to the manufacturing process. on a variety of objects to detect surface
discontinuities associated with various
structural failure mechanisms. Even when
other nondestructive tests are performed,
Nondestructive Test visual tests often provide a useful
Methods supplement. When the eddy current
To optimize nondestructive testing, it is testing of process tubing is performed, for
necessary first to understand the example, visual testing is often performed
principles and applications of all the to verify and more closely examine the

TABLE 3. Nondestructive test methods and corresponding parts of electromagnetic spectrum.

Approximate Approximate
Interrogating Energy Test Method Wavelengths (m) Frequencies (Hz)

X-rays or gamma rays radiography (RT) 10 16 to 10 8 1024 to 1017

Ultraviolet radiation various minor methodsa 10 8 to 10 7 1017 to 1015
Light (visible radiation) visual testing (VT) 4 10 7 to 7 10 7 1015
Heat or thermal radiation infrared and thermal testing (IR) 10 6 to 10 3 1015 to 1011
Radio waves radar and microwave methods 10 3 to 101 1011 to 107
a. Ultraviolet radiation is used in various methods: (1) viewing of fluorescent indications in liquid penetrant testing and
magnetic particle testing; (2) lasers and optical sensors operating at ultraviolet wavelengths.

FIGURE 3. Electromagnetic spectrum.

Radiation wavelength (nm)

106 105 104 103 102 10 1 10 1 10 2 10 3 10 4 10 5 10 6


Radio Infrared Ultraviolet Cosmic rays

Gamma rays

10 9 10 8 10 7 10 6 10 5 10 4 10 3 10 2 10 1 1 10 102 103

Photon energy (MeV)

Introduction to Visual Testing 7

surface condition. The following surface as dry particles or as wet particles
discontinuities may be detected by a in a liquid carrier such as water or oil.
simple visual test: surface discontinuities, Applications. The principal industrial uses
cracks, misalignment, warping, corrosion, of magnetic particle testing include final,
wear and physical damage. receiving and in-process testing; testing
for quality control; testing for
Magnetic Particle Testing maintenance and overhaul in the
transportation industries; testing for plant
Principles. Magnetic particle testing and machinery maintenance; and testing
(Fig. 5) is a method of locating surface of large components. Some discontinuities
and near-surface discontinuities in typically detected are surface
ferromagnetic materials. It depends on the discontinuities, seams, cracks and laps.
fact that when the test object is
magnetized, discontinuities that lie in a
direction generally transverse to the Liquid Penetrant Testing
direction of the magnetic field will cause a Principles. Liquid penetrant testing (Fig. 6)
magnetic flux leakage field to be formed reveals discontinuities open to the
at and above the surface of the test object. surfaces of solid and nonporous materials.
The presence of this leakage field and Indications of a wide variety of
therefore the presence of the discontinuity sizes can be found regardless
discontinuity is detected with fine of the configuration of the test object and
ferromagnetic particles applied over the regardless of discontinuity orientations.
surface, with some of the particles being Liquid penetrants seep into various types
gathered and held to form an outline of of minute surface openings by capillary
the discontinuity. This generally indicates action. The cavities of interest can be very
its location, size, shape and extent. small, often invisible to the unaided eye.
Magnetic particles are applied over a The ability of a given liquid to flow over a
surface and enter surface cavities depends
on the following: cleanliness of the
FIGURE 4. Visual test using borescope to surface, surface tension of the liquid,
view interior of cylinder. configuration of the cavity, contact angle
of the liquid, ability of the liquid to wet
the surface, cleanliness of the cavity and
size of the surface opening of the cavity.
Applications. The principal industrial uses
of liquid penetrant testing include
postfabrication testing, receiving testing,
in-process testing and quality control,
testing for maintenance and overhaul in
the transportation industries, in-plant and
machinery maintenance testing and
testing of large components. The
following are some of the typically
detected discontinuities: surface
discontinuities, seams, cracks, laps,
porosity and leak paths.

FIGURE 6. Liquid penetrant indication of

FIGURE 5. Test object demonstrating
magnetic particle method.

8 Visual Testing
Eddy Current Testing wavelength or particulate radiation
(X-rays, gamma rays and neutrons).
Principles. Based on electromagnetic Different portions of an object absorb
induction, eddy current testing is perhaps different amounts of penetrating radiation
the best known of the techniques in the because of differences in density and
electromagnetic test method. Eddy variations in thickness of the test object
current testing is used to identify or or differences in absorption characteristics
differentiate among a wide variety of caused by variation in composition. These
physical, structural and metallurgical variations in the attenuation of the
conditions in electrically conductive penetrating radiation can be monitored
ferromagnetic and nonferromagnetic by detecting the unattenuated radiation
metals and metal test objects. The method that passes through the object.
is based on indirect measurement and on This monitoring may be in different
correlation between the instrument forms. The traditional form is through
reading and the structural characteristics radiation sensitive film. Radioscopic
and serviceability of the test objects. sensors provide digital images. X-ray
With a basic system, the test object is computed tomography is a
placed within or next to an electric coil in three-dimensional, volumetric
which high frequency alternating current radiographic technique.
is flowing. This excitation current
Applications. The principal industrial uses
establishes an electromagnetic field
of radiographic testing involve testing of
around the coil. This primary field causes
castings and weldments, particularly
eddy currents to flow in the test object
because of electromagnetic induction
(Fig. 7). Inversely, the eddy currents
affected by characteristics (conductivity,
FIGURE 7. Electromagnetic testing:
permeability, thickness, discontinuities
(a) representative setup for eddy current
and geometry) of the test object create a
test; (b) inservice detection of
secondary magnetic field that opposes the
primary field. This interaction affects the
coil impedance and can be displayed in (a) Primary
various ways. electromagnetic Direction of
Eddy currents flow in closed loops in field primary alternating
the test object. Their two most important Coil in current
eddy current
characteristics, amplitude and phase, are probe
influenced by the arrangement and
characteristics of the instrumentation and
test object. For example, during the test of Induced field
a tube, the eddy currents flow Induced field
symmetrically in the tube when
discontinuities are not present. However,
when a crack is present, then the eddy
current flow is impeded and changed in
direction, causing significant changes in Direction of
the associated electromagnetic field. eddy current Conducting
test object
Applications. An important industrial use Eddy current intensity
of eddy current testing is on heat decreases with
exchanger tubing. For example, eddy increasing depth
current testing is often specified for thin (b)
wall tubing in pressurized water reactors,
steam generators, turbine condensers and
air conditioning heat exchangers. Eddy
current testing is also used in aircraft
maintenance. The following are some of
the typical material characteristics that
may affect conductivity and be evaluated
by eddy current testing: cracks, inclusions,
dents and holes; grain size; heat
treatment; coating and material thickness;
composition, conductivity or
permeability; and alloy composition.

Radiographic Testing
Principles. Radiographic testing (Fig. 8) is
based on the test objects attenuation of
penetrating radiation either
electromagnetic radiation of very short

Introduction to Visual Testing 9

where there is a critical need to ensure service and acoustic emission testing is
freedom from internal discontinuities. used because it gives valuable additional
Radiographic testing is often specified for information about the expected
thick wall castings and for weldments in performance of the structure under load.
steam power equipment (boiler and Other times, acoustic emission testing is
turbine components and assemblies). The selected for reasons of economy or safety
method can also be used on forgings and and loading is applied specifically for the
mechanical assemblies, although with acoustic emission test.
mechanical assemblies radiographic Applications. Acoustic emission is a
testing is usually limited to testing for natural phenomenon occurring in the
conditions and proper placement of widest range of materials, structures and
components. Radiographic testing is used processes. The largest scale events
to detect inclusions, lack of fusion, cracks, observed with acoustic emission testing
corrosion, porosity, leak paths, missing or are seismic; the smallest are microscopic
incomplete components and debris. dislocations in stressed metals.
The equipment used is highly sensitive
Acoustic Emission Testing to any kind of movement in its operating
frequency (typically 20 to 1200 kHz). The
Principles. Acoustic emissions are stress equipment can detect not only crack
waves produced by sudden movement in growth and material deformation but also
stressed materials. The classic sources of such processes as solidification, friction,
acoustic emission are crack growth and impact, flow and phase transformations.
plastic deformation. Sudden movement at Therefore, acoustic emission testing is also
the source produces a stress wave that used for in-process weld monitoring, for
radiates out into the test object and detecting tool touch and tool wear during
excites a sensitive piezoelectric sensor. As automatic machining, for detecting wear
the stress in the material is raised, and loss of lubrication in rotating
emissions are generated. The signals from equipment, for detecting loose parts and
one or more sensors are amplified and loose particles, for preservice proof testing
measured to produce data for display and and for detecting and monitoring leaks,
interpretation. cavitation and flow.
The source of acoustic emission energy
is the elastic stress field in the material.
Without stress, there is no emission. Ultrasonic Testing
Therefore, an acoustic emission test Principles. In ultrasonic testing (Fig. 10),
(Fig. 9) is usually carried out during a beams of acoustic waves at a frequency
controlled loading of the test object. This too high to hear are introduced into a
can be a proof load before service; a material for the detection of surface and
controlled variation of load while the subsurface discontinuities. These acoustic
structure is in service; a fatigue, pressure waves travel through the material with
or creep test; or a complex loading some energy loss (attenuation) and are
program. Often, a structure is going to be reflected and refracted at interfaces. The
loaded hydrostatically anyway during echoes are then analyzed to define and
locate discontinuities.

FIGURE 8. Representative setup for

radiographic testing. FIGURE 9. Acoustic emission monitoring of floor beam on
suspension bridge.

Test object

Void Sensor

Image plane images

10 Visual Testing
Applications. Ultrasonic testing is widely pressurized components or into evacuated
used in metals, principally for thickness components. The principles of leak testing
measurement and discontinuity detection. involve the physics of liquids or gases
This method can be used to detect flowing through a barrier where a pressure
internal discontinuities in most differential or capillary action exists.
engineering metals and alloys. Bonds Leak testing encompasses procedures
produced by welding, brazing, soldering that fall into these basic functions: leak
and adhesives can also be ultrasonically location, leakage measurement and
tested. In-line techniques have been leakage monitoring. There are several
developed for monitoring and classifying subsidiary methods of leak testing,
materials as acceptable, salvageable or entailing tracer gas detection (Fig. 11),
scrap and for process control. Also tested pressure change measurement,
are piping and pressure vessels, nuclear observation of bubble formation, acoustic
systems, motor vehicles, machinery, emission leak testing and other principles.
railroad stock and bridges. Applications. Like other forms of
nondestructive testing, leak testing affects
Leak Testing the safety and performance of a product.
Reliable leak testing decreases costs by
Principles. Leak testing is concerned with reducing the number of reworked
the flow of liquids or gases from products, warranty repairs and liability
claims. The most common reasons for
performing a leak test are to prevent the
FIGURE 10. Classic setups for ultrasonic loss of costly materials or energy, to
testing: (a) longitudinal wave technique; prevent contamination of the
(b) transverse wave technique. environment, to ensure component or
system reliability and to prevent an
(a) explosion or fire.

Infrared and Thermal Testing

Principles. Conduction, convection and
radiation are the primary mechanisms of
Crack heat transfer in an object or system.
Electromagnetic radiation is emitted from
all bodies to a degree that depends on
their energy state.
Time Thermal testing involves the
measurement or mapping of surface
Back temperatures when heat flows from, to or
surface through a test object. Temperature

FIGURE 11. Leakage measurement dynamic leak testing using

vacuum pumping: (a) pressurized system mode for leak
testing of smaller components; (b) pressurized envelope
mode for leak testing of larger volume systems.
Transducer Crack

(b) Envelope

Leak detector
Crack System
under test

Source of tracer gas

Entry surface

Crack System
under test

Leak detector
Source of tracer gas

Introduction to Visual Testing 11

differentials on a surface, or changes in Other Methods
surface temperature with time, are related
There are many other methods of
to heat flow patterns and can be used to
nondestructive testing, including optical
detect discontinuities or to determine the
methods such as holography,
heat transfer characteristics of an object.
shearography and moir imaging; material
For example, during the operation of an
identification methods such as chemical
electrical breaker, a hot spot detected at
spot testing, spark testing and
an electrical termination may be caused
spectroscopy; strain gaging; and acoustic
by a loose or corroded connection
methods such as vibration analysis and
(Fig. 12). The resistance to electrical flow
through the connection produces an
increase in surface temperature of the
Applications. There are two basic FIGURE 12. Infrared thermography of
categories of infrared and thermal test automatic transfer switches for emergency
applications: electrical and mechanical. diesel generator. Hot spots appear bright in
The specific applications within these two thermogram (inset).
categories are numerous.
Electrical applications include
transmission and distribution lines,
transformers, disconnects, switches, fuses,
relays, breakers, motor windings,
capacitor banks, cable trays, bus taps and
other components and subsystems.
Mechanical applications include
insulation (in boilers, furnaces, kilns,
piping, ducts, vessels, refrigerated trucks
and systems, tank cars and elsewhere),
friction in rotating equipment (bearings,
couplings, gears, gearboxes, conveyor
belts, pumps, compressors and other
components) and fluid flow (steam lines;
heat exchangers; tank fluid levels;
exothermic reactions; composite
structures; heating, ventilation and air
conditioning systems; leaks above and
below ground; cooling and heating; tube
blockages; environmental assessment of
thermal discharge; boiler or furnace air
leakage; condenser or turbine system
leakage; pumps; compressors; and other
system applications).

12 Visual Testing
PART 2. Management of Visual Testing

(5) applicability to irregular shapes,

Selection of Visual Testing (6) field mobility, (7) minimal training
requirements and (8) minimal equipment
Visual testing is an important method in requirements.
the broad field of nondestructive testing.
Visual testing is used to locate surface
anomalies in most materials and Limitations
subsurface discontinuities in translucent Visual testing requires a line of sight to
materials. Visual testing is performed the test surface and lighting adequate to
either by a direct technique or by a detect and interpret anomalies of interest.
remote (that is, indirect) technique. One Visual testing may be limited by
definition of the direct technique is to component geometry: size, contour,
place the eye within 600 mm (24 in.) and surface roughness, complexity and
not less than 30 degrees from the test discontinuity orientation. Remote visual
surface. Mirrors may be used to improve equipment may be required to access
the angle of vision, and aids such as interior surfaces and remote equipment
magnifying lenses may be used to assist providing adequate viewing angles,
examinations. The remote, or indirect, sensitivity, resolution and illumination
technique may include accessories such as may be costly. For proper interpretation of
mirrors, borescopes, video probes or indications, the inspector needs skill with
cameras to correct for the distance or the technique used, experience using the
angles of view. With a remote (indirect) visual equipment and knowledge of the
technique, resolution must be equivalent test object.
to that of the direct technique.
Visual test equipment is designed to
detect structural characteristics of a part.
These characteristics range from simple Management of Visual
surface discontinuities on flat surfaces to Testing Programs
various fabrication or inservice
discontinuities in complex geometries. Management of a visual testing program
As a result, specific applications have requires consideration of many items
been developed using visual testing: before it can produce the desired results.
detecting discontinuities in fabricated Some basic questions must be answered
structures such as airframes, piping and before a program can be implemented
pressure vessels, ships, bridges, motor effectively.
vehicles and machinery and predicting 1. Is the program needed?
the impending failure in highly stressed 2. Are qualified personnel available?
components exposed to the various 3. Are qualified and approved procedures
modes of fatigue. in place? Are regulatory requirements
in place that mandate program
Advantages characteristics?
4. What is the magnitude of the program
The visual method is a sensitive means of that will provide desired results?
locating surface anomalies in various 5. What provisions must be made for
materials. There is little or no limitation personnel safety and for compliance
on the size or shape of the part being with environmental regulations?
inspected. Indications provide a graphic 6. What is the performance date for a
representation of the actual discontinuity. program to be fully implemented?
Precleaning may be necessary if the 7. Is there a cost benefit of visual testing?
surface cleanliness impairs an adequate 8. What are the available resources in
view of the test surface, but material, personnel and money?
discontinuities filled with foreign material
may be detected. The need for precleaning Once these questions are answered,
will largely depend on the size and type then a recommendation can be made to
of discontinuities specified by acceptance select the type of inspection agency. Three
criteria. The following are the primary primary types of agencies responsible for
advantages typically associated with visual inspection are (1) service companies,
testing: (1) economy, (2) speed, (2) consultants and (3) in-house programs.
(3) sensitivity, (4) versatility,

Introduction to Visual Testing 13

Although these are the main agency 7. Who will evaluate the consultants
types, some programs may, routinely or as performance (test reports, trending,
needed, require support personnel from a recommendations, root cause analysis
combination of two or more of these and other functions) within the
sources. Before a final decision is made, sponsoring company?
advantages and disadvantages of each 8. Does the consultant possess
agency type must be considered. qualifications and certifications
required by contract and by applicable
Service Companies regulations?
9. Does the consultant require site
Once a service company is selected, specific training (confined space entry,
responsibilities need to be defined. electrical safety, hazardous materials
1. Who will identify the components and others) or clearance to enter and
within the facility to be examined? work in the facility?
2. Will the contract be for time and 10. Does the consultant retain any
materials or have a specific scope of liability for test results?
3. If a time and materials contract is In-House Programs
awarded, who will monitor the time
and materials charged? 1. Who will determine the scope of the
4. If a scope of work is required, who is program, such as which techniques
technically qualified to develop and will be used?
approve it? 2. What are the regulatory requirements
5. What products or documents (test (codes and standards) associated with
reports, trending, recommendations, program development and
root cause analysis and others) will be implementation?
provided once the tests are completed? 3. Who will develop a cost benefit
6. Who will evaluate and accept the analysis for the program?
product (test reports, trending, 4. How much time and what resources
recommendations, root cause analysis are available to establish the program?
and others) within the service 5. What are the qualification
company? requirements (education, training,
7. Do the service company workers experience and others) for personnel?
possess qualifications and 6. Do program personnel require
certifications required by contract and additional training (safety, confined
by applicable regulations? space entry or others) or
8. Do the service company workers qualifications?
require site specific training (confined 7. Are subject matter experts required to
space entry, electrical safety, hazardous provide technical guidance during
materials and others) or clearance to personnel development?
enter and work in the facility? 8. Are procedures required to perform
9. Does the service company retain any work in the facility?
liability for test results? 9. If procedures are required, who will
develop, review and approve them?
10. Who will determine the technical
Consultants specifications for test equipment?
1. Will the contract be for time and
materials or have a specific scope of
2. If a scope of work is required, who is Visual Test Procedures
technically qualified to develop and The conduct of test operations (in-house
approve it? or contracted) should be performed in
3. Who will identify the required accordance with specific instructions from
qualifications of the consultant? an expert. Specific instructions are
4. Is the purpose of the consultant to typically written as a technical procedure.
develop or update a program or is it to In many cases, codes and specifications
oversee and evaluate the performance will require that a technical procedure be
of an existing program? developed for each individual test. In
5. Will the consultant have oversight other cases, the same procedure is used
responsibility for tests performed? repeatedly.
6. What products or documents The procedure can take many forms. A
(trending, recommendations, root procedure may comprise general
cause analysis and others) are provided instructions that address only major
once the tests are completed? aspects of test techniques. Or a procedure
may be written as a step-by-step process
requiring a supervisors or a
qualified/certified workers signature after

14 Visual Testing
each step. The following is a typical acceptance criteria and is required by the
format for an industrial procedure. designer, buyer or manufacturer of the
1. The purpose identifies the intent of the article it covers.
procedure. Specifications are written to eliminate
2. The scope establishes the items, tests variables of human operators and system
and techniques covered and not designs, to produce an accurate result
covered by the procedure. regardless of who performs the visual test.
3. References are specific documents from Specifications must be written with a full
which criteria are extracted or are knowledge of (1) visual test techniques,
documents satisfied by (2) a techniques individual sensitivities,
implementation of the procedure. (3) the test object design, (4) its material
4. Definitions are needed for terms and characteristics and (5) the discontinuities
abbreviations that are not common critical to the test objects service life. In
knowledge to people who will read the most mature manufacturing applications,
procedure. nondestructive tests are considered during
5. Statements about personnel requirements design and such specifications are
address specific requirements to specified on the test objects original
perform tasks in accordance with the drawing.
procedure issues such as personnel Visual specifications are produced to
qualification, certification and access standardize test results, not to eliminate
clearance. the initiative of the technician. There is
6. Calibration requirements and model no substitute for an experienced inspector
numbers of qualified equipment must who assumes personal responsibility for
be specified. the quality and accuracy of the test.
7. The test procedure provides a sequential Testing specifications are working
process to be used to conduct test documents that tell how to locate
activities. discontinuities in a specific test object.
8. A system performance check is needed Even well established and successful
before a test. The check might be daily specifications need periodic review and
or detailed. revision. It is very important that relevant
9. Acceptance criteria establish component knowledge of field proven techniques and
characteristics that will identify the advances in inspection technologies be
items suitable for service (initial use or incorporated as quickly as possible into
continued service). industry specifications.
10. Reports (records) document specific test
techniques, equipment used, Interpretation
personnel, activity, date performed Interpretation may be complex, especially
and test results. before a procedure has been established.
11. Attachments may include (if required) The interpreter must have a knowledge of
items such as report forms, instrument the following: (1) the underlying physical
calibration forms, qualified equipment process, (2) techniques and equipment,
matrix, schedules and others. (3) details about the test object
Once the procedure is written, an (configuration, material properties,
expert in the subject evaluates it. If the fabrication process, potential
procedure meets requirements, the expert discontinuities and anticipated service
will approve it for use. Some codes and conditions) and (4) possible sources of
standards also require the procedure to be false indications that might be mistaken
qualified that is, demonstrated to the for meaningful visual indications.
satisfaction of a representative of a After interpretation, acceptance criteria
regulatory body or jurisdictional and rejection criteria are applied in a
authority. phase called evaluation.

Reliability of Test Results

Visual Test Specifications4 When a test is performed, there are four
A visual test specification must anticipate possible outcomes: (1) a rejectable
issues that arise during testing. A discontinuity can be found when one is
specification is specific to a component or present, (2) a rejectable discontinuity can
product and may be tailored to comply be missed even when one is present, (3) a
with one or more standards. A rejectable discontinuity can be indicated
specification can require more stringent when none is present and (4) no
limits than the standard(s) it was written rejectable discontinuity is found when
to satisfy. In practice, a specification none is present. A reliable testing process
provides a list of testing parameters that and a qualified inspector should find all
describes the techniques for locating and discontinuities of concern with no
categorizing discontinuities in a specific discontinuities missed (no errors as in case
test object. A typical specification includes 2 above) and no false calls (case 3 above).

Introduction to Visual Testing 15

To approach this goal, the probability of
finding a rejectable discontinuity must be
high and the inspector must be both
Personnel Qualification
proficient in the testing process and and Certification
motivated to perform with maximum One of the most critical aspects of the test
efficiency. An ineffective inspector may process is the qualification of testing
accept test objects that contain personnel. Nondestructive testing is
discontinuities, with the result of possible sometimes referred to as a special process,
inservice part failure. The same inspector special in that it is difficult to determine
may reject parts that do not contain the adequacy of a test by merely
rejectable discontinuities, with the result observing the process or the
of unnecessary scrap and repair. Neither documentation it generates. The quality
scenario is desirable. of the test largely depends on the skills
and knowledge of the inspector.
The American Society for
Nondestructive Testing (ASNT) has been a
Visual Test Standards world leader in the qualification and
Traditionally, the purpose of specifications certification of nondestructive testing
and standards has been to define the personnel since the 1960s. (Qualification
requirements that goods or services must demonstrates that an individual has the
meet. As such, they are intended to be required training, experience, knowledge
incorporated into contracts so that both and abilities; certification provides written
the buyer and provider have a well testimony that an individual is qualified.)
defined description of what one will By the twenty-first century, the American
receive and the other will deliver. Society for Nondestructive Testing had
Standards have undergone a process of instituted three avenues and four major
peer review in industry and can be documents for the qualification and
invoked with the force of law by contract certification of nondestructive testing
or by government regulation. In contrast, personnel.
a specification represents an employers 1. Recommended Practice
instructions to employees and is specific No. SNT-TC-1A, Personnel Qualification
to a contract or workplace. Many a and Certification in Nondestructive
specification originates as a detailed Testing, provides guidelines to
description either as part of a purchasers employers for personnel qualification
requirements or as part of a vendors offer. and certification in nondestructive
Specifications may be incorporated into testing. This recommended practice
standards through the normal review identifies the attributes that should be
process. Standards and specifications exist considered when qualifying
in three basic areas: equipment, processes nondestructive testing personnel. It
and personnel. requires the employer to develop and
1. Standards for visual equipment implement a written practice, a
include criteria that address surface procedure that details the specific
accessibility, sensitivity, degree of process and any limitation in the
magnification, field of view, depth of qualification and certification of
field, minimum lighting requirements nondestructive testing personnel.6
and other matters. 2. ANSI/ASNT CP-189, Standard for
2. ASTM International and other Qualification and Certification of
organizations publish standards for Nondestructive Testing Personnel,
test techniques. Some other standards resembles SNT-TC-1A but establishes
are for quality assurance procedures specific requirements for the
and are not specific to a test method qualification and certification of
or even to testing in general. Table 4 Level I and II nondestructive testing
lists standards used in visual testing. personnel. For Level III, CP-189
The United States Department of references an examination
Defense has replaced most military administered by the American Society
specifications and standards with for Nondestructive Testing. CP-189 is a
industry consensus specifications and consensus standard as defined by the
standards. A source for nondestructive American National Standards Institute
test standards is the Annual Book of (ANSI). It is recognized as the
ASTM Standards.5 American standard for nondestructive
3. Qualification and certification of testing. It is not considered a
testing personnel are discussed below recommended practice; it is a national
with specific reference to standard.7
recommendations of ASNT
Recommended Practice
No. SNT-TC-1A.6

16 Visual Testing
TABLE 4. Some standards specifying visual testing.
American Concrete Institute ASTM F 1236, Standard Guide for Visual Inspection of Electrical
ACI 201.1R, Guide for Conducting a Visual Inspection of Concrete in Protective Rubber Products (2007).
Service (2008). ASTM F 584, Standard Practice for Visual Inspection of Semiconductor
American National Standards Institute Lead-Bonding Wire (2006).
ANSI B3.2, Rolling Element Bearings Aircraft Engine, Engine American Welding Society
Gearbox, and Accessory Applications Surface Visual AWS B1.11, Guide for the Visual Examination of Welds (2000).
Inspection (1999). AWS D1.1M, Structural Welding Code Steel (2008).
ANSI/EIA 699, Test Method for the Visual Inspection of Quartz Crystal AWS D8.1M, Specification for Automotive Weld Quality Resistance
Resonator Blanks (1997). Spot Welding of Steel (2007).
American Petroleum Institute AWS D18.2, Guide to Weld Discoloration Levels on Inside of Austenitic
API 5D, Specification for Drill Pipe (2001). Stainless Steel Tube (1999).
API 5L, Specification for Line Pipe (2008). AWS G1.6, Specification for the Qualification of Plastics Welding
API 570, Piping Inspection Code: Inspection, Repair, Alteration, and Inspectors for Hot Gas, Hot Gas Extrusion, and Heated Tool Butt
Rerating of In-Service Piping Systems (2006). Thermoplastic Welds (2006).
API 620, Design and Construction of Large, Welded, Low-Pressure AWS QC1, Standard for AWS Certification of Welding
Storage Tanks (2008). Inspectors (2007).
API 650, Welded Tanks for Oil Storage (2007). Association Connecting Electronics Industries
API RP-5A5 [ISO 15463-2003], Recommended Practice for Field IPC-OI-645, Standard for Visual Optical Inspection Aids (1993).
Inspection of New Casing, Tubing and Plain End Drill Pipe (2005). Compressed Gas Association
API RP-5L8, Recommended Practice for Field Inspection of New Line CGA C-13, Guidelines for Periodic Visual Inspection and
Pipe (1996). Requalification of Acetylene Cylinders (2006).
API RP-7G, Recommended Practice for Drill Stem Design and Operating CGA C-6, Standards for Visual Inspection of Steel Compressed Gas
Limits (2003). Cylinders (2007).
API SPEC 5CT [ISO 11960], Specification for Casing and CGA C-6.1, Standards for Visual Inspection of High Pressure
Tubing (2006). Aluminum Compressed Gas Cylinders (2006).
API SPEC 7, Specification for Rotary Drill Stem Elements (2008). CGA C-6.2, Guidelines for Visual Inspection and Requalification of
API STD 1104, Welding of Pipelines and Related Facilities (2005). Fiber Reinforced High Pressure Cylinders (2005).
API STD 5T1, Imperfection Terminology (2003). CGA C-6.3, Guidelines for Visual Inspection and Requalification of Low
Pressure Aluminum Compressed Gas Cylinders (1999).
API STD 653, Tank Inspection, Repair, Alteration, and
Reconstruction (2008). CGA C-6.4, Methods for External Visual Inspection of Natural Gas
Vehicle (NGV) and Hydrogen Vehicle (HV) Fuel Containers and Their
ASME International Installations (2007).
ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code: Section I, Rules for Construction European Committee for Standardization
of Power Boilers (2007).
CEN EN 13508 [DIN 13508] P2, Conditions of Drain and Sewer
ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code: Section III, Rules for Systems Outside Buildings Part 2: Visual Inspection Coding
Construction of Nuclear Power Plant Components (2007). System (2007).
ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code: Section IV, Rules for CEN EN 13018 [BS 13018], Non-Destructive Testing Visual Testing
Construction of Heating Boilers (2007). General Principles (2007).
ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code: Section V, Nondestructive CEN EN 13100-1 [BS 13100-1], Non-Destructive Testing of Welded
Examination. Article 9, Visual Examination (2009). Joints of Thermoplastics Semi-Finished Products Part 1: Visual
ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code: Section VI, Recommended Rules Examination (2000).
for the Care and Operation of Heating Boilers (2007). CEN EN 3841-201 [BS 3841-201], Circuit Breakers Test Methods
ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code: Section VII, Recommended Part 201, Visual Inspection (2005).
Guidelines for the Care of Power Boilers (2007). Federal Aviation Administration
ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code: Section VIII, Rules for FAA AC 43-204, Visual Inspection for Aircraft (1997).
Construction of Pressure Vessels (Divisions 1, 2 and 3) (2007).
International Electrotechnical Commission
ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code: Section X, Fiber Reinforced
Plastic Pressure Vessels (2007). IEC 60748-23-2, Semiconductor Devices Integrated Circuits
PART 23-2: Hybrid Integrated Circuits and Film Structures
ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code: Section XI, Rules for Inservice Manufacturing Line Certification Internal Visual Inspection and
Inspection of Nuclear Power Plant Components (2007). Special Tests (2002).
ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code: Section XII, Rules for International Organization for Standardization
Construction and Continued Service of Transport Tanks (2007).
ISO 11960 [API SPEC 5CT], Petroleum and Natural Gas Industries
ASME B 31.1, Power Piping (2007). Steel Pipes for Use as Casing or Tubing for Wells (2006).
ASME B 31.3, Process Piping (2008). ISO 17637, Non-Destructive Testing of Welds Visual Testing of
ASME B 31.4, Pipeline Transportation Systems for Liquid Hydrocarbons Fusion-Welded Joints (2003).
and Other Liquids (2006). ISO 3058, Non-Destructive Testing Aids to Visual Inspection
ASME B 31.5, Refrigeration Piping and Heat Transfer Selection of Low-Power Magnifiers (1998).
Components (2006). Japanese Institute of Standards
ASME B 31.8, Gas Transmission and Distribution Piping JIS H 0613, Non-Ferrous Metals and Metallurgy Visual Inspection
Systems (2007). for Sliced and Lapped Silicon Wafers (1978).
ASTM International JIS H 0614, Non-Ferrous Metals and Metallurgy Visual Inspection
ASTM A 802M, Standard Practice for Steel Castings, Surface for Silicon Wafers with Specular Surfaces (1996).
Acceptance Standards, Visual Examination (2006). JIS Z 3090, Visual Testing Method of Fusion-Welded Joints (2005).
ASTM D 2562, Standard Practice for Classifying Visual Defects in Parts Manufacturers Standardization Society
Molded from Reinforced Thermosetting Plastics (2008).
MSS SP-55, Quality Standard for Steel Castings for Valves, Flanges
ASTM D 2563, Standard Practice for Classifying Visual Defects in and Fittings and Other Piping Components Visual Method for
Glass-Reinforced Plastic Laminate Parts (2008). Evaluation of Surface Irregularities (2006).
ASTM D 4385, Standard Practice for Classifying Visual Defects in South African Bureau of Standards
Thermosetting Reinforced Plastic Pultruded Products (2008).
SAA AS 3978, Non-Destructive Testing Visual Inspection of Metal
ASTM E 1799, Standard Practice for Visual Inspections of Photovoltaic Products and Components (2003).
Modules (1999).
SAA AS/NZS 3894.8, Surface Treatment and Coating Site Testing
of Protective Coatings Visual Determination of Gloss (2006).

Introduction to Visual Testing 17

3. ANSI/ASNT CP-105, ASNT Standard acceptability of materials or components in
Topical Outlines for Qualification of accordance with the applicable codes,
Nondestructive Testing Personnel, is a standards, specifications and procedures.
standard that establishes the Education, Training, and Experience
minimum topical outline Requirements for Initial Qualification
requirements for the qualification of Candidates for certification in NDT should
nondestructive testing (NDT) have sufficient education, training, and
experience to ensure qualification in those
personnel. The outlines in this single NDT methods in which they are being
standard are referenced by both considered for certification. Table 6.3.1A
SNT-TC-1A and CP-189. CP-105 is a [see Table 5 in this Nondestructive Testing
consensus standard of the American Handbook chapter, for visual testing] lists
National Standards Institute (ANSI) recommended training and experience
and is recognized as an American factors to be considered by the employer in
standard for nondestructive testing. It establishing written practices for initial
is not considered a recommended qualification of Level I and Level II
practice; it is a national standard.8 individuals.
Training Programs Personnel being
4. The ASNT Central Certification considered for initial certification should
Program (ACCP), unlike SNT-TC-1A complete sufficient organized training to
and CP-189, is a third party become thoroughly familiar with the
certification process that identifies principles and practices of the specified
qualification and certification NDT method related to the level of
attributes for Level II and Level III certification desired and applicable to the
nondestructive testing personnel. The processes to be used and the products to be
American Society for Nondestructive tested.
Testing certifies that the individual has Examinations For Level I and II
the skills and knowledge for many personnel, a composite grade should be
nondestructive test method determined by simple averaging of the
results of the general, specific and practical
applications. It does not remove the examinations Examinations
responsibility for the final administered for qualification should result
determination of personnel in a passing composite grade of at least
qualification from the employer. The 80 percent, with no individual examination
employer evaluates an individuals having a passing grade less than
skills and knowledge for application of 70 percent.
company procedures using designated Practical [Examination] (for NDT Level I
techniques and equipment identified and II) The candidate should
for specific tests. ACCP is not a demonstrate ability to operate the
standard or recommended practice; it necessary NDT equipment, record, and
is a service administered by the analyze the resultant information to the
American Society for Nondestructive degree required. ... At least one flawed
specimen should be tested and the results
Testing.9 of the NDT analyzed by the candidate.
Certification Certification of all levels of
Excerpts from Recommended NDT personnel is the responsibility of the
employer. Certification of NDT
Practice No. SNT-TC-1A personnel shall be based on demonstration
To give an idea of the contents of these of satisfactory qualification in accordance
documents, the following items are with [sections on education, training,
excerpted from Recommended Practice experience and examinations] as described
in the employers written practice.
No. SNT-TC-1A.6 The original text is Personnel certification records shall be
arranged in outline format and includes maintained on file by the employer.
recommendations that are not specific to Recertification All levels of NDT
visual testing. personnel shall be recertified periodically in
Scope This Recommended Practice has accordance with one of the [following:]
been prepared to establish guidelines for continuing satisfactory technical
the qualification and certification of NDT performance [or reexamination] in those
personnel whose specific jobs require portions of the examinations deemed
appropriate knowledge of the technical necessary by the employers NDT Level III.
principles underlying the nondestructive Recommended maximum recertification
tests they perform, witness, monitor, or intervals are 5 years for all certification
evaluate. This document provides levels.
guidelines for the establishment of a
These recommendations from the 2006
qualification and certification program.
edition of Recommended Practice
Written Practice The employer shall No. SNT-TC-1A are cited only to provide
establish a written practice for the control
an idea of items that must be considered
and administration of NDT personnel
training, examination, and certification. in the development of an in-house
The employers written practice should nondestructive testing program. Because
describe the responsibility of each level of the text above is excerpted, those
certification for determining the developing a personnel qualification

18 Visual Testing
program should consult the complete text current testing; infrared thermographic
of SNT-TC-1A and other applicable testing; leak testing (hydraulic pressure
procedures and practices. If an outside tests excluded); magnetic particle testing;
agency is contracted for visual test penetrant testing; radiographic testing;
services, then the contractor must have a strain testing; ultrasonic testing; visual
qualification and certification program to testing (direct unaided visual tests and
satisfy the codes and standards in force. visual tests carried out during the
The minimum number of questions application of another NDT method are
that should be administered in the excluded).
written examination for visual test The International Organization for
personnel is as follows: 40 questions in Standardization also publishes a standard
the general examination and 20 questions for something called limited certification.11
in the specific examination. The number Inspectors whose actions are limited
of questions is the same for Level I and sometimes have limited training
Level II personnel. Table 5 shows required requirements. Limited certification would
hours of training for Level I and Level II. not be applicable to visual testing
inspectors in the field, for example, but
Central Certification may be desired for assembly line operators
of remote visual testing equipment to
Another standard that may be a source for detect debris inside fabricated products.
compliance is published by the
International Organization for
Standardization (ISO). The work of
preparing international standards is Safety in Visual Testing12
normally carried out through technical This information is presented solely for
committees of this worldwide federation educational purposes and should not be
of national standards bodies. Each ISO consulted in place of current safety
member body interested in a subject for regulations. Note that units of measure
which a technical committee has been have been converted to this books format
established has the right to be represented and are not those commonly used in all
on that committee. International industries. Human vision can be disrupted
organizations, governmental and or destroyed by improper use of any
nongovernmental, in liaison with the radiation, including light. Consult the
International Organization for most recent safety documents and the
Standardization, also take part in the manufacturers literature before working
work. near any radiation source.
Technical Committee ISO/TC 135,
Non-Destructive Testing Subcommittee
SC 7, Personnel Qualification, prepared Need for Safety
international standard ISO 9712, Developments in optical testing
Non-Destructive Testing Qualification and technology have created a need for better
Certification of Personnel.10 In its statement understanding of the potential health
of scope, ISO 9712 states that it specifies hazards caused by high intensity light
the qualification and certification of sources or by artificial light sources of any
personnel involved in non-destructive intensity in the work area. The human
testing ... in one or more of the following eye operates optimally in an environment
methods: acoustic emission testing; eddy illuminated directly or indirectly by
sunlight, with characteristic spectral
distribution and range of intensities that
are very different from those of most
TABLE 5. Recommended training and experience (in artificial sources. The eye can handle only
hours) for visual testing personnel according to a limited range of night vision tasks.
Recommended Practice No. SNT-TC-1A.6 Evidence has accumulated that
photochemical changes occur in eyes
Level I Level II
under the influence of normal daylight
High school graduatea 8 h 16 h
illumination short term and long term
visual impairment and exacerbation of
Two years of collegeb 4 h 8 h
retinal disease have been observed and it
Work experience in methodc 70 h 140 h is important to understand why this
Total hours in nondestructive testing 130 h 270 h occurs. Periodic fluctuations of visible and
a. Or equivalent. ultraviolet radiation occur with the
b. Completion with a passing grade of at least two years of engineering or regular diurnal light-and-dark cycles and
science study in a university, college or technical school. with the lengthening and shortening of
c. Minimum work experience in method, per level. Note: For Level II
certification, the experience shall consist of time as Level I or equivalent.
the cycle as a result of seasonal changes.
If a person is being qualified directly to Level II with no time at Level I, These fluctuations are known to affect all
the required experience shall consist of the sum of the times required for biological systems critically. The majority
Level I and Level II and the required training shall consist of the sum of of such light/dark effects is based on
the hours required for Level I and Level II.
circadian cycles and controlled by the

Introduction to Visual Testing 19

pineal system, which can be affected awareness of the hazard from high
directly by the transmission of light to the intensity noncoherent visible sources
pineal gland or indirectly by effects on which may be as great or greater.
the optic nerve pathway. Generally, lasers are used in specialized
Also of concern are the results of work environments by technicians familiar
that has been done demonstrating that with the hazards and trained to avoid
light affects immunological reactions in exposure by the use of protective eyewear
vitro and in vivo by influencing the and clothing. Laser standards of
antigenicity of molecules, antibody manufacture and use have been well
function and the reactivity of developed and probably have contributed
lymphocytes. more than anything else to a heightened
Given the variety of visual tasks and awareness of safe laser operation.
illumination that confronts the visual Laser hazard controls are common
inspector, it is important to consider sense procedures designed to (1) restrict
whether failures in performance might be personnel from entering the beam path
a result of excessive exposure to light or and (2) limit the primary and reflected
other radiation or even a result of beams from occupied areas. Should an
insufficient light sources. A myth exists individual be exposed to excessive laser
that 20/20 foveal vision, in the absence of light, the probability of damage to the
color blindness, is all that is necessary for retina is high because of the high energy
optimal vision. In fact, there may be pulse capabilities of some lasers. However,
visual field loss in and beyond the fovea the probability of visual impairment is
centralis for many reasons; the inspector relatively low because of the small area of
may have poor stereoscopic vision; visual damage on the retina. Once the initial
ability may be impaired by glare or flash blindness and pain have subsided,
reflection; or actual vision may be affected the resulting scotomas (damaged
by medical or psychological conditions. unresponsive areas) can sometimes be
ignored by the accident victim.
Visual Safety Recommendations The tissue surrounding the absorption
site can much more readily conduct away
The American Conference of heat for small image sizes than it can for
Governmental Industrial Hygienists large image sizes. In fact, retinal injury
(ACGIH) has proposed two threshold limit thresholds for less than 0.1 to 10 s
values (TLVs) for noncoherent visible exposure show a high dependence on the
light, one covering damage to the retina image size, 0.01 to 0.1 Wmm2 for a
by a thermal mechanism and one 1000 m wide image up to about
covering retinal damage by a 0.01 kWmm2 for a 20 m image. In
photochemical mechanism. Threshold contrast, the sun produces merely a
limit values for visible light, established 160 m diameter image on the retina.
by the American Conference of Consensus standards provide guidance
Governmental Industrial Hygienists, are for the safe use of lasers.15,16
intended only to prevent excessive
occupational exposure and are limited to
exposure durations of 8 h or less. They are High Luminance Light Sources
not intended to cover photosensitive The normal reaction to a high luminance
individuals.13,14 light source is to blink and look away
from the source. The probability of
Laser Hazards overexposure to noncoherent light
sources is higher than the probability of
Loss of vision resulting from retinal burns exposure to lasers, yet extended (high
following observation of the sun has been luminance) sources are used in a more
described throughout history. Common casual and possibly more hazardous way.
technological equivalents to this problem In the nondestructive testing industry,
are coherent light sources: lasers. In extended sources are used as general
addition to the development of lasers, illumination and in many specialized
further improvement in other high applications. Unfortunately, there are
radiance light sources (a result of smaller, comparatively few guidelines for the safe
more efficient reflectors and more use of extended sources of visible light.
compact, brighter sources) has presented
the potential for chorioretinal injury. It is
thought that chorioretinal burns from Infrared Hazards
artificial sources in industrial situations Infrared radiation comprises that invisible
have been very much less frequent than radiation beyond the red end of the
similar burns from the sun. visible spectrum up to about 1 mm
Because of the publicity of the health wavelength. Infrared is absorbed by many
hazard caused by exposure to laser substances and its principal biological
radiation, awareness of such hazards is effect is known as hyperthermia, heating
probably much greater than the general that can be lethal to cells. Usually, the

20 Visual Testing
response to intense infrared radiation is with ultraviolet: the source is enclosed
pain and the natural reaction is to move and provided with ultraviolet absorbing
away from the source so that burns do glass or plastic lenses. If injurious effects
not develop. continue to develop, the thickness of the
protective lens is increased.
Ultraviolet Hazards The photochemical effects of
ultraviolet radiation on the skin and eye
Before development of the laser, the are still not completely understood.
principal hazard in the use of intense Records of ultraviolet radiations relative
light sources was the potential eye and spectral effectiveness for eliciting a
skin injury from ultraviolet radiation. particular biological effect (referred to by
Ultraviolet radiation is invisible radiation photobiologists as action spectra) are
beyond the violet end of the visible generally available. Ultraviolet irradiance
spectrum with wavelengths down to may be measured at a point of interest
about 185 nm. It is strongly absorbed by with a portable radiometer and compared
the cornea and the lens of the eye. with the ultraviolet radiation hazard
Ultraviolet radiation at wavelengths criteria.
shorter than 185 nm is absorbed by air, is For purposes of determining exposure
often called vacuum ultraviolet and is levels, it is important to note that most
rarely of concern to the visual inspector. inexpensive, portable radiometers are not
Many useful high intensity arc sources equally responsive at all wavelengths
and some lasers may emit associated, throughout the ultraviolet spectrum and
potentially hazardous, levels of ultraviolet are usually only calibrated at one
radiation. With appropriate precautions, wavelength with no guarantees at any
such sources can serve very useful visual other wavelength. Such radiometers have
testing functions. been designed for a particular application
Studies have clarified the spectral using a particular lamp.
radiant exposure doses and relative A common example in the
spectral effectiveness of ultraviolet nondestructive testing industry is the
radiation required to elicit an adverse ultraviolet radiometer used in fluorescent
biological response. These responses liquid penetrant and magnetic particle
include keratoconjunctivitis (known as applications. These meters are usually
welders flash), possible generation of calibrated at 365 nm, the predominant
cataracts and erythema or reddening of ultraviolet output of the filtered 100 W
the skin. Longer wavelength ultraviolet medium pressure mercury vapor lamp
radiation can lead to fluorescence of the commonly used in the industry. Use of
eyes lens and ocular media, eyestrain and the meter at any other wavelength in the
headache. These conditions lead, in turn, ultraviolet spectrum may lead to
to low task performance resulting from significant errors. To minimize problems
the fatigue associated with increased in assessing the hazard presented by
effort. Chronic exposure to ultraviolet industrial lighting, it is important to use a
radiation accelerates skin aging and radiometer that has been calibrated with
possibly increases the risk of developing an ultraviolet spectral distribution as close
certain forms of skin cancer. as possible to the lamp of interest.
It should also be mentioned that some If the inspector is concerned about the
individuals are hypersensitive to safety of a given situation, ultraviolet
ultraviolet radiation and may develop a absorbing eye protection and facewear is
reaction following, what would be for the readily available from several sources. An
average healthy human, suberythemal additional benefit of such protection is
exposures. However, it is unusual for these that it prevents the annoyance of lens
symptoms of exceptional photosensitivity fluorescence and provides the wearer
to be elicited solely by the limited considerable protection from all
emission spectrum of an industrial light ultraviolet radiation. In certain
source. An inspector is typically aware of applications, tinted lenses can also
such sensitivity because of earlier provide enhanced visibility of the test
exposures to sunlight. object.
In industry, the visual inspector may
encounter many sources of visible and
invisible radiation: incandescent lamps, Damage to Retina
compact arc sources (solar simulators), Although ultraviolet radiation from most
quartz halogen lamps, metal vapor of the high intensity visible light sources
(sodium and mercury) and metal halide may be the principal concern, the
discharge lamps, fluorescent lamps and potential for chorioretinal injury from
flash lamps among others. Because of the visible radiation should not be
high ultraviolet attenuation afforded by overlooked.
many visually transparent materials, an It is possible to multiply the spectral
empirical approach is sometimes taken for absorption data of the human retina by
the problem of light sources associated the spectral transmission data of the eyes

Introduction to Visual Testing 21

optical media at all wavelengths to arrive central (foveal) vision, so that the loss of
at an estimate of the relative absorbed this retinal area dramatically reduces
spectral dose in the retina and the visual capabilities. In comparison, the loss
underlying choroid for a given spectral of an area of similar size located in the
radiant exposure of the cornea. In peripheral retina could be subjectively
practice, the evaluation of potential unnoticed.
chorioretinal burn hazards depends on The human retina is normally
the maximum luminance and spectral subjected to irradiances below
distribution of the source; possible retinal 1 Wmm2, except for occasional
image sizes; the image quality; pupil size; momentary exposures to the sun, arc
spectral scattering and absorption by the lamps, quartz halogen lamps, normal
cornea, aqueous humor, the lens and the incandescent lamps, flash lamps and
vitreous humor; and absorption and similar radiant sources. The natural
scattering in the various retinal layers. aversion or pain response to bright lights
Calculation of the permissible normally limits exposure to no more than
luminance from a permissible retinal 0.15 to 0.2 s. In some instances,
illuminance for a source breaks down for individuals can suppress this response
very small retinal image sizes or for very with little difficulty and stare at bright
small hot spots in an extended image sources, as commonly occurs during solar
caused by diffraction of light at the pupil, eclipses.
aberrations introduced by the cornea and Fortunately, few arc sources are
lens and scattering from the cornea and sufficiently large and sufficiently bright to
the rest of the ocular media. Because the be a retinal burn hazard under normal
effects of aberration increase with viewing conditions. Only when an arc or
increasing pupil size, greater blur and hot filament is greatly magnified (in an
reduced peak retinal illuminance are optical projection system, for example)
noticed for larger pupil sizes and for a can hazardous irradiance be imaged on a
given corneal illumination. sufficiently large area of the retina to
cause a burn. Visual inspectors do not
Thermal Factor normally step into a projected beam at
close range or view a welding arc with
Visible and near infrared radiation up to binoculars or a telescope.
about 1400 nm (associated with most Nearly all conceivable accident
optical sources) is transmitted through the situations require a hazardous exposure to
eyes ocular media and absorbed in be delivered within the period of a blink
significant doses principally in the retina. reflex. If an arc is struck while an
These radiations pass through the neural inspector is located at a very close viewing
layers of the retina. A small amount is range, it is possible that a retinal burn
absorbed by the visual pigments in the could occur. At lower exposures, an
rods and cones, to initiate the visual inspector experiences a short term
response, and the remaining energy is depression in photopic (daylight)
absorbed in the retinal pigment sensitivity and a marked, longer term loss
epithelium and choroid. The retinal of scotopic (dark adapted) vision. That is
pigment epithelium is optically the most why it is so important for visual
dense absorbent layer (because of high inspectors in critical fluorescent penetrant
concentrations of melanin granules) and and magnetic particle test environments
the greatest temperature changes arise in to undergo dark adaptation before
this layer. actually attempting to find
For short (0.1 to 100 s) accidental discontinuities. Not only does the pupil
exposures to the sun or artificial radiation have to adapt to the reduced visible level
sources, the mechanism of injury is in a booth but the actual retinal receptors
generally thought to be hyperthermia must attain maximum sensitivity. This
resulting in protein denaturation and effect may take half an hour or more,
enzyme inactivation. Because the large, depending on the preceding state of the
complex organic molecules absorbing the eyes adaptation.
radiant energy have broad spectral
absorption bands, the hazard potential for
chorioretinal injury is not expected to Blue Hazard
depend on the coherence or The so-called blue hazard function has
monochromaticity of the source. Injury been used with the thermal factor to
from a laser or a nonlaser radiation source calculate exposure durations, to avoid
should not differ if image size, exposure damaging the retina.
time and wavelength are the same. The blue hazard is based on the
Because different regions of the retina demonstration that the retina can be
play different roles in vision, the damaged by blue light at intensities that
functional loss of all or part of one of do not elevate retinal temperatures
these regions varies in significance. The sufficiently to cause a thermal hazard. It
greatest vision acuity exists only for has been found that blue light can

22 Visual Testing
produce 10 to 100 times more retinal protection and other hazard controls have
damage (permanent decrease in spectral been provided on this basis.
sensitivity in this spectral range) than Eye protection filters for various
longer visible wavelengths. Note that workers were developed empirically but
there are some common situations in now are standardized as shades and
which both thermal and blue hazards specified for particular applications.
may be present. Other protective techniques include
use of high ambient light levels and
Photosensitizers specialized filters to further attenuate
intense spectral lines. Laser eye protection
Over the past few decades, a large number is designed to have an adequate optical
of commonly used drugs, food additives, density at the laser wavelengths along
soaps and cosmetics have been identified with the greatest visual transmission at all
as phototoxic or photoallergenic agents other wavelengths.
even at the longer wavelengths of the Always bear in mind that hazard
visible spectrum.17 Colored drugs and criteria must not be considered to
food additives are possible represent fine lines between safe and
photosensitizers for organs below the skin hazardous exposure conditions. To be
because longer wavelength visible properly applied, interpretation of hazard
radiations penetrate deeply into the body. criteria must be based on practical
knowledge of potential exposure
Eye Protection Filters conditions and the user, whether a
professional inspector or a general
Because continuous visible light sources consumer. Accuracy of hazard criteria is
elicit a normal aversion or pain response limited by biological uncertainties
that can protect the eye and skin from including diet, genetic photosensitivity
injury, visual comfort has often been used and the large safety factors required to be
as an approximate hazard index and eye built into the recommendations.

Introduction to Visual Testing 23

PART 3. History of Visual Testing

Optics FIGURE 13. Ibn Sahls tenth century description of diffraction:

(a) manuscript; (b) simplified enlargement of upper left
Early physicists offered explanations of corner.25
vision and light that have informed later
understanding and made possible the
development of optical devices: sextants,
corrective eyewear, periscopes, telescopes,
microscopes, cameras and borescopes.
These scientists offered mathematical
proofs of optical principles, including
perspective, reflection and refraction.
1. In perspective, a near object appears
larger than a distant object of the
same size.
2. In reflection, light bounces off a
surface. If the surface is shiny, the
viewer sees a reversed, or mirror, image
and the shiny surface is called specular,
from the Latin speculum, mirror.
3. Refraction bends the path of light as it
moves from one medium into another,
for example, from air into water.
Refraction makes it possible for a
convex lens to magnify an image.
With these concepts about the nature of
light were others for example, that
light travels in a straight line and that it
does not emanate from the viewers eye.
The optical principles were not merely
explained but were proven
mathematically. For this reason, the pages
of early optical treatises have diagrams
like those in modern geometry books.

The word optics comes from the Greek
word optikh, optike, sight. For the
Greeks, optics was part of the study of
geometry. In Greek, the word geometry (b)
literally means earth measurement. B A E
Geometry was a practical science, used to
calculate distances and estimate the
height of objects.
Writing around BCE 300, Euclid, a
Greek, wrote a mathematical treatise that
has dominated geometry for more than
2000 years. He also wrote Optics, a treatise C
that described behaviors of light,
including perspective.18 D
Ptolemy, who lived in Alexandria in
the second century, also touched on
A. Light source.
optical principles in his exhaustive B. Point where extension of line CD meets extension of line AE.
astronomical treatise, called the Almagest, C. Point on illuminated surface.
great work.19 D. Point in line of refracted ray of light.
After the Roman Empire, Europe E. Point on surface CE such that AEC forms right angle.
entered a period often called the Dark

24 Visual Testing
Ages, when much ancient learning was burning targets at a distance. Ibn Sahl
lost. Some Greek philosophy survived departed from his predecessors in
because it had been translated into Arabic. studying reflection and refraction of the
Much later, the works of Ptolemy and Suns rays. The interest in refraction led
Aristotle were translated from Arabic into him to the study of lenses and their
Latin and so came to European scientists shapes in great detail. In these studies, Ibn
such as Roger Bacon and Johannes Sahl discovered the relationship between
Kepler.20 the incident and refracted rays of light,
the relationship rediscovered by
Willebrord Snellius some 650 years later
and now referred to as Snells law.23-26 In
Medieval Arab Optics Fig. 13, light from point A enters a new
The Greek era of science was followed by medium at point C and refracts along the
the Arab scientific Golden Age, from the line CD. If the line CD is extended to
eighth to the sixteenth century. Nearly all point B, the ratio of length AC to length
of the writing was in Arabic, the scientific BC is the index of refraction.
language before the twelfth century. This Lens and mirror shapes Ibn Sahl
period began with an intensive period of considered were the elliptical, parabolic,
translation of Greek books brought to hyperbolic and biconvex. Ibn Sahl went
Baghdad, the imperial and scientific further and designed machines for the
center. precise drawing of mathematical shapes.
Although early Arab scientists Ibn Sahl informed the work of another
contributed much to other disciplines optical physicist, Ibn al-Haytham.
such as chemistry, biology, medicine and
engineering, their enduring legacy was in Ibn al-Haytham
mathematics, astronomy and optics. They
were intrigued by the mechanism of Ibn al-Haytham (CE 965-1039), also
vision and the function of the eye and known as Alhacen or Alhazen, was born in
brain in processing this information.21,22 Basra, Iraq, and studied in Baghdad
The early Arab scientists were (Fig. 14). In pursuit of knowledge, he
fascinated by what they read in the Greek traveled to Iran and Syria and settled in
books and wanted to understand such Egypt. He wrote more than 90 books and
phenomena, but the respect these Arabs treatises on optics, astronomy,
had for the Greek authorities did not stop mathematics, philosophy, medicine and
them questioning their theories in a new logic.26-29
way, the scientific method known today. His most important work was a critique
The observation and measurement of data of Ptolemys Almagest. Ibn al-Haytham
were followed by the formulation and prefaced this critique by stating that his
testing of hypotheses to explain the data. methods will criticize premises and
exercise caution in drawing conclusions,
not to follow authorities blindly. On the
Ibn Sahl mechanism of vision, he was able to reject
Ibn Sahl (CE circa 940-1000) was an Arab the two competing Greek theories favored
mathematician and physicist. His by Euclid and Ptolemy. To test these
predecessors and contemporaries theories in experiments, Ibn al-Haytham
researched designs of military mirrors for invented the camera obscura (literally the

FIGURE 14. Ibn al-Haythams portrait on Iraqi currency, with optics diagram next to him.

Introduction to Visual Testing 25

dark chamber), or pinhole camera, the identified it as one of many phenomena
basis of photography. Ibn Haytham wrote where light plays tricks on the brain.
a detailed account of all his experimental Ibn al-Haythams analysis of his data
setups and the data he measured. This led him to put forward or question
book served as the textbook on optics for models. He was a scientist, using
centuries throughout Europe (Fig. 15).30 mathematics to formulate physical
He dissected the eye and named its parts theories and to conduct careful
(lens, cornea, retina). He explained for the experiments. His writings were
first time the imperfection of the eyes transmitted to western Europe in Latin
lenses, introducing the concept of and founded the technology of optics.
spherical aberration (Fig. 15c).
The early Arab interest in the
physiology of the eye together with the
mechanism of vision led a later scientist, Boiler Inspection,
Hunayn ibn Ishaq, to write that it is a 1870-1920 32,33
prerequisite for whoever wants to
understand the function of the eye to be The first nondestructive test method was
cognizant of the function of the brain, visual testing, and the term visual testing
since the process of vision begins and here refers, not to a cavemans inspection
ends therein (a translation of the Arabic of his spearhead (although that is indeed
text in Fig. 16).31 Ibn al-Haythams nondestructive testing) but rather to
understanding of the relationship documented inspection of a product
between the eye and the brain enabled according to a particular procedure or
him to recognize an optical illusion, specification designed to recognize
where the Moon appears larger on the material defects. Most specifications for
horizon than at its zenith. Some have visual testing ask various quality
tried to explain the Moons apparent size questions.
as diffraction of sunlight through the 1. Are the contracted steps in processing
atmosphere; some try to explain with or fabrication performed completely
other models. Ibn al-Haytham simply and in the correct sequence?

FIGURE 15. Sixteenth century edition of Ibn al-Haythams treatise, in Latin: (a) cover page; (b) caption and engraving on three
parts of vision, direct, reflected and refracted; (c) engraved diagram of eye with parts labeled.30

(a) (b) (c)

26 Visual Testing
2. Are the right materials and (Fig. 17). The 1860s saw the introduction
components used throughout? Are of boiler inspection combined with boiler
bolts the right size, for instance? insurance in the United States and the
3. Are fasteners and supports spaced and United Kingdom.32,33
installed according to specification? Boiler inspection was an early
4. Are protective lubricants, weather application of visual testing. Insurance
strips and coatings applied according inspectors would, of course, look for
to specification? corrosion in the inservice boilers they
5. Are there signs of damage, such as insured. Early editions of the ASME Boiler
wear, corrosion, dents, strain, buckling Code asked the inspector to inspect
or visible cracking? components, that is, to look at them.34 A
These visual checks are, however, not half century would pass before other
necessarily nondestructive tests: the methods of nondestructive testing would
questions except for the last address provide the context needed to make it
fabrication and maintenance quality clear that this aspect of the boiler
rather than material discontinuities. inspectors job was the visual test method
The introduction of steam power in the of nondestructive testing.
nineteenth century led to a rash of boiler The earliest standards of the American
explosions and to the need for inspection Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME),
although they emphasized proof tests and
destructive tests, say that the boilers must
be free of gross surface blemishes and
FIGURE 16. Thirteenth century manuscript other signs of poor workmanship. In
page from Hunayn ibn Ishaq, Book of Ten 1915, the first edition of the Boiler Code
Treatises on the Eye.22,31 expected the inspector to look at
malleable castings to determine that they
were true to pattern, free from blemishes,
scale or shrinkage cracks. A variation of
1/16 in. per foot [1.6 mm per 0.3 m] shall
be permissible. The finish of flat bars had
to be smoothly rolled and free from
slivers, depressions, seams, crop ends,
and burns. The inspector examined all
parts to be sure that the finished material
shall be free from injurious defects and
shall have a workmanlike finish.35
Twenty-first century versions of the Boiler
Code, although briefly, explicitly treat
visual testing as nondestructive testing.36

FIGURE 17. Drawing of steam boiler explosion in nineteenth century.

Introduction to Visual Testing 27

increased, sectionalized instruments have
Borescopy37 been introduced and other special devices
have been developed for industrial
Medical Endoscopy38 An early inventor and manufacturer
The development of self illuminated was a German, Georg Wolf, who
telescopic devices can be traced back to cofounded an optical equipment
early interest in exploring the interior company in 1906.42 He filed patents for
human anatomy without invasive medical endoscopes in the United States
procedures.38 The first borescopes were in 1922.43,44 A few months later, a Robert
medical endoscopes turned to industrial Wolf filed a patent for a cystoscope.45
applications, for an endoscope does not When Georg Wolf died in 1938, his son
care what aperture it is interrogating. Richard Wolf continued the family
Medical endoscopes and industrial business, which has continued with his
borescopes share several features: (1) a name into the twenty-first century.
source of illumination, (2) a means of Georg Wolf in 1932 produced a flexible
delivering an image to the viewers eye gastroscope, developed by Rudolph
and (3) adjustability to view a surface of Schindler for observing the interior of the
interest. Early endoscopes for looking stomach wall.46 The instrument consisted
down the esophagus were called of a rigid section and a flexible section.
gastroscopes; endoscopes for looking at the Many lenses of small focal distance were
bladder were called cystoscopes. used to allow bending of the instrument
Devices for viewing the interior of to an angle of 34 degrees in several
objects are called endoscopes, from the planes. The tip of the device contained
Greek words for inside view. Today the the objective and the prism, causing the
term endoscope in the United States necessary axial deviation of the bundle of
denotes a medical instrument. Nearly all rays coming from the illuminated gastric
endoscopes have an integral light source; wall. The size of the image depended on
some incorporate surgical tweezers or the distance of the objective from the
other devices. Industrial endoscopes are observed surface. The sharp image could
called borescopes because they were be magnified or reduced. Later in the
originally used in machined apertures and century, flexible gastroscopes had rubber
holes such as gun bores. There are both tubes over the flexible portion, in
flexible and rigid, fiber optic and direct diameters of about 14 mm (0.55 in.) and
light borescopes. 8 mm (0.3 in.).42
In 1806, Philipp Bozzini of Frankfurt
announced the invention of his Lichtleiter
(German for light guide). Having served
Early Patents to Automate Visual
as a surgeon in the Napoleonic wars, Testing
Bozzini envisioned using his device for A patent was filed in June 1920 for an
medical research. It is considered the first inspection table that would lift rolled
endoscope.39,40 plates so that the underside could be
In 1876, Max Nitze, a urologist, visually tested. The invention was
developed a practical cystoscope to view addressing the steel industrys need for
the human bladder. A platinum loop in its visual testing.47 In 1922, another
tip furnished a bright light when heated inspection table was patented that made
with galvanic current. Two years later, test objects turn over as they were
Thomas Edison introduced an conveyed past the inspector. This table
incandescent light in the United States. was designed especially for fruits and
Within a short time, scientists in Austria vegetables but could be used, the inventor
made and used a minute electric bulb in said, for anything that should be rotated
Nitzes cystoscope, even before the electric for inspection on all sides.48
light was in use in America. In July 1925, Floyd Firestone of the
The early cystoscopes contained simple University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, filed a
lenses; these were soon replaced by patent for automated scanning and flaw
achromatic combinations. In 1900, detection. (This is the same Firestone who
Reinhold Wappler revolutionized the later invented the Supersonic
optical system of the cystoscope and Reflectoscope, an ultrasonic instrument
produced the first American models. The widely used in the United States in the
forward oblique viewing system was later 1940s.) The optical scanning invention
introduced and has proved very useful in was envisioned for bearing rollers or
both medical and industrial applications. other articles with surfaces of revolution,
Direct vision and retrospective systems and even to plane surfaces, so long as the
were also first developed for cystoscopy. surface of the article, or as much thereof
Borescopes and related instruments for as needs inspection, may be moved
nondestructive testing have followed the within the field of view.49 How could
same basic design used in cystoscopic optical inspection have been automated
devices. The range of borescope sizes has in the years before computers facilitated

28 Visual Testing
decision making? Small areas would application. The patent also provided for
successively be brought into view to a a separate attachment to scour the tubes
microscope, and a light sensitive cell inside surface before visual testing.
would detect brightness variations below
a selected threshold and trigger a sorting
armature. It is not known if this scheme
was ever implemented by industry. A later FIGURE 19. Borescopy of tubing: (a) drawing from 1941
design was advanced in 1938 for sheet patent54; (b) photograph of application.
metal.50 In the 1980s, microprocessing
made automated vision easier to (a)

Industrial Endoscopy: Borescopy

Patents for endoscopes specifically for
industrial applications appeared in the
1920s and 1930s. A patent was filed in
1922 for the inspection of rivets inside
tubing in, for example, a boiler or
airplane. The device resembled a periscope
like those seen in old movies about
submarines, with several differences: (1) it
was portable and small enough to fit
inside tubing; (2) it included light bulbs
for illumination; (3) it provided for
rotation of the objective end while the
eyepiece remained stationary.52
A patent was filed in 1927 literally for a
bore scope to look inside gun bores
(Fig. 18).53 Another patent to look inside
gun bores was filed on behalf of the Carl (b)
Zeiss company, Jena, Germany, in 1932 in
Germany and in 1933 in the United
The visual technology for tubing was
represented by a patent filed in 1938; the
invention, which could generically be
called a tube scope, became important for
the inspection of petroleum drill pipe in
the United States.55 A service using the
instrument rather than the instrument
itself was provided to the petroleum
industry. Figure 19 shows the design and

FIGURE 18. Drawing from patent for borescope for gun


1. End of stand of pipe. 21. Reflector.
2. Pipe rack. 22. Guide horn.
3. Frame. 23. Barrel.
4. Strong back. 24. Joint clamp.
5. Viewing apparatus. 25. Body of joint sleeve.
6. Track. 26. Sleeve split to fit over barrel.
7. Trolleys. 27. Coupling nut.
8. Rollers. 28. Tapered bores.
9. Chain. 29. Tapered or conical outer face
10. Hook. of sleeve.
11. A frames. 31. Guide sleeves.
12. Legs. 32. Resilient bow or bar of sleeve.
13. Saddles. 33. Loose collar.
14. Set screw. 34. Collar clamped to barrel.
15. Clamp. 35. Tightening nut threaded onto
16. Lever with cam head. sleeve.
17. Tightening bolt. 36. Electric lamp cord.
18. Lighting guard. 37. Telescoping means.
19. Electric lamp. 38. Telescoping sections.
20. Crack. 39. Eye piece.

Introduction to Visual Testing 29

Flexible borescopes for industrial use his M.D. from the University of
are more rugged than gastroscopes, Pennsylvania in 1898. While he was
having flexible steel tubes instead of interning at Pennsylvania Hospital,
rubber for the outer tube of the flexible Cramptons mechanical and engineering
portion. A typical flexible borescope is abilities were recognized and he was
13 mm (0.5 in.) in diameter and has a advised to become an oculist. He returned
1 m (40 in.) working length, with to the university, took a degree in
flexibility in about 500 mm (20 in.) of the ophthalmology and later practiced in
length. Extension sections are available in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Princeton,
1, 2 or 3 m (40, 80 or 120 in.) lengths, New Jersey.56
permitting assembly of borescopes up to In 1921, the Westinghouse Company
10 m (30 ft) in length. In such flexible asked Crampton to make a device that
instruments, the image remains round could be used to check for discontinuities
and sharp when the tube is bent to an inside the rotor of a steam turbine
angle of about 34 degrees. Beyond that (Fig. 21). Crampton developed the
limit, the image becomes elliptical but instrument in his Philadelphia shop and
remains clear until obliterated at about delivered the prototype within a week
45 degrees of total bending. it was the first borescope produced by his
company. Crampton continued to supply
Crampton custom borescopes for testing inaccessible
and often dark areas on power turbines,
After the early medical developments, oil refinery piping, gas mains, soft drink
certain segments of American industry tanks and other components. Crampton
needed visual testing equipment for soon was recognized for his ability to
special inspection applications. One of the design and manufacture borescopes,
first individuals to help fill this need was periscopes and other optical equipment
George Sumner Crampton. George for specific testing applications.
Crampton (Fig. 20) was born in Rock After retiring as emeritus professor of
Island, Illinois, in 1874. He was said to ophthalmology at the university,
have set up a small machine shop by the Crampton continued private practice in
age of 10 and his first ambition was to downtown Philadelphia. At the same
become an electrical engineer. He chose time, he worked on borescopes and other
instead to study medicine and received instruments in a small shop he had
established in a remodeled nineteenth
century coach house.
FIGURE 20. George Crampton, developer of borescope. After World War II began, Crampton
devoted much of his energy to the war
effort, filling defense orders for borescopes
(Fig. 22). Crampton practiced medicine
until noon, then went to the nearby

FIGURE 21. Tests of forgings for steam turbine generator

shaft in 1920s.

30 Visual Testing
workshop where he visually tested the The original Manhattan Project
bores of 37 mm antiaircraft guns and borescope was later improved with
other weapons.56 During the war, nondarkening optics and a swivel-joint
borescopes were widely used for testing eyepiece that permitted the operator to
warship steam turbines (particularly their work from any angle (this newer
rotating shafts). The United States Army instrument did not require the V trough).
also used borescopes for inspecting the It also was capable of considerable
barrels of tank and antiaircraft weapons bending to snake through the tubes in the
produced in Philadelphia. An even more reactor. Three borescopes were supplied
challenging assignment lay ahead. for this epochal project and they are
The scientists working to develop a believed to be the first optical instruments
successful nuclear chain reaction in the to use glass resistant to radioactivity.
top secret Manhattan Project asked Aircraft inspection soon became one of
Crampton to provide a borescope for the most important uses of borescope
inspecting tubes near the radioactive pile technology. In 1946, an ultraviolet light
at its guarded location beneath the borescope was developed for fluorescent
stadium seats at the University of testing of the interior of hollow steel
Chicagos Stagg Field. Crampton devised propeller blades. The 100 W viewing
an aluminum borescope tube 35 mm instrument revealed interior surface
(1.4 in.) in diameter and 10 m (33 ft) discontinuities as glowing green lines.41
long. The device consisted of 2 m (6 ft) Later, in 1958, the entire United States
sections of dual tubing joined by bronze B-47 bomber fleet was grounded because
couplings which also carried an 8 V of metal fatigue cracks resulting from low
lighting circuit. The inspector standing level simulated bombing missions. Visual
directly in front of the bore was subject to testing with borescopes proved to be the
radioactive emissions from the pile, so first step toward resolving the problem.
Crampton mounted the borescope outside The program became known as Project
of a heavy concrete barrier. The operator Milk Bottle, a reference to the bottle
stood at a right angle to the borescope, shaped pin that was a primary connection
looking through an eyepiece and between the fuselage and wing (Fig. 23).
revolving the instrument manually. The In the late 1950s, a system was
borescope contained a prism viewing head developed for automatic testing of
and had to be rotated constantly. It was helicopter blades. The borescope,
supported in a steel V trough resting on supported by a long bench, could test the
supports whose height could be varied. blades while the operator viewed results
Crampton also mounted a special on a television screen (Fig. 24). The
photographic camera on the eyepiece. system was used extensively during the

FIGURE 22. Using a borescope, inspector at a converted FIGURE 23. Inspector uses borescope to check for metal
automobile plant during World War II checks interiors of gun fatigue cracks in B-47 bomber during grounding of bomber
tubes for 90 mm antiaircraft guns. fleet in 1958.

Introduction to Visual Testing 31

Vietnam conflict and helicopter method there were too many different
manufacturers continue to use borescopes applications on too many test objects to
for such critical tests. permit the use of specific acceptance
In 1962, Crampton sold his borescope criteria. It also was reasoned that visual
business to John Lang of Cheltenham, testing would occur as a natural result of
Pennsylvania.56,57 Lang had developed the applying any other nondestructive test
radiation resistant optics used in the method.
Manhattan Project borescope, as well as a
system for keeping it functional in high Expanded Need for Visual
temperature environments. Lang also
helped pioneer the use of closed circuit Certification
television with borescopes for testing the In the early 1970s, the need for certified
inner surfaces of jet engines and wings, visual inspectors began to increase.
hollow helicopter blades and nuclear Nuclear power construction was at a peak,
reactors. In 1965, the company received a visual certification was becoming
patent on a borescope whose mirror could mandatory and nondestructive testing
be precisely controlled. This borescope was being required. In 1976, the American
could zoom to high magnification and Society for Nondestructive Testing began
could intensely illuminate the walls of a considering the need for certified visual
chamber by means of a quartz inspectors. ASNT had become a leading
incandescent lamp containing iodine force in nondestructive testing and
vapor. American industry had accepted its
The basic design of the borescope has Recommended Practice No. SNT-TC-1A as
been in use for many decades and it a guide for certifying other NDT
continues to develop, accommodating inspectors.6
advances in video, illumination, robotic In the spring of 1976, ASNT began
and computer technologies. surveying industry about their inspection
needs and their position on visual testing.
Because of the many and varied responses
to the survey, a society task force was
Certification of Visual established to analyze the survey data. In
Inspectors 1977, the task force recommended that
visual inspectors be certified and that
The recognition of the visual testing visual testing be made a supplement to
technique and the development of formal Recommended Practice No. SNT-TC-1A
procedures for educating and qualifying (1975). At this time, the American
visual inspectors were important
milestones in the history of visual
inspection. Because visual testing can be
performed without any intervening FIGURE 24. Visual testing of frame of 10 m (32 ft) long
apparatus, it was certainly one of the first helicopter blade using 10 m (32 ft) borescope. Inspector
forms of nondestructive testing. In its could view magnified results on television at bottom left.
early industrial applications, visual tests
were used simply to verify compliance to
a drawing or specification. This was
basically a dimensional check. The
soundness of the object was determined
by liquid penetrant, magnetic particle,
radiography or ultrasonic testing.
Following World War II, few inspection
standards included visual testing. By the
early 1960s, visual tests were an accepted
addition to the American Welding
Societys code books. In NAVSHIPS
250-1500-1, the US Navy included visual
tests with its specifications for other
nondestructive testing techniques for
By 1965, there were standards for
testing, and criteria for certifying the
inspector had been established in five test
methods: liquid penetrant, magnetic
particle, eddy current, radiographic and
ultrasonic testing. These five were cited in
ASNT Recommended Practice No.
SNT-TC-1A, introduced in the late 1960s.
The broad use of visual testing hindered
its addition to this group as a specific

32 Visual Testing
Welding Society implemented a program defined the scope and purpose of visual
that, following the United States Navy, testing (dimensional testing was
was the first to certify inspectors whose excluded). In 1984, the Visual Personnel
sole function was visual weld testing. Qualification Committee was formed in
During 1978, ASNT subcommittees ASNTs Education and Qualification
were formed for the eastern and western Council. In 1986, a training outline and a
halves of the United States. These groups recommended reference list was finalized
verified the need for both visual standards and the Board of Directors approved
and trained, qualified and certified incorporation of visual testing into ASNTs
inspectors. In 1980, a Visual Methods Recommended Practice No. SNT-TC-1A.
Committee was formed in ASNTs
Technical Council and the early meetings

Introduction to Visual Testing 33

PART 4. Measurement Units for Visual Testing

meanings of the prefix m (milli) and the

Origin of International prefix M (mega) differ by nine orders of
In 1960, the General Conference on
Weights and Measures established the TABLE 6. SI base units.
International System of Units. Le Systme
International dUnits (SI) was designed so Quantity Unit Symbol
that a single set of measurement units
could be used by all branches of science, Length meter m
engineering and the general public. Mass kilogram kg
Without SI, the Nondestructive Testing Time second s
Handbook series would contain a Electric current ampere A
confusing mix of obsolete centimeter Temperature kelvin K
gram second (CGS) units, inch pound Amount of substance mole mol
units and the units preferred by certain Luminous intensity candela cd
localities or scientific specialties.
SI is the modern version of the metric
system and ends the division between
metric units used by scientists and metric
units used by engineers and the public. TABLE 7. SI derived units with special names.a
Scientists have given up their units based
on centimeter and gram and engineers
to Other
have abandoned the kilogram-force in Quantity Units Symbol SI Unitsb
favor of the newton. Electrical engineers
have retained the ampere, volt and ohm Capacitance farad F CV 1
but changed all units related to Catalytic activity katal kat s 1 mol
Conductance siemens S AV 1
Table 6 lists the seven SI base units.
Energy joule J Nm
Table 7 lists derived units with special
names. In SI, the unit of time is the Frequency (periodic) hertz Hz 1s 1
second (s) and hour (h) is recognized for Force newton N kgms 2
use with SI. Inductance henry H WbA 1
For more information, the reader is Illuminance lux lx lmm 2
referred to the information available Luminous flux lumen lm cdsr
through national standards organizations Electric charge coulomb C As
and specialized information compiled by Electric potentialc volt V WA 1
technical organizations.59-61 Electric resistance ohm VA 1
Magnetic flux weber Wb Vs
Magnetic flux density tesla T Wbm 2
Multipliers Plane angle radian rad 1
Power watt W Js 1
In science and engineering, very large or
very small numbers with units are Pressure (stress) pascal Pa Nm 2
expressed by using the SI multipliers, Radiation absorbed dose gray Gy Jkg 1
prefixes of 103 intervals (Table 8). For Radiation dose equivalent sievert Sv Jkg 1
example, a millimeter (mm) is Radioactivity becquerel Bq 1s 1
0.001 meter (m). The volume unit cubic Solid angle steradian sr 1
centimeter (cm3) is (0.01 m)3 or 10 6 m3. Temperature degree celsius C K
Unit submultiples such as the centimeter, Timea hour h 3600 s
decimeter, dekameter and hectometer are Volumea liter L dm3
avoided in scientific and technical uses of
SI because of their variance from the a. Hour and liter are not SI units but are accepted for use with SI.
convenient 103 or 10 3 intervals that b. Number one (1) expresses a dimensionless relationship.
make equations easy to manipulate. c. Electromotive force.
In SI, the distinction between upper
and lower case letters is meaningful and
should be observed. For example, the

34 Visual Testing
Old units should not be used in science
Units for Visual Testing and engineering; Table 9 gives some
conversions to SI units. Footcandle (ftc)
Terms for some quantities have been and phot convert to lux (lx). Stilb (sb),
replaced. Brightness is now luminance; footlambert and lambert convert to
illumination is illuminance; transmission candela per square meter (cdm2).
factor is transmittance. Names of some In visual testing, units express
units have changed: the meter candle is measurements of visible light as part of
now lux; the nit is now candela per the electromagnetic spectrum. Nanometer
square meter (cdm2). (nm) is used rather than angstrom () for
wavelength. The velocity c of light is
expressed as a ratio of distance in meters
TABLE 8. SI prefixes and multipliers. (m) to time in seconds (s): in a vacuum,
2.997 924 58 108 ms1.
Prefix Symbol Multiplier

yotta Y 1024 Illumination

zetta Z 1021 The intensity of visible radiation that
exa E 1018 is, of light was formerly measured in
peta P 1015 footcandles (ftc) and is now expressed in
tera T 1012 lux (lx): 1 ftc = 10 lx. A typical indoor
giga G 109 office has illumination of about 400 lx.
mega M 106 Daylight ranges from 1 to 25 klx; direct
sunlight, several times more.
kilo k 103
Vision requires a source of
hectoa h 102
illumination. The light source is measured
dekaa da 10 in candela (cd), defined as the luminous
decia d 10 1 intensity in a given direction of a source
centia c 10 2 that emits monochromatic radiation of
milli m 10 3 540 1012 hertz (Hz) at a radiant intensity
micro 10 6 of 1.46 10 3 watt per steradian (Wsr 1).
nano n 10 9 The luminous flux in a steradian (sr) is
pico p 10 12 measured in lumens (lm). The
femto f 10 15 measurement in lumens is the product of
candela and steradian (1 lm = 1 cdsr). A
atto a 10 18
light flux of one lumen (1 lm) striking
zepto z 10 21
one square meter (1 m2) on the surface of
yocto y 10 24 the sphere around the source illuminates
a. Avoid these prefixes (except in dm3 and cm3) for it with one lux (1 lx), the unit of
science and engineering. illuminance. If the source itself is scaled to

TABLE 9. Examples of conversions to SI units for visual testing.

Quantity Measurement in Non-SI Unit Multiply by To Get Measurement in SI Unit

Angle minute (min) 2.908 882 10 4 radian (rad)

degree (deg) 1.745 329 10 2 radian (rad)
Area square inch (in.2) 645 square millimeter (mm2)
Distance angstrom () 0.1 nanometer (nm)
inch (in.) 25.4 millimeter (mm)
Power British thermal unit per hour (BTUh1) 0.293 watt (W)
Illuminance footcandle (ftc) 10.76 lux (lx)
phot (ph) 10 000 lux (lx)
Luminance candela per square foot (cdft 2) 10.76 candela per square meter (cdm 2)
candela per square inch (cdin.2) 1 550 candela per square meter (cdm 2)
footlambert (ftl) 3.426 candela per square meter (cdm 2)
lambert 3 183 (= 10 000 ) candela per square meter (cdm 2)
nit (nt) 1 candela per square meter (cdm 2)
stilb (sb) 10 000 candela per square meter (cdm 2)
Temperature (increment) degree fahrenheit (F) 0.556 kelvin (K) or degree celsius (C)
Temperature (scale) degree fahrenheit (F) (F 32) 1.8 degree celsius (C)
Temperature (scale) degree fahrenheit (F) (F 32) 1.8 + 273.15 kelvin (K)

Introduction to Visual Testing 35

one square meter (1 m2) and emits one Although both light and ultraviolet
candela (1 cd), the luminance of the radiation are measured in watts per square
source is 1 cdm2. meter, their wavelengths have distinct
Quantities and units for photometric ranges. Because ultraviolet radiation is
measurement of light are discussed in the invisible, photometric measurement units
chapter on light. such as the lumen and lux should never
be applied to ultraviolet radiation.
Ultraviolet radiation is divided into
Optometric Units three ranges: UV-A (320 to 400 nm), UV-B
The diopter is a variable used to express (280 to 320 nm) and UV-C (100 to
the refracting power of curved mirrors, 280 nm). This is analogous to the
lenses and the eye. The diopter is the segmentation of visible light into the
inverse of the distance (in meters) from wavelengths that produce the colors. Blue
the lens (or mirror) to an image of a light, for example, generally has
distant object; that is, the diopter is the wavelengths between 455 and 492 nm.
inverse of the focal distance of the lens or Yellow light is between 577 and 597 nm.
mirror (where that distance is measured in The analogy to visible radiation might
meters). help those first learning to measure
To express retinal illuminance, the ultraviolet radiation. A certain intensity of
troland (Td) is most often used. It is not a yellow light will produce on a surface a
true unit of illumination but is the certain illuminance measured in lux. In
product of the target luminance (in the same way, a certain amount of
candela per square meter) and the pupil ultraviolet radiation will produce an
area (in square millimeters). irradiance on a test surface.
Ultraviolet irradiance is a time
dependent measure of the amount of
energy falling on a prescribed surface area
Ultraviolet Radiation and is expressed in watts per square meter
Ultraviolet radiation is of concern because (Wm2) or (to avoid exponents)
some visual inspectors also document the microwatts per square centimeter
vision acuity and color discrimination of (Wcm2). One unit of irradiance
personnel who use ultraviolet lamps to (1 Wcm2) is the power (microwatt)
perform liquid penetrant and magnetic falling on one square centimeter (cm2) of
particle testing. surface area. At higher irradiance, the
The term light is widely used for milliwatt per square centimeter
electromagnetic radiation in the visible (mWcm2) is sometimes used:
part of the spectrum. The term black light, 1000 Wcm2 = 1 mWcm2, and
however, should not be used for 1 Wcm2 = 10 2 Wm2.
ultraviolet radiation, because (1) the term More information on the physics and
has become ambiguous, denoting safe use of ultraviolet radiation can be
sometimes the ultraviolet lamp and found in literature about liquid penetrant
sometimes its radiation, (2) the term black and magnetic particle testing.
here means merely invisible and not a
color and (3) ultraviolet radiation is not
light, any more than X-rays are.

36 Visual Testing

1. Nondestructive Testing Handbook, 11. ISO 20807, Non-Destructive Testing

second edition: Vol. 10, Nondestructive Qualification of Personnel for Limited
Testing Overview. Columbus, OH: Application of Non-Destructive Testing.
American Society for Nondestructive Geneva, Switzerland: International
Testing (1996). Organization for Standardization
2. Wenk, S.A. and R.C. McMaster. (2007).
Choosing NDT: Applications, Costs and 12. Ness, S. Safety for Visual and Optical
Benefits of Nondestructive Testing in Your Tests. Nondestructive Testing Handbook,
Quality Assurance Program. Columbus, second edition: Vol. 8, Visual and
OH: American Society for Optical Testing. Columbus, OH:
Nondestructive Testing (1987). American Society for Nondestructive
3. TO33B-1-1 (NAVAIR 01-1A-16) Testing (1993): p 22-26.
TM43-0103, Nondestructive Testing 13. Documentation of the Threshold Limit
Methods. Washington, DC: Department Values for Physical Agents, seventh
of Defense (June 1984). edition. Cincinnati, OH: American
4. Nondestructive Testing Handbook, Conference of Governmental
second edition: Vol. 8, Visual and Industrial Hygienists (2008).
Optical Testing. Columbus, OH: 14. Guide to Occupational Exposure Values.
American Society for Nondestructive Cincinnati, OH: American Conference
Testing (1993). of Governmental Industrial Hygienists
5. Annual Book of ASTM Standards: (2009).
Section 3, Metals Test Methods and 15. ANSI Z 136, Safe Use of Lasers. New
Analytical Procedures. Vol. 03.03, York, NY: American National
Nondestructive Testing. West Standards Institute (2007).
Conshohocken, PA: ASTM 16. IEC 60825, Safety of Laser Products.
International (2009). Geneva, Switzerland: International
6. Recommended Practice Electrotechnical Commission (2008)
No. SNT-TC-1A, Personnel Qualification 17. Threshold Limit Values [for Chemical
and Certification in Nondestructive Substances and Physical Agents] and
Testing. Columbus, OH: American Biological Exposure Indices. Cincinnati,
Society for Nondestructive Testing OH: American Conference of
(2006). Governmental Industrial Hygienists
7. ANSI/ASNT CP-189, Standard for (2001, 2009).
Qualification and Certification of 18. Euclid. Great Books of the Western
Nondestructive Testing Personnel. World, second edition: Vol. 10,
Columbus, OH: American Society for Elements. Chicago, IL: Encyclopaedia
Nondestructive Testing (2006). Britannica (1990).
8. ASNT Standard CP-105, Topical 19. Ptolemy. Great Books of the Western
Outlines for Qualification of World, second edition: Vol. 15,
Nondestructive Testing Personnel. Almagest. Chicago, IL: Encyclopaedia
Columbus, OH: American Society for Britannica (1990).
Nondestructive Testing (2006). 20. LOttica de Claudio Tolomeo [The Optics
9. ASNT Central Certification Program of Ptolemy: Rendered in Latin from an
(ACCP), Revision 4 (March 2005). Arabic Translation of an Incomplete
Columbus, OH: American Society for Greek Text]. Turin, Italy: Stamperia
Nondestructive Testing (2005). Reale della Ditta G.B. Paravia E.C.
10. ANSI/ASNT CP-106 (ISO 9712, de I. Violarde (1885).
modified), Non-Destructive Testing 21. Salih, H., M. Al-Amri and
Qualification and Certification of M. El Gomati. The Miracle of Light.
Personnel, third edition. Geneva, A World of Science: Natural Sciences
Switzerland: International Quarterly Newsletter. Vol. 3, No. 4.
Organization for Standardization Paris, France: United Nations
(2008). Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization
(October-December 2005): p 2-7.
22. Turner, H.R. Science in Medieval Islam:
An Illustrated Introduction. Austin, TX:
University of Texas (1997).

Introduction to Visual Testing 37

23. Rashed, R. A Pioneer in Anaclastics: 33. Moore, P.O. The Heritage of
Ibn Sahl on Burning Mirrors and Nondestructive Testing. Proceedings of
Lenses. Isis. Vol. 81. Chicago, IL: National Board of Boiler and Pressure
University of Chicago Press (1990): Vessel Inspectors [May 1986].
p 464-491. Columbus, OH: National Board of
24. Rashed, R. Ibn Sahl et al-Quh: Les Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors
Projections. Addenda & Corrigenda. (May 1986): p 25-43.
Arabic Sciences and Philosophy. Vol. 10, 34. Sinclair, B. A Centennial History of the
No. 1. Cambridge, United Kingdom: American Society of Mechanical
Cambridge University Press (2000): Engineers: 1880-1980. New York, NY:
p 79-100. ASME (1980).
25. Kwan, A., J. Dudley and E. Lantz. 35. Rules for the Construction of Stationary
Who Really Discovered Snells Law? Boilers and for Allowable Working
Physics World. London, United Pressures (Report of the Committee to
Kingdom: Institute of Physics Formulate Standard Specifications for
(April 2002): p 64. the Construction of Steam Boilers and
26. Zghal, M., H.-E. Bouali, Z. ben Lakhdar Other Pressure Vessels and for Their
and H. Hamam. The First Steps for Care in Service, known as the Boiler
Learning Optics: Ibn Sahls, Code Committee, ed. of 1914 with
Al-Haythams and Youngs Works on index). New York, NY: ASME
Refraction as Typical Examples. International (1915).
Education and Training in Optics and 36. Article 9, Visual Examination. 2007
Photonics Conference (ETOP) 2007 ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code:
Proceedings (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Section V, Nondestructive Examination.
June 2007). Bellingham WA: SPIE New York, NY: American Society of
(2007). Mechanical Engineers (2007):
27. Marshall, O.S. Alhazen and the p 154-156.
Telescope. Astronomical Society of the 37. Lang, W.[J.], P. Sigmund and H. Swain.
Pacific Leaflets. Vol. 6, No. 251. San History of the Borescope.
Francisco, CA: Astronomical Society of Nondestructive Testing Handbook,
the Pacific (February 1950): p 4-11. second edition: Vol. 8, Visual and
28. Rashed, R. Ibn al-Haytham: Astronomie, Optical Testing. Columbus, OH:
Gomtrie Sphrique et Trigonomtri les American Society for Nondestructive
Mathmatiques Infinitsimales du IXe au Testing (1993): p 4-8.
XIe Sicle. Vol. 5. London, United 38. Modlin, I.M. A Brief History of
Kingdom: al-Furqn Islamic Heritage Endoscopy. New Haven, CT: Yale
Foundation (2006). University School of Medicine (2000).
29. Omar, Saleh Beshara. Ibn-Al-Haythams 39. Rathert, P., W. Lutzeyer and
Optics: A Study of the Origins of W.E. Goddwin, Philipp Bozzini
Experimental Science. Minneapolis, MN: (1773-1809) and the Lichtleiter.
Bibliotheca Islamica (1977). Urology. Volume 3, No. 1. New York,
30. Opticae thesavrvs. Alhazeni Arabis libri NY: Cahners Publishing
septem, nuncprimum editi. Eivsdem liber (January 1974): p 113-118.
de crepvscvlis & nubium ascensionibus. 40. Bush, Ronnie Beth, Hanna Leonhardt,
Item Vitellonis Thvringopoloni libri x. Irving Bush and Ralph Landes. Dr.
Omnes instaurati, figuris illustrati & Bozzinis Lichtleiter: A Translation of
aucti, adiectis etiam in Alhazenum His Original Article (1806). Urology.
commentarijs, a Federico Risnero. Posner Volume 3, No. 1. New York, NY:
Collection, manuscript 535 A17O Cahners Publishing (January 1974):
1572. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Mellon p 119-123.
University. 41. Lang, W.J. George S. Crampton and
31. Figure 9.4 in Turner [q.v.], reproducing the Origins of Industrial Endoscopy.
page from Hunayn ibn Ishaq, Book of Materials Evaluation. Vol. 46, No. 13.
Ten Treatises on the Eye. MS 100 Tibb Columbus, OH: American Society for
Taimur (thirteenth century Nondestructive Testing
manuscript). Cairo, Egypt: Egyptian (December 1988): p 1639-1642.
National Library. This manuscript is 42. 1906-2006 Wolf Familiengeschichte
credited by Turner (p 250) and is [Wolf Family History, 1906-2006].
translated here by El Gomati. Web site. Knittlingen, Germany:
32. Moore, P.O. The Development of Richard Wolf GmbH (2009).
Boiler Inspection, 1866-1947. 43. Wolf, G. United States Patent
Materials Evaluation. Vol. 43, No. 7. 1 431 902, Instrument for Examining
Columbus, OH: American Society for Cavities of the Body (1922).
Nondestructive Testing (June 1985): 44. Wolf, G. United States Patent
p 800-805. 1 606 861, Gastroscope (1926).
45. Wolf, R. United States Patent
1 595 050, Cystoscope and Similar
Instrument (1926).

38 Visual Testing
46. Schindler, R. Gastroscopy. Chicago, IL: 56. Crampton to Get Original of His
University of Chicago (1937). Famous Scope. Philadelphia Inquirer.
47. Huston, C.L. United States Patent Philadelphia, PA (1946).
1 454 677, Inspection Lift (1923). 57. Spencer, S.M. Amiable Oculist Is
48. Contant, W.A. United States Patent Expert on Device for U.S. Cannon.
1 468 803, Inspection Table (1923). Philadelphia Bulletin. Philadelphia, PA
49. Firestone, F. United States Patent (July 1941).
1 640 567, Machine for Detecting Flaws 58. NAVSHIPS 250-1500-1, Welding
(1927). Standard. Washington, DC: United
50. Gulliksen, F.H. United States Patent States Department of Defense, for
2 229 451, Photosensitive Apparatus for Naval Sea Systems Command.
Inspecting Materials (1941). 59. IEEE/ASTM SI 10, Standard for Use of
51. Pryor, T.R.P. United States Patent the International System of Units (SI):
4 576 482, Electro-Optical Inspection The Modern Metric System. New York,
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52. Lyon, S.P. United States Patent 60. Thompson, A. and B.N. Taylor.
1 602 233, Inside Rivet Inspection Device NIST SP 811, Guide for the Use of the
(1926). International System of Units (SI).
53. Fisher, J.H. United States Patent Washington, DC: United States
1 775 452, Instrument for Examining the Government Printing Office (2008).
Interior of Gun Barrels (1930). 61. Taylor, B.N. and A. Thompson.
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2 251 739, Method and Apparatus for
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Introduction to Visual Testing 39

2H A P T E R


Yoshihiro Ohno, Gaithersburg, Maryland (Part 3)

John C. Duke, Jr., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and
State University, Blacksburg, Virginia
Doron Kishoni, Centennial, Colorado
Gregory C. Sayler, MD Helicopters, Mesa, Arizona

Portions of this chapter are reprinted with permission from the IES Lighting Handbook: Reference Volume,2 Copyright 1981, Illuminating
Engineering Society of North America (IESNA). Reference numbers superscripted in headings indicate sections adapted. ASNT has revised the
text in 1993 and 2010, and deficiencies are not the responsibility of the IESNA.
Portions of Part 3 are reprinted from NIST SP 250-37, Photometric Calibrations8 a work of the United States government and
not subject to copyright.
PART 1. Physics of Light

Electromagnetic Theory
Overview of Light1-3 The electromagnetic theory was advanced
Most nondestructive tests are performed by James Clerk Maxwell and is based on
by a probing energy such as X-rays, these premises.5
ultrasound or magnetism to a test object. 1. Luminous bodies emit light in the
In visual and optical testing, the probing form of radiant energy.
medium is light that portion of the 2. This radiant energy is propagated in
electromagnetic spectrum that has a the form of electromagnetic waves.
wavelength of 360 to 830 nm and that 3. The electromagnetic waves act on the
can excite the human retina. The upper retina of the eye, stimulating the optic
and lower limits of visible radiation vary nerves to produce the sensation of
from one individual to another. sight.
Radiant energy at the proper wavelength
makes visible anything from which it is
emitted or reflected in sufficient quantity Quantum Theory
to activate the receptors in the eye. The The quantum theory is an updated
quantity of such radiant energy may be version of the corpuscular theory. It was
evaluated in many ways, including: advanced by Max Planck and is based on
radiant flux (measured in joules per these premises.
second or in watts) and luminous flux
(measured in lumens). 1. Energy is emitted and absorbed in
discrete quanta (photons).
2. The energy E in each quantum is the
product of Plancks constant h and
Radiant Energy Theories1,2 frequency n:
Several theories describing radiant energy
have been proposed.4 The text below (1) E = hv
briefly discusses the primary theories.
where h = 6.626 10 -34 Js and n (Greek
Particle Theory letter nu) is in hertz.
The particle theory, or corpuscular theory,
was advanced by Isaac Newton and is Unified Theory
based on the following premises. The unified theory of radiant energy was
1. Luminous bodies emit radiant energy proposed by De Broglie and Heisenberg
in particles. and is based on the premise that every
2. These particles are intermittently moving element of mass is associated
ejected in straight lines. with a wave of length l:
3. The particles act on the retina of the
eye, stimulating the optic nerves to h
produce the sensation of light. (2) l =

Wave Theory where m is the mass of the particle

(kilograms), v (Roman letter vee) is the
The wave theory of radiant energy was velocity of the particle (meters per
championed by Christian Huygens and is second), l is the wavelength of the wave
based on these premises. motion (meters) and h is Plancks constant
1. Light results from the molecular or 6.626 10 34 Js.
vibration in luminous material. It is impossible to determine all of the
2. The vibrations are transmitted through properties distinctive of a wave or a
the ether in wavelike movements particle simultaneously, for the energy to
(comparable to ripples in water). do so changes one of the properties being
3. The vibrations act on the retina of the determined.
eye, stimulating the optic nerves to The explanations of radiant energy
produce visual sensation. The velocity provided by the quantum theory and the
of a wave is the product of its electromagnetic wave theory are
wavelength and its frequency. appropriate for the purposes of

42 Visual Testing
nondestructive testing. Whether it Inverse Square Law1-3
behaves like a wave or like a particle, light
is radiation produced by atomic or The inverse square law (Fig. 1a) states that
molecular processes. That is, in an the illumination E (lux) at a point on a
incandescent body, a gas discharge or a surface varies directly with the luminous
solid state device, light is produced when intensity I (candela) of the source and
excited electrons have just reverted to inversely as the square of the distance d
more stable positions in their respective (meter) between the source and the point.
atoms, thereby releasing energy. If the surface at the point is normal to the
The general limits of the radiant energy direction of the incident light, the law
spectrum extend over a range of may be expressed as:
wavelengths varying from 10 16 to over
105 m. Radiant energy if visible has (4) I
E =
wavelengths between 380 and 770 nm. d2

This equation is accurate within

0.5 percent when d is at least five times
Generation of Light3 the longest line transecting the
Light is created at the atomic level. An illuminating sources area.
atom consists of a nucleus with a positive The inverse square law means that an
charge orbited by electrons with a increase in distance from the radiation
negative charge. In the atoms normal source diminishes geometrically the
state, the orbits of the electrons are stable irradiation, or illumination, at the test
and no electromagnetic radiation is surface. The inverse square law is
emitted. The orbits, or shells, allowed important also for calculating exposures
around the nucleus are a characteristic of to X-rays. The common sensical
each element. application of this law is as follows: to
When an electron is excited, it moves make a surface brighter, move a lamp
out to a higher, unstable orbit or it is closer.
removed from the atoms orbit.
Eventually, the excited electron moves Cosine Laws1-3
back into the original orbit or into
another lower energy, more stable orbit. Lamberts cosine law (Fig. 1b) states that
The energy the electron loses during this the illuminance E2 at a point on a surface
move is given off as a discrete particle of varies with the cosine of the angle of
radiant energy. Plancks equation gives the incidence:
wavelength of the emitted radiation:
(5) E2 = E1 cos
(3) E1 - E2 = h n
where E1 is illuminance (lux) at the point
where the angle of incidence is normal
where E1 is energy of the excited orbit, E2 and where is the angle (degree) of
is energy of the normal orbit, h is Plancks incidence. The angle of incidence is the
constant (6.626 10 34 Js) and v (Greek angle between the normal to the surface
letter nu) is frequency in hertz (Hz). and the direction of the incident light.
All light is produced by this change in The inverse square law and the cosine
the orbit of electrons. Natural and law can be combined to yield the
artificial light sources are referred to as following relationship (in lux):
luminous bodies. Natural light sources
include sunlight, the aurora borealis, and I
(6) E = cos
bioluminescence. Most other apparent d2
light sources, such as the moon, only
reflect the light of a luminous body.
where I is the source luminous intensity
An extension of the cosine law is the
Principles of Light cosine cubed law, a convenient alternative
in certain calculations. Substituting
Measurement 1-3 a(cos )1 for d (Fig. 1c) lets Eq. 6 be
Light measurement involves a rewritten:
consideration of the inverse square law
and the cosine law.6,7 These laws apply to I cos3
(7) E =
all light, but their simplest expressions are a2
for point sources.
where a is the distance normal to the
surface. The common sensical application
of the cosine laws is that the light will

Light 43
spread out on a surface if the lamp is held
off to one side. The lighted area will be
larger but less bright than if the lamp
Wavelength and
were directly above the surface. Frequency3
The important variables in light
propagation include wavelength,
FIGURE 1. Principles of photometry: (a) inverse square law, frequency, reflection and refraction. The
illustrating how same quantity of light flux is distributed over concern of the nondestructive test
greater area as distance from source to surface is increased; engineer revolves around the effects of
(b) cosine law, showing that light flux striking surface at light based on the intensity or the
angles other than normal is distributed over greater area; wavelength and frequency of the light.
(c) cosine cubed law, explaining transformation of inverse Optical radiation covers the spectrum
square formula. from 10 -9 to 10 3 m. Visible radiation is
generally considered to be that portion of
the spectrum from 360 10 -9 to
(a) 830 10 -9 m. The nanometer (10 -9 m) is
Source the unit for measuring the wavelength of
light. Figure 2 shows the place of light in
the electromagnetic spectrum.
All forms of electromagnetic radiation
travel through a vacuum at the same
speed, 299 793 kms1 (186 282 mis1).
When light travels through any other
medium, the velocity is altered. The
d frequency remains fixed and is
independent of the medium. The
difference in the time it takes light to
travel through different media is
responsible for the operating principles of
optical instruments.
The following formula gives the
relationship between the velocity,
frequency and wavelength:
(8) v =

where n is the mediums index of

refraction, v (Roman letter vee) is velocity
E1 (ms1) of light waves in the medium, l is
the wavelength of the light wave in a
vacuum and n (Greek letter nu) is the
frequency (in hertz). In the International
System, the nanometer (1 nm = 10 9 m)
and the micrometer (1 m = 10 6 m) are
E2 = E1 cos E2 units of wavelength in the visible region.

(c) FIGURE 2. Electromagnetic wavelength spectrum.3


10 15 10 13 10 11 10 9 10 7 10 5 10 3 10 1 101 103 105 107

Cosmic rays Radar Radio waves



Ultraviolet Visible

a radiation light
Wavelength (m)

44 Visual Testing
PART 2. Refraction and Color

(9) n =
Reflection and Refraction3 Vm
Light is reflected when it strikes a surface.
Regular, or specular, reflection is caused where n is index of refraction, Vm is the
when light strikes a smooth surface. The velocity (meters per second) in a medium
direction of the reflected beam can be and Vv is the velocity (meters per second)
determined by constructing a line in a vacuum.
perpendicular to the reflecting surface. Based on Eq. 9, the actual angle of
The angle of reflection is the same as the refraction is determined by a
angle of incidence compared to the mathematical relation, discovered by Ibn
perpendicular, or normal line, as Sahl in the tenth century and later called
illustrated in Fig. 3. Snells law. The index of refraction is equal
Diffuse reflection is caused when light to the ratio of the sine of the angle of
strikes a rough surface. The rough surface incidence to the sine of the angle of
has many different plane surfaces. Each refraction. Equation 10 applies the law of
incident light beam strikes a different refraction:
reflecting plane and is reflected at an
angle that corresponds to the relative
angle of the plane surface. The difference (10) n0 sin 0 = n1 sin 1
from a regular reflection forms the basis
of some optical techniques.
Refraction is the bending or pivoting of Figure 4 demonstrates the angles in
light from its original direction at the Eq. 10.
interface of two different media. If the The science of optics provides an
optical density of the new medium is explanation for the operation of many
greater than the density of the original, visual and optical tools from simple
the path of light is bent, or refracted, magnifying glasses to metallographs.
toward a line normal to the objects Light is commonly focused in the mirrors
surface. If the optical density of the new and lenses of optical devices using the
medium is less than that of the original, principles of reflection and refraction
the light is refracted away from the built into the device. Classical optics
normal. explains the manipulation of light to
The amount of refraction depends on produce an image for human viewing by
the angle of the incident light and the
index of refraction. The index of
refraction is given by the ratio of the FIGURE 4. Refraction of light.3
velocity of light in a vacuum to the
velocity of light in the medium:

FIGURE 3. Angles of incidence and reflection: = .3 0




Legend 0 = angle of incidence
= Angle of incidence 1 = angle of refraction
= Angle of reflection

Light 45
mechanical devices: lenses, mirrors and The magnification produced by a
prisms. diverging lens may be calculated by
manipulating the lens law. Magnification
Lenses is the size of the image divided by the size
of the object:
A lens is a device that converges or
disperses light by refraction. Converging Di Si
lenses focus light on a single point while (12) M = =
divergent lenses disperse light. When Do So
describing lenses, the conventional
standard is to describe the shape of the where Di is image distance from principal
lens surface from left to right using the plane, Do is object distance from principal
following terminology. Plano describes a plane, M is magnification, Si is image size
flat surface. Convex lenses are converging and So is object size.
lenses; they are thicker in the center than Thick lenses may consist of a single
at the edge. Concave lenses are divergent; thick lens, combinations of thin lenses, or
they are thinner in the center than at the compound arrangements of thin lenses.
edge. Figure 5 shows examples of these Compound lenses (Fig. 8) are used in
lenses. most optical systems from doublet and
Thin lenses are those where the triplet magnifiers to sophisticated zoom
thickness of the lens is small compared to camera lenses. Compound lenses provide
the focal length. The properties of thin for high magnification and close control
lenses are described using the lens law. of the focal plane. When properly
This law relates the image distance, object
distance and focal length of a lens as
FIGURE 6. Converging lens geometry.3
1 1 1
(11) = + Principal
f d u Focal
plane plane

where d is image distance, f is focal length

and u is object distance. The meter is the
unit of length.
The focal length or focal distance of a
lens is the distance from the principal Object
plane to the focal plane. The principal Optical axis
focus or focal plane is where parallel Image
incident light rays converge after being
refracted by the lens. Single converging
lens magnifiers, as shown in Fig. 6, allow
the eye to be positioned closer to the test
object when the retinal focus plane is at
the focal plane of the lens. Because a
Focal length
simple lens uses the same principles of
refraction as a prism, there is chromatic
Divergent lenses, as shown in Fig. 7,
diffract light outward, causing FIGURE 7. Diverging lens geometry.3
minification. Magnification increases as
the object gets closer to the focal plane.
Focal plane Principal plane

FIGURE 5. Shapes of convex and concave lenses:

(a) biconvex; (b) plano-convex; (c) convexo-concave;
(d) biconcave; (e) plano-concave; (f) concavo-convex.3

(a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) Optical



Focal length

46 Visual Testing
designed, compound lenses also can Prisms
correct the chromatic and spherical
On most surfaces, incident light is
aberrations inherent to a single lens.
partially reflected and partially refracted.
The greater the angle of incidence and the
Mirrors difference in the refractive indices of the
Mirrors change the direction of light by material, the more light will be reflected
reflection. Mirrors can be flat, convex, instead of refracted. The angle above
concave, or parabolic. Flat or plane which all light is reflected is known as the
mirrors are arranged singularly or in series critical angle. Prisms use the critical angle
to transmit an image or light. Convex to change the direction or the orientation
mirrors provide an enlarged field of view of the image produced by light rays. Two
of the reflected image. common types of prisms are the right
A concave or spherical mirror has a angle prism and the porro prism (Fig. 9).
reflecting focal point. If light is projected The right angle prism deflects the light
onto a spherical mirror normal to the rays 90 degrees. The porro prism produces
curve of the surface, the light will be a 180 degree reflection. Both prisms are
focused slightly in front of the mirror. If a common in optical instruments.
point light source is placed at its focal Prisms are also used to separate the
point, the light will be reflected from the frequencies of a chromatic light source by
mirror so that it is parallel to the normal diffraction. Because the two refracting
of the curve. surfaces of the prism are not parallel, the
A concave mirror can also be used for distance the light paths travel varies from
image enlargement. An image that is the top to the bottom of the prism.
small compared to the width of the mirror Because the index of refraction changes
will be reflected back in a diverging and with the frequency of the light, the
optically reversed image. higher frequency portions of the spectrum
emerge from the base of the prism.

FIGURE 8. Compound lenses:

(a) combination lens; (b) doublet; FIGURE 9. Common prisms: (a) right angle prism;
(c) triplet.3 (b) porro prism.3

(a) (a)




Light 47
1. The concept of the blackbody is used
Spectral Emissivity1,2 to define and measure emissivity, a
physical characteristic of light sources.
The wave theory permits a convenient Emissivity is a materials ability to
representation of radiant energy in an radiate energy and is measured as a
arrangement based on the lights ratio of source emissivity to blackbody
wavelength or frequency. This emissivity, the blackbody having an
arrangement is called a spectrum and is emissivity of one for a given
useful for indicating the relationship wavelength.
between various radiant energy 2. The theoretical blackbody is used to
wavelength regions. Such a representation define colors, and working blackbodies
should not be taken to mean that each are used to generate colors.
region of the spectrum is physically
divided from the others actually there Some inspection devices such as lamps
is a small but discrete transition from one and gloss meters include emissivity in
region to the next. their technical data.
All forms of radiant energy are A perfect blackbody is a theoretical
transmitted at the same speed in a ideal; no perfect blackbody instrument
vacuum: 299 793 kms1 exists in the real world. The theoretically
(299 792.458 mis1). Table 1 gives the perfect performance of the blackbody can
speed of light in different media for a be approximated in the laboratory by
frequency corresponding to a wavelength constructing a hollow cylinder or sphere,
of 589 nm in air. with a small hole in its wall (Fig. 10).
Each form of energy differs in Radiation at a controlled wavelength is
wavelength and therefore in frequency. introduced into the hole and reflects until
The wavelength and velocity may be completely absorbed by the wall. The
altered by the medium through which the absorption of the lights energy produces
radiation passes, but the frequency is uniform heating of the wall. Radiation
fixed independently of the medium. that exits through the small hole will
Equation 8 above shows the relationship have the characteristics of a perfect
between radiation speed, frequency, radiator for that specific temperature.
wavelength and the mediums index of
refraction. Graybody1-3
No known radiator has the emissive
Blackbody1-3 power of a blackbody. The spectral
Light sources are frequently compared to emissivity (l) of a light source is the ratio
a theoretical light source known as a of the light source output to the output of
blackbody. A blackbody absorbs all of the the theoretical blackbody. The blackbodys
radiant energy that falls on it. A ideal emissivity equals one.
blackbody is also a perfect radiator, When the spectral emissivity is
radiating more total power at any uniform for all wavelengths, the radiator
wavelength than any other source for an is known as a graybody. No known
equivalent area. radiator has a uniform spectral emissivity
Most real approximations of theoretical for all visible, infrared and ultraviolet
blackbodies emit in the infrared range and wavelengths. In the visible region, a
are often used to calibrate instruments carbon filament exhibits very nearly
that measure infrared radiation.
Nevertheless, the concept of the
blackbody is of value for inspectors in FIGURE 10. Small aperture in an enclosure
visual testing for two reasons. exhibits blackbody characteristics.1,2

Absorption by walls

TABLE 1. Speed of light for wavelength of

589 nm (fraunhofer D lines for sodium).
Medium (106 ms1)
Vacuum 299.792 458
Air (100 kPa at 0 C) 299.724
Crown glass 197.368 421
Water 225.563 010 Small hole

48 Visual Testing
uniform emissivity and is nearly a distributions at various temperatures only
graybody. with this important limitation.
The emissivity of all known materials Stefan-Boltzmann Law. The
varies with wavelength. In Fig. 11, the Stefan-Boltzmann law is obtained by
radiation curves for a blackbody, a integrating Plancks expression for the
graybody and a selective radiator spectral radiant exitance from zero to
(tungsten), all operating at 3000 K, are infinite wavelength. The law states that
plotted on the same logarithmic scale to the total radiant power per unit area of a
show differences in output. blackbody varies as the fourth power of
the absolute temperature. The
Physical Laws for Blackbody Stefan-Boltzmann law is explained in
Radiation1,2 introductory physics texts. This law
applies to the total power in the entire
Plancks Radiation Law. Data describing spectrum, not only in the visible portion.
blackbody radiation curves have been
obtained by using a specially constructed Color3
and uniformly heated tube as a blackbody
source. Planck, introducing the concept of The color temperature of a given light
discrete quanta of energy, developed an source is determined by the temperature
equation depicting these curves. It gives at which a blackbody must be operated to
the spectral radiance of a blackbody as a produce the spectral distribution that
function of wavelength and temperature. most closely matches the spectral
distribution of the light source. The color
Wiens Displacement Law. Wiens
temperature may be used to measure the
displacement law gives the relationship
color from incandescent light sources. For
between the wavelength at which a
example, as a blackbody source heats up,
blackbody at temperature T (kelvin) emits
the color temperature of emitted light
maximum power per unit wavelength at
increases as the visible color changes from
that temperature. In fact, the product of
dull red to bluish white. In many
absolute temperature T and the peak
photographic and electronic imaging
wavelength is a constant. It gives the
applications, the color of the light source
relationship between blackbody
must be known to get accurate color
response in the imager. Figure 12
illustrates the color temperature of some
FIGURE 11. Radiation curves for blackbody, graybody and natural and artificial light sources.
selective radiators operating at 3000 K.1,2

1000 FIGURE 12. Color temperatures of light sources.3

Natural light sources Temperature (K) Artificial light

Blue sky 10 000
Radiant power (Wm2m1)

100 9000

40 Northern light blue sky 8000

20 7000

10 6000 Xenon bulb

High-intensity carbon arc
Photographic daylight

Selective radiator 5000 Fluorescent lamps


2 4000 Tungsten halogen lamp

Moonlight Projector lamp
500 W photoflood
1 3000 100 W lightbulb
100 400 1000 4000 10 000
25 W lightbulb
Wavelength (nm)
2000 Candle flame

Light 49
Rigorously speaking, color temperature
is used only for light sources that have FIGURE 14. Primary colors and formation of secondary colors:
planckian-like spectral distributions. The (a) additive primary colors; (b) subtractive primary colors.3
term correlated color temperature is used for
sources (such as fluorescent lamps) that
have different spectral distributions. (a)
The color of light is determined by its
wavelength components. (There is no
characteristic wavelength for white light.) Green
Figure 13 illustrates the wavelengths of
the colors of the visible portion of the
spectrum. A spectral color is
monochromatic, consisting entirely of Yellow Cyan
light of one wavelength. Most light
sources are not monochromatic, meaning
they are comprised of a variety of White
wavelengths. Sunlight and white light are
mixtures of the entire visible light
spectrum. Red Blue
All of the visible colors can be created
by mixing the proper amounts of the Magenta
primary colors. Emitted light of any color
can be created by mixing the additive
primaries (red, green and blue
components) in color displays or
projectors. The color of objects created by (b)
reflected light is created using subtractive
primaries. Each subtractive primary Magenta
absorbs one of the additive primaries and
reflects the other two. The subtractive
primaries are magenta, yellow, and cyan.
The rest of the spectrum is created by
Violet/blue Red/orange
mixing pigments of these three
subtractive primary colors, as shown in
Fig. 14. Brown/black

FIGURE 13. Wavelength of light colors: (a) refraction of colors Cyan Yellow
at different wavelengths; (b) color wavelengths.3


White Yellow
light Green


380 430 490 550 600 650 710 770

Ultraviolet Indigo Green Orange Infrared

Violet Blue Yellow Red

Wavelength (nm)

50 Visual Testing
PART 3. Photometry1-3,8

The spectral responsivity of human

Luminous Efficacy1,2 vision deviates significantly at low
luminance, less than 10 3 cdm2. Vision
The luminous efficacy of a light source is at low luminance is called scotopic vision.
described by the ratio of the total At light levels five or more orders of
luminous flux (lumens) to the total power magnitude below this, at or below ~10 3
input (watts). cdm2 (10 4 cdft 2), the cones no longer
Many apparent differences in intensity function and the responsivity is that of
between radiant energy of various the rods. This is known as scotopic vision.
wavelengths are in fact differences in the After being light adapted, the eye usually
ability of various sensing devices to detect requires time to become dark adapted
them.9 The reception characteristics of the when the light level is lowered. The time
human eye have been subject to extensive needed to adapt completely depends on
investigations and the results may be the initial luminance of the starting
summarized as follows. condition but is usually achieved in 30 to
1. The spectral response characteristic of 45 minutes.1,2
the human eye varies between Between the levels at which the eye
individuals, with time, with viewing exhibits photopic and scotopic responses,
conditions and with the age and the spectral and other responses of the
health of an individual. eye vary continuously. In this state,
2. From the available data, a luminous known as mesopic, properties of both cone
efficacy curve can be selected to and rod receptors contribute.1,2 Mesopic
represent an observer. light levels cover a range of luminance
from ~10 3 to ~3 cdm2. Many visual tests
The standard spectral luminous
are made under photopic conditions, but
efficiency curve for photopic (light
most measurements of fluorescent and
adapted) vision represents a typical
phosphorescent materials are made under
characteristic, adopted to help solve
scotopic and mesopic conditions. Because
photometric problems. Most observers
of the changes in the eyes spectral
yield only a slight response to ultraviolet
response at these levels, it is necessary to
radiation at the nearly visible wavelengths
take the adaption luminance into account
because the lens of the eye absorbs nearly
when evaluating the results of such
all of it.
Mesopic conditions may be considered
Photopic, Scotopic and Mesopic twilight, such as shaded or interior
Vision1,2,8 surfaces not well illuminated. Ordinary
photopic photometers are often used for
The human eye contains two basic types
the measurement of light at mesopic
of retinal receptors known as rods and
levels but can lead to misleading
cones. They differ not only in relative
evaluations because the luminous
spectral response and other properties but
efficiency of the eye shifts toward shorter
by orders of magnitude in responsivity.
wavelengths at mesopic levels. Techniques
The rods are more sensitive than cones
of mesopic photometry should give a
and respond more to the blue and less to
better assessment of light at mesopic
the red end of the spectrum. However,
levels than does photopic photometry
they do not actually give the sensation of
alone.13 In current practice, almost all
color as the cones do.1,2
photometric quantities are given in terms
Luminance is measured in candelas per
of photopic vision, even at low light
square meter (cdm2). When the eye has
been subjected to a field luminance of
more than 3.0 cdm2 (~0.3 cdft 2) for
more than a few minutes, the eye is said
to be in a light adapted state in which Functions of
only the cones are responsible for vision;
the state is known as photopic vision.1,2 Photometers1-3
The spectral luminous efficiency function A photometer is a device for measuring
v(l) for photopic vision assumes additivity radiant energy in the visible spectrum
of sensation and a 2 degree field of view (Fig. 15). Photometers are of two types.
at luminance levels above ~3 cdm2.

Light 51
1. Laboratory photometers are fixed in This method of photometry is called
position and yield very accurate visual photometry. Such meters are seldom
results. used in the twenty-first century; they
2. Portable photometers are of lower have been replaced by photodetectors,
accuracy for making measurements in quantitative meters sensitive to lights
the field. physical properties. The technology of
Both types of meters may be grouped measuring radiant energy incident on a
according to the quantity measured: receiver and measuring electrical
luminous intensity (candelas), luminous quantities is referred to as physical
flux, illuminance, luminance and light photometry. Physical photometers are more
distribution. Devices measuring accurate and simpler to operate than their
reflectance and transmittance, color, earlier counterparts.
spectral distribution and visibility are not To achieve the aim of photometry, the
considered photometers. characteristics of human vision must be
In the twenty-first century, most taken into account. The relative spectral
photometers contain solid state devices responsivity of the human eye is called
such as photovoltaic cells. A photovoltaic the spectral luminous efficiency function for
cell converts radiant energy directly into photopic vision, or the V(l) function, and is
electrical energy. It provides a small defined by the International Commission
current proportional to the incident on Illumination (Commission
illumination and also produces a small Internationale de lclairage, International
electromotive force that forces this current Commission on Illumination, CIE). The
through a low resistance circuit. V(l) function is in the domain 360 to
With modern metering techniques, 830 nm and is normalized at its peak,
electronic alterations can be accomplished 555 nm (Fig. 16). This model is used by
to keep the output of a receiver and the International Committee for Weights
amplifier combination in range of and Measures (Comit International des
linearity and readability. Poids et Mesures, CIPM) to help define
the candela. The values of the function at
1 nm increments are tabulated and
referenced.8,13 A photodetector having a
Photometric spectral responsivity matched to the V(l)
function replaces human eyes in
Measurement8 photometry.
Photometry is the measurement of light Radiometry concerns physical
and its properties, and the measuring measurement of optical radiation as a
instrument is a photometer. The primary function of its wavelength. As specified in
aim of photometry is to measure visible the definition of the candela by CIPM, a
optical radiation, light, in such a way that photometric quantity Xv is defined in
the results correlate with visual sensation relation to the corresponding radiometric
to a normal human observing that quantity Xe,l by the equation:
radiation. Before 1940, visual comparison
dominated photometry: an observer was 830 nm

required to match the brightness of two

visual fields viewed simultaneously or
(13) Xv = Km
360 nm
Xe,lV ( l ) d l
sequentially. The earliest photometers
depended on visual appraisal by the
operator as the means of measurement,
and such meters are rarely used now. FIGURE 16. Luminous efficiency function.8

FIGURE 15. Geometry for detector based candela realization.8
Illuminance value (ratio)

Photometer head 0.8

Light Precision aperture


V(l) correction filter Silicon photodiode 350 400 450 500 550 600 650 700 750

Wavelength (nm)

52 Visual Testing
The constant Km relates the photometric light sources, lighting materials and
quantities and radiometric quantities and lighting installations may be measured,
is the maximum spectral luminous including (1) illuminance, (2) luminance,
efficacy (of radiation) for photopic vision. (3) luminous intensity, (4) luminous flux,
Km is rounded to 683 lmW1 with (5) contrast, (6) color appearance and
negligible errors.8 color rendering, (7) spectral distribution,
(8) electrical characteristics and (9) radiant
Photometric Quantities energy. Photometric quantities are defined
Radiometry is the measurement of radiant
Luminous Intensity. The basis of all
energy, both visible and invisible.
photometric quantities is luminous
Photometry in Greek means simply light
intensity, measured in candelas. The
measurement. Radiometry and photometry
candela (cd) is based on the radiation
have the same principles but different
from platinum at solidification
units of measure (Table 2). As indicated in
temperature, emitting monochromatic
Table 3, many characteristics of light,

TABLE 2. Photometric quantities and corresponding radiometric quantities.

Photometric Photometric Radiometric Radiometric
Quantity Unit Quantity Unit

Color temperature kelvin (K) radiance temperature kelvin (K)

Illuminance lux(lx)b irradiance watt per square meter (Wm2)
Luminance candela per square meter (cdm2)c radiance watt per steradian per square meter (Wsr 1m2)
Luminous energy lumen second (lms) radiant energy joule (J)
Luminous exitance lumen per square meter (lmm2) radiant exitance watt per square meter (Wm2)
Luminous exposure lux second (lxs) radiant exposure watt per square meter second (Wm2s)
Luminous flux lm (lumen) radiant flux watt (W)
Luminous intensity candela (cd)a radiant intensity watt per steradian (Wsr 1)
a. 1 cd = 1 lmsr 1.
b. 1 lx = 1 lmm2.
c. 1 cdm2 = 1 lmsr 1m2.

TABLE 3. Measurable characteristics of light, light sources and lighting materials.

Characteristic Unit Instrument

Colora none spectrophotometer and colorimeter
Illuminance (flux density)b lux photometer
Polarization degreea percent (dimensionless ratio) polarization photometer
Polarization orientationa degree (angle) analyzing prism
Wavelengtha meter spectrometer
Light Sources
Angle, direction or zonal distributiona lumen or candela per direction goniophotometer
Color temperatureb kelvin colorimeter or filtered photometer
Energy radiateda joule per square meter calibrated radiometer
Luminanceb candela per square meter photometer or luminance meter
Luminous flux (light output)a lumen integrating sphere photometer
Luminous intensityb candela photometer
Power consumptionb watt watt meter, or volt meter and ammeter c
Spectral power distributiona watts per nanometer spectroradiometer
Lighting Materials
Optical density dimensionless number densitometer
Reflectanceb percent (dimensionless ratios) reflectometer
Spectral reflectance and transmittancea percent (at specific wavelengths) spectrophotometer
Transmittanceb percent (dimensionless ratios) photometer
a. Can be measured in laboratory.
b. Can be measured in field or laboratory.
c. For direct current and for unity power factor alternating current.

Light 53
radiation of frequency 540 THz with a Luminous Exitance. Luminous exitance Mv
radiant intensity in that direction of is the density of luminous flux leaving a
1/683 Wsr 1. surface at a point. The equation is the
Luminous Flux. Although the candela is a same as Eq. 16, with dv meaning the
base unit, luminous flux is a more luminous flux leaving a surface. This
fundamental photometric quantity in that quantity is rarely used in photometry.
the four other photometric quantities are Luminous Exposure. Luminous exposure is
defined in terms of lumen with the time integral of illuminance over a
appropriate geometric factors. Luminous given duration and is not discussed here.
flux v is measured in lumens and is the Color temperature. Color temperature Tc
time rate of flow of light as weighted by is the temperature of a planckian radiator
V(l): with radiation of the same chromaticity as
that of the light source. Because the
(14) v = Km e,l V (l ) d l chromaticity coordinates of most lamps
do not fall on the planckian locus, actual
lamp calibrations use either distribution
temperature or correlated color
where e,l is the spectral concentration of temperature.
radiant flux (Wnm1) as a function of
wavelength l in nanometers. Distribution Temperature. Distribution
temperature Td is the temperature of a
Luminous Intensity. Luminous intensity Iv blackbody with a spectral power
is the luminous flux from a point source distribution closest to that of the light
and emitted per unit solid angle in a source in question and it is useful for
given direction: quasiplanckian sources.
Correlated Color Temperature. This
(15) I v = quantity is used for sources (for example,
d discharge lamps) whose spectral power
distribution differs significantly from that
where dv is the luminous flux leaving of planckian radiation. The correlated
the source and propagating in an element color temperature Tcp is the temperature
of solid angle d containing the given of the planckian radiator whose perceived
direction. color most closely resembles that of the
Illuminance. Illuminance Ev is the density light source in question. Informally, the
(in lux) of luminous flux incident on a phrase color temperature can denote
given area of a planar surface at a given correlated color temperature.
instant: General information (definitions,
symbols, and expressions) on many other
d v physical quantities and units, including
(16) E v = photometric and radiometric quantities,
are given elsewhere.8,14,15
where dv is the luminous flux incident
on an element dA of the surface.
Luminance. Luminance Lv (in candelas per Calibration8
square meter) is the luminous flux at a
given surface where the angle of incidence
or refraction is considered. The luminous Luminous Flux Calibration
flux may be exiting, passing through, or The NIST luminous flux unit is based on
arriving at the surface. Historically, the candela and is derived by using an
luminance has been referred to as integrating sphere (Fig. 17) and an
photometric brightness: external source. An integrating sphere is
an optical device, a hollow sphere to
d 2 v control light for testing and calibration of
(17) L v = optical instruments such as luminous flux
d dA cos
measuring devices or standard lamp
emitters. The total flux of a lamp is
where d2Fv given in Eq. 17 is the measured inside the sphere and compared
luminous flux emitted (reflected or to a known amount of flux introduced
transmitted) by an elementary beam into the sphere from a source outside the
passing through the given point and sphere. The measurement device is at an
propagating in the solid angle d aperture cut into the sphere. The light
containing the given direction; dA is the may be introduced through another
area of a section of that beam containing aperture or by a source positioned in the
the given point; and is the angle center of the sphere. The interior of the
between the normal to that section and sphere is painted white with a high
the direction of the beam. reflectance paint such as barium sulfate,

54 Visual Testing
so that light of all colors is diffusely aperture or a flat diffuser on the front are
reflected, not absorbed by the interior recommended.
walls. The cavity is spherical so that light Some illuminance meter heads have a
is diffusely reflected and distributed dome shaped or mesa shaped diffuser in
uniformly in the cavity. the front. In this case, it is usually
difficult to define the correct reference
Precautions for Photometers and plane. Such illuminance meters should
not be used as standard photometers
Illuminance Meters unless they are always used at the same
An understanding of how a photometer is distance from the source. Also,
contructed can help in understanding its illuminance meters with poor spectral
operation. match or with only a three-digit display
A standard photometer head should are not adequate as standard photometers.
have either a limiting aperture (whose Illuminance meters may have various
area is much smaller than the photodiode structures of the light receiving surface for
area) or a flat diffuser such as an opal cosine correction. The reference plane of
glass in front of the V(l) correction filter an illuminance meter head can be used
so that the reference plane of the during calibration. The reference plane of
photometer is accurately and clearly photometer heads (without an aperture or
defined. Some commercial photometer a diffuser) and illuminance meter heads
heads only have a V(l) correction filter can be experimentally determined.
attached in front of the silicon
photodiode. If a photometer head does Standard Photometers
not have an aperture or a diffuser, the
photodiode surface might be used as the At the National Institute of Standards and
reference plane of the photometer head. Technology, the candela is realized and
In this case, because of the refraction maintained on a group of standard
index of the V(l) correction filter, which photometers (referred to as the NIST
is usually several millimeters in thickness, standard photometers) calibrated for
the effective reference plane can be illuminance responsivity in amperes per
several millimeters from the photodiode lux (Alx 1). A standard photometer
surface. consists basically of a silicon photodiode,
Sometimes, the front surface of the a V(l) correction filter, and a precision
filter is simply defined as the reference aperture (Fig. 15).
plane of such photometer heads, in which These standard photometers also
case the true reference plane can be more embody the NIST illuminance unit and
than 10 mm from the filter surface. When allow luminous intensity to be
the reference plane is not correctly determined from measured illuminance
defined, the departure from the inverse and distance. The realization and
square law causes the responsivity of the maintenance of the photometric units at
photometer to vary with distance to the NIST are shown in Fig. 18. The NIST
source, and serious errors may occur when cryogenic radiometer serves as the starting
the photometer is close to the source. The point at the top of the chain.
same problem occurs with a large lamp at The illuminance responsivity (Alx1) of
close distances. To avoid these difficulties, each photometer is calculated from the
standard photometers having a limiting spectral responsivity, the aperture area
and other correction factors. The standard
photometers are recalibrated annually by
using the detector spectral responsivity
FIGURE 17. Geometry (top view) of integrating sphere for scale. The details of the candela
luminous flux measurement. realization are described elsewhere.8
Table 4 provides a list of the photometric
Open calibration services currently available at
NIST. The complete description of these
services is reported in a users guide.16 The
guide covers details of optical radiation, of
calibration procedures and of
measurement ranges and uncertainties.
Internal NIST issues calibrated artifacts to
source Baffle 1
Detector customers and calibrates artifacts
submitted by customers.
Baffle 2


Hinge Limiting aperture

Light 55
Integrating Sphere Photometer
Related Instruments1,2 The total luminous flux from a source can
be measured by an integrating
sphere.1-2,6,17-20 Other geometric shapes
Reflectometers and Gloss Meters have also been used. The theory of the
Reflectometers are instruments used to integrating sphere assumes an empty
measure reflectance of materials or sphere whose inner surface is perfectly
surfaces in specialized ways. The diffusing and of uniform nonselective
reflectometer measures diffuse, specular reflectance. Every point on the inner
and total reflectance. Those instruments surface reflects to every other point and
designed to determine specular reflectance the illuminance at any point is made up
are known as gloss meters. of two components: the flux coming
One traditional reflectometer used a directly from the source and that reflected
collimated beam. The beam source and from other parts of the sphere wall. With
receiving cell were mounted in a fixed these assumptions, it follows that, for any
relationship in the same housing. The part of the wall, the illuminance and the
housing had an aperture through which luminance from reflected light is
the beam travels. This head (aperture) was proportional only to the total flux from
set on a standard reflectance reference the source, regardless of its distribution.
with the aperture against the standard. The luminance of a small area of the
The head was placed on the test surface wall or the luminance of the outer surface
and the reading is recorded. of a diffusely transmitting window in the
Two cautions are recommended with wall, carefully screened from direct light
reflectometers. The reference standard from the source but receiving light from
should be in the range of the value other parts of the sphere, is therefore a
expected for the surface to be measured. relative measurement of the flux output
Also, if the area to be considered is large, of the source. The integrating sphere is
several measurements should be taken not perfect: its interior contains a light
and averaged to obtain a representative source, its supports, electric wires, an
value. aperture and a baffle between the light

FIGURE 18. Flow chart of photometer calibration.8

Absolute cryogenic

Absolute spectral response

transfer interpolation

Absolute spectral responsivity

scale (silicon photodiodes) (AW1)

Absolute spectral response transfer aperture area

measurement calculation based on candela definition

Illuminance responsivity scale

(standard photometers) (Alx1)

Distance measurement Integrating sphere method Distance measurement

aperture area

Luminous flux unit (primary Luminance unit (primary or

and working standard lamps) (lm) working standard sources)

Luminous intensity unit Measurements with 2 m Measurements with

(cd) integrating sphere reference luminance
(transfer lamps)

Luminous flux transfer lamps Transfer luminance sources

and luminance meters

56 Visual Testing
sources and the aperture. The various Radiometers
elements entering into the considerations
Radiometers are used to measure radiant
of a sphere, as an integrator, make it
power over a wide range of wavelengths,
difficult to use a sphere for absolute
including the ultraviolet, visible or
measurement of flux without correction
infrared spectral regions.
The overall response of such detectors
can be modified by using appropriate
Equivalent Sphere Illumination filters to approximate some desired
Photometers function.
Equivalent sphere illumination may be
used to evaluate lighting systems. The Spectrophotometers1-3
equivalent sphere illumination of a visual Spectrophotometers21 and
test object at a specific location in a room spectroradiometers include two main
illuminated with a specific lighting system components.
is defined as that level of perfectly diffuse
(spherical) illuminance that makes the 1. A monochromator separates or
test object as visible in the equivalent disperses the wavelengths of the
sphere as it is in the real lighting spectrum using a prism (diffraction
environment. grating) to disperse the luminous flux
into a spectrum for analysis. Any
given wavelength of light is isolated
by an exit slit. Monochromators often
TABLE 4. Light measuring instruments calibrated by use optical glass for the visible
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). spectrum. Measurement in the
This list is subject to agency revision. Restrictions may ultraviolet or infrared spectrum
apply. requires specialized quartz optical
Devices Issued by NIST
2. A receptor measures the power
1000 W tungsten quartz halogen lamp in two-post base
contained within a certain wavelength
30 W deuterium arc lamp in two-post base range of the dispersed light.
Color temperature standard lamps
When a spectroradiometer measures
Luminous intensity standard lamps
the spectral power distribution of a
Opal glass luminance coefficient standards
radiant energy source, the radiation enters
Spectral radiance standard, integrating sphere source the entrance window (entrance slit) and is
Spectral radiance standard, tungsten strip lamp diffracted by the diffraction grating. The
Standard reference photometer exit and focusing lens are positioned to
Devices accepted for test or calibration isolate the desired wavelength. This
Color measuring instruments for displays wavelength passes through the exit slit
Flashing light photometers and is measured by a photosensitive
Illuminance meters device.
Incandescent and florescent lamps, for total luminous flux, Spectrophotometers measure the light
luminous Intensity or color temperature reflected from the test surface. The
Lamps, for color temperature concept and operation is very similar to
that of a spectroradiometer. The
Light emitting diodes, for luminous intensity and luminous flux
spectrophotometer compares the reflected
Luminance meters
or transmitted light to the incident light.
Luminance sources and transmitting diffusers Many spectrophotometers have a built-in
Material, for spectral reflectance light source. The values measured by any
Material, for spectral transmittance photometer depend on the quality of the
Material, for specular gloss incident light.
Material, for surface color (illuminated at normal and measured at
45 degrees to surface)
Photodetectors, for spatial uniformity of responsivity
Photometers A goniometer is an instrument designed
to measure an angle precisely for
Spectral transmittance filters (carbon yellow glass)
example, the angle of a cutting blade, the
Spectral transmittance filters (cobalt blue glass)
surface tension on a drop of liquid or the
Spectral transmittance filters (copper green glass) range of motion of an artificial limb.
Spectral transmittance filters (selenium orange glass) Goniometers are used to triangulate the
sources of radar or radio signals. If the
goniometer is also a photometric
instrument, it is called a goniophotometer
and measures precisely the direction of
light that is, its angles of propagation
and incidence.22

Light 57

1. Section 2, The Physics of Light. 13. CIE 18.2, The Basis of Physical
Nondestructive Testing Handbook, Photometry, second edition. Vienna,
second edition: Vol. 8, Visual and Austria: Commission Internationale
Optical Testing. Columbus, OH: de lclairage [International
American Society for Nondestructive Commission on Illumination] (CIE)
Testing (1993): p 29-50. (1983).
2. IES Lighting Handbook: Reference 14. ISO 31, Quantities and Units. Geneva,
Volume. New York, NY: Illuminating Switzerland: International
Engineering Society of North America Organization for Standardization
(1981). Superseded by IESNA Lighting (2005).
Handbook: Reference and Application, 15. Appendix. IES Lighting Handbook,
ninth edition. New York, NY: eighth edition. Washington, DC:
Illuminating Engineering Society of Illuminating Engineering Society of
North America (2000). North America (1993): p 946-949.
3. Sayler, G.[C.] ASNT Level III Study 16. NIST Special Publication 250, NIST
Guide: Visual and Optical Testing Calibration Program: Calibration
Method. Columbus, OH: American Services Users Guide. Gaithersburg,
Society for Nondestructive Testing MD: National Institute of Standards
(1998, revised 2006). and Technology (2009).
4. Born, M. and E. Wolf. Principles of 17. Rosa, E.B. and A.H. Taylor. Paper 447,
Optics: Electromagnetic Theory of Theory Construction and Use of the
Propagation, Interference and Diffraction Photometric Integrating Sphere.
of Light, seventh edition. Cambridge, Bulletin of the NBS. Washington, DC:
United Kingdom: Cambridge National Bureau of Standards
University (1999). [National Institute of Standards and
5. Maxwell, J.C. A Treatise on Electricity Technology] (September 1921).
and Magnetism, third edition (1891). 18. Buckley, H. The Effect of Non-
New York, NY: Dover (1960). Uniform Reflectance of the Interior
6. Walsh, J.W.T. Photometry, third Surface of Spherical Photometric
edition. London, England: Constable Integrators. Transactions of the IES.
(1958). Vol. 41. London, United Kingdom:
7. General Guide to Photometry. Illuminating Engineering Society
Illuminating Engineering. Vol. 50. (July 1946): p 167.
New York, NY: Illuminating 19. Hardy, A.C. and O.W. Pineo. The
Engineering Society of North America Errors Due to the Finite Size of Holes
(March 1955): p 147. and Sample in Integrating Spheres.
8. Ohno, Y. NIST SP 250-37, Photometric Journal of the Optical Society of America.
Calibrations. Gaithersburg, MD: Vol. 21. Washington, DC: Optical
National Institute of Standards and Society of America (August 1931):
Technology (1997). p 502.
9. Forsythe, W.E. Measurement of Radiant 20. IESNA LM-78, Approved Method for
Energy. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Total Luminous Flux Measurement of
(1937). Lamps Using an Integrating Sphere
10. CIE 81, Mesopic Photometry: History, Photometer. New York, NY:
Special Problems, and Practical Solutions Illuminating Engineering Society of
(1989). Vienna, Austria: Commission North America (2007).
Internationale de lclairage 21. Larason, T.C. and J.M. Houston. NIST
[International Commission on SP 250-41, Spectroradiometric Detector
Illumination] (CIE) (1989). Measurements: Ultraviolet, Visible, and
11. IESNA TM-12, Spectral Effects of Near-Infrared Detectors for Spectral
Lighting on Visual Performance at Power. Gaithersburg, MD: National
Mesopic Light Levels. New York, NY: Institute of Standards and Technology
Illuminating Engineering Society of (2008).
North America (2006). 22. IESNA LM-75, Goniophotometer Types
12. Wright, W.D. Photometry and the Eye. and Photometric Coordinates. New York,
London, United Kingdom: Hatton NY: Illuminating Engineering Society
Press (1949): p 31, 80, 123, 124. of North America (2001).

58 Visual Testing
IESNA LM-115, Guide for Reporting General
Bibliography Lighting Equipment Engineering Data for
Indoor Luminaires. New York, NY:
Bureau of Naval Personnel. Basic Optics Illuminating Engineering Society of
and Optical Instruments. New York, NY: North America (2003).
Dover (1969). Ohno, Y. and Yuqin Zong. Detector-
CIE 17.4, International Lighting Vocabulary. Based Integrating Sphere Photometry.
Vienna, Austria: Commission Proceedings, 24th Session of the CIE
Internationale de lclairage [Warsaw, Poland, 1999]. Vol. 1-1.
[International Commission on Wien, sterreich [Vienna, Austria]:
Illumination] (CIE) (1987). Commission Internationale de
CIE 81, Mesopic Photometry: History, Special lclairage [International Commission
Problems and Practical Solutions. on Illumination] (CIE) (1999);
Vienna, Austria: Commission p 155-160.
Internationale de lclairage
[International Commission on Color
Illumination] (CIE) (1989).
Fowles, G.R. Introduction to Modern Optics, CIE Report 15-2004, Colorimetry, third
second edition. New York, NY: edition. Wien, sterreich [Vienna,
Dover (1989). Austria]: Commission Internationale
Hecht, E. Optics, second edition. Reading, de lclairage [International
MA: Addison Wesley (2001). Commission on Illumination] (CIE)
Hecht, E. Schaums Outline of Theory and (2004).
Problems of Optics. New York, NY: CIE S 014-2; ISO 1164-2, CIE Standard
McGraw-Hill (2007). llluminants for Colorimetry. Wien,
IESNA Lighting Handbook: Reference and sterreich [Vienna, Austria]:
Application, ninth edition. New York, Commission Internationale de
NY: Illuminating Engineering Society lclairage [International Commission
of North America (2000). on Illumination (CIE)] (2006).
Johnson, B.K. Optics and Optical Schanda, J. Colorimetry: Understanding the
Instruments: An Introduction, third CIE System. New York, NY: Wiley
edition. New York, NY: Dover (1960). (2007).
Smith, W.J. Modern Optical Engineering,
fourth edition. New York, NY:
McGraw-Hill (2007).
Measurement Units
IEEE/ASTM SI 10, Standard for Use of the
Calibration International System of Units (SI): The
Modern Metric System. New York, NY:
IESNA LM-45, Electrical and Photometric IEEE (2002).
Measurements of General Service Taylor, B.N. and A. Thompson. NIST
Incandescent Filament Lamps. New York, SP 330, The International System of
NY: Illuminating Engineering Society Units (SI). Washington, DC: United
of North America (2000). States Government Printing Office
IESNA LM-46, Photometric Testing of Indoor (2008).
Luminaires Using High Intensity Taylor, B.N. and C.E. Kuyatt.
Discharge or Incandescent Filament NIST TN 1297, Guidelines for Evaluating
Lamps. New York, NY: Illuminating and Expressing the Uncertainty of NIST
Engineering Society of North America Measurement Results. Gaithersburg,
(2004). MD: National Institute of Standards
IESNA LM-51, Electrical and Photometric and Technology (1994).
Measurements of HID Lamps. New York, Thompson, A. and B.N. Taylor. NIST
NY: Illuminating Engineering Society SP 811, Guide for the Use of the
of North America (2000). International System of Units (SI).
IESNA LM-59, Electrical and Photometric Washington, DC: United States
Measurement of Low Pressure Sodium Government Printing Office (2008).
Lamps. New York, NY: Illuminating
Engineering Society of North America

Light 59

Vision Acuity for

Nondestructive Testing

Gregory W. Good, College of Optometry, Ohio State

University, Columbus, Ohio
PART 1. Vision

The accumulated data are then

Visual Abilities processed through a series of specific
systems. Certain of our light sensors
The identification of objects across the receive and respond only to certain
field of vision requires several different stimuli and transmit their data to
elements of discrimination. In visual particular areas of the brain for
testing tasks, vision discriminates translation. One kind of sensor accepts
primarily three elements: space, contrast data on lines and edges; other sensors
and color. process only directions of movement or
1. Spatial discrimination enables the color. Processing of these data
visual system to resolve fine details in discriminates complex views by analyzing
the visual scene. It is typically their components.3
expressed in terms of vision acuity. Experiments show that these areas of
This requires both a sharply focused sensitivity have a kind of persistence. This
retinal image and a sufficient retinal persistence can be illustrated by staring at
grain to resolve the resulting optical a lit candle, then diverting the eyes to a
image. blank wall. For a second or two, the image
2. Luminous contrast sensitivity refers to of the candle is retained. The same
being able to identify differences in persistence occurs with motion detection
the intensity of light for adjacent and can be illustrated by staring at a
scene elements. Optical aberrations moving object, such as a waterfall, then at
can greatly affect this visual attribute a stationary object like the river bank. The
for high spatial frequency targets bank will seem to flow because the visual
(images with fine critical detail). For memory of motion is still present.
large targets with low spatial
frequency, neural processing across the Differentiation in Field of View1
retina limits resolution.
3. For color recognition, normal Boundary and edge detection can be
discrimination requires that normal illustrated by the pattern changes in
photopigments are present within the Fig. 1. When scanning the figure from left
retinal photoreceptors (cones and to right, the block of reversed Ls is
rods) and that the visual processing difficult to separate from the upright Ts in
neurons transmit an image of high the center but the boundary between the
fidelity to the higher visual centers normal Ts and the tilted Ts is apparent.
within the brain. The difficulty in differentiation occurs
because horizontal and vertical lines
comprise the L and upright T groups,
Visual Data Collection1 creating a similarity that the brain
Human visual processing occurs in two momentarily retains as the eye moves
steps. First the entire field of vision is
processed in an automatic function of the
brain, sometimes called preattentive FIGURE 1. Pattern changes facilitate boundary detection.1
processing. Secondly, focus is localized to a
specific object in the processed field.
Segregating specific items from the
general field is the foundation of
identification. In this process, various
light patterns reaching the eyes are
simplified and encoded, as lines, spots,
edges, shadows, colors, orientations and
locations in the field of view.
The first step in identification is the
comparison of visual data with the long
term memory of previously collected data.
Some researchers have suggested that this
comparison procedure is a physiological
cause of deja vu, the uncanny feeling of
having seen something before.2

62 Visual Testing
from one group to the other. On the other Experimentation in the area of visual
hand, the tilted Ts share no edge search tasks encompasses several tests of
orientations with the upright Ts, making many individuals. Such experiments start
them stand out in the figure. with studies of features that should stand
Differentiation of colors is more out readily, displaying basic elements of
difficult when the different colors are in early vision recognition. The experiments
similarly shaped objects in a pattern. The cover several categories, including
recognition of geometric similarities tends quantitative properties such as length or
to overpower the difference in colors, number. Also included are search tasks
even when colors are of interest. Also, in a concentrating on single lines, orientation,
group of different shapes of unlike colors, curves, simple forms and ratios of sizes.
where no one form is dominant, a All these tests verify that visual systems
particular form may hide within the respond more favorably to targets that
varied field of view. However, if the have something added (Q versus O) rather
particular form contains a major color than something missing.
variance, it is very apparent. Experiments In addition, it has been determined
have shown that such an object may be that the ability to distinguish differences
detected with as much ease from a field of in intensity becomes more acute with a
thirty as it is from a field of three.4 decreasing field intensity. This is the basis
of Webers law. The features it addresses
Searching in Field of View1 are those involved in the early visual
processes: color, size, contrast, orientation,
The obstacles to differentiation discussed curvature, lines, borders, movement and
above indicate that similar objects are stereoscopic depth.
difficult to identify individually. During
preattentive processing, particular objects
that share common properties such as
length, width, thickness or orientation are Fluorescent Materials1
not different enough to stand out. If the Fluorescence is the absorption of light at
differences between a target object and one wavelength and reemission of this
the general field is dramatic, then a visual light at another wavelength. Fluorescence
inspector requires little knowledge of is a complex phenomenon that occurs in
what is to be identified. When the target gases, liquids and solids. For the purpose
object is similar to the general field, the of visual nondestructive testing,
inspector needs more specific detail about fluorescence is used with long wave
the target. In addition, the time required ultraviolet radiation as an excitation
to detect a target increases linearly with source.
the number of similar objects in its Studies show that the intensity of
general field. fluorescence in most situations is directly
When an unspecified target is being proportional to the intensity of the
sought, the entire field must be ultraviolet radiation that excites it. Care
scrutinized. If the target is known, it has must be taken when using short wave or
been shown statistically that only about wide bandwidth ultraviolet sources. A
half of the field must be searched. safety habit is to hold the lamp so the
The differences between a search for light is directed away from you. Long
simple features and a search for wave ultraviolet is generally safe, but
conjunctions or combinations of features individuals should use adequate
have implications in nondestructive protection if they are photosensitive or
testing. For example, visual inspectors subjected to long exposure times.
may be required to take more time to Fluorescence and ultraviolet radiation
check a manufactured component when are discussed in this volumes chapter on
the possible errors in manufacturing are physics and in the discussion of safety in
characterized by combinations of the books introductory chapter.
undesired properties. Less time could be
taken for a visual test if manufacturing
errors always changed a single property.5
Another aspect of searching the field of Components of the
view addresses the absence of features.
The presence of a feature is easier to Human Eye
locate than its absence. For example, if a The components of the human eye
single letter O is introduced to a field of (Fig. 2) are often compared to those of a
many Qs, it is more difficult to detect camera. The front window (the cornea)
than a single Q in a field of Os. The same and the interior crystalline lens are the
difficulty is apparent when searching for primary focusing elements of the eye.
an open O in a field of closed Os. In this These two elements together work like the
case statistics show that the apparent lens of a camera.
similarity in the target objects is greater The cornea is the highly curved front
and even more search time is necessary. surface that provides most of the focusing

Vision Acuity for Nondestructive Testing 63

power for the eye. Optical, refractive focusing power of the eye indicates the
power is measured in diopters. A diopter shortest distance at which the eyes can
is the reciprocal of the focal length in focus clearly. The loss of sufficient
meters: for example, a +4 diopter lens has focusing power such that reading glasses
a focal distance of 0.25 m, and +2 diopter are required is termed presbyopia. By age
lens has a focal distance of 0.50 m. The 50, most eyes cannot focus comfortably
cornea has a refractive power of about on their own to an object closer than
43 diopters. 500 mm (20 in.).
The crystalline lens is positioned just The iris is the colored ring around the
behind the iris and adds additional pupil, in the front of the eye. It contains a
refractive power. When relaxed, it has a sphincter muscle to constrict and a dilator
refractive power of approximately muscle to dilate the pupil. This
19 diopters. When added together, taking constriction and dilation corresponds to
into account their relative positions in the the action of the aperture of a camera.
eye, the total refracting power of an The iris is heavily pigmented across its
average eye is +58.64 diopters.6 As an interior surface to block light transmission
aside, the crystalline lens has an elastic to the retina except for that which passes
capsule that allows it to change shape, through the clear pupil. In bright
increasing its refracting power. This sunshine, the iris sphincter constricts to
elasticity allows the eye to change its create a very small pupil. In low light
point of focus for better retinal imaging, conditions, the sphincter relaxes whereas
depending on the distance from the eye the dilator muscle increases the light
to the viewed object. The point at the reaching the retina.
center of the lens is the nodal point, the The retina of the eye is a very thin
vertex of the visual angle. neural structure that lies against the inner
According to the normal eyes design, surface of the eye. It is analogous to the
when the internal ocular musculature is at film of a camera, receiving and
rest, distant targets are sharply focused documenting an image of the world.
onto the retina. The eye can increase its Unlike the film of a camera, however, the
refracting power, however, by constriction retina does not have a uniform grain
of the ciliary muscle inside the eye.7 across its surface. Whereas a photograph
Constriction of the ciliary muscle allows is uniformly clear across the image, the
the flexible crystalline lens to fatten and retina has its best resolving power only in
become more convex, increasing the the small, central area of the macula
focusing power of the eye. With age, called the fovea centralis.9 Thus, six
however, the crystalline lens naturally extraocular muscles are required to rotate
loses flexibility, and hence focusing the eyes to align the fovea centralis of
power. There is a predictable decrease in each eye onto the proper section of the
focus ability such that most people retinal image.10
require reading glasses by the age of The rods and cones are the light
45 years. The overall focusing power of receptor elements of the retina. These
the eye at different ages is shown in cells absorb the light energy from the
Table 1.8 The inverse of the maximum retinal image to begin the visual process.
The cones are contained in the macula,
are responsible for central vision, function
FIGURE 2. Cross section of the eye (horizontal section of right best in bright light and enable color
eye from above). vision. The rods are spread across the
peripheral retina and are responsible for
peripheral and night vision.


TABLE 1. Focusing power D (in diopters) of

Iris eye versus age.8
Aqueous Age Minimuma Averageb Maximumc
(years) (diopters) (diopters) (diopters)
Vitreous humor Lens
10 12.5 15.5 21.0
20 10.0 12.5 17.0
30 7.5 9.5 13.0
Cornea 40 5.0 6.5 9.0
50 2.5 3.5 5.0
60 0.0 0.5 1.0
70 0.0 0.0 0.0
Optic Retina muscle a. Minimum power D = 15.0 0.25 age and D 0
nerve b. Average power D = 18.5 0.30 age and D 0
c. Maximum power D = 25.0 0.4 age and D 0

64 Visual Testing
Signals from the rods and cones are condition is called nearsighted and
transmitted to bipolar cells before experiences blurred far vision. If the
transmission to the retinal ganglion cells. refracting power is too weak, or if the eye
Axons of the retinal ganglion cells is too short, the best optical focus is
comprise the optic nerve and transmit behind the retina. An eye with this
visual signals to the brain. It is interesting condition is called hyperopic; a person
to note that light first passes through with this condition is called farsighted and
retinal cells and elements and around experiences blurred near vision. In these
retinal blood vessels before forming the cases, lenses can be prescribed either in
retinal image at the layer of the rods and spectacles or contact lenses to modify the
cones. Vision is improved centrally, overall refracting power to get a sharply
however, when the inner retinal layers are focused image of the world onto the
pulled aside at the fovea centralis to allow retina. Additionally, if the shape of the
straight passage directly to the cones in cornea or crystalline lens surface is toric
the central retina. (flat on one side) and not spherical, a
To focus an image sharply on the clear image is not found at any location.
retina, the refracting power of the eye In this case, astigmatism is present. To
must be precisely tuned to the overall eye correct for astigmatism, the correcting
length.11 If the eye power is too strong, or lenses must be toric in an opposite
if the eye is too long, the optical focal orientation.
point falls short of the retina. Thus, the Additional information about the eye is
image is poorly focused on the retina available elsewhere.1,9-13
when viewing a distant object. This eye is
called myopic; a person with this

Vision Acuity for Nondestructive Testing 65

PART 2. Vision Acuity

5 units wide (Fig. 4a). The letter strokes

Object Discrimination are then one unit wide. Critical detail
(such as the gap in the ring of the letter C
Vision acuity represents a measure of the or the separation between the legs on the
ability of the eye to resolve fine detail. It letter E) is also represented by one unit.
is usually measured by determining the Using this design (5 unit 5 unit with
size of the smallest letter that can be 1 unit critical detail), a letter subtending
correctly identified. The letter is to be of five minutes of arc would have one
high contrast, a black letter on a white minute of arc critical detail. An eye that
background. With proper correction, a can resolve a small letter with only
normal eye should be able to identify a 1 minute of arc critical detail is said to
letter that subtends an angle to the eye of have 20/20 vision acuity.
five minutes of arc or less. The snellen fraction (such as 20/20 or
Figure 3 illustrates the relationship of 20/40) is routinely used to express vision
visual angle to object size. An object when acuity. The numerator expresses the
moved closer to the viewer subtends a testing distance at which an individual
larger visual angle, occupying a greater test subject can distinguish two adjacent
part of the field of view (Fig. 3a). The objects; often 6 m or 20 ft is used as this
corollary is that another object testing distance. The denominator is the
subtending the same visual angle must, if actual distance at which the smallest
closer, also be smaller (Fig. 3b). (To give letter would subtend an angle of
an example of the size of visual angle, 5 minutes of arc a distance discernable
both the sun and the moon subtend an by a standard subject (that is, someone
angle of approximately 0.5 degrees to with 6/6 [20/20] vision). When someone
observers on earth.) has 6/12 (20/40) vision, he or she must be
Figure 4 illustrates the designs of letters at 6 m (20 ft) or closer to see the same
typically used for vision acuity testing. In detail that a normally sighted person sees
the United States vision acuity letters are at 12 m (40 ft).14
typically designed using a 5 5 grid.13 The familiar snellen chart uses snellen
That is, the letters are 5 units high by letters (Fig. 5).

FIGURE 3. Vision acuity letter and test distance: (a) letter of given size moved to one third of
original test distance subtends angle three times larger and therefore represents vision acuity
three times worse (for example, 6/6 at 6 m but 2/6 = 6/18 at 2 m [20/20 at 20 ft but
6.67/20 = 20/60 at 6.67 ft]); (b) small, near object and large, distant object subtend same
visual angle, so nearer letter must be smaller to subtend same angle to the eye as larger,
more distant letter.

(a) 2 m (6.67 ft)

6 m (20 ft)


66 Visual Testing
Angles Subtended by Snellen 6 6 6
(6) =
Letters 6 2.88 17.28 18
For example, at 6 m (20 ft) distance, a
letter 25 mm (1 in.) tall would subtend an or as follows in English units:
angle of 14.4 minutes of arc to a test
subject, where 60 min = 1 deg. The 20 20 20
calculations are shown below: (7) =
20 2.88 57.6 60

(1) Letter = 25 mm = 0.0254 m

size These same calculations hold regardless of
the viewing distance. That is, whether
= 1 in. = 0.0833 ft tested at 6 m (20 ft), 3 m (10 ft) or
400 mm (16 in.), a 6/6 (20/20) letter
Test subtends 5 minutes of arc to the eye. Of
(2) = 6096 mm = 6 m
distance course, at 400 mm (16 in.), a 6/6 (20/20)
must be very, very small. In fact, at
= 240 in. = 20 ft

0.0254 m FIGURE 5. Example of snellen chart. Vision test images in this

(3) tan = book are provided for educational purposes and must not be
6m used for vision tests.
0.0833 ft
20 ft

(4) = 0.24 deg = 14.4 min

(5) 14.4 min

= 2.88
5 min

Therefore, the letter read is 2.88 times

larger than a 6/6 (20/20) letter, which
subtends an angle of five minutes of arc.
If this is the smallest letter which could be
read at this distance, vision acuity is
worse by 2.88 times. The measured vision
acuity would be as follows in the
International System:

FIGURE 4. Vision acuity letter: 5 5 matrix,

like that illustrated by Bailey.4

Vision Acuity for Nondestructive Testing 67

400 mm (16 in.), a 6/6 (20/20) letter is the smallest detail that can be resolved
only 0.6 mm (0.023 in.) high (Fig. 4). when presented with high contrast.
Vision acuity measurements may not be
Corrective Lenses good predictors, however, of functional
vision performance on the job, for most
An individual may have reduced vision objects in daily life are larger in size and
acuity for many different reasons. The often of lower contrast.17 As an example,
most frequent reason, however, is when viewing an X-ray image, a
uncorrected refractive error. A nearsighted separation of metallic layers in a surface
person needs to wear proper glasses, or may be indicated only by a subtle
distance vision acuity will be reduced. The difference in brightness of adjacent
retinal image will be blurred such that elements. The visual attributes required
small letters cannot be identified from for identification of the separation would
afar. For a farsighted individual, near depend more on contrast sensitivity than
vision acuity may be reduced without on vision acuity. Also, sensitivity to
proper reading glasses. To determine if an contrast depends on the size of the object
inspector has adequate vision for a used for testing. Often grating targets
particular task, it is important that testing (patterns of light and dark bars) of various
be accomplished (1) with the same glasses sizes are used for testing contrast
typically worn for that task and (2) at the sensitivity. For these repetitive targets,
distance appropriate for the task in michelson contrast16 is often used for
question. When proper correcting glasses calculations. At each spatial frequency
are worn, far and near vision acuity (defined as number of complete grating
measures should agree. A vision acuity cycles per degree of visual angle) the
line difference of only 0.5 is observed15 contrast of the grating is modified to the
for subjects aged 25 to 77 years when far threshold of visibility. By plotting the
vision acuity was compared to near vision threshold contrast values at different
acuity. A difference in far vision acuity spatial frequencies, a contrast sensitivity
versus near vision acuity can be an function is determined.
important indicator that a refractive The contrast sensitivity of the normal
correction can make a significant visual system is highest with medium
difference in visual performance. spatial frequencies of between 2 and
Additional reasons for reduced vision 6 cycles per degree of visual angle.16 The
acuity include cloudy ocular media (such sensitivity to contrast then drops off for
as a scarred cornea or a cataractous higher and lower spatial frequency targets.
crystalline lens), glaucoma, or a scarred The high frequency drop appears to be a
central retina from an intraocular result of diffraction by the optical
infection or hemorrhage (from, for aberrations of the eye and by the neural
example, diabetic retinopathy or macular gain of the retina. Sensitivity also drops at
degeneration). spatial frequencies below four cycles per
degree. This drop is thought to be a
function of the lateral inhibition
mechanism of the visual system.16
Contrast Sensitivity There are several methods for
Vision is conventionally graded using measuring someones contrast sensitivity.
measures of vision acuity. Visual objects 1. The Pelli-Robson letter sensitivity
of high contrast (that is, black letters on a chart presents letters of constant size
white background) are presented in but with decreasing contrast from
decreasing sizes until visual detail is just 90 percent to less than one percent at
barely resolved. There are various a 1 m test distance.18 The letter size
formulas and resulting scales to express and test distance were chosen to
contrast. One kind of contrast, called indicate the subjects overall sensitivity
weber contrast, is often applied to single to contrast. Although this test will not
letters on a uniform background and is provide a detailed assessment of
defined16 as the difference in luminance contrast sensitivity to all target sizes, it
(brightness) between the background is argued18 that, if measuring high
luminance LB and the target luminance LD contrast vision acuity, sufficient
divided by the background additional information is provided by
luminance (LB): this test to determine if a subjects
vision falls within the normal range.
(8) Contrast =

For a typical vision acuity chart with

black letters, contrast is greater than
85 percent. The measurement of vision
acuity is, therefore, an angular measure of

68 Visual Testing
2. The Mars letter contrast sensitivity navy blue, orange with yellow and
test (Fig. 6) is similar in design to the blue/green with white (or gray).
Pelli-Robson letter sensitivity chart These dichromats are different from
but calls for a normal reading distance. red/green defectives: those with
It also uses letters of varying contrast. protanopia, whose long wavelength (red)
Both the Pelli-Robson and Mars sensitive cones are missing or defective,
letter charts are easily understood by and those with deuteranopia, whose
patients and require little testing time, middle wavelength (green) sensitive cones
and their repeated results appear to are missing or defective.
have excellent reliability.19,20 The Red/green color vision defects are
Mars chart, however, is hand held inherited with sex linked recessive
and is easily stored and carried for use transmission. The controlling genes for
at short notice. the red and green photopigments are
3. The Vistech chart presents grating located on the X chromosome, so males
targets of five different spatial have red/green color deficiencies much
frequencies.21 Subjects report the more often than females. Inherited
orientation of the gratings (tilted left, blue/yellow defects involve cones
right, vertical, or target is blank) as sensitive to short wavelengths and are
contrast is slowly decreased. The rare, affecting 0.003 percent of people.
results provide a measure of contrast They are as likely to affect women as men
sensitivity to various spatial frequency (Table 2).
targets. It is reported,22 however, that
the Vistech chart has lower reliability Anomalous Trichromatism
(that is, repeatability from test to test)
than other contrast sensitivity tests. Six percent of males and 0.35 percent of
women have all three component systems
but with an abnormal sensitivity in one of
the two longer wavelength sensitive
components. The abnormal red/green
Color Discrimination photopigments have sensitivities shifted
Human color vision is possible because of
the three chromatic components of the
color processing system in a normal visual
system.23 In bright light, the retinal cone FIGURE 6. Mars letter contrast sensitivity
cells are the predominant photoreceptors chart. Vision test images in this book are
for vision. The perception of color is provided for educational purposes and must
based on differences in wavelength not be used for vision examinations.
responses among three types of retinal Contrasts have been altered in printing and
cone cells: short wavelength are not accurate for vision examinations.
(blue/yellow), middle wavelength (green)
and long wavelength (red).

About 92 percent of males and over
99 percent of females have normal cone
systems.24 Of the 8 percent of males and
0.45 percent of females who have
inherited abnormal components, color
discrimination can vary from nearly
normal to severely inferior. Deficient color
discrimination is commonly and
erroneously called color blindness. About
two percent of males and 0.05 percent of
women are dichromats, limited by a
dichromatic (two-color) system. These
individuals must judge all colors using
only the system sensitive to short
wavelengths and one of the two systems
sensitive to longer wavelengths. Although
these individuals are not totally color
blind, their color discrimination is
substantially reduced. Colors that are
easily perceived as different by color
vision normals can look identical and be
confused by dichromats, so color naming
errors are commonplace. Common color
confusions for severe red/green defectives
are brown with dark green, purple with

Vision Acuity for Nondestructive Testing 69

relative to normal so that there is less severity over time (Table 3). The two eyes
difference between the two photopigment can show very different effects, so each
ranges. These persons are called anomalous eye is tested separately. Very often,
trichromats and can have widely varying acquired defects initially show
color discrimination. Mild anomalous discrimination loss more typical of
trichromats can perform most color blue/yellow defects. Additionally, because
discrimination tasks as well as those with these defects result from damage in the
normal color vision, whereas severe visual system, changes in vision acuity or
anomalous trichromats have very reduced other visual measures may accompany
color discrimination and often cannot be loss of color discrimination. Although
differentiated from dichromats. damage to the vision may be confined to
a single color channel (for example, the
Color Deficiencies: Inherited blue/yellow system) at first, later vision
losses may be difficult to categorize.
versus Acquired
Individuals with inherited color Age Effect12
abnormalities have color discrimination
deficiencies that are stable, predictable The lens does not transmit light of the
and easy to diagnose. Color shortest wavelengths and is largely
discrimination is diminished similarly in responsible for the termination of
both eyes, so tests often screen color response at the low end of the spectrum.
vision with both eyes viewing. Except for As age increases, the lens yellows,
color discrimination, individuals with increasing the absorption in the blue
inherited color vision deficiencies have region and tending to increase the
normal vision functioning. shortest wavelength that can be seen. This
Individuals with ocular disease often spectral variation is one factor in color
show acquired color deficits.24 Acquired differences between observers of different
deficits are less predictable in their effects age, especially for tasks involving shorter
on vision and typically progress in wavelength perceptions.

TABLE 2. Comparative prevalence of color vision TABLE 3. Acquired color vision deficiencies from diseases
deficiencies for individuals of European descent. affecting eyes.
Noncaucasians show about half of percentages. Structure Primary Axis of
Red/green deficiencies are inherited as sex linked Affected Pathology Confusion
recessive traits. Blue/yellow (tritanomalous) deficiencies
are inherited as autosomal dominant traits. Crystalline lens aging cataracts blue/yellow
Males Females Retina age related macular degeneration blue/yellow
Color Vision Cones (percent) (percent) retinitis pigmentosa blue/yellow
Optic nerve glaucoma blue/yellow
Normal normal 92 99.55 Lebers hereditary optic atrophy red/green
Anomalous deficiencies (abnormal cone) optic neuritis red/green
Protanomalous long wavelength sensitive 1 0.02 Systemic diseases diabetic retinopathy blue/yellow
Deuteranomalous middle wavelength sensitive 5 0.40 hypertensive retinopathy blue/yellow
Tritanomalous short wavelength sensitive unknown unknown
Dichromatic deficiencies (missing cone)
Protanopic long wavelength sensitive 1 0.02
Deuteranopic middle wavelength sensitive 1 0.01
Tritanopic short wavelength sensitive 0.003 0.003

70 Visual Testing
PART 3. Vision Testing

optotypes should have the same number

Vision Examination of characters, a design called logMAR
(logarithm of minimum angle of
Frequency resolution).27,28 These charts have five
Periodic vision examinations are required letters in each row. The change in letter
to ensure that workers and inspectors size from one row to the next is
continue to have the visual skills required logarithmic so that each successive row
to perform their duties safely and on the chart is about 20 percent smaller
efficiently. Simple changes in the focusing that is, about 80 percent of the
elements of the eyes can require a change preceding row in size. This design allows
in glasses. And eye disease can decrease for a single chart to be used at any
visual functions so much that optimal distance required by the geometry of the
vision is no longer possible even with an testing location.
updated glasses prescription. Professional
eyecare organizations recommend that Scoring Method
adults of working age benefit from eye
examinations every two years.25 Optimal In their 1980 recommendations, the
performance of visual inspectors may Committee on Vision of the National
require vision examinations of greater Research Council29 recommended that
frequency. Vision testing using a vision acuity be defined as the smallest
reexamination cycle of six or twelve size at which seven of ten optotypes could
months may be required, depending on be correctly identified. Because many
the criticality of the inspection.
Additionally, it is important that proper
examination methodology document the FIGURE 7. Bailey-Lovie logMAR vision acuity chart, with
vision of a worker. Improper examination optotypes using 5 5 grid of Fig. 4. Vision test images in
techniques can let a worker with this book are provided for educational purposes and must
inadequate vision pass the screening. not be used for vision examinations.

Vision Acuity
In a typical vision screening examination,
vision acuity is measured for a far (3 m
[10 ft] or greater) and a near (0.5 m
[20 in.] or closer) observation distance. In
the twentieth century, standardized
testing changed only slightly; however,
scoring methodology changed
significantly after 1994.

Chart Design
In 1994 the Committee on Vision of the
National Research Council26
recommended that vision acuity charts be
designed such that there is general
uniformity from one row of letters to the
next (Fig. 7). That is, the only difference
between rows should be the size of the
optotypes (chart symbols) on the row. The
spacing between optotypes at each level
and the spacing between successive rows
should be proportional to the size of the
optotypes on the row in question. Also,
all optotypes should have about the same
difficulty of recognition and each row of

Vision Acuity for Nondestructive Testing 71

charts did not have ten optotypes in each contrast or illumination of the projected
row, an equivalent percentage of correct image be changed. A projection lamp of
responses was often used (three of four appropriate wattage should be used.
letters or four of five letters) at least When a projected chart image is used,
70 percent. room lighting is subdued. This is to
In 1994, the recommendation26 for eliminate possible changes in chart
scoring method underwent a fundamental luminance or in the contrast ratio of the
change. Research had shown that, for chart background and characters.
logarithmically designed charts with Many of the lighting conditions for
uniform letters per row, letter-by-letter vision acuity examinations can be met by
scoring yielded greater accuracy in using tabletop, professional examination
measurement and less variation in units for vision screening. With one such
retests.30 Thus, instead of giving credit for piece of equipment, the examinee views
a given acuity score if 70 percent of the slides under controlled, ideal light
letters are read correctly, the new conditions.
recommendation required that the
equivalent of 100 percent of the letters in
a given row must be correct. This means
that if only one letter is missed in the General Methodology
20/25 row but only one letter is read The administration of a vision acuity
correctly in the next, smaller, 20/20 row, examination does not necessarily require
then the acuity is 20/25 (notated as medical personnel, provided the
20/251+1, with test results in superscript). administrator has been trained and
The exact recommendations for testing qualified to standard and approved
methodology are as follows. methods. In some instances, specifications
1. Read every letter in each row may require medically approved
beginning with the largest letters. personnel. In these cases, the
2. Count every letter read correctly. administrator of the examination may be
3. Move on to the next, smaller row if trained by medically approved personnel
two or more letters (40 percent or for this application. In no instance,
more) are read correctly in a given however, should any of these
row. administrators try to evaluate the
4. Encourage the subject to guess for examination results.
each letter. Vision acuity is generally measured in
5. Stop when only one or zero letters are each eye individually before measuring
read correctly in a given row. with both eyes viewing. As vision acuity is
6. Letters correctly identified in a smaller generally superior with both eyes, workers
row can offset letters misread in a are tested initially with each eye singly so
larger row. that the smallest letters on the chart are
less likely to be memorized with repeated
use. When accurate measurement of
Chart Lighting acuity in each eye is required, testing with
Vision acuity charts should be presented different charts using different letter
in high contrast at moderate light levels. sequences can help reduce the chance of
A recommendation from the Committee memorization.
on Vision is that chart luminance should
ideally be set 160 cdm2, but in no case Near versus Far Vision Testing
should the luminance be less than Normal vision examinations typically
80 cdm2. In this brightness range, a include vision acuity testing at both far
young adult worker would show on and near distances. Young workers who
average an increase in acuity of one letter are well corrected for far vision should
with every twofold increase in chart have equivalent vision acuity measures for
luminance. Older workers may show even the two test distances. If 6/6 (20/20)
greater acuity differences with light level. vision acuity is present at 3 m (10 ft) or
For a clean white chart to have a greater, the same acuity should be present
background luminance of 160 cdm2, the for near working distances. Workers under
illumination onto the chart should be 40 years of age should have natural
600 lx. Fluorescent lighting of the charts focusing ability sufficient to get a clear
is allowed; however, the extra yellow and retinal image, and hence, good vision
red light from incandescent lamps often acuity at normal near working distances.
makes the reading more comfortable for If unequal vision acuity measures are
the examinee. found for far and near test distances, this
When projected images are used, the is an indication that clear imagery is not
parameters for the size of the characters, present for at least one of the test
the background luminance and the distances and that some sort of diffractive
contrast ratio are the same as those anomaly or pathology is present.
specified for charts. In no case should the

72 Visual Testing
The most common natural cause of J1 corresponds to 6/6 (20/20) when held
poor near vision is presbyopia, the natural at 356 mm (14 in.) but corresponds to 6/7
loss of focusing ability with age. Workers (20/23) when held at 300 mm (12 in.) and
over the age of 45 years need reading 6/5 (20/17) when held at 400 mm
glasses or bifocals to ensure clear vision (16 in.). The snellen equivalent acuity, for
for work inside 500 mm (20 in.). example 6/6 (20/20), may be specified on
Additionally, it is important to note that the jaeger test card; however, this
reading glasses or bifocals do not provide specification applies only when the test
clear vision at all near distances: chart is held at the distance for which the
depending upon the power of the reading chart was designed. It has been
glasses, vision may not be clear at the recommended25 that jaeger notation
specific distance required for near should not be used for standardized
inspection tasks. For example, a bifocal testing because jaeger letters on charts
power of +2.50 diopters (a diopter is the from one manufacturer may be twice as
reciprocal of the focusing distance in large as those from another.33
meters) provides clear vision at 400 mm The height of letters on reading cards
(about 16 in.). If visual inspection is varies according to the reading distance
required at an intermediate distance (for specified on the individual card. There is
example at arms length, about 660 mm), usually a set of numbers down the center
the material may be blurred through both of a card, one for each jaeger size and one
the top and lower segment of the bifocal for each distance at which that size text is
glasses. Care must be taken to wear to be read. At that distance, the letters
corrective eyewear based upon the
working distances of a workers inspection
tasks to ensure vision is good at all
required distances. As an example, the FIGURE 8. Jaeger reading chart for performance examination
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)31 of near vision acuity. Vision test images in this book are
requires commercial pilots over the age of provided for educational purposes and must not be used for
50 to demonstrate good vision acuity at vision examinations.
far distance, near distance (400 mm
[16 in.]) and an intermediate distance of
800 mm (32 in.). These requirements
ensure that pilots can read paperwork,
charts, gages and controls of aircraft at
near and intermediate distances.
Near point vision acuity testing is most
often accomplished at a distance of
400 mm (16 in.): the distance from the
plane of the eyeglasses (or the bridge of
the nose) to the center of the reading
material. Because vision acuity is a
measure of the visual angle of the smallest
letters read, it is imperative that the test
distance be accurate for proper
Near vision testing for nondestructive
testing personnel can be challenging
because of nonstandardized wording of
vision requirements set by different
agencies overseeing nondestructive testing
personnel training and qualification. A
sample requirement is as follows.
The NDT inspector shall have natural
or corrected near distance acuity in at
least one eye capable of reading the
Jaeger Number 1 Test Chart or
equivalent at a distance of not less
than 30 cm (12 in.).32
The jaeger near point chart (Fig. 8) is
widely used in the United States for
performance examinations of near vision
acuity. English language text is arranged
into groups of gradually increasing size.
Letter size is designated as J1, J2 and so
forth, according to the font size of the
text. The vision acuity equivalent of each
classic jaeger designation depends upon
the distance at which the chart is held.

Vision Acuity for Nondestructive Testing 73

will subtend the standard visual angle of unintentional memorization of the letters
5 minutes of arc. when testing the eyes individually.
The visual angle is the angle formed by
two lines drawn from the center of the
eye lens to the top and the bottom of one
of the tall letters as shown in Fig. 3. As Color Vision Testing
you can see in Fig. 3b, both letters F Clinical tests of color vision are designed
subtend the same visual angle, but to evaluate different aspects of color
because one is twice as far away from the discrimination. For example,
eye as the other, the letter height is pseudoisochromatic plates are typically
different. This shows that if the distance designed to determine if an individual has
from the eye is greater, the letter will be normal color vision. That is, does the
taller, even though both letters meet the individual possess the three, normal
5 min visual angle requirement. retinal receptors? Other tests (such as
Some specifications state that near arrangement tests) are designed to
distance visual acuity shall be J1 or J2 at a determine color discrimination ability
distance of not less than 300 mm (12 in.). regardless of the normalcy status. It is a
Some people believe that any reading card basic tenet of color vision testing that,
can be used at 300 mm (12 in.) for a J1 or when trying to predict the ability to
J2 eye examination. This is not so. The perform a vocational color discrimination
subject must read the text at the distance task, it is best to use a test that simulates
specified on the card for the text to match the vocational task as closely as possible.
the jaeger number shown for that text on Therefore, when determining a subjects
that card. overall color vision aptitude, a battery of
The American Society for tests is typically administered.
Nondestructive Testing has addressed near The testing of color discrimination
vision acuity testing distance in its requires standardized test conditions.
recommended practice:
The examination should ensure natural
or corrected near-distance acuity in at
least one eye such that the applicant is FIGURE 9. Near vision acuity card used by
capable of reading a minimum of United States Federal Aviation
Jaeger Number 2 or equivalent type Administration. Vision test images in this
and size letter at the distance book are provided for educational purposes
designated on the chart but not less and must not be used for vision
than 12 inches (30.5 cm) on a standard
Jaeger test chart.34
and in its central certification program
The candidate shall [demonstrate near
vision acuity] by reading a minimum of
Jaeger J-1 or equivalent with one or
both eyes, either corrected or
uncorrected. The distance for this
examination shall be dictated by the
reading card being used but may not be
less than 12 inches (30 cm).35
Here, the letters equivalent to jaeger are
Times Roman near point and snellen
letters, cited elsewhere.14,35 It should be
remembered that the jaeger test is not
strictly a vision acuity test but rather a
vision performance test.
Reduced snellen near point charts are
also frequently used. These charts are
designed like the distance vision acuity
charts but are reduced in size so that the
20/xx designations are appropriate for a
near examination distance. Typically,
reduced snellen charts are calibrated for a
400 mm (16 in.) testing distance. The
Federal Aviation Administration near
point card (Fig. 9) provides two
calibrations, one for a 400 mm (16 in.)
testing distance and one for an 800 mm
(32 in.) testing distance, as required by
United States vision standards for
commercial pilots. Additionally, two sets
of letters are provided to help reduce

74 Visual Testing
Color vision tests are designed with designed only to identify inherited
precise color and brightness red/green discrimination deficiencies. As
characteristics. If test conditions are not many acquired color deficits begin by
controlled, test symbols may differ from showing decreased blue/yellow
their backgrounds in brightness as well as discrimination, the Ishihara plates may
color. Thus, an inspector with defective need to be supplemented if all types of
color vision may erroneously pass the test color discrimination are important.
not by having normal color Several instructions help use of
discrimination but by having normal isochromatic plates.
brightness discrimination. All testing 1. Use standard illuminant C (or its
should be accomplished using standard equivalent) to illuminate the test
illuminant C, the International plates with a minimum of 200 lx
Commission on Illuminations standard illumination.
light source for color vision testing.36,37 2. Allow only 3 to 5 s per plate; more
This source simulates daylight: sunlight time leads to correct identification.
plus skylight. Incandescent lamps will 3. Subjects who fail the plates can be
have too much red light for testing and referred for further testing to grade the
typical fluorescent bulbs may have too type and severity of the apparent color
much blue light for testing. Fluorescent deficiency.
daylight bulbs are available that are 4. Do not allow subjects to touch the
acceptable for color vision testing. plates as this will greatly decrease plate
Standardized testing procedures are life, invalidating the relationship of
also required especially when tests have color and brightness between the test
strict pass/fail criteria. For example, figures and the background.
pseudoisochromatic plates should be 5. Close the test booklet and store it in a
viewed for only 3 to 5 s.37 An inspector closed drawer. Exposure to ultraviolet
even with a severe color deficiency may radiation and visible light will, over
be able to identify test symbols if a longer time, bleach out the plate colors.
viewing time is allowed. Also, shorter
viewing times (1 to 2 s) are not
encouraged even if a correct response is Farnsworth-Munsell 100 Hue Test
provided. This may give an unfair cue to
whether a correct or an incorrect response The farnsworth-munsell 100 hue test
was provided. Testers should display the was developed to measure the fine color
plates unhurriedly and in a consistent discrimination in persons with normal
manner that provides no feedback to the color vision and to evaluate losses in
examinee. those with defective color vision.37 The
Several standardized color vision tests test consists of 85 caps of color from
are described below along with their around the color circle. The colors of the
vocational uses. caps were chosen so that approximately
equal perceptual steps of color are
represented from one cap to the next.
Pseudoisochromatic Plates Subjects work with one-fourth of the caps
These tests are the most used tests in at a time and must replace the caps into a
clinical practice. Subjects must report tray in order of color. The test can be very
which figure made from dots or spots is difficult for a person with defective color
seen against a similar background. The vision because the difference in color
tests are typically designed to identify between adjacent caps is very small. The
subjects with congenital red/green test is rarely used for vocational
deficiency.37 For this purpose, they usually evaluations, because it requires 15 to
do an exceptional job. Nearly all subjects 20 min for administration. This test,
with defective color vision fail the tests, however, does present colors around the
while nearly all subjects with normal entire color circle so that any color
color vision pass: few false positives or discrimination deficiency can be
negatives are found. Also, in general, identified (red/green, blue/yellow or
whereas mild defectives make relatively overall discrimination loss). A total error
few errors and severe defectives make score is calculated for the test which
many, the number of errors made on provides an indication of the subjects
these tests is not highly correlated with ability to see fine differences in color.
functional performance. There is a moderately wide variation in
Pseudoisochromatic plate tests are easy to total error score even for subjects showing
administer, however, and are frequently normal color vision by passing a
used as color vision screening pseudoisochromatic plate test. It has been
instruments. Individuals who fail the reported that 95 percent of adults with
pseudoisochromatic plate screening test normal color vision will have an error
are referred for further testing. score of 100 or less; however, 78 percent
The Ishihara color plates have high scored 60 or less and 41 percent scored 40
screening efficiency; however, they are or less.38 The overall mean error score for

Vision Acuity for Nondestructive Testing 75

their 126 color vision normals was Lanthony Desaturated D 15 Test
37.4 percent. Using these results for the
The lanthony desaturated D 15 (dD 15) is
farnsworth-munsell 100 hue test, it is
similar in design and administration to
logical to require an error score of 40 or
the farnsworth D 15. Colors from around
less for occupations that require excellent
the entire color circle are represented. The
discrimination of fine color.
principle differences between the two tests
are the boldness of the colored caps and
Farnsworth D 15 the degree of color difference between
The farnsworth D 15 test is an adjacent caps. The dD 15 has colors
arrangement test using 16 colored disks, lighter and less intense than the
or color caps (Fig. 10). One cap is affixed farnsworth D 15 colors. It is much more
to the test tray.37 The other 15 caps must difficult to complete and was designed
be replaced into the tray according to
color (similar to the farnsworth-munsell
100 hue test). The difference in color FIGURE 11. Circular arrangement for evaluation of farnsworth
between adjacent caps is much larger than D 15 test: (a) axes of confusion for protan (long wavelength
for the farnsworth-munsell 100 hue test. sensitive cone defect), deutan (middle wavelength sensitive
The test was designed for vocational cone defect) and tritan (short wavelength sensitive cone
evaluation to fail only those with defect), with sample cap replacement for presumed medium
moderate to severe color vision deficiency. deutan defective; (b) sequence indicating red blindness.
The order of cap replacement is Vision test images in this book are provided for educational
graphed on a color circle12 for ease in purposes and must not be used for vision tests.
identifying specific deficiencies of color
recognition. Individuals fail the test when
two or more major errors of replacement (a) D S
demonstrate gross color confusions across
the color circle. When caps from across 3
the color circle are replaced immediately 2
next to each other, the orientation of the 1
Reference cap
line joining these caps illustrates the color
confusions and diagnoses the deficiency 7
(Fig. 11a) The line in Fig. 11b shows the
zig zag sequence of a red blind subject,
based on brightness rather than hue.
The test is simple to administer and
typically takes less than five minutes for
administration and grading.
Approximately 50 percent of congenital 15
color deficient subjects fail the test.39 9
Subjects with normal color vision will
pass the test, showing that basic colors
will not be confused. As with the 13 10
farnsworth-munsell 100 hue test, the 12 11
farnsworth D 15 test can identify both
red/green and blue/yellow color
deficiencies. (b) 4
3 5
1 6
FIGURE 10. Color caps for farnsworth D 15
test. Vision test images in this book are
provided for educational purposes and must
not be used for vision tests. For more
examples, see Bailey.4


14 9

13 10
12 11
D = deutanomalous
P = protanomalous
S = sample, presumed median deutanomalous
T = tritanomalous

76 Visual Testing
specifically to evaluate subtle color value of 1.3 mm (0.05 in.) for
discrimination changes as a result of nondestructive testing specialty
acquired color vision deficiencies. The test procedures. For the visual inspection, the
has been also used as an indicator of fine length of the crack, crack width, contrast
color discrimination. It is quickly and inspector accessibility all affected
administered and the results are relatively detection performance. These data suggest
easy to evaluate. Approximately that calculation of a minimum acceptable
75 percent of congenital color deficient vision acuity limit is not possible given
subjects fail this test.40 the many variables at work. Discontinuity
length, width, and contrast, light level
and viewing distance are all factors
contributing to the vision acuity demand
Occupational Vision of a given discontinuity. Also, in none of
Requirements the studies mentioned did the researchers
attempt to manipulate, restrict or even
Many professions require good visual document viewing distances. With a
functioning for safe and efficient greater viewing distance, a discontinuity
accomplishments of their essential tasks. of a given size subtends a smaller angle
This is especially true when visual error and hence will demand greater vision
can result in injury or death. For example acuity.
within the aerospace industry, if a crack or One study44 analyzed the visual task
area of corrosion is missed during a visual for inspections in terms of distinguishing
inspection of an airframe, a catastrophic a signal from background noise. The study
event could occur. concluded that the greater the strength of
To ensure good vision in workers, a signal (that is, the visibility of a crack)
vision requirements must be met during relative to the background noise, the
the application for certain occupations. more likely detection will occur on site.
Periodic vision evaluations may then be Relative signal strength can be increased
required to ensure good vision in workers by decreasing the viewing distance (crack
during their entire tenure. subtends larger angle to the observer), by
Within industry, it has been reported41 ensuring a focused retinal image (proper
that vision testing for inspectors goes back correcting lens for the specific working
about 40 years. In spite of the varied distance), or by improving the quality and
visual tasks inspectors in different quantity of light, that is, eliminate glare
occupations face, the vision requirements and increase illumination. Additionally,
they list from various standards are just as performance is enhanced by
surprisingly similar. The report states that, increasing target size and contrast above
in spite of new technology and changes in threshold levels, requiring vision better
specifications of inspections, vision than predicted from calculation of
testing changed little in the twentieth minimum target detail is advisable. Better
century. Standards have been shared and vision is important particularly because
not based upon essential tasks of sensitivity decreases with prolonged
individual occupations, nor have searching, especially when discontinuities
standards been empirically determined. are rare. This phenomenon is known as
What constitutes the minimum vigilance decrement.45
acceptable vision for an inspector in the Another study46 investigated the vision
aviation industry is difficult to determine. requirement for the identification of a
In terms of vision acuity, the standard small crack in an airframe as a
should be based upon the angular size of representative task for aviation assembly.
the smallest detail for which detection is It is an interesting example of an
required. empirical determination of vision acuity
Rummel42 generated probability of required for crack detection in aviation
detection (POD) curves to standardize maintenance. Using a computer model of
nondestructive testing by the National a standard observer as the inspector, a
Aeronautics and Space Administration for probability of detection curve was
the space shuttle. This and other research generated for a representative crack.
led to the use of an anomaly size of Results showed that if the probability of
1.3 mm (0.05 in) as the 90/95 level the detection is 0.99 with normal vision,
size that operators performing special probability of detection drops to 0.90
nondestructive testing procedures must with 20/25 vision acuity and to 0.60 with
detect 90 percent of the time with vision acuity of 20/30. For cracks more
95 percent confidence. In a benchmark difficult to see (that is, those with a
study of probability of detection,43 probability of detection of only 0.90 with
inspectors were to identify cracks visually 20/20 vision acuity), a drop in vision
in an out-of-service Boeing 737. In this acuity has an even greater effect on
study, the 90 percent detection point was inspection performance. In this case,
found for cracks around 7.5 mm (0.3 in.). probability of detection drops to 0.60
This value is much larger than the 90/95 with 20/25 vision acuity and to 0.20 with

Vision Acuity for Nondestructive Testing 77

20/30 vision acuity. The authors testing. It also suggests that all inspectors
summarize by saying that these data do will benefit from maximum correction at
not point to an absolute level of vision the proper working distances required for
acuity for crack detection. Instead, the all inspection processes.
data provide information for responsible
entities (the Federal Aviation Illumination Angle
Administration for aviation maintenance
inspectors in this case) to set a vision Small variations in surface roughness and
acuity standard based on an acceptable contour cast tiny shadows that can help
degree of risk, the probability of missing a visual testing. For this reason,
defect. discontinuity detectability is greatly
The study46 generally supports a near affected by the angle of incidence of the
vision requirement for nondestructive illumination.

78 Visual Testing

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Vision Acuity for Nondestructive Testing 81

4H A P T E R

Visual Test Imaging

Michael W. Allgaier, Mistras Group, Princeton Junction,

New Jersey (Parts 1 and 3)
Thomas D. Britton, General Electric Sensing and
Inspection Technologies, Skaneateles, New York
(Parts 1 and 3)
Brian P. Buske, General Electric Sensing and Inspection
Technologies, Skaneateles, New York (Part 3)
Trevor Liddell, General Electric Sensing and Inspection
Technologies, Lewistown, Pennsylvania (Parts 1 and 3)
David A. Pasquazzi, David Pasquazzi and Associates,
Cranston, Rhode Island (Part 1)
Donald J. Roth, National Aeronautics and Space
Administration, Glenn Research Center, Cleveland,
Ohio (Part 3)

Portions of Parts 1 and 3 are reprinted with permission from Nondestructive Testing: Remote Visual Inspection,
training modules [2005] General Electric Corporation, Lewistown, PA. Reference numbers superscripted in
headings indicate sections adapted. ASNT has revised the text in 2010, and deficiencies are not the responsibility of
General Electric Corporation.
PART 1. Photography in Visual Testing1

4. The inspection procedures that

Supersession Level IIIs write for applications at their
workplaces need to be reviewed
Several important technologies periodically and revised to
photography, videography and image accommodate new instruments and
processing practiced by visual test materials. These written
inspectors have since 1980 been procedures may be referenced by
revolutionized by advances in contracts.
microelectronics, microprocessing and
telecommunications. The pace of Readers of the present discussion should
technology is likely to continue through be aware that any discussion of digital
the twenty-first century. One result of technology is incomplete and obsolete
these innovations is supersession, here before it is published. The present text
meaning the process by which one needs to be supplemented with up-to-date
technology becomes obsolete and is information about file formats, media
superseded, or replaced, by another. The platforms and other subjects especially
issue of supersession is not unique for about digital technology.
engineering but affects many aspects of
life. The process of supersession will
repeat in other particulars, so the
inspector must continually learn new
Photographs as Permanent
things and adapt. Record for Visual Testing1
There are several areas where The eyes are sensors that can scan and
supersession affects the nondestructive evaluate objects large or small. There is no
inspector. substitute for a direct view of a test object,
1. Published standards and regulations so visual testing the oldest of the
impose requirements. It is not unusual nondestructive testing methods
for a standard to undergo changes continues to be valued. Trying to recall
every year or two, and the inspector details such as the exact size, location and
must be aware of changes that affect orientation of indications long after a
contracted tasks. visual test is at best difficult, at worst
2. Test equipment and software may reckless. A permanent visual record is
need to be upgraded. Such often needed for engineering purposes,
improvements do not necessarily personnel training, failure analysis and
cause expenses but in fact may save crack growth monitoring (Fig. 1).
money. Computers for example are Photography is often the most practical
now smaller, faster and less expensive and least expensive way to preserve visual
than ever and permit wireless test results permanently.
connections. Photographic film and Photographs are historical records with
analog videotape take longer and cost many scientific and technical
more to make and consume more applications. A permanent record of a test
space and time for viewing, sorting makes it possible to subsequently review,
and storage than do the digital images scrutinize and evaluate a discontinuity.
that have superseded them. Photographs can be used as reference
3. Inspectors need to be trained on how documents (Fig. 2), just as other
to use new instruments and new nondestructive test methods use
techniques, equipment and radiographic film or plotted data. The
applications. Inspectors need to keep main use of photography is to record and
their own logs and document their to archive visual tests.
educational activities, some of which Digital photography is a valuable
are required for certification. And inspection tool. It can be used to record
management needs to allot time for the test object in any method but is
training of the inspection staff. especially valuable to preserve test results
in qualitative surface methods liquid
penetrant, magnetic particle and visual
testing. Test results can be saved as an
archive of the inspection, as is done with
radiographs and ultrasonic displays.

84 Visual Testing
In the twentieth century, articles about like that in the reference standards used
photography of surface tests featured for discontinuity evaluation.
advice specific to photographic film.2-4 Some conditions are controlled at the
Digital techniques have obviated much of time of photography illumination, for
this information.5,6 example. Some photographic settings can
Also, in liquid penetrant and magnetic be modified later a color image may be
particle testing, surface indications have changed to gray scale for printing in a
been documented by using transfers, manual, for example.
strips of cellophane or transparent
adhesive tape, to lift indications and
attach them to reports.2,7 These transfers
had drawbacks: photocopy machines Photographing of
picked up glare from the tape, and lifting Indications5,6
was impractical for wet techniques.
Fluorescence itself would not be visible Photography is art. Digital technology has
later and could not be photocopied. Film made it faster, easier and less expensive
photography also kept the inspector from than it was in the twentieth century, but
judging the adequacy of an image until doing it well requires training and
the film was developed. Digital practice. Basic principles still apply, with
photography provides an immediate
image, and many more photographs can
be taken if an image is unsatisfactory, FIGURE 1. Cracked engine truss mount
without having to return to the site or showing critical areas and crack orientation.
repeat a test.

Inspectors need to save images of test
objects for various reasons comparison,
process control, training, documentation
and quality assurance. Photographs
demonstrate that the job was performed.
The following measures can make
photography a useful part of the
1. Few cameras let the operator name
files, so keep a written log of
photograph file names, who
performed the tests, when, test
parameters and any circumstances of
2. Write information such as the test
number, location and time
information like that used to identify
radiographs on a small card or piece
of paper and place it by the test object
within the cameras field of view. This
step makes it easier to identify and
sort test photographs later. A ruler or
tape measure in the photograph will
provide scale. FIGURE 2. Archival photograph of exfoliation
3. Photograph the reference standard at corrosion damage on aircraft wing spar.
the time of inspection and include its
image with the documentation.
4. Specify or describe photography in the
written procedures.
The visible characteristics of
photographs are affected by the
photographers choice of settings. Some
options are hardware specific and can be
selected at the moment a test is
documented zoom, for example.
Camera models change every year: for
desired settings, inspectors should consult
the owners manual of the camera used. A
good rule of thumb is that the resulting
image should provide visible information

Visual Test Imaging 85

changes due to the digital medium. Books the flash is very close to the camera lens
are available on the subject.8,9 and cannot be removed. Flash from such
equipment is sometimes reflected directly
Compact Camera versus Reflex back into the camera, producing glare.
Therefore flash photographs of
Cameras indications will normally be made only if
There are two general types of digital all else fails.
cameras in use today. They are the
single-lens reflex and the compact Exposure Duration and Sensitivity
camera. The single-lens reflex is more
sophisticated and more versatile. Its Because a macro image is enlarged,
special feature is that the scene is viewed camera motion during exposure will be
through the lens by a system of mirrors magnified and proper procedures are
and prisms. This gives a very clear view of needed to avoid blurring. Briefer
95 percent or more of the picture area. exposures and image stabilization help
These cameras have a liquid crystal but do not eliminate the problem. Camera
display on the back where images already motion can be eliminated by using a
in the camera and operational menus can tripod or by bracing the camera against a
be viewed. These cameras use solid object. If this is not possible, one
interchangeable lenses allowing a large must use the highest practical shutter
selection of focal lengths. Most speed. Even with image stabilization,
professionals use this type of camera. shutter speed should not exceed 0.03 s.
The other type of camera is the With a tripod, it is wise to use a cable
compact camera. Here, the scene is viewed release or self timer to avoid moving the
on the liquid crystal display on the back camera while pressing the shutter release.
of the camera. Some of these cameras also The self timer function lets the camera
allow viewing with another liquid crystal release the shutter without motion from
display in an eyepiece or by an optical hand pressure.
viewer above the lens. This optical Digital cameras let the sensitivity of the
eyepiece shows only about two thirds of camera be adjusted over a very wide
the picture area and does not exactly align range. With film, sensitivity or exposure
with the lens, so this feature should not index could only be changed by changing
be used for scene selection in indication the film, and even the most sensitive
photography. Compact cameras are the films were not as sensitive as the digital
normal consumers choice because they cameras. In more sensitive films, increased
are smaller, simpler and less expensive grain size causes spots in the picture.
than the digital single-lens reflex. They Unfortunately, digital cameras have the
can often do an adequate job of same problem. Photographs made with
indication photography. high exposure sensitivities also show
graininess, called noise. This noise gets
worse as sensitivity increases. True, one
Illumination can make digital photographs in the dark,
Direct lighting from incandescent lamps but the photographs may be so grainy as
can cause artifacts light reflecting from to be unacceptable. Thus, the
the test object, for example, or refracted photographer must compromise all the
light creating glare in the camera lens. above factors to get acceptable indication
Indirect lighting and overhead photographs.
illumination from fluorescent lamps help
minimize this problem. Effect of Exposure Duration on
Anybody taking photographs outdoors
is aware of light and avoids dark shadows. Contrast
A portable flood lamp or camera flash The purpose of an indication is to make a
may remedy dim lighting for a test. discontinuity visible. This means making
Digital cameras adjust automatically to the indication contrast strongly with the
dim illumination, and subsequent image background. Usually there is enough
processing may salvage a dark contrast, but for emphasis it is often
photograph. However, a test should be desirable to increase this contrast. Most
performed only if reference standard digital cameras can be set to give more
indications are visible on site and at the contrast. However, it is often easier and
moment of inspection. more practical to adjust contrast with an
Digital cameras are so sensitive that image editing program in the computer.
flash is not often necessary. Flash Similarly, the inspector should try to
illumination with digital cameras should expose the photograph properly. In
be avoided at close range, less than 0.6 m indication photography, a bad exposure
(2 ft). Because most indication may be redone unless the inspector or the
photographs will be made at this distance test object moves on before the problem
or closer, flash photographs will be is noticed. A great aid to getting proper
overexposed. Furthermore, in most cases exposure is the histogram display, usually

86 Visual Testing
available via the menu. The histogram Fluorescent Indications
appears as a mountain and valley profile
In some cases, the indications to be
in the display. The right side of the
photographed will be fluorescent. A
display indicates the amount of bright
magnetic particle or liquid penetrant
tones; the left side, dark tones. Ideally, the
inspector does not want to photograph
display should look like a mountain more
ultraviolet radiation as such but instead
or less in the middle. If the mountain is
wants to photograph the nonultraviolet
off to either side of the display, the
radiation known as fluorescence.
photograph is either overexposed or
Ultraviolet radiation is invisible to the
underexposed. Should this be the case,
human eye; to be seen, its energy needs to
reset the camera and retake the shot if
be converted into visible light. A
fluorescent magnetic particle indication is
Badly underexposed shots can often be
not ultraviolet, or else no one could see it.
brightened to a usable degree with image
Similarly, photographs called ultraviolet
editing software, but excessive graininess
are usually visible translations of
may be present. Software can often make
ultraviolet originals.
slightly overexposed shots usable with
As in night photography, the ambient
some loss of detail. Badly overexposed
area will be partially dark and bright
areas cannot be corrected and are lost.
indications will stand out in the
Therefore, if one must err in exposure
photograph. The following measures may
with digital photography, underexposure
help the inspector photograph fluorescent
is better than overexposure.
1. Try night camera settings if the image
White Balance is taken in a dark area.
Photographs can have unnatural tints. 2. Notice if wavelengths or colors are
When the picture is taken, this effect can being filtered or enhanced, either with
be mitigated through a control called hardware (by a screen at the lens, for
white balance on digital cameras. instance) or digitally. A test object
Unrealistic tints can be removed so that viewed with protective goggles may
objects that appear white on site are white look different in a photograph.
in the image. If skin appears too pink or 3. Consult reference standards with
too green, for instance, then the problem known discontinuities to select camera
may be corrected through white balance. settings and filters.
The white balance control lets the 4. Keep notes about circumstances that
photographer adjust the tint of an image might affect discontinuity evaluation.
by scrolling through a spectrum of tint
To prevent haze on a dark background,
options in a single dial and selecting the
the ultraviolet radiation must be filtered.
most realistic one.
The background and indications should
Most digital cameras also have a way
be visible. Brightness in the image can
for the user to tell the camera under what
sometimes be adjusted with image
type of illumination a photograph is
processing software.
being taken. White balance takes into
account the colors of the light source and
adjusts the relative amounts of red, green
and blue primary colors so that neutral
colors are correct before the image is
Photographic Equipment
Color can be balanced again later, in Basic Equipment1
image processing. The selection of the
Typical equipment for producing a
RAW file format, discussed below, makes
photographic record of visual tests
this easier.
includes a camera, a stable tripod, an
When photographing indications,
automatically regulated flash and a
color is often unimportant. Therefore,
shutter release. Digital photography
white balance is usually not critical as it is
requires the above items plus a computer
in most photography. In fact, gray scale
and associated equipment including a
(black and white) indication photographs
power source, connections, file storage
may be preferable. Digital cameras
media and software for image processing
normally record in color, but in some
and file management.
cases they can be set to produce gray
A macro lens is useful for closeups
scale. And it is easy for software to
(Fig. 3), particularly in analog
convert images to gray scale.
photography. The macro lens with a 28 to
Photography is a process which has
80 mm zoom lens can be made to focus
many variables. It is necessary to do some
on objects some 300 mm (12 in.) from the
experimentation to get good results. As
lens or to magnify objects difficult or
equipment becomes better, the process
dangerous to approach. A tripod and
should become still easier and more
shutter release are used to stabilize the
camera for long exposures in dim light.

Visual Test Imaging 87

Usually, getting a 28 to 80 mm (1 to 3 in.) point of a lens is the point of convergence
zoom lens means that the camera body of light or a point from which the light
and lens are bought separately. A camera, diverges. The focal distance is the distance
no matter how costly, is no better than its from the lens system to the focal point.
lens. An inexpensive lens can drastically When using a lens system for indirect
reduce an expensive cameras image visual testing, it is very important that the
reproduction quality. focal point is appropriate for the
inspection parameters (Fig. 5).
The optical component of the camera is Depth of Field
the lens. At its simplest, a lens is an Depth of field is the distance within
optical device made of transparent which the object is sharply resolved
material: glass or plastic. A lens transmits (Fig. 5). Depth of field is the amount of
light and makes it converge to form an
image that looks like the scene in front of
the lens. This image is focused on a sensor
at the cameras focal point or plane. A FIGURE 4. Refraction explained by analogy of shopping cart
convex lens or mirror causes light to come in grass.10
together to a focal point; a concave lens
or mirror causes light to spread out. A lens
system is a series of two or more lenses or
mirrors working together to transmit one
beam of light.
As light travels from one medium to
another, it changes speed. Light travels Cart turns
more quickly through air than it does
through glass, so a lens slows it down.
When light waves enter a piece of glass at
an angle, one part of the wave will reach Right wheel
the glass before another and will start slows down
slowing down first. Lights change of
direction can be described by the
following analogy. When a shopping cart
Left wheel
is pushed from pavement into grass at an keeps going at
angle, if the right wheel hits the grass same speed
first, it slows down while the left wheel is
still on the pavement. Because the left
wheel is briefly moving more quickly than
the right wheel, the shopping cart turns
to the right as it moves onto the grass
(Fig. 4). The analogy fails in that the cart
experiences mechanical resistance; light
does not.

Focal Point
The focal point is where light rays from a
lens or mirror come together. The focal
FIGURE 5. Depth of field.10

FIGURE 3. Macro lens view revealing cracks

and corrosion pitting on casting.

Focal point
Light source

Depth of field

88 Visual Testing
distance that the subject is still in focus given eyepiece. Theoretically, a field of
and is expressed as a range from a certain view is three-dimensional, like a room,
minimum point close to the camera to a and not two-dimensional, like a wall. The
certain maximum point as distant from area of interest in a field of view, however,
the camera. Everything in this range will is often a flat surface.
be in focus and everything beyond, closer Different lenses can be attached to an
or farther, will be out of focus (Fig. 6). instrument to achieve different fields of
view. Figure 7 represents the field of view
Field of View as represented by a rigid borescope. In this
example, the field of view of the system is
The field of view is the entire area that 60 degrees.
can be seen through an optical system as For different lenses, the grinding
light is received from the conical angle specific for each side results in desired
subtended by the systems optics. An features: closeup, close focus and high
astronomical telescopes field of view is magnification; or short focus, wide angle
the area of the sky that can be seen with a views and high magnification. Table 1 and
Fig. 8 show the interrelationship of depth
of field and field of view.
FIGURE 6. Objects closer and farther than focal point are
Capturing Details5,6
To capture maximum detail, the inspector
wants the area of interest to be as large as
possible within the cameras field of view.
Many cameras offer optical zoom, letting

TABLE 1. Relationships among focal length, magnification,

depth of field and field of view (see Fig. 8).
Focal Length Magnification Depth of Field Field of View

increase increase decrease decrease

decrease decrease increase increase

FIGURE 8. Relationship of aperture to field of view: (a) narrow

aperture; (b) wide aperture (see Table 1).

a 2a

FIGURE 7. Field of view of one rigid borescope.10

60 degrees

90 80
70 80 70
60 60 (b)
50 50
40 40 2b
30 30
20 20 2a
10 10

a = target in field of view
b = aperture diameter
d = distance to target

Visual Test Imaging 89

the user move the lens telescopically to in the angular field of view so the angle of
zoom in on a subject and capture more view can be made narrower or wider
detail in a closeup. The same advantage depending on their setting. As a result, a
can be achieved simply by moving closer scene can be made to appear close or far,
to the subject. Some digital cameras giving the impression of camera
achieve zoom inexpensively by something movement even though the camera
called digital zoom, or interpolation, which remains in a fixed position. Zoom lenses
crops the image and sacrifices details that accomplish this have variable focal
because not all the pixels are retained. length.
Camera focal length determines the Zoom lenses have variable focal
angle of view and the depth of field. Short lengths, an advantage over lenses of fixed
focal lengths give wide angles of view; focal length. The lens components in
long focal lengths give narrow angles of these assemblies are moved to change
view. Short focal lengths give large depth their relative physical positions, thereby
of field; long focal lengths give small varying the focal length and angle of view
depth of field. The closer the subject is to through a specified range of
the camera, the smaller the depth of field magnifications.
needs to be. The zoom lens is a cleverly designed
Indication photography is basically assembly of lens elements that can be
closeup or macro photography, macro moved to change the focal length from a
meaning that the image is viewed in a wide angle to a narrow angle while the
scale larger than the original subject. For image on the sensor remains in focus. The
indication photography at close range, telephoto lens for long distances is a
depth of field is a problem. Small depth of zoom lens (Fig. 9). To achieve a variable
field may cause parts of the subject to be focal length lens at least three groups of
out of focus, making the photographic elements are needed. The front focusing
record unacceptable. Therefore, camera objective group can be adjusted over
equipment and settings should be used limited distance with an external focus
that keep the indication in focus. Many ring to finely focus the lens. Between the
cameras have a setting for macro front and rear groups is a movable zoom
photography that changes the lens to group, which is moved appreciably (front
improve focus at close range. The macro to back) using a separate external zoom
setting does not alter the number of ring. The zoom group also contains
pixels. corrective elements to optimize the image
In general, focal lengths should be over the full zoom focal length range.
short for indication photography. Short Connected to this group are other lenses
focal lengths maximize depth of field and that are moved a small amount to
permit closer working distances. On a automatically adjust and keep the image
digital lens single-reflex camera with on the sensor in sharp focus, thereby
typical midrange lens, the minimum minimizing the external adjustment of
focusing distance is around 500 mm the front focusing group. At the camera
(20 in.). Closer work needs a macro lens, end of the zoom lens is the rear stationary
closeup attachable lenses or extension relay group, which determines the final
tube. Most compact cameras will focus image size when it comes to a focus on
down to 75 mm (3 in.) so special the camera sensor. Each group normally
attachments are not necessary. consists of several elements. When the
Very closeup photography usually
means very limited depth of field. If a test
exposure shows some desired areas are out
of focus, depth of field can be increased FIGURE 9. Telephoto field of view.10
by using a smaller lens aperture (higher f
Wide angle Camera
stop). A smaller aperture may require a
slower shutter speed and cause blurring
from camera movement. Narrow telephoto
Digital cameras focus automatically, angle
but the object of interest must be centered
in the cameras field of view. Also, the Zoom lens
range finder used for focusing in many
cameras is acoustic and will not work
through transparent obstacles such as
window glass.

Zoom Lens10 Vertical axis of field of view

Zooming is a lens adjustment that permits

seeing detailed, close shots of a subject Horizontal axis of
(scene target) or a broad, overall view. field of view
They allow a smooth, continuous change

90 Visual Testing
zoom group is positioned correctly, it sees portion of the scene that is of particular
the image produced by the objective interest.
group and creates a new image from it.
The rear relay group picks up the image
from the zoom group and relays it to the
camera sensor. In a well designed zoom Effect of Magnification11
lens, a scene in focus at the wide angle The benefits of magnification come with a
(short focal length) setting remains in price not only does magnification
focus at the narrow angle (telephoto) increase the size of the image, it also
setting and everywhere in between. increases the effect of camera motion and
Figure 10 shows the continuously noise. A camera that has magnification is
variable nature of the zoom lens. The field difficult to position accurately. To
of view of the camera can be changed minimize the effect of motion, it is
without replacing the lens. Surveillance important to have as many adjustments
elements in the lenses are physically as possible within the camera itself. For
moved to vary the focal length and scanning where no specific fixturing is
thereby vary the angular field of view and involved, a zoom lens is very useful: the
magnification. By adjusting its zoom ring camera can be positioned with the lens in
setting, the zoom lens permits viewing of the wide angle mode and then focused on
narrow, medium and wide angle scenes. the area of interest.
This allows a person to initially view a Some underwater cameras have integral
scene with a wide angle perspective and panning. Such units let the lens scan over
then use close telephoto viewing of one a 180 degree segment, looking forward
and to each side of the camera a useful
feature in restricted locations.
FIGURE 10. Operation of zoom: (a) lens If a camera with internal focusing is
system; (b) wide view; (c) maintaining focus not available, it is especially important to
while zooming; (d) closeup. Notice that provide a stable operating platform. The
lens 1 moves to maintain focus.10 camera mount should let the camera
freely rotate so that accessible areas can be
(a) viewed from all angles. In nuclear reactor
applications, the camera is mounted on
the refueling bridge and may be working
Focus Zoom Iris Lens at depths up to 30 m (100 ft). At these
mount depths, water pressure increases at
roughly 10 kPa10 m1 (about 0.5 lbfft 1).
Field of view

Because most discontinuities are

three-dimensional, there is another factor
to consider. Magnification is exact only at
the principal plane of focus. Where
measurements of overall discontinuity
size are made directly off a photograph,
the principal plane of focus must be at
the widest part of the subject.

Aperture and Exposure10

Considerations affecting the brightness
and contrast of the image are
illumination, exposure time, lens aperture
Lens 1 Lens 2 Lens 3
and image processing.
The photographer should exercise care to
ensure that the illumination is sufficient
for the inspection. In general, orientation
of the light source is a first consideration.
Lighting should originate from one
(d) direction on most three-dimensional
objects to avoid ambiguity in relief.
Where possible, lighting should originate
from above the subject. If more light is
required, it should be slightly weaker and
more diffuse than the main light source.
If surfaces of interest are obscured in
shadow, another light source may be

Visual Test Imaging 91

added. A single light source may create In combination with variation of the
patches of glare, a problem that may be shutter speed, the aperture will regulate
solved by side lighting. Too much light, the photographs exposure to light.
on the other hand, may reduce contrast Typically, a fast shutter speed will require
and make it difficult to see indications. a larger aperture to ensure a sufficient
When photographing certain test exposure to light, just as a slow shutter
objects (pipe welds, for example), speed will typically require a smaller
unwanted reflections from the flash unit aperture to prevent excessive exposure to
are a common problem. These can usually light.
be eliminated by moving the flash unit to Numerical aperture is defined and
direct the specularly reflected light away measured differently in different branches
from the lens. Another effective method of optics. In photography, the ratio of the
of eliminating subject reflection is to focal length of a lens or lens system to the
bounce the flash off a white surface. effective diameter describes the effective
focal length of the lens numerically and is
Exposure Time and Numerical called the focal number (or f number). It is
used to rate the speed of the lens and is
Aperture (Focal Number)10,12 the ratio of the widest aperture allowed by
To change the amount of light striking a the iris diaphragm relative to the focal
sensor, one or two things may be length. For example, f/16 represents a
changed: (1) the amount of time (shutter diaphragm aperture diameter that is one
speed) the recording medium is exposed 0.0625 the focal length that is, the
to the light or (2) the size of the aperture focal length is 16 times the aperture. The
through which the light is passing. The greater the f number, the less light per
aperture is the opening in the lens; in unit area reaches the focal plane of the
advanced cameras, the aperture can be camera film or sensor plane. Adjusting the
adjusted to control the amount of light f number affects the depth of field.
reaching the film or digital sensor. Decreasing the focal length or increasing
To increase or decrease the amount of the aperture increases the devices
light passing through the lens, the size of efficiency: the range of angles over which
the aperture in the lens can be changed it gathers light. This efficiency comes at
(Fig. 11). This change can be achieved by the expense of reduced magnification
the iris diaphragm, a ring of overlapping and/or increased optical distortion.
plates that contracts inward to shrink the
aperture or expands outward to enlarge it.
Essentially, this mechanism works the
same way as the iris in your eye it Photogrammetry1
opens or closes in a circle, to shrink or Photogrammetry is the science of
expand the diameter of the lens. When obtaining quantitative measurements of
the lens is smaller, it captures less light; physical objects through processes of
when it is larger, it captures more light. recording, measuring and interpreting
Reducing the aperture also increases photographic images.13-16
the depth of field, the extent to which Photogrammetry is used to make
subject matter lying closer than or farther topographic maps and surveys based on
from the actual plane of focus appears to measurements and information obtained
be in focus. In general, the smaller the from aerial photographs. Much
aperture, the greater the distance from the photogrammetry has been for
plane of focus the subject matter may be nontopographic purposes such as
while still appearing in focus. Figure 8 architecture, civil and mechanical
shows the interrelationship of aperture, engineering and structural analysis. Close
focal distance and field of view. range, terrestrial applications are used for
solving problems in remote measurement
and permanent documentation of
FIGURE 11. Common f stops for popular focal ratios.10 deformation, deflection or damage to a
wide variety of large and small objects
with surprising accuracy.
Close range photogrammetry generally
involves camera-to-object distances less
than 30 m (100 ft). Specially designed
calibrated cameras are available for this
work, but available amateur models can
work too. Most of the close range
applications use an analog approach that
involves taking a pair of photographs
with the camera oriented normal to the
object at a known distance. By viewing
f/1.4 f/2 f/2.8 f/4 f/5.6 f/8
this pair of stereo photographs through a

92 Visual Testing
stereoscope, a three-dimensional image of Monocular Photogrammetry
the object is reconstructed.
Monocular photogrammetry superimposes
Instead of looking directly at the
a transparent layer on a photographic
object, it can be photographed from two
image. The transparent material has a
points analogous to the location of the
reticle, a calibrated scale for measurement.
two eyes. If these pictures are then
The distance between the reticle and the
viewed, left picture with left eye and right
image surface is part of the measurement
picture with right eye, the object appears
calculation. Unless the reticle is flush with
again in three dimensions.
the test surface, magnification is also a
For various points on an object,
factor. This monocular photogrammetry
relative differences in distance from the
resembles viewing with a loupe such as
camera can be found by determining their
the measuring magnifier described in the
parallax differences. With the aid of a
chapter on direct visual testing.
parallax bar or stereo plotter, parallaxes
The visual inspector using monocular
can be measured with a precision of
photogrammetry needs to account for
10 m (0.0004 in.). If the distance
several factors.
between camera stations (base), camera
focal distance and object-to-camera 1. When held touching the test surface, a
distance are known, absolute contact reticle can measure surface
measurements on the object can be made. features directly. If the reticle is
In petrochemical furnaces, close range positioned at a distance, the
photogrammetry can be applied to differences in focal distance (distance
noncontact, on-stream monitoring of the to image surface versus distance to
condition of furnace tubes through reticle) must be known if features of
measurement of bulging, bowing and the test surface are to be measured.
creep as well as deterioration of 2. If the surface measured is a
components such as cracks in hangers and photograph, then its scale relative to
tubesheets or spalling of refractory and the depicted surface must also be
brickwork. Photogrammetry could prove known before features on the test
useful as a quantitative tool applied surface can be measured.
periodically for charting the condition of 3. A further consideration for precise
furnace internals. measurement is viewing angle. The
There are two kinds of viewing angle from feature to feature
photogrammetry: monocular and stereo. varies from one spot on the image to
another. The visual inspector,
however, needs to know if the camera
has introduced distortion by using a
FIGURE 12. Stereo effect: (a) schematic; (b) view from left
fish eye lens, for instance, or by
eye; (c) view for right eye.
panning the scene.
4. The photograph is flat, but is the test
(a) (b) surface flat or curved? If curved, like
L R the inside of a pipe, did the camera
rotate to pan the scene?
These factors that affect measurements
must be weighed in relation to the
(c) demands of rejection criteria. Visual tests
F R typically call for verification by other
methods before rejection. In many cases,
these factors will be trivial and can be

Stereo Photogrammetry
Stereo viewing is related to the optical
phenomenon called parallax, in which the
position of an observed object appears to
vary with the viewers line of sight
(Fig. 12). In binocular vision, two
overlapping fields of views enable depth
perception and distance estimates. For
photogrammetry, the purpose of
measuring parallax difference between
two object points is to develop the
contour or shape of a surface so that
information on deformation, relief
F = object in foreground
L = left object (contour) or movement of the component
R = right object can be determined.

Visual Test Imaging 93

Parallax difference between incandescent carbon particles tend to hide
corresponding points on stereo details of the subject if it is located behind
photographs can be measured by means the flame. Uneven heat distribution also
of a calibrated gage called a parallax bar, creates problems resulting from local
essentially an optical micrometer with variations in flue gas density causing heat
one fixed and one movable measuring waves that distort images of objects
mark. pictured in the firebox.
After appropriate positioning under a Because furnace firing conditions can
stereoscopic viewer, the parallax bar is be varied, some control can be exerted on
placed on a stereo pair of photographs, the visual environment. More favorable
aligning the two reference plates on the periods, such as when gas rather than oil
parallax bar to exactly coincide with one is being burned, offer lighting conditions
point on the two photographs. When this more suitable for taking photographs. The
condition is achieved on the stereoscope, stereo photographs shown in Fig. 13 were
both marks on the parallax bar appear to taken in a refinery furnace. Even though
fuse together into one point apparently this furnace was oil fired at the time, good
floating into space above the model of the definition and image quality are apparent.
object. If two points of known elevation
can be identified in a stereo model, the
distance of other points on the model can
be calculated. This technique is also used Still Photography and
in radiography. Calculations and Videography
examples are illustrated elsewhere.1
Greater measuring accuracies are Movies, including digital videos, consist
probably required for determining creep of successive frames of still photographic
growth of high alloy castings where the images. Still photography and moving
total creep growth to failure is on the videography share much of the same
order of 5 percent. For evaluating digital technology: hardware, processes
photogrammetry as a means of and terminology. Digital cameras designed
determining the condition of furnaces, for still photography can also make
tube sheets, hangers or refractories, an movies, and vice versa. The charge
assessment should be made of the coupled device, a sensor common in
minimum distortion, deformation, digital cameras, is discussed in the section
cracking or other significant precursor to on video, below.
failure. This size estimate can in turn be
compared to the calculated accuracy
limits of a particular photogrammetric
FIGURE 13. Refinery pipestill furnace:
setup used to decide whether results are
(a) stereo photography setup; (b) stereo

High Temperature
Limitations 1.38 m
Cameras for documenting conditions in (54.5 in.)
5.41 m
high temperatures are subject to several (213 in.)
constraints and limitations. The most
serious problem in furnaces, for example,
is the protection of the camera from high
intensity radiant energy emitted through
the viewing ports. This high temperature A B
environment usually limits the placement
period and exposure times to a few (b)
minutes. The relatively small size of the
viewing ports cuts down the angle of view
and limits the area that can be pictured
within the furnace. Lighting conditions
significantly affect the production of
shadows and modeling of the surface of
subjects. In this respect, a single lighting
source is desirable. However, in a furnace
the many burners, as lighting sources,
tend to produce diffuse lighting effects
that reduce overall shadow contrast and
surface modeling. Flame luminosity,
particularly from oil fired burners, is
undesirable because the unburned

94 Visual Testing
PART 2. Digital Processing and Archiving for
Visual Testing5,6

are not considered here. Raster images, or

Pixels bit mapped images, assign hue and
intensity values to each pixel and are used
Digital photographs are designed for a for photography. Table 2 lists common file
computer display. A display consists of a formats for digital images. Some cameras
grid of squares called picture elements, or use proprietary formats similar to these
pixels (Fig. 14).10 Displays range from 320 common file formats.
240 pixels to over 3840 2400. A A bit map defines an image and color
standard display of 800 600 pixels is for all pixels in the image. TIF and JPG
called a super video graphics array. It is files are bit mapped. A bit map does not
superseded in most computers but need to contain color coded information
remains popular in mobile devices. for each pixel in every row. It needs to
Each pixel is part of a larger image, and contain information indicating a new
more pixels provide a more accurate color as the display scans along the row.
representation of the original. Pixels are
rectangular and on computer monitors are
usually square. The square shape is an
artifact of the display; the original TABLE 2. Digital file formats of still images.
electronic datum is dimensionless. Pixels
Designation Format
may be translated into dots for printing.
Dot and pixel are interchangeable terms: Lossless Raster Formats
for example, dots per inch (DPI) and
BMP bit mapped picture
pixels per inch (PPI) are equivalent
DIB device independent bitmap
measures of resolution, discussed below.
There are two classes of graphic file PIC three-letter file extension for PICT
formats. Line drawings use mathematical PCT three-letter file extension for PICT
calculations called vectors to plot lines and PICT picture metafile
RAW extension for undeveloped image from digital camera
(virtually lossless)
TIF three-letter file extension for TIFF
FIGURE 14. Array of pixels in digital display.10
TIFF tagged image file format
Lossy Raster Formats
GIF graphics interchange format, native to CompuServe
internet service provider
IFF Interchange file format
JFF JPEG file format
JFIF JPEG file interchange format
JIF JPEG image format
JPEG Joint Photographic Experts Group, a standards
JPG three-letter file extension for JPEG
PBM portable bit map
PGM portable gray map
PNG portable network graphics
RAW extension for undeveloped image from digital camera
(virtually lossless)
XBM X bit map
Vector Formats (for line drawings)
CGM computer graphics metafile
EMF enhanced metafile, version of WMF
EPS encapsulated postscript, native to Adobe software
PDF portable document format, native to Adobe
SVG scalable vector graphics
SWF Shockwave Flash
WMF Windows metafile, native to Microsoft software

Visual Test Imaging 95

For this reason, an image with much solid inherent in JPG files. RAW files have
color requires a small bit map. many advantages over JPG files, including
The term pixel can also mean an the following:
element in a sensor array. An array is a 1. Image quality is higher.
group of adjacent receptors each of which 2. RAW conversion software gives the
records a single point of radiation and user fine control of more parameters
which together provide a composite such as lightness, color balance, hue
picture. Such arrays are in cameras and and saturation.
other radiation detectors (X-ray 3. Edits are performed nondestructively,
fluoroscopes and infrared cameras) at without degrading image quality.
various wavelengths. 4. If the file is not compressed, the
maximum amount of image detail is
always kept within it.
File Formats Camera manufacturers use different
File formatting has been evolving rapidly versions of RAW format. As of 2009, there
with advances in digital technology. is no widely accepted standard for RAW
Several standards may be consulted or format, so more specialized software may
referenced for digital image archives.8-11 be required to open RAW files than to
The file formats for digital photographs open standardized formats like JPG or TIF.
fall into two classes: lossy and lossless Cameras that support RAW files typically
(Table 2). Lossy formats compress files to come with proprietary software for
save hard disk space. A format is said to conversion of their RAW format to TIF or
be lossy when digital information and JPG. To retrieve an image from a RAW file,
hence image detail are lost. JPG files are the data must first be converted into a
lossy and are used in many digital red, green and blue (RGB) image.
cameras and web pages because their Because of proprietary formatting,
compression makes small files and some formats listed in Table 2 are in fact
because they can be viewed on personal families of related formats. There are
computers. Lossless TIF and PICT and several forms of TIF and of PNG, for
nearly lossless RAW formats provide example, and a given version may not
similar files but use more disk memory. work with a given program. Before using
Inspectors who archive digital new equipment, the inspector will want
photographs need to be aware that to check that test images can be
converting files from a lossless to a lossy transferred to and viewed with hardware
format (for example, from a TIF to a JPG) at the archiving location.
can degrade images so that some details,
such as crack tips, are harder to see. There
are several occasions when this sort of Image Characteristics
image degradation can take place:
(1) when a file is changed from a lossless Many computer programs are widely
to a lossy format, such as TIF to JPG; available for processing digital images.
(2) when a lossy image is converted to a They let the user adjust settings that, in
file with lower size or resolution; (3) when the twentieth century, used to rely on the
an image is imported into a document skill of a photographer at the moment of
created by a word processing or layout image capture or film development.
program. This reduction may be
inadvertent, caused by program settings. Color
Of course, an image conversion may have
no effect on the usefulness of the Hue. A color is described by its hue,
resulting image: though degraded, it may saturation and value (HSV). Hue is what is
still show all features of interest. normally thought of as color. A digital
Procedures need to be clear so that color in a computer display is a blend of
they can be followed. The procedures three primary hues: red, green and blue.
describing how photographs are archived Saturation is the intensity or dominance
should include definitions of lossy and of a hue: a hue can be increased or
lossless and of file formats so that the diminished in an image just as black
results can be interpreted later. versus white can be adjusted in an image
The purpose of the camera RAW format through all shades of gray. Value is the
is to record all of the exact data from the lightness or darkness of a hue and is
cameras sensor and any other metadata, usually called brightness when the three
such as time and camera settings. Camera hues are combined in white light. Image
RAW files are much larger than JPG files. processing software permits the intensity
Some RAW formats do not use and value of these hues to be adjusted
compression; others implement lossy data independently within each image.
compression to reduce file size without Conversion to Gray. If the image is
affecting image quality. Camera RAW converted to gray scale, as in a report
formats avoid the compression artifacts printout, care must be taken that features

96 Visual Testing
of interest remain visible: a fluorescent manipulated independently but to
nondestructive test indication in brilliant prevent distortion usually undergo the
green may disappear entirely if it changes same processes as the horizontal.
to a shade of gray like that in an adjacent The number of pixels in an image can
area. be decreased or increased in a step called
Color Balance. The camera setting of resampling or conversion. Resampling
white balance, discussed above, can cannot add more data to a photograph
improve the realism of color photographs once it has been shot.
by preventing unnatural tints. Image
processing programs also enable Resolution
improvement of color balance. Program The resolution of an image is its ability to
menus may refer to it by other terms, distinguish small adjacent objects. Two
such as color intensity or hue saturation. thin adjacent lines appear as two thin
If a photograph is taken in a digital lines, for instance, and not as one thicker
cameras RAW file format, image colors line. Resolution depends on the number
can be fixed without information loss. of pixels in the image and hence on its
Most cameras take RAW photos in twelve- file size. In Fig. 16, two versions of the
bit color (4096 shades per color) instead same image show the difference between
of eight-bit color (256 shades per color), high and low resolution. Details in an
enabling powerful balance adjustments image cannot be restored simply by
without visible loss in quality. converting it to a higher resolution or
from a lossy to a lossless format. Once an
Size images resolution is reduced, details are
The more pixels in an image, the more lost. If a displays resolution exceeds an
information it carries. An images quantity images resolution, the image will look
of pixels is its true size in the blurry.
dimensionless electronic space of the Resolution is measured in dots per inch
computer. (DPI) for printers or square pixels per inch
To be viewed, the image must be (PPI) for computer displays, measured
translated to a medium such as a along the horizontal axis. Alternatives
computer display or printed page, where using SI metric units are to specify pixels
details become visible to human eyes in per centimeter (pixelscm1) or the pixel
order to be interpreted. In a process width in micrometers (m).
known as scaling, the pixels can be Because the number of pixels in a
compressed or spread out to fit the desired scalable image is fixed, however, an
viewing surface (Fig. 15). Scaling affects expression of resolution is meaningless
resolution, discussed below.
Image size and resolution are usually
expressed in terms of image width, in the FIGURE 16. Visible light photograph showing
horizontal dimension. The size and magnetic particle indication under
resolution of the vertical scale can be ultraviolet lamp: (a) high resolution, at
40 pixelscm1 (100 PPI); (b) low resolution,
at 10 pixelscm1 (25 PPI). Lower resolution
FIGURE 15. Example of scaling of digital blurs details. Lowering resolution sometimes
images. enhances contrast or increases hue intensity
side effects better achieved by image
processes that do not sacrifice detail.


228 pixels gives

resolution of
58 pixelscm1 (144 DPI)

50 mm (2 in.)


228 pixels gives resolution of

29 pixelscm1 (72 DPI)

100 mm (4 in.)

Visual Test Imaging 97

unless the viewed image size is also have zero saturation, the image is
specified. If a given digital image is colorless, black.
reduced to half its width, for instance, the Contrast. The setting of contrast controls
number of pixels per unit of width and the degree of difference between light
the resolution are doubled (Fig. 15). The intensities at different points in the
data in the image file may remain the image. Like brightness, contrast is
same, but smaller size makes details adjusted to affect all pixels in an image at
harder to see. Someone processing digital once. As contrast is increased, for
images must make decisions balancing example, a dark indication becomes easier
image size versus resolution. to see on a bright background and a
bright indication becomes more visible on
Brightness a dark background.
Contrast and brightness interact
Brightness is the common term for the closely, and the inspector must sometimes
luminance of light emitted by each pixel. adjust them to find the correct settings for
Usually, one control setting adjusts each photograph. Figure 17 shows the
brightness to affect all pixels in an image effect of brightness and contrast on an
simultaneously. This parameter can be image.
adjusted to compensate for poor visibility
on overcast days. Too little brightness can
make a picture dark as night, and too
much brightness can make it washed out Image Integrity
so no features stand out. Inspectors may be tempted to enhance
Saturation. In a color image, saturation is images to justify accept/reject decisions.
the intensity of a hue. A hue of zero This temptation should be treated with
saturation is black or gray. If all three hues caution. The inspector may consider
several rules of thumb.

FIGURE 17. Photograph of cracked rod: (a) high contrast, high brightness; (b) high contrast, low brightness; (c) low contrast,
high brightness; (d) low contrast, low brightness.

(a) (b) (c) (d)

98 Visual Testing
1. Local features including indications 1. The vision acuity of the viewing
must not be exaggerated or obscured human can be impaired by medical
using image processing tools having conditions such as myopia and color
descriptors such as pencil, eraser, flood, blindness.
spray or smudge. These alterations of 2. The visibility of a shot is affected by
an image could be considered things such as light and camera
falsification of test results. position.
2. Image settings such as zoom, 3. The useful detail in an image is
brightness and contrast may be freely affected by its size and by its quality in
adjusted, as photographers have done terms of features such as contrast and
for generations. resolution.
3. A photograph of the reference Technology has given the inspector
standard should be included in the options beyond the scope of the present
archive and used to evaluate discussion: (1) light measurement and
modifications made to test images. illumination, (2) optical gaging and range
How do the same modifications affect finding, (3) photography sensitive to
discontinuity visibility in the reference other wavelengths, including ultraviolet
standard? and infrared, and (4) video
For some applications, a written documentation of inspection, more for
statement on image processing may be a procedures than for indications. These
desirable part of an inspection procedure. and other options depend on hardware.
Accept/reject decisions are usually made The present discussion also does not
at the moment of inspection and in the consider marine environments or
presence of the test object. If some extremes of altitude or temperature.
decisions are made later, that protocol can Most inspectors already use a computer
be documented in the procedure. for communication, for research and for
In some archives, a files metadata, writing procedures. With the investment
including its creation date, are part of its of a few hundred dollars for a camera and
documentation. These metadata can be software, an inspector can add digital
lost if an image is saved in another photography to the inspection options.
format. With practice and planning, digital
photography can be a valuable tool for
inspection and quality control.

In practice, the viewing quality of a
digital photograph depends on several

Visual Test Imaging 99

PART 3. Video10,11

The considerations discussed above for fluctuations in the signal are meaningful.
still images pertain also to motion The primary disadvantage of analog
pictures, or movies. The term video applies signaling is that, if any signal acquires
specifically to movie signals transmitted random noise as it is copied or
electronically. There have been three transmitted, these random variations
different platforms for moving pictures. become dominant. Electrically these losses
1. Film projection was used for are lessened by shielding, good
commercial cinema in the twentieth connections including coaxial and twisted
century. Each frame was in effect an pair cables.
individual color slide, and they were A digital system uses a series of discrete
sequenced on spools, or reels. A long values rather than a continuum of values.
movie consisted of thousands of Waves are encoded as digital signals in a
frames and required several reels. Film sequence of ones and zeros in the binary
of smaller width, and hence less language of computing. Each selected
resolution, was widely used at home individual point on the line is an integral
and by industry. Some film was in single value. When reproduced on a video
black and white. screen, a large number of single values
2. Analog video was used for television. appear as a stream of values representing
The moving images were converted the original wave.
electronically into a series of It should be pointed out that videotape
horizontal lines that scanned across presents its analog signal as individual
the screen successively in a raster frames that appear as a succession of
pattern. Analog television can be in discrete image signals. These frames,
color or in black and white. however, are an artifact of the display
3. In digital displays, a movie consists of medium. What appears to be a single
a series of still images, or frames, analog frame is built out of adjacent lines
viewed in succession to recreate the in a raster arrangement. The signal input
appearance of motion (Fig. 18). Digital to the video recorder is continuous, the
video can be viewed on a computer raster lines succeed each other more
display or on a digital television quickly than the human eye can track
screen. and the whole screen display is a
composite of these line signals.
A great variety of analog devices persist
in the twenty-first century: film cameras,
Analog versus Digital10 microphones, speakers, luminaires
(lamps), switches, machinery controls (for
An analog signal is any continuous sorting in assembly lines, for example),
variable signal and consists of a cathode ray tubes and closed circuit
continuum of values (Table 3). It differs monitors. In electronics, a
from a digital signal in that small digital-to-analog converter is needed to
convert a digital, usually binary, code to
an analog signal, usually an electric
FIGURE 18. Falling object in video: (a) 30 frames per second; current or voltage. Signals are converted
(b) 25 frames per second. with switches or a network of resistors or
current (electricity) sources. An
(a) analog-to-digital converter performs the
reverse operation. Many digital devices,

TABLE 3. Analog versus digital formatting.

Format Sampling Interval

Analog continuous stream of data

Digital with low sampling values for discrete moments
Digital with higher sampling discrete values in briefer intervals
0.20 s

100 Visual Testing

including household appliances, (2) a two-dimensional imagers of visual
incorporate circuitry to convert signals data over an area.
from a digital interface to analog A major category of photoelectric
performance, or vice versa, automatically. sensors, solid state image amplifiers, is
discussed below.
Discontinuity Size Visibility11 Photoemissive devices include
photoemissive cells and photomultipliers,
In the twentieth century, the resolution of photoconductive cells, photovoltaic cells
an analog television system was expressed and various devices that measure radiant
as the number of lines in the picture. The energy directly, such as bolometers
electron beam produces a picture by (thermal radiation detectors) and
drawing repeated lines of varying thermocouples. In the second category are
brightness across the tube. In analog various image converter tubes, image
video broadcasting, a signal with 525 lines amplifier screens and television pickup
has been used. About 480 lines actually tubes. Photoemissive devices feature
form the picture and the balance are used materials that emit electrons under the
to return the beam from the bottom to influence of electromagnetic radiation,
the top of the screen. There is also a kind such as light. These electrons are then
of resolution in the horizontal direction, drawn away from the emitting surface by
because television monitors are designed an electric field and used as the signal
to have equivalent horizontal and vertical current, which may actuate relays to be
resolution. Closed circuit television amplified electronically. The emission of
systems used for visual nondestructive electrons in response to light is explained
tests sometimes had resolution of 500 by the quantum theory of radiation. A
lines, higher than consumer broadcast potential barrier at the surface is the total
systems of about 200 lines. energy an electron must have to escape.
Usually, a video system cannot resolve When its energy exceeds this threshold,
narrower than a pixel. The smallest detail an electron is emitted.
that can be resolved is predicted without The photoelectric cell or multiplier
magnification. If a lens with 2:1 phototube is used in many ways in
magnification is used, the requirements industrial nondestructive testing. One of
on the electronic system are not so high the most common uses is the
and the size of the detail that can be measurement of radiant flux. In many
resolved is smaller. In practice, it is best to respects, the phototube exceeds the
magnify by moving the camera closer to capabilities of the human eye. It can
the test object than merely to plug the detect not only radiation invisible to the
video output into a larger screen. Also, eye but can also accurately measure
because of considerations such as quantities of light without reference to a
orientation and lighting, indications may standard, as required in a visual
be detected that are narrower than a photometer. The familiar photoelectric
resolution calculation would predict. exposure meter is no more than a barrier
Moreover, resolution is a characteristic of layer photovoltaic cell and a sensitive
an entire system the recording meter.
medium, the video camera and the In addition to measuring light flux,
monitor. The best way to quantify the photoelectric devices permit
resolution of a system is to use vision measurements of reflectance and
acuity charts and test objects with known transmission of materials, comparisons of
discontinuities. two or more sources of light and (with the
aid of filters or some type of spectrometer)
colorimetric measurements. Phototubes
find a natural application in
Photoelectric Sensors11 spectrophotometry. Next to the
The photoelectric effect is the emission of measurement of radiant flux, perhaps the
electrons from some materials in the most widespread use of photoelectric
presence of electromagnetic radiation. devices is in monitoring and control
Photoelectric sensors tuned to radiation applications: street lamps, smoke
were used for television cameras in the detectors, door openers and safety
twentieth century. They converted interlocks on punch presses. They inspect
information in the form of light into bottles after washing and detect foreign
electrical signals that could then be matter in filled soft drink bottles. They
amplified or processed to let the observer sort products such as beans, peas and
gather and interpret the test data. The coffee and actuate mechanisms for
information gathered may be from the rejecting discolored products.
visible region or in a form invisible to the Many materials (primarily metals)
eye, such as X-ray, ultraviolet or infrared permit photoemission. By far the most
radiation. There are two broad important such materials are compounds
classifications of photoelectric devices: and alloys of the alkali metals, principally
(1) detectors or measuring devices and cesium. Of these, the most widely used

Visual Test Imaging 101

are cesium antimony alloys and cesium coupled devices use a special
oxygen silver compounds. The cesium manufacturing process to create the
antimony emitters are true alloys, while ability to transport to the chip without
the cesium oxygen silver emitters are distortion. This process leads to sensors of
complex surfaces made from layers of high quality in terms of fidelity and light
cesium, cesium oxide and silver oxide in sensitivity.
varying proportions on a silver base. The charge coupled device imager is a
Cesium antimony surfaces may have a solid state silicon chip similar in structure
quantum efficiency of 10 to 30 percent. to a photovoltaic cell but more complex.
Photoemitters of this type have responses The charge coupled device is widely used
that are selective to wavelength of for digital memory and analog signal
illumination, so some respond to infrared processing, as well as optical imaging. A
and some to visible radiation or some charge coupled device camera system
other waveband. This selectivity varies consists of a lens system, a charge coupled
greatly with processing. device imager and processing electronics.
The device includes a monolithic array of
many loosely spaced, light sensitive,
metal oxide semiconductor capacitors that
Solid State Image transfer an analog signal charge from one
Amplifier11 capacitor to the next. Each capacitor
corresponds to a picture element, or pixel,
The solid state image amplifier is a in a display.
sandwich of a photoconductive layer and The capacitors that collect the electrical
an electroluminescent layer. The charge are colorblind: they track only the
electroluminescent layer is composed of a total intensity of the light that hits the
material that emits light in response to an surface. To get a full color image, filters
applied voltage. The photoconductor and are needed. These filters allow the light to
the electroluminescent material are be seen in the three primary colors, which
essentially in series across a suitable are then added together to attain a full
alternating current voltage supply. In color image in the full spectrum of colors.
darkness, the photoconductor is highly Each photosite collects varying amounts
resistive and passes no current. When of electrical charge and therefore
light falls on it, it becomes conductive represent brighter and darker sections of
and current flows through the sandwich, the image. The electrical charge in each
causing the luminescent material to emit photosite is analog information, measured
light in the illuminated regions. Light and digitized into binary form.
amplifications up to 1000 have been Figure 19 shows in detail how each
obtained. pixel works. The lens focuses the image of
A modification of this light amplifier is an object on the surface of the charge
the amplifying fluoroscope. In this device, coupled device, where the light is
the photoconductive material responds converted to electrons. This effect is
directly to X-ray radiation and, by the photoelectric, the basis of common
same principle as the light amplifier, devices such as automatic night lights and
converts it to visible light. An certain types of paper copiers. The pixels
amplification of 100 over the output of a are separate from each other, and the
conventional fluoroscope has been number of electrons produced in each one
obtained. is proportional to the intensity of light
focused on that particular pixel. This
Charge Coupled Device10 differential charging contains information
Digital cameras are used to capture still needed to form an image.
images. The image can then be saved to
memory and transferred to a computer.
From the computer, the image can be FIGURE 19. Activation of one pixel from charge coupled
manipulated, shared, stored, printed and device.
much more.
Electron collection Silicon
Most digital cameras use a charge region substrate
coupled device (CCD) as an image sensor.
The charge coupled device is a collection
of photosites, light sensitive diodes that
convert light into electrical charge
(photons into electrons). The brighter the
light that hits a single photosite, the
greater the electrical charge that will be
accumulated. This electrical charge is then
Photons from
transported across the chip and read in image scene
one corner of the array. Each pixels value
Color filter Doped electrode Insulator
is then turned into a digital value by an
analog-to-digital converter. The charge

102 Visual Testing

The amount of detail that can be resolution image than do conventional
captured is called the resolution and is fiberscopes. Because of the charge coupled
measured in pixels. The more pixels there devices diminutive size, the silicon chip
are, the more detail that can be captured. can be placed within the tip of a small
The more detail there is, the more a diameter probe capable of penetrating the
picture can be enlarged without becoming smallest apertures. Its advanced
grainy and looking out of focus. microelectronic technology enables the
Some typical resolutions include the charge coupled device to function as a
following: 256 256 pixels, resolution is miniature television camera able to record
so low that the picture quality is almost and display images with great clarity on a
always unacceptable, 65 000 total pixels; video monitor. The devices ability to
640 480 pixels, 307 000 total pixels; generate, detect, and shift distinct packets
1216 912 pixels, 1 109 000 total pixels; of electrons makes charge coupling
1600 1200 pixels, almost 2 million total suitable for many different information
pixels; 1920 1080 pixels, 2 073 600 processing applications, including image
pixels is the pixel count for high sensing in video camera technology.
definition television displays.
Unlike common photovoltaic cells,
charge coupled device pixels feature a
storage cell in each element that collects Digital File Formats
and stores the electrons as they are
produced. The image of the object is then Codecs
stored in the form of electrons on the
charge coupled device, but is of no use A codec is software that encodes or
unless the location and number of decodes a data stream for digital
electrons in each pixel can be identified. processing. Video codecs compress or
At this point, the charge coupling decompress video files for transmission,
effect of the charge coupled device comes storage or viewing. Most codecs are lossy,
into play. Finite amounts of electrical sacrificing data for the sake of efficiency.
charge (that is, packets of electrons) are Many codecs are proprietary, designed to
transferred from one pixel site to the work with particular commercial software
next, just as water is moved from one or hardware products; compatability
bucket to the next in a bucket brigade problems can arise among versions,
(Fig. 20). The force required to move these platforms and competing software.
electrons is produced in the pixels by A codec determines the format of the
means of a voltage that alternately turns video file created with it, so the visual
on and off. As this clock voltage inspector selecting a codec for visual
alternates, the electrons move from one testing purposes must consider what
site to the other, and after the last pixel format is desired for short term evaluation
the electrons are converted to a voltage of files and for their long term archiving.
proportional to their number, this voltage The selection of codec also affects the
is amplified, filtered, and then applied to selection of hardware and vice versa.
the input of a video monitor. Codecs define the video settings such
Charge coupled device image sensor as the frame rate and size. There are many
systems produce a brighter, higher video codecs and formats. Some are listed
in Table 4.

FIGURE 20. Electron transfer in charge coupled devices

Moving Pictures Experts Group
analogy of bucket brigade. (MPEG)
The Moving Pictures Experts Group is a
body in the International Organization
for Standardization that develops
consensus standards for the encoding of
audiovisual information in digital
formats. Codecs conforming to their
standards use high levels of compression
to achieve small file sizes; they format and
read digital video files with extensions
such as MPG, MOV and AVI.
MPEG-1. This codec is available in all
personal computers in the twenty-first
MPEG-2. A refined version of MPEG-1,
MPEG-2 allows networking and
multiple channels and is used on
digital video disks and the internet.18

Visual Test Imaging 103

MPEG-4. This codec offers more efficient Ethernet
compression and is used in digital
Ethernet cables are made of copper or
television and interactive media.
fiber optic filaments and widely used for
MPEG-4 facilitates protection of
land based transmission of digital
intellectual property.19
signals.23 Ethernet was introduced as an
MPEG-7. This codec specifies standardized
upgrade to coaxial cable.
metadata to enable search, tagging,
cataloging and indexing.20
MPEG-21. This codec standardizes Thumb Flash Drives10
delivery across multiple platforms.21 Thumb flash drives are convenient for
MPEG-A. This codec integrates the plugging into your laptop for transfer of
features of its predecessors.22 data or image files. In 2009, they use a
universal serial bus connector and can be
hung around the inspectors neck on a
lanyard, attached to a key ring or kept in
Connectors a pocket of the carrying case for a laptop
Table 5 lists several kinds of media for computer. Inexpensive models in 2010
data transfer and storage. hold several gigabytes of data.

Coaxial Cables10 Universal Serial Bus (USB)

Coaxial cable is used for transmission of The universal serial bus is widely used for
analog or digital signals. In coaxial cables, connected computer components. There
a center conductor is surrounded by are several generations and configurations
heavy dielectric insulation that is braided of the bus. Four configurations developed
or foil shielded. The center-to-shield by year 2010 are discussed below.
distance is controlled so that the 1. The USB 1.0 has a slow transfer speed
impedance of the coaxial line matches the of 1.5 megabytes per second and does
design load of the video circuitry feeding not allow for streaming video. The
the signal. This matching minimizes USB 1.0 has been superseded by later
losses and enables maximum power designs.
transfer. Most video coaxial cable has an 2. Called full speed, the USB 1.1 has a
impedance of 75 . transfer speed of 12 megabytes per
second and allows for video transfer
with an audio track. It has been widely
used for most accessory devices in the
TABLE 4. Digital formats and codecs of video files.
first decade of the twenty-first century.
Designation Format 3. Called high speed, the USB 2.0 has a
transfer speed of 480 megabytes per
Formats second and requires a correspondingly
AVI Audio Video Interleave fast processor. It is backwardly
FLV Shockwave Flash file extension compatible with USB 1.1 and uses the
MPEG Moving Picture Experts Group, a standards body same connection.
MPEG 1 video format specification for compressing NTSC 4. Called super speed, the USB 3.0 has a
input transfer speed of 4.8 gigabytes per
MPEG 2 video specification, compatible with analog second and requires a correspondingly
interlacing fast processor. It is backwardly
MPEG 3 video format specification compatible with most earlier USB
MPEG 4 video format specification devices and uses the same connection.
MP3 video format from MPEG 3
MP4 video format from MPEG 4
MOV QuickTime file extension TABLE 5. Media for data storage.
WME Windows Media Encoder
Medium Portability Capacity
WMV Windows Media Video
SWF Shockwave Flash Floppy disk poor poor
VOB video object, container format in DVD-Video media Compact disk (CD) good good for images;
WMF Windows metafile, native to Microsoft software poor for video
Digital video disk (DVD) good good
Disk formats Blu-RayTM disk (BD) good excellent
BD Blu-Ray disk
FlashTM drive excellent good for images;
CD compact disk poor for video
DVD digital video disk External drive, cabled awkward good
ISO extension for a file container that boots as virtual External drive, wireless connectivity limits connectivity limits
video disk

104 Visual Testing

IEEE 1394 The images are produced on flat
surfaces by shining light through liquid
The standard IEEE 139424 defines a cable
crystals and colored filters. The liquid
and connector similar to the universal
crystal display allows a flat display device
serial bus. Its popular trade names include
made up of pixels in rows and columns to
Firewire and Lynx. The IEEE 1394
display an image. The individual pixels
connector preceded the universal serial
may emit colors or be monochromatic.
bus and was intended to have similar
The low levels of electric power produces
goals. Using twisted pair wiring to move
a lit pixel by backlighting the screen,
the data, IEEE 1394 has a serial bus that
passing light through a layer of liquid
can handle over 400 megabits per second
crystal between two polarizing filters and
and over 60 devices per bus. IEEE 1394
the transparent electrodes between them.
supports devices that stream data in real
When the electrodes relax, the liquid
time, including video. IEEE 1394
crystal is without electrical charge and
connections are inherently faster than
dims. Because the axes of polarity are
USB 1.0 and so have been popular for fast
perpendicular to each other, the light will
transfer of large data streams, as in video
not pass through. When the electrical
charge is applied to the pixel, the
molecules align themselves in helixes so
Analog Video Connectors that the light may pass from one side
Analog video connectors are used for with vertical filters to the other side with
transmitting signals to or from an analog horizontal filters. Hence the polarized
device such as a telephone cable, filters oriented perpendicular to one
television screen or video cassette player. another no longer block passage of the
light once the liquid crystals have gained
1. Connections referred to as composite a helical twist going from horizontal to
video have one connector. vertical. Uncharged crystals will be
Supplementary connectors may carry completely untwisted and the polarized
audio or control signals. perpendicular filters will block all light
2. Connections referred to as component transmission. The more the crystal is
video carry analog signals and charged, the more the helical twist will
terminate in two or more plugs or occur and allow more light to pass
sockets (sometimes colored red, green, through the transparent crystal and more
blue and black). intensely light the pixel.
3. Connections referred to as separate
video (or S video) split the color signal
among three or more wires in one Plasma Display
cable and transmit images inferior to Plasma displays operate similarly to liquid
those provided by component video. crystal displays. Electric charges stimulate
Visual inspectors may have to use minuscule packets of gas on the viewing
analog connectors when working with surface so that they glow with desired
video players. Analog videotapes may color and intensity and together form a
have been archived to document the two-dimensional image.
service history of pressure vessels in a
power plant, for example. The analog Light Emitting Diode
signals may be converted from analog to
A light emitting diode (LED) is a kind of
digital files through a modem.
transistor. Two-dimensional arrays of
Coaxial cables are used for video
these transistors are actuated by the video
signals and can serve as control cables,
signal and emit light of desired
actuating remote equipment.
frequencies and intensities.

Video Displays TABLE 6. Dimensions (in pixels) of some fixed grid

Digital screen displays are available in a displays. These specifications are sometimes called
wide variety of sizes. Some popular sizes, resolution, but true resolution depends also on physical
measured in vertical pixels by horizontal dimensions of display.
pixels, are listed in Table 6.
Arrays Total Aspect
(pixels) Pixels Ratio Application
Liquid Crystal Display10
3 to 2 analog television
Liquid crystal displays (LCDs) are used for
color displays in many television screens, 320 200 64 000 8 to 5 thumbnails and previews
some computer monitors and many 640 480 307 000 4 to 3 portable devices
portable devices. Liquid crystal allows the 1024 768 786 432 4 to 3 extended graphics resolution
display to be much thinner than cathode 1600 1200 1 920 000 4 to 3 television
ray tube technology and consumes much 1920 1080 2 073 600 16 to 9 high definition television
less power.

Visual Test Imaging 105

A video camera converts the
Frame Rate two-dimensional optical image into a
series of electrical impulses, the video
In digital video, moving pictures are signal. The video signal is converted by
produced by successive display of what the monitor back into a two-dimensional
are essentially still images, each image picture that reproduces the dynamic scene
corresponding to a frame. Figure 18 uses of the original image in real time.
the example of a falling object to show To dissect the optical image so that it
the difference between two frame rates. can be represented as a series of electrical
Capture rates of 60 frames per second are signals, narrow strips of the image are
common in digital video cameras. Human scanned. In principle, the image can be
perception performs well in viewing scanned by any electrooptical transducer
frames rates over 20 frames per second. In that rapidly converts light intensities into
the second half of the twentieth century, electrical voltages or currents.
most movies from digital files are each
encoded to play at a particular rate, in
synchrony with the computers integral Line Scanning
clock. Personal computers can display In displaying a video image, analog video
video recordings at any frame rate the uses the raster scanning technique
visual inspector is likely to encounter. whereby electrons are beamed onto the
phosphor coating on the screen a line at a
time from left to right starting at the top
left corner. At the end of the line, the
Analog Image beam is turned off and moved back to the
Transmission and left and down one line (Fig. 21), When
the bottom right corner is reached, the
Recording10,11 gun is returned to the top left corner.
The following brief discussion of analog Interlacing illuminates a screen by
technology is included for visual displaying all odd lines in the frame first
inspectors who must work with quality and then all even lines (262.5 scan lines
assurance archives of service history. each) which are combined and interlaced
Fuller discussion is available elsewhere.11 to produce a complete frame of 525 lines.
The 2:1 standard interlace ratio means
Cathode Ray Tubes that even fields of horizontal scan fit
neatly into odd fields of horizontal scan.
Cathode ray tubes (CRTs) were found in
most computer monitors and television
sets in the second half of the twentieth
century. The cathode is a heated filament FIGURE 21. Electron beam scan path on analog video screen.
inside a glass tube. The ray is a stream of
electrons that pour off the heated cathode Path of scanning
Return trace electron beam
in a vacuum. Because the anode is
positive, it attracts the electrons pouring 1
off of the cathode. In cathode ray tubes,
the radiation is a beam of electrons. In a A
black and white screen, there is only one 3 B
phosphor that glows white when struck 4 C
by the beam of electrons. In a color
screen, there are three types of phosphors 5 D
red, green and blue and three 6 E
different electron beams to illuminate the 7
colors together. F
8 G
Video Tape Technology 9 H
The main task of video technology is to 10 I
convert an optical image of a dynamic 11 J
scene into an electrical signal that can be 12
transmitted in real time to another K
location, and converted back without 13 L
delay into an optical image that faithfully
reproduces the original scene. Sound,
synchronized to the scene, commonly
accompanies the video image.

106 Visual Testing

Analog Video Systems 3. The SECAM system antedates the
other two; it has been used in France
Before the move to digital video in 2009, and parts of Africa, Asia and Eastern
three systems were used worldwide for Europe.
analog video: the National Television
System Committee (NTSC), the phase Figure 18 shows the difference between
alternating line (PAL) system and the NTSC and PAL formats in terms of frame
SECAM (squentiel couleur mmoire, rate, NTSC being 25 and PAL being 30
sequential color with memory) system. frames per second. The two formats were
incompatible in the years of analog video
1. NTSC broadcasts are fully compatible tape. Personal computers can display
with the video home system (VHS) digitized video recordings at either
standard for video tape recording and frame rate.
playback. In the United States, electric The analog video is not a compilation
power is provided at 120 V at 60 Hz. of successive still image as in digital video
The National Television System but rather is a series of cycles in a raster
Committee developed the television signal. What appears to be a single image
standards in the United States when a video tape is paused is in fact an
broadcasts at 60 half frames per image that the video player has
second of 262.5 lines interlaced twice constructed from successive lines of the
(odd and even) to make 30 frames per continuous raster signal. Discussions of
second of image, or 525 horizontal video electronics often refer to frame rate
lines of resolution with 484 visible in hertz (Hz) that is, cycles per second.
lines of image at 30 frames and 60 The two measures are equivalent; 1 frame
fields per second interlaced, the rest per second equals 1 Hz.
being used for other information such
as synchronizing, data and captioning.
The NTSC system has been used in
North America and parts of Asia. Closing
2. PAL broadcast signals are fully
compatible with video tape standards Digital technology has revolutionized the
of the same name. PAL is the standard practice of visual testing. Personal
for color television that was developed computers are used for processing,
in Germany; it has been used in many archiving and transmitting images.
nations of Europe, Africa and Asia. Remote and portable devices integrate
Electricity in Europe typically operates microprocessors for recording and
at 220 V and 50 Hz. German transmission of test images on site. And
broadcasts have been at 25 half frames advances in battery life, hard disk
per second of 312.5 interlaced lines memory and processor speed have made
twice (odd and even) to make possible the acquisition of test
50 frames per second image, or documentation, including video records,
625 horizontal lines of resolution with impractical to obtain in the twentieth
576 visible lines of image at century.
25 frames/50 fields per second
interlaced, the rest being used for
other information such as
synchronizing data and captioning.
Two frames equal one field of image.

Visual Test Imaging 107


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Visual Test Imaging 109


Direct Visual Testing

Gregory C. Sayler, MD Helicopters, Mesa, Arizona

Douglas G. Krauss, Huddleston Technical Services,
Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama (Part 5)
PART 1. Circumstances of Viewing

Direct visual testing is a technique of the in a scene far exceeds the typical
visual testing method of nondestructive description of the scene. And a great deal
testing. The American Society for of information is potentially available to
Nondestructive Testing divides the observer immediately after viewing. If
nondestructive testing into methods and an observer has the intention of looking
subdivides methods into techniques. for certain aspects of a scene, only certain
Direct viewing is a technique of visual visual information enters the awareness,
testing in the same way that bubble yet the total picture is certainly imaged
testing is a technique of leak testing and on the retina. If a scene or an object is
gamma radiography is a technique of the viewed a second time, many new
radiographic test method. characteristics can be discerned. This new
Direct visual testing differs from information directly influences perception
indirect techniques, sometimes called of the object, yet such information might
remote visual testing, because the direct not be available to the viewer without a
inspector is in the presence of the test second viewing.
object and has an unmediated view of the Vision is selective in many common
test surface, even if he looks through a situations. An individual can walk into a
device such as a magnifier or camera. In room full of people and notice only the
remote, or indirect, techniques, the face of an expected friend. The same
inspector uses a borescope or propelled individual can walk right by another
camera to view surfaces otherwise friend without recognition if the
inaccessible. The distinction is fine, for encounter is unexpected. Vision is
the inspector may use a remote strongly selective and guided almost
apparatus on a test object held in his entirely by what the observer wants and
hand, and an inspection may be viewed does not want to see. Any additional
directly through a system of lenses and details beyond the very broadest have
mirrors. been built up by successive viewing. Both
the details and the broad image are
retained as long as they are needed, and
then they are quickly erased.
Observers Attitude1 The optical image on the retina is
A complete representation of the visual constantly changing and moving as the
field probably is not present in the brain eye moves rapidly from one point to
at any one time. The brain must contain another the sensing rods and cones are
electrochemical activity representing some stimulated in ways that vary widely from
major aspects of a scene, but such a one moment to the next. The mental
picture typically does not correspond to image is stationary for stationary objects
how the observer describes the scene. This regardless of the motion of the optical
discrepancy occurs because the observer image or, for that matter, the motion of
adds experience and prejudices that are the observers head. It is very difficult to
not themselves part of the visual field. determine how a unique configuration of
Such sensory experience may reflect brain activity can result from a particular
physical reality or may not. set of sensory experiences. A unique visual
Sensory data entering through the eye configuration must be a many-to-one
are irretrievably transformed by their relationship requiring complex
contexts an image on the retina is interpretation. If an observer does not
perceived differently if its background or apply experience and the intellect, it is
context changes. Perceptually, the image likely that a nondestructive visual test will
might be a dark patch in a bright be inadequate.
background that can, in turn, appear to
be a white patch if displayed against a
dark background. No single sensation
corresponds uniquely to the original Viewing Angle1-3
retinal area of excitation. Eye muscles may manipulate the eye to
The context of a viewed object can align the image on the lens axis. Different
affect perception and, in addition, the sensors in the retina receive images of
intention of the viewer may also affect different objects in the field of view
perception. The number of visible objects (Fig. 1), and different banks of sensors

112 Visual Testing

basically require different stimuli to best mirrors or borescopes. The field of view
perform their functions. Also, light rays should be maintained much in the same
entering the lens at angles not parallel to way that it is when viewed directly. If the
the lens axis are refracted to a greater examination surface is immovable and
degree. The angle changes the quality and situated so that the eye cannot be placed
quantity of the light energy reaching the within this region, suitable visual aids,
retina. Even the color and contrast ratios such as mirrors, must be used.
vary and affect depth perception.
The included angle of five minutes of
arc is commonly cited as optimum; it is FIGURE 2. Eye position affects apparent size and location of
the average in which an individual sees a object.
sharp image. There are other angles to be
Eye positions
considered when discussing visual testing.
The angle of peripheral vision is not a
primary consideration when performing 1 2 3
detailed visual tests. It is of value under
certain inspection conditions: (1) when
surveying large areas for a discontinuity
indication that (2) has a high contrast
ratio with the background and (3) is
observed to one side of the normal lens
axis. The inspectors attention is drawn to
this area and it can then be scrutinized by
focusing the eyes on the normal plane of
the lens axis.
The angle of view is very important
during visual testing. The viewer should
in all cases attempt to observe the target
on the center axis of the eye. Figure 2
shows how the eye perceives an object
from several angles and how the object
appears to change or move with a change
in viewing angle.
The angle of view should vary ideally
not more than 45 degrees from normal,
and a recommended viewing distance and
angle for visual testing is to have the eye
within 600 mm (24 in.) of the object and Table level Object
positioned at an angle not less than
30 degrees to the inspection surface as
shown in Fig. 3.
The same principle applies to objects Projected
being viewed through accessories such as images

Ratio 1:1 Relative image size and location 1

FIGURE 1. Peripheral vision. Ratio 1:1.40 Image 2

Ratio 1:1.65 Image 3

e FIGURE 3. Range of viewing angle.
er al a


View aligned with lens


Retina with image


locations at different Per


angles era No closer than

l an 150 mm (6 in.)
30 degrees 30 degrees

Test surface Test site

Direct Visual Testing 113

Pitfalls Related to Viewing Angle Some specifications (in nuclear and
aerospace industries) forbid the use of
Posture affects the way an object is mirrors.
observed. Appropriate posture and
viewing angle minimize fatigue, eyestrain
and distraction. The viewers posture Light Manipulation by Mirrors
should make it easy to maintain the Mirrors change the direction of light by
optimum view on the axis of the lens. reflection and can be flat, convex or
On reflective backgrounds, the viewing concave.
angle should be off normal but not
beyond 45 degrees. This angle is 1. Flat or plane mirrors are arranged
maintained so that the light reflected off alone or in series to transmit light or
the surface is not directed toward the an image.
eyes, reducing the contrast image of the 2. Convex mirrors provide an enlarged
surface itself. It also allows the evaluation field of view of the reflected image.
of discontinuities without distorting their 3. Concave mirrors each have a reflecting
size, color or location. The angle is focal point. If a light is projected onto
important when using optical devices to a spherical mirror normal to the curve
view surfaces not available to direct line of the surface, the light will be focused
of sight. slightly in front of the mirror. If a
Elevated objects are hard to test point light source is placed at its focal
visually. Without adequate access, a point, the light will be reflected from
surface beyond the reach of the inspector the mirror so that it is parallel to the
cannot be thoroughly inspected except in normal of the curve. A concave mirror
cases such as object verification or can also be used for image
approximate location to answer a enlargement. An image that is small
question such as Have the girders been compared to the width of the mirror
painted yet? will be reflected back in a diverging
and optically reversed image.

Mirrors2 FIGURE 4. Examples of inspection mirrors:

Mirrors are common inspection aids. Easy (a) 32 mm (1.25 in.) diameter mirror,
to use, mirrors make inspection possible 375 mm (17 in.) long, with pocket clip and
inside pipes and apertures and inside or swiveling neck; (b) 60 mm (2.25 in.)
behind objects obstructing the inspectors diameter mirror with swiveling neck and
view. length telescoping from 250 to 350 mm
Inspection mirrors come in a variety of (10 to 14 in.); (c) 54 89 mm
shapes (Fig. 4). The head, holding the (2.13 3.5 in.) mirror with swiveling neck
reflective surface, can be round or and length telescoping from 286 to
rectangular and range in size from 20 to 387 mm (11.25 to 15.25 in.).
100 mm (0.8 to 4.0 in.). The handle, or
stem, includes a scored surface or rubber (a)
sheath for easy handling. Smaller mirrors
resemble those used by dentists and
usually have a 150 mm (6 in.) long
handle with a round head. The diameter
of the handle can range from about 3 to
25 mm (0.1 to 1.0 in.).
Inspection mirrors frequently have
telescoping handles that can almost
double the handle length. Most have a (b)
double ball joint between the mirror and
handle that lets the mirror swivel to any
convenient angle.
The illumination of the area being
inspected should be the same as that
specified for the rest of the inspection.
Flashlights or other small portable light
sources can provide adequate
illumination, but strong direct lighting (c)
can cause contrastive shadows and
reflected glare.
Many industrial environments are hard
on the mirrors glass surface. A scratched
mirror is a hindrance during the
inspection. The mirror or its head should
be replaced when marred.

114 Visual Testing

Interpretation of Mirror Images angle is something other than normal
to the surface being inspected. These
Several precautions must be remembered
factors can cause indications to be
in interpreting mirror images.
interpreted as smaller than they are.
1. Curved mirrors can distort the Measuring the size of the indication at
apparent shape and size of an object. the reflection in the mirror is only
Concave mirrors make objects look appropriate when pinpoint accuracy is
smaller or farther away; convex unimportant or when the mirror is
mirrors (sometimes called fish eye close to the surface being inspected. A
mirrors) make objects look larger or set of pliable wires of known
closer to the viewer. Glass and plastic diameters is valuable when measuring
may be polarized to achieve these indications in difficult-to-reach areas.
effects with a flat surface. 3. A mirror image is reversed, so an
2. The inspection distance is equal to the object on the right appears on the left
distance from the area being inspected and one on the left appears right. This
to the mirror plus the distance from reversal may affect documentation
the mirror to the inspectors eye. photographs or descriptions in
When using a mirror, the inspection inspection reports.

Direct Visual Testing 115

PART 2. Illumination2

Quality of lighting or illumination in

Visual Inspection Lighting the inspection area refers to the
distribution of the light sources in the
The purpose of lighting in a visual area and implies that these devices aid
inspection area is to provide adequate visual performance and comfort. Quality
contrast so that relevant objects or illumination is composed of area lighting
discontinuities are detected. Contrast and specific test lighting.
detection is the most basic of visual tasks. To avoid inspector eye fatigue and to
It is a property of the difference between enhance the probability of detection due
an object and its background of either to size, the luminance ratios of the
luminance or color. inspection area should be controlled.
Luminance contrast is the difference in Table 1 lists the maximum recommended
intensity of reflected light between the luminance ratio between the test object
discontinuity and its background. and the environment and for different
Luminance contrast as related to areas of the environment. This table
optometry is discussed in this volumes recommends maximum luminance ratios
chapter on vision acuity. for areas where reflectances in the work
The contrast value is constant for any area can be controlled when control of
value of luminance but, like reflection, the surrounding area is limited.
varies with the position of the subject Disability glare reduces visibility and
(observer) and object. The probability of visual performance. Glare is caused by
detection increases as the relative contrast light sources or reflections from light
value increases. Figure 5 illustrates this as sources in the field of view. Discomfort
a percentage of accuracy and relates it to glare produces visual discomfort. To
the probability of detection. reduce glare, it may be necessary to take
Chromatic contrast is the difference in one of more of the following steps:
hue and saturation between an object and (1) decrease the intensity of the light
its background. Chromatic contrast source, (2) reduce the area of the light
produces visibilities less than 20 percent source, (3) increase the angle between the
of the detectability of luminance contrast. light source and the field of view or
Chromatic contrast may augment or (4) decrease reflections by using a light
detract from the achromatic luminance source with a larger area and lower
contrast, depending on the perceptive luminance.
ability of the eye to detect the colors Illuminance is very important in visual
involved. tasks. The Illuminating Engineering
Society recommends the illuminance
levels listed in Table 2 for the
performance of visual tasks.
FIGURE 5. Probability of detection versus target contrast
The spectral distribution of lighting
can enhance or subdue a color. To
enhance a color, the light source should
100 be rich in the color. In most visual
90 inspection situations, the color quality
80 and spectral distribution of the light
Accuracy (percentage)

sources have no effect on vision acuity.

When color discrimination or color
TABLE 1. Maximum recommended luminance ratios.
20 Ratio Environment
3 to 1 between test surface and adjacent, darker surfaces
1 to 3 between test surface and adjacent, lighter surfaces
0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1.0
20 to 1 between test surface and distant, darker surfaces
Relative target contrast (ratio) 1 to 20 between test surface and distant, lighter surfaces

116 Visual Testing

matching is part of the inspection process, Localized general lighting provides
the color of light should be chosen uniform general lighting and is oriented
carefully. Generally, the light color and to provide optimum illumination in the
spectral distribution should approximate inspection area. Commonly, ceiling lights
sunlight. are positioned close to the inspection
When performing visual inspections area.
under field conditions, it can be difficult Local lighting includes desk lamps and
to get enough light. Shadows in the other portable lighting equipment. Local
inspection area can be controlled by a lighting produces very high illuminance
horizontal light source with a large and is useful when shadow formation
surface area or by reflection from produces enhanced contrast. Local
luminant walls. Harsh shadows generally lighting can cause direct and reflected
cause eye strain, but some shadow effect glare. To prevent eye fatigue due to
can accentuate contrast and aid in the constant eye adaptation, the general room
detection of depth and form. It is lighting should provide at least 20 to
important to weigh the effects of 30 percent of the total illumination.
illuminance on the probability of Flashlights, called torches in the United
detecting a significant indication. Kingdom, are common, inexpensive and
useful (Fig. 6). They let the inspector
Area Lighting direct light onto shaded and interior
Area or room lighting can be direct,
semidirect or diffuse. In room lighting,
ceiling lamps direct 90 to 100 percent of
the output downward. This type of FIGURE 6. Flash lights: (a) household;
lighting produces high illuminance in the (b) high power; (c) integrated in helmet.
vertical direction but also can produce
shadows, glare and veiling reflections. (a)
Highly reflective walls are generally
recommended to control these effects.
Semidirect lighting directs 60 to
90 percent of the total light output
downward with the balance of the light
directed upward. This type of lighting
eliminates ceiling shadows, but bright
ceilings should be avoided.
Ambient lighting is diffuse, directing
light upward, downward and sideways.
This type of lighting generally provides
good brightness relationships throughout
the room and produces horizontal (b)
illuminance to soften shadows. Glare is
minimal with this type of lighting.

Task Lighting
Task lighting may be classified based on
its layout or orientation to the task to be
performed. General task lighting provides
approximately uniform illuminance over
a broad area. It is generally produced by
the area or room lighting.

TABLE 2. Iluminance levels for visual tasks.2

Activity Illuminance (lx)

General Lighting
Occasional visual tasks 100 to 200
Tasks with high contrast or large size 200 to 500
Task Lighting
Tasks with medium contrast or small size 500 to 1000
Tasks with low contrast or very small size 1000 to 2000

Direct Visual Testing 117

Lighting for Automated 2. Absorptive characteristics can be
Inspection selective or nonselective. Nonselective
materials appear black or gray.
When choosing lighting for automated Selective materials absorb some
inspection and machine vision wavelengths more than others and so
applications, the goal is to optimize the have a distinct color.
contrast between a potential discontinuity 3. Transparent and translucent materials
and its surroundings by providing stable have transmissive characteristics.
illumination that reduces signal Transparent materials transmit the
processing complexity. Lighting that takes light spectrum with no apparent
advantage of the spectral sensitivity of the scatter. Translucent materials transmit
light sensor and the optical characteristics a large percentage of the light, but
of the test material are recommended. some light scatters by diffusion in the
The spectral sensitivity of sensors is material. Opaque materials transmit
different from that of the human eye. no light all of the spectrum is
This difference allows for light sources absorbed or reflected.
ineffective during direct visual testing or
light harmful to the eye: polarized, The placement of the light source or
monochromatic and coherent (laser) light. sources and the amount of direct or
Sensors can be optimized for self-radiating diffuse light produced by each light
materials such as high temperature metals source are critical for accurate inspections.
or glass. Most light sensors cannot adapt The type of illuminator controls the
to differing levels of illumination as easily amount of direct and diffuse light
as the human eye, which makes produced. Types of illuminators include
consistent illumination critical in condenser reflectors, spot projectors,
automated inspection. diffuse light sources and collimators
When determining the lighting (Fig. 7).
geometry and the type of light source for 1. A condenser projector has a lens that
an inspection, the reflective, absorptive focuses a cone of light on a target
and transmissive characteristics of the test surface.
material are the primary factors. 2. A spot projector has a reflective
1. Reflective characteristics are attributes surface designed to produce a
of a diffuse or specular surface and of gradually expanding cone of light.
materials that reflect either selectively 3. Collimators use a small hole to
or nonselectively. Spectrally selective produce a direct cone of light that
reflectors reflect uneven amounts of expands very little.
the incident lights initial wavelength 4. Diffuse surface light sources use a
distribution and absorb or transmit translucent material to scatter the
the balance. The nonuniform incident light.
reflective characteristics of a spectrally Various illumination geometries are
selective reflector may be illuminated used with microscopes and machine
by a monochromatic source. vision. Translucent test objects may be

FIGURE 7. Types of light sources: (a) condenser reflector; (b) spot projector; (c) diffuse light
source; (d) collimated light source.

(a) (b) (c) (d)


Reflector Hole
lens Translucent

118 Visual Testing

illuminated from the side opposite the up to a factor of 100 000 to 1. This
detector, for instance. Diffuse front arrangement is used in some older
illumination (Fig. 8) floods the area of photometers. Polarizing filters are also
interest with as much light as possible used in many glare reducing products
and minimizes shadow formation. It such as sunglasses.
typically is used on opaque materials Some specialized optical techniques use
where there are prismatic reflections or polarized light because of its ability to
where the contrast values are very high. A produce uniform patterns of constructive
directional light source makes differences and destructive interference of the light
in the surface texture more apparent. waves. This allows the characteristics of
many products to be measured by
assessing the interference patterns when
polarized light is transmitted through or
Light Sources reflected from a test object. Techniques
Light sources for visual and optical using polarized light include moir fringe
inspection may be divided into five and birefringence techniques.
categories: solar, incandescent,
luminescent, polarized and coherent light. Coherent Light
Coherent light, such as light from a laser,
Sunlight is visible radiant energy or light with a
The brightness of sunlight varies with high degree of phase coherence. Phase
weather and time of day. coherence requires both frequency
Direct sunlight can be a health hazard, coherence and the spatial coherence of
burning skin and eyes. Glare from bright polarized light. Phase coherence requires
sunlight can interfere with nondestructive the individual waves of light to be of the
testing by obscuring indications and by same frequency and the sinusoidal curve
fatiguing the inspector. of the waves to be aligned.
The light produced by most light
sources has a broad spectrum and
Incandescent Light produces a diverging luminous area, but
Incandescence is the emission of light due the rays of a laser or phased light are
to the thermal excitation of atoms or aligned in parallel. Phased light is
molecules. Sources of incandescent light produced by a ruby laser in a manner
include filament lamps, pyroluminescence similar to the production of fluorescent
(such as glow in furnaces or foundries), light. The difference is that in the
gas mantles and carbon arc lamps. coherent light producing material, the
excited electrons pause momentarily in an
Luminescent Light orbit with more energy than the ground
state but less energy than the most
Luminescence results from the excitation excited state. This intermediate stage is
of a single valence electron. Luminescent known as the metastable state. The
light is more monochromatic in nature photons of light energy are released from
than incandescent light sources. Sources the metastable state simultaneously
of luminescent light include gaseous producing spatial or time phased
discharge lamps, lasers, light emitting coherence.
diodes and fluorescent lamps.

Polarized Light FIGURE 8. Diffuse front illumination.

The vibrations of polarized light have
been oriented to show preference. This
means that the vector describing the Camera
direction of the lightwave form is
constant in time. Linear polarization
means that either the vector or the
waveforms have been aligned so that both
are in the same plane. Although polarized Light source Light source
light can be produced directly, it is most
commonly produced using a conventional
light source and a polarizing light filter.
Polarizing filters are used to control the
intensity, color and glare of light. The
intensity of light is controlled by using a
pair of linear polarizing filters that can be
rotated. This two-filter arrangement is
capable of a smooth range of attenuation

Direct Visual Testing 119

The light used for visual testing is a
nondestructive testing parameter that
may be specified in a contract or written
procedure. Hand held photometers
provide digital measurements of ambient
or direct light in lux. Photographers call
them light meters. Photometry is discussed
in this volumes chapter on light.

120 Visual Testing

PART 3. Magnification2,4,5

Magnification is commonly achieved by 6. Distracting rainbows and colored

the refracting of light through curved bands are seen when different
lenses. Refraction and basic lens types are wavelengths of light refract in
discussed in this volumes chapter on the different directions. Chromatic
physics of light. correction mitigates this spectral
Devices for magnification used in divergence, often by using two lenses
visual and optical inspections range in sandwiched together (a doublet), two
magnifying power from 1.5 to over layers with different indices of
2000. Magnifiers are described by refraction.
interrelated factors: (1) magnification 7. Binoculars are used for stereoscopic
power, (2) field of view, (3) working viewing from a distance. Stereoscopic
distance, (4) eye relief, (5) depth of field, microscopes are used to inspect
(6) chromatic correction and (7) binocular miniature assemblies such as printed
or monocular vision. circuit boards. Nearly all other
1. The magnifying ability of a lens magnifiers are monocular.
depends on the amount of curvature These magnifier attributes are
in the converging lens. Greater interrelated. A high power magnifier, for
curvature produces a greater angle of example, has a short working distance, a
refraction, reducing the focal length small field of view and cannot be used for
and so increasing magnification. The binocular observation; a low power
power of a magnifier describes the magnifier, such as a rectangular reader
amount of enlargement compared to lens, has a long working distance, a large
viewing the object 250 mm (10 in.) field of view and can looked through by
from the eye. An object 25 mm (1 in.) both eyes. To attain chromatic correction
from the eye would appear to be ten (to eliminate color fringing), the high
times as large as the same object power lens typically contains a cemented
viewed at 250 mm (10 in.). The doublet or triplet of different optical
magnifier that produces enough glasses whereas the low power reader lens
refraction to allow the eye to focus at is sufficiently achromatic as a simple lens.
this distance has 10 magnification There are many variations of these
(10 power) and a focal length of characteristics. Commercial magnifiers
25 mm (1 in.). can be 30 or higher in power, and there
2. Field coverage of conventional are many special mountings for particular
magnifiers ranges from 90 mm applications.
(3.5 in.) down to 0.15 mm (0.006 in.) The ideal magnifier has a large field of
wide. view, a large depth of field and an image
3. The working distance of the magnifier without refractive or color aberrations,
is the same as the focal length. The but in practice all magnifiers present a
distance from the magnifier to the compromise. Generally, using as little
object being inspected is adjusted to magnification as possible will cause the
produce good focus. Close working fewest technical problems and provide the
distances accompany higher simplest inspection.
magnification. When choosing the
magnification and working distance,
the amount of room needed to
perform the inspection and the tools Magnifiers
to be used should be considered. Resolving powers range from 0.05 mm
4. The eye relief is the distance from the (0.002 in.) to 0.2 m (8 106 in.). Powers
inspectors eye to the devices lens. of magnification refer to enlargement in
5. The depth of field is the maximum one dimension only. A two-dimensional
range of distances in focus at the same image magnified 2, for example, doubles
time without a change in the viewing in width and in height while its area
position. The field of view decreases as quadruples.
the magnification increases. A large
depth of field eliminates the need for
constant adjustments to the viewing Magnifying Lenses
position to maintain focus. A test surface is viewed through a lens to
obtain a magnification as great as desired.

Direct Visual Testing 121

The distance from lens to object is with the power of the lens and is
adjusted until the object is in the lenss comparatively greater in lower power
depth of field and is in focus. The magnifiers, decreasing as the power of the
simplest form of a microscope is a single lens increases.
converging lens, often referred to as a
simple magnifier. Magnification M of a Conventional Magnifiers and
single lens is determined by Eq. 1:
Table 3 shows the characteristics of a few
(1) M = typical magnifiers. These values are
f mm approximations because eye
10 accommodation can cause each of the
= values to vary. Except for the reader lens,
f in
all magnifiers are used with the eye fairly
close to the magnifier, giving the largest
In this equation, fmm is the focal length of field of view. The reader lens is used
the lens in millimeters, fin is the focal binocularly and is normally held some
length of the lens in inches and 250 (or distance away from the eyes.
10) is a constant that represents the Single lens magnifiers provide between
average minimum distance at which 1.5 and 10 magnification. They may be
objects can be distinctly seen by the handheld, mounted on flexible or rigid
unaided eye. stands or mounted with a headband to
Using the equation, a lens with a focal allow free hands during viewing. In low
length of 125 mm (5 in.) has a cost magnifiers, the distortion caused by
magnification of two widths or is said to highly refracting lenses is controlled by
be a two-power (2) lens. For a simple decreasing the diameter of the lens. This
magnifier, the focal length and working decrease reduces the field of view.
distance are about the same. For example, For magnification above 7 to 10, it is
suppose that a component must be common for magnifiers to use more than
inspected without moving it and that a one lens to provide for the increased
magnifier cannot be placed nearer than magnification while limiting the spherical
75 mm (3 in.). A lens with a working and chromatic aberrations produced by a
distance (focal length) of at least 75 mm highly refractive lens. Magnifiers with two
(3 in.) is required. From Eq. 1, that is or three lenses are referred to as doublets
shown to be a 3 or a three power lens. or triplets; these lens types are illustrated
The field of view is the area seen in this volumes chapter on light. Another
through the magnifier. With a simple type of lens, the coddington magnifier,
magnifier, the diameter of the field of has a thick groove cut into the outer
view is less than its focal length. Selection diameter of a thick lens to eliminate
of a magnifier with the proper field of spherical aberration (Fig. 9).
view is important. For example, if the test A loupe (or lupe) is a single or double
object is large, it takes too much time to lens magnifier where the lenses are held
use a 20 magnifier, with a field of view at the recommended working distance
slightly greater than 10 mm (0.37 in.). with a transparent cylinder. The clear
The proper procedure is to use a low spacing cylinder allows the use of ambient
power magnifier first, marking lighting to illuminate the test piece.
questionable areas and then to inspect Illuminating loupes have a battery
questioned areas with a higher powered powered light source for illumination.
magnifier. Loupes frequently include a contact
Depth of field is the distance a reticle. Jewelers loupes generally use the
magnifier can be moved toward or away cylinder for purposes of eye relief rather
from a subject with the subject remaining than working distance. They are inserted
in good focus (sharply defined). At other into the eye socket and held in place with
distances, the subject is out of focus and the facial muscles around the eye or
not sharply defined. Depth of field varies attached to the frame of an eyeglass.

TABLE 3. Characteristics of typical magnifiers.

Working Field of View
______________________ Resolving Distance
__________________ Power
Magnifier mm (in.) Power mm (in.) m (in.)

Reader lens 90 40 (3.5 1.5) 1.5 100 (4) 50 (0.002)

Eyeglass loupe 60 (2.375) 2 90 (3.5) 40 (0.0015)
Doublet magnifier 60 (2.375) 3.5 75 (3) 25 (0.001)
Coddington magnifier 19 (0.75) 7 25 (1) 10 (0.0004)
Triplet magnifier 22 (0.875) 10 20 (0.75) 7.5 (0.0003)

122 Visual Testing

Because of its large diameter, the 3.5 (0.0003 in.). The field of view is about
doublet magnifier has a field as large as 1 mm (0.4 in.) diameter.
that of the 2 loupe. The double convex
lens of the doublet magnifier with its Measuring Magnifier
central iris has a comparatively small
field. The triplet is a three-element design A measuring magnifier, or contact reticle
having excellent optical correction for (Fig. 11), has a graduated measuring scale
field coverage and reduction of color in a transparent layer held against the test
fringing. Its resolving power is the limit of object to measure tiny details on its flat
detection for fine structures. In surfaces. Measuring magnifiers have one-,
comparison, the doublet magnifier can two- or three-lens magnifiers and a
barely differentiate two points 25 m transparent housing that lets light fall on
(0.001 in.) apart. the measured surface. Contact reticles are
available in a variety of scales and
measuring systems including linear
Surface Comparators measurement, angular measurement, grid
The surface comparator is a magnifier that patterns and thread gages. Magnification
provides a means for comparing a test is often between 6 and 20; the diameter
surface against a standard surface finish. of the field of view is often about 25 mm
The observer views the two surfaces side
by side, as shown in Fig. 10. The surface
comparator uses a small battery powered
light source, a semitransparent beam FIGURE 10. Surface comparator: (a) schematic; (b) two
divider and a 10 triplet. surfaces magnified for comparison.
The light is divided between the
reference surface and the standard surface. (a)
Flat and shiny surfaces reflect the filament Comparison
image directly into the pupil of the eye so standard
that these parts look bright. Sloping or Eye
rough surfaces reflect the light away from
the pupil and such areas appear dark. This Test surface
form of illumination sharply delineates
surface pattern characteristics. The
resolving power is about 7.5 m 10 magnifier

Beam divider
FIGURE 9. Cross sections: (a) triplet
magnifier; (b) coddington magnifier.


Light source



Direct Visual Testing 123

(1 in.); the resolving power is often about printed circuits, or can be used to
1 mm (4 10 5 in.). examine an area of a test object without
sectioning or scraping it.
Illuminated Magnifiers
Illuminated magnifiers range from large Low Power Microscopes
circular reader lenses, equipped with When magnifications above 10 are
fluorescent lighting and an adjustable required, the short working distance of
stand, to a small battery powered 10 the magnifier becomes a problem and a
magnifier shaped like a pencil. Some low power compound microscope is
illuminated magnifiers can be obtained in preferred. Typical resolving power is about
either a battery powered model or 7.5 m (3 10 4 in.). At magnifications
equipped for 115 V line operation. Such above 10, low power microscopes are
triplet magnifiers give about a 50 mm more convenient than simple magnifiers.
(2 in.) field of view. Resolving power is Low power microscopes for shop or other
about 1.5 m (6 10 5 in.). stationary use include a large variety of
devices ranging in complexity from
simple to wide field stereoscopic
microscopes. They use lensing systems
Microscopes2,4,5 that increase in complexity with the
A magnifying glass magnifies what is amount of magnification. At low and
visible to the unaided eye but is too small medium levels of magnification, a single
to evaluate; a microscope makes details lensing system can be used. At higher
visible that otherwise would remain levels, compound lenses with two sets of
invisible to the human eye. lenses are common.
In its simplest form, a microscope is a Field, pocket, pen or measuring
single biconvex lens in a housing microscopes are all terms used to describe
adjustable for focus. Many forms of small handheld magnifiers that have
illumination are available, including magnifying powers between 10 and 50
bright field, dark field, oblique, polarized, and more complex lens arrangements
phase contrast and interference. than simple magnifiers. These are
Microscopy is usually destructive: a powerful for field inspections but are
sample scraping removed from the surface difficult to use because of limited stability,
of an object is discarded after analysis. small depths of field, rudimentary
There are many varieties of microscopes, focusing systems, narrow fields of view
however, and some can be used to and the need for intense illumination.
examine very small products, such as
Stereo Microscopes (Medium
FIGURE 11. Typical measuring scales and reticles of The wide field stereoscopic microscope is
measuring magnifier. very complex. It is basically two erect
image microscopes, one for each eye,
comprising two objectives, two erecting
prisms, two inclination prisms and two
eyepieces. The useful power range of the
90 75 stereomicroscope is limited to 100. The
resolving power is about 5 m
(2 10 4 in.). Field coverage is inverse to

its power: at 10 field coverage, the field

is about 25 mm (1 in.). The instrument

provides binocular vision, which makes

possible its prolonged use for visual

testing. As with low power magnifiers,

manual manipulation during observation
is practical. The stereoscopic microscope

5 1
3 1
8 11

provides a true view of depth, so that test
1 DIV = 0.005
objects may be inspected in three
0 .1 .2 .3 .4 .5 dimensions.
1 DIV = 01 MM

0 1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 Shop Microscope (Medium
.001 .002
The shop microscope is similar to a wide
.003 field tube. It has a power of 40 and
contains a built-in light source that may
be operated from a battery or 115 V line
current. The shop microscope contains a

124 Visual Testing

scale permitting direct measurement on lens, is a semireflecting, thin, transparent
the object plane to 0.025 mm (0.001 in.) plate. It directs light down through the
or estimates to 6 m (2.5 10 4 in.), over objective lens onto the test object. The
a scale length of 4 mm (0.15 in.). The microscope is normally equipped with a
field of view is 5 mm (0.22 in.) and the built-in light source and has field and
resolving power is about 3.3 m aperture iris controls in the illuminating
(1.3 10 4 in.). The instrument weighs arm. Because thick preparations are
little, only 500 g (18 oz) including common in opaque test objects, the stage
batteries. may be focused. Focusing permits an
Applications of the shop microscope intense external light source without
include (1) on-site tests of plated, painted upsetting the illumination centering.
or polished surfaces, (2) detection of Although this microscope finds its
cracks, blowholes and other principal applications in metallurgy, it can
discontinuities and (3) measurement be used on almost any opaque material
checking wear in mechanical having a reasonably high reflectivity.
components. Welding of machine tool When test objects are dark by nature (dark
frames, piping, structural members, plastics, paints, minerals) or have
pressure vessels, jigs and fixtures, can be excessive light scattering (fabrics, paper,
quickly inspected. wood, or biological specimens), a form of
In finishing and electroplating incident dark field illumination is superior
operations, surface tests with the shop to regular vertical illumination.
microscope can detect cracks, blister,
irregular deposits, pitting and poor quality Metallographic Microscope
buffing or polishing. It can reveal slag
inclusions and poor surfacing of base Microscopes designed to provide images
metals before plating. On painted surfaces of opaque objects have provisions for
it permits quick and accurate evaluation vertical illumination that is, by
of quality, uniformity and pigment reflected light rather than light
distribution. In the graphic arts, it is used transmitted through the test object from
to check halftones for size, shape and the other side. A metallographic
distribution of dots. microscope is a common example of this
Textile mills use shop microscopes for type of microscope. A metallographic
identification of fiber textures, microscope is a metallurgical microscope
distribution of coloring matter and test of designed to integrate a camera for
weave, twist and other general photographic documentation. The
characteristics. Fabric finishes, markings, metallographic microscopes light source
lusters and dye transfers can be inspected may have filters to alter the spectrum or
for penetration and quality. In the paper polarize light to reduce glare.
industry, the shop microscope is used to Common metallographic techniques
check fiber uniformity, evenness of include dark field illumination, polarized
coating and wear of Fourdrinier wires. light, phase contrast and differential
interference. These techniques are
increasingly being applied to the analysis
Laboratory Microscope of the microstructures of many
Laboratory microscopes normally range in nonmetallic and composite materials.
power from 100 to 2000 and over. They
commonly use compound lensing systems Polarizing Microscope
with two or more separate sets of lenses. It
is becoming more common for these The addition of two polarizing elements
microscopes to include provisions for a and a circular stage converts a laboratory
still or video camera. A video camera microscope into an elementary polarizing
allows the image to be viewed on a microscope. A polarizing element is a
monitor and provides an excellent means device that restricts light vibration to a
of documentation. Adapters are available single plane. This form of light is useful
to adapt conventional microscopes for use for studying most materials with
with a video or still camera. directional optical properties, including
Most laboratory microscopes were fibers, crystals, sheet plastic and materials
developed for medical use and rely on the under strain. As such materials are rotated
transmission of light through the object, between crossed polarizers on the
so they are limited to translucent objects. microscope stage, they change color and
intensity in a way that is related to their
directional properties.
Metallurgical Microscope
The metallurgical microscope is similar to Interference Microscope
a laboratory microscope with the addition
of top or vertical illumination to permit The interference microscope is a tool
viewing of opaque materials. The vertical using the wavelength of light as a unit of
illuminator, directly above the objective measure for surface contour and other
characteristics. In one form of interference

Direct Visual Testing 125

microscope, the stage is inverted and the including highly polished or glossy
test object is placed face downward. The finished surfaces, where the degree of
image appears as a contour map, with a surface roughness is within a few
separation of one half-wave or about wavelengths of light. With coarser
0.25 m (1 10 5 in.) between contour surfaces, the contour lines are close
lines. Extremely precise measurements can together and interpretation is difficult. An
be made with such equipment. advantage of the interference microscope
Applications of the interference is that the test object is not moved
microscope include the measurement, manually during inspection.
testing and control of very fine finishes,

126 Visual Testing

PART 4. Surface Characteristics2

Surface characteristics that can be visually 3. When the object of controlling surface
tested include surface texture (roughness roughness is to control waviness and
or waviness), color (including gloss) and roughness, the profile variation may
cleanliness. Cleanliness is a prerequisite be removed by using a line that
for certain processes such as painting and describes the average surface. This line
liquid penetrant testing. Surfaces may also can then be applied as a profile filter.
be visually tested closely to identify Surface roughness may be measured
discontinuities and damage mechanisms, with photogrammetry or profilometry. In
such as porosity, blistering, corrosion, photogrammetry, surface details are
flaking and fatigue. The visual inspector measured by comparing two photographic
must flag apparent cracks for evaluation images offset from each other. In
by other methods. profilometry, points on the surface are
The variation from a specified nominal successively measured and a series of
surface condition is controlled by optical or mechanical measurements are
dimensional tolerances and surface compiled.
roughness specifications. Surface texture is Average roughness Ra is the average
usually measured in accordance with distance of the profile to the mean line.
published standards.6-11 When controlling the height of individual
peaks and valleys is important,
measurements of maximum peak-to-valley
Surface Texture height Rmax and mean peak-to-valley

The surface features of any object,

regardless of scale, share three
independent characteristics: form, FIGURE 12. Comparison of profiles for average roughness Ra:
roughness and waviness. (a) Ra = 2.4 m; (b) Ra = 2.5 m; (c) Ra = 2.4 m. Surfaces of
1. Variations in form or profile are Figs. 12a and 12c have same average but different profiles.
typically controlled by the
dimensional or geometric tolerance
specifications. Surface profiles for
larger tolerances, 0.03 mm
(0.001 in.) and greater, are typically
measured using standard dimensional
equipment or optical comparators and
should be measured with respect to a
datum surface.
2. Surface roughness is critical wherever
friction must be reduced, as in
propellers, ball bearings or prosthetic
joints. When measuring and reporting (b)
surface roughness, it is essential to
choose a measurement parameter that
assigns a numerical value to the
characteristics that must be controlled.
If only one parameter is chosen, there
is a risk that some unimportant aspect
of the surface may be overcontrolled,
adding unnecessary cost to assure
adequate control of the key
characteristic. For example, the
surfaces in Fig. 12 have the same
roughness average Ra but different
roughness peak Rp and roughness
depth RY.

Direct Visual Testing 127

height Rz can control the total variation 3. Saturation (chroma) measures the
without adding the cost of an overly tight distance from the corresponding
Ra requirement. neutral color. It is often referred to as
Typically, Rz is determined by dividing the color intensity.
the measured length into five equal Human perception of color varies with
lengths and using the formula: the illumination and with the perceptive
abilities of the observer. The
5 communication of color requirements and
(2) Rz =
5 Z i
the assessment of color against
requirements can be imprecise. Color
i =1
requirements can be effectively
communicated by visual comparison to
where Zi is the waviness variation. reference standards, a color order system
The total waviness parameter is used to or a color collection. Color order systems
control the larger horizontal scale place colors into an orderly
variation, waviness. Surface waviness and three-dimensional arrangement with a
surface roughness measurements are standard nomenclature to describe each
similar and differ primarily in scale. In color in the system.
addition, the direction of the surface
roughness should be considered. Isotropic 1. Based on the three sets of opposing
surfaces are random. They are typically colors, the Natural Color System is a
produced by processes such as casting or proprietary system available from the
any kind of abrasive blasting. Anisotropic Scandinavian Color Institute AB,
surfaces have a periodic irregularity, Stockholm, Sweden. The chromatic
usually in one direction. They are colors are arranged in a circle with
produced by most machining operations. yellow, red, blue and green spaced at
The measured value of anisotropic 90 degree intervals. The opposing
surfaces will change greatly with the monochromatic colors of black and
direction of the measurement. white are represented by the central
Table 4 lists the surface roughness axis. The hue is described by its
produced by some manufacturing resemblance to the primary colors on
operations. a scale of 0 to 100 where the sum of
the resemblances adds up to 100.
Because red opposes green and blue
opposes yellow, only two chromatic
Color and Gloss colors may be used at one time. The
value of the other two chromatic
colors is always zero.
The color of many materials is a
significant part of commercial value. In TABLE 4. Surface roughness produced by some
cold rolled and surface treated steels, too, manufacturing operations.2
the surface colors are an important
consideration in quality control.12 Approximate Range from Surface
Colored light is reflected from a test Process m (106 in.)
object and perceived by an instrument or
human observer. Color is a characteristic Casting and Forging
of light, and each hue corresponds to a Sand casting 30 to 10 (1100 to 400)
waveband of electromagnetic radiation. Hot rolling 30 to 10 (1100 to 400)
The study of color is a branch of optics, Forging 15 to 2.5 (600 to 100)
which is a branch of physics and is Permanent mold casting 4 to 1.5 (150 to 50)
discussed in this volumes chapter on
Investment casting 4 to 1.5 (150 to 50)
Color order systems describe color in Extruding 4 to 0.5 (150 to 25)
terms of hue, value and saturation. Cold rolling, drawing 4 to 0.5 (150 to 25)
Die casting 2 to 0.5 (75 to 25)
1. Hue, or chromaticity, indicates the
value that separates the color in terms
of its primary color constituents or its Flame cutting 30 to 10 (1100 to 400)
mix of primary constituents. The hue Sawing 30 to 1.5 (1100 to 50)
describes the colors redness, blueness Planing, shaping 15 to 1.5 (600 to 50)
and so forth. Drilling 7.5 to 0.5 (300 to 50
2. Value describes the lightness or Chemical milling 7.5 to 0.5 (300 to 50)
darkness of the color. Colors with a Milling 7.5 to 0.5 (300 to 25)
large portion of white or lightness Broaching, reaming 4 to 0.8 (150 to 25)
have a high value. Dark colors have a Grinding 2 to 0.2 (75 to 5)
low value. Polishing 0.5 to 0.2 (35 to 5)
Superfinishing 0.1 (4)

128 Visual Testing

2. Introduced by Albert H. Munsell These various color systems may be used
around 1910, the munsell color system to specify a desired color in a contract.
is similar in concept to the Natural Color may also be measured with a
Color System but uses ten hues colorimeter. A colorimeter is a photometer
equally spaced around the outside of a that attempts to duplicate the perception
circle. The munsell color system is a of color by a human observer: three
common system used in the United colored filters simulate the effects of a
States and Japan. Color trees are light source and observer. They measure
available in vertical slices that show the tristimulus values or the color
the variation of chroma and value for coordinate value of the reflected light.
a specified hue. Horizontal slices are Color measuring devices must be
also available that show the variation properly calibrated and maintained
in hue and chroma from a given point because they are affected by variations in
on the neutral axis. temperature and humidity. These devices
3 International Commission on are simple and inexpensive but are limited
Illumination (CIE) has promulgated a to single combinations of light source and
color system as an international observer variables. Many digital cameras
standard.13 When measured integrate colorimetric functions.
quantitatively, the reflected light of an
object is measured in terms of its Gloss
ability to create a response in three
ideal color sensors that represent an Gloss, or reflectance, is a measure of the
ideal color observer. This measurement specular or mirror reflectance of a surface.
may be expressed in terms of the Reflectance is measured by comparing the
tristimulus value of the color or the reflected light of the test piece to the
chromaticity coordinates. The reflection produced by a perfectly
tristimulus value is calculated by diffusing, perfectly reflective plane surface
multiplying the spectral power that is illuminated and viewed at the
distribution by a reflectance factor. same angle as the test piece. The
The tristimulus primaries specified by reflectance standard is usually a metal
the International Commission on plate coated with magnesium oxide with
Illumination (CIE) are imaginary a reflectance of about 98 percent.
values of light and cannot be The illumination angle and the angle
represented by an actual color of the light receiver must be equal when
stimulus. measured from the surface normal. The
4. Color collections are produced by angle chosen for the measurement is
many government and private sources based on the relative glossiness to best
to demonstrate fabric colors, paint match the visual perception. Most
colors or ceramic colors. The color measurements are made at 60 degrees
collection is an excellent way to from the surface normal. Very high gloss
specify the exact color requirements surfaces, such as automotive paints, are
for a specific product where the measured at 20 degrees; measurements of
properties of gloss and texture are flat finishes are made at up to 85 degrees.
similar. They can be very difficult to
correlate to other product forms or to
other color collections or color scales.

Direct Visual Testing 129

PART 5. Dimensional Measurement

Inspection methods that measure mass or and depth, and they can be either direct
length are often excluded from reading or indirect reading.
nondestructive testing because, although 1. Indirect reading, or transfer type,
mass and length are material properties, calipers (Fig. 13) are used to transfer
the methods do not seek discontinuities. the dimension of an item from the
Nevertheless, the visual inspector is often item to a steel rule. For example, the
given the task of measuring test objects measurement of an outside diameter is
for various purposes. made by adjusting the caliper so that
1. In receiving inspection, the visual both legs lightly touch the widest
inspector may confirm that portion of the item. This distance is
components received were the then transferred to a steel rule to
components ordered. For instance, obtain the measurement. If performed
does the tubing have the needed properly, this type of measurement is
diameter? accurate to 0.04 mm (0.016 in.).
2. In assembly, the visual inspector may
confirm that the correct parts are
being used. For instance, are bolts of
the correct size being installed? FIGURE 13: Indirect calipers: (a) for outside
3. In machining, the visual inspector measurement; (b) for inside measurement.
may confirm that the operation is
performed to specification. For (a)
instance, are rivets placed far enough
from the edge of a plate?
4. In finishing, the visual inspector may
confirm that the surface is treated to
specification. For instance, has sheet
metal been burnished or coated?
5. In nondestructive testing, the visual
inspector needs to describe a visual
indication. How long is the crack?
How extensive is the blistering on the
boilers surface?
In many industries, the direct visual
testing of bolts requires steel rulers,
micrometers, vernier calipers, depth
micrometers, thread gages and
magnifying glasses.

Rulers and Tape Measures
Rulers and tape measures are familiar and
easy to use. In the United States, these
tools almost always show units of the
English system (inches) on one side and
of the International System (centimeters,
millimeters) on the other side.
Increasingly, the International System is
specified for goods and services.

Calipers are used to obtain accurate linear
measurements. Calipers come in a wide
variety of sizes and configurations for
measuring length, width, height, diameter

130 Visual Testing

2. Direct reading calipers vary. A direct To better understand the operation of
reading caliper can be simple, a rule the mechanical gage, it is useful to know
with jaws for coarse measurements; or the components of the instrument. This
it could be of the vernier, dial, or includes the frame, anvil, spindle, barrel,
electronic digital type, which are used thimble, screw, ratchet and clamp ring
for very accurate measurements (Fig. 15). Measurement with the
(Fig. 14). All types of direct reading mechanical gage occurs between the anvil
calipers consist of a fixed jaw on a and spindle. As the thimble screw is
beam along which a moveable jaw rotated counterclockwise, the spindle and
slides. The measurements are taken anvil separate and the barrel graduations
with the item between the jaws of the are revealed in succession.
instrument. To make a measurement, rotate the
Dial and electronic calipers are simple thimble counterclockwise until the
to use and read. Electronic calipers are the spindle is far enough away from the anvil
easiest to read because the actual to allow the test object to fit between
measurement is displayed on a digital them. With the part between the anvil
readout. The dial caliper may require and spindle, slowly turn the thimble
some interpretation if the beam scale and clockwise to obtain contact between the
the rotating indicator on the dial are anvil, part and spindle. A gentle pressure
graduated in different increments. is all that is necessary to make an accurate
Vernier calipers are more difficult to measurement. Pressure can be applied in
use because the scale requires care during fine increments with a ratchet. Too much
interpretation. The vernier consists of the pressure could distort the frame and
fixed main scale, etched into the beam reduce accuracy; too little pressure could
and the sliding vernier scale attached to result in improper contact with the part,
the moveable jaw. To take a measurement producing an inaccurate measurement.
with the vernier caliper, open the jaws The part should be able to be rotated
larger than the maximum dimension of about the spindle axis with the feeling of
the item to be measured and slowly close a slight drag. Barrel graduations are
the jaws around the item until light revealed by the outward travel of the
contact is made. For the greatest accuracy, thimble. To read the dimension, note the
the item must make even contact all largest major division uncovered, the
along the thickness of the jaw faces. graduation closest to the thimble and the
thimble division aligned with the barrel
reference line.

Gages3 Weld Gages3

Some gages commonly used during visual A common tool used in visual
testing include mechanical gages, weld examination of weldments is the weld
fillet gages and cambridge gages. fillet gage. This simple, easy-to-use device
measures leg lengths and determines if
Mechanical Gages (Micrometers) there is sufficient throat in weld fillets.
This gage is basically a comparator the
Mechanical gages perform extremely acceptable size is etched into the gage and
precise measurements of linear arcs are cut into the gage to allow space
dimensions. Mechanical gages are for the weld bead. The gage is placed
available in a wide variety of square against the welded components
configurations for inside and outside and the actual weld is compared to the
measurements of flat, curved, threaded
and cylindrical dimensions. The
mechanical gage is a caliper that operates
by determining how far the end of a FIGURE 15. Mechanical gage, or micrometer.
screw travels in one complete revolution.

Clamp ring Screw

Spindle Ratchet
FIGURE 14: Direct reading caliper. Anvil

Barrel Thimble


Direct Visual Testing 131

standards of the gage (Fig. 16). This type attributes of each characteristic including
of gage offers a quick and precise means tolerances. Requirements are specified and
of measuring concave and convex fillet variations are assessed by using geometric
welds from 3 mm (0.13 in.) to 25 mm dimensions and tolerances, uniformly
(1.0 in.). communicated in a consensus standard.
Weld gages (Fig. 17) designed to Dimensional tolerances are related to
measure offset displacement can be used issues of surface roughness and waviness,
to measure the size of fillet welds, the discussed above, and are governed by
actual throat size of convex and concave some of the same standards.6,7,11 Working
fillet welds, reinforcement of butt welds to a consensus standard realizes the
and root openings of 8 mm (0.3 in.) and following benefits.
3 mm (0.13 in.)
Another more versatile device used for
weld inspection is the welding gage,
FIGURE 17. Displacement weld gaging:
commonly referred to as the cambridge
(a) leg length of fillet weld; (b) convexity of
gage. The Welding Institute, Cambridge,
fillet weld; (c) concavity of fillet weld;
United Kingdom, developed this versatile
(d) bead height of butt weld.
tool hence the name. With this device,
joint preparation angles, joint
misalignment, weld fillet size and depth (a)
measurements can be easily obtained.
Figure 18 shows some typical applications.
This volumes chapter on electric
power applications includes some
discussion of weld gaging.

Tolerance Standards2
The physical features of an object (form,
profile, orientation, location and size)
must be controlled. The blueprint or
drawing for the object must specify the

FIGURE 16. Fillet weld gage: (a) concave

weld; (b) convex weld.




Leg length

132 Visual Testing

1. Computerized design tools, such as 2. The part may be allowed to have the
computer aided design (CAD) systems, maximum possible tolerances while
are more feasible. The designer must ensuring interchangeability and fit to
have a complete understanding of other pieces. This will enhance the
inspection principles to properly apply producibility and lower costs.
geometric tolerancing principles. For 3. The specification of a consensus
designers to use points in space as tolerance standard in the working
construction points in their drawing procedures helps to answer concerns
can be a liability during about quality and, in the event of
manufacturing and inspection. material failure, about liability.
4. Controversy during manufacturing
and inspection is reduced when the
application of the design requirements
FIGURE 18. Cambridge gage: (a) zero to
is done consistently. Part tolerances
60 degree angle of preparation; (b) excess
can be established with regard to the
weld metal in reinforcement; (c) pitting or
parts functional surfaces. This
depth of undercut; (d) fillet weld throat size;
consistency allows functional
(e) high/low misalignment.
inspection gaging and manufacturing
(a) Consistency is generally accomplished
in relation to datums and datum surfaces


that serve as orientation or zero points.


The datum plane or surface is the actual

feature of the part used to establish the
datum. A datum is a theoretically perfect
point, axis, or plane derived from actual
(b) features. Any feature has variation.
M Datums are specified on the drawing and
are controlled by establishing three
separate datums to create an X,Y,Z
coordinate system. Geometrically, three
points establish a plane, two points
establish a line and one point establishes
(c) a point in space. This arrangement is also
called a 3,2,1 coordinate system.
Tolerances of orientation include
requirements for perpendicularity,
angularity or parallelism.
Tolerances of form include
requirements for flatness, straightness,
circularity and cylindricity. A feature has
(d) form only in terms of its relationship to
itself. For example, the requirement for a
flat surface means that each point on the
surface must be within the specified band
in terms of every other point of that
surface. Any point on the surface is
independent of any other surface.
Profile tolerances include the
requirements for the profile of a line and
(e) the profile of a surface.
Basic dimensions are used to describe
the theoretically exact size, profile,
orientation, or location of a feature. They
prevent ambiguity when describing the
variation allowed in a feature. Size can be
specified as a linear dimension, a
diameter, a radius, an angle or any other
quantity of size.

Direct Visual Testing 133


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