Eddy Current Inspection
Eddy-current testing (also commonly seen as eddy current testing and ECT) is one of many electromagnetic testing methods used in nondestructive testing (NDT) making use of electromagnetic induction to detect and characterize surface and sub-surface flaws in conductive materials. Eddy current testing (ECT) as a technique for testing finds its roots in electromagnetism. In its most basic form — the single-element ECT probe — a coil of conductive wire is excited with an alternating electrical current. This wire coil produces an alternating magnetic field around itself. The magnetic field oscillates at the same frequency as the current running through the coil. When the coil approaches a conductive material, currents opposed to the ones in the coil are induced in the material — eddy currents.
Variations in the electrical conductivity and magnetic permeability of the test object, and the presence of defects causes a change in eddy current and a corresponding change in phase and amplitude that can be detected by measuring the impedance changes in the coil, which is a telltale sign of the presence of defects.This is the basis of standard (pancake coil) ECT.
The two major applications of eddy current testing are surface inspection and tubing inspections. Surface inspection is used extensively in the aerospace industry, but also in the petrochemical industry. The technique is very sensitive and can detect tight cracks. Surface inspection can be performed both on ferromagnetic and non-ferromagnetic materials.