Inspectioneering Journal

Opening of NDT Validation Centre

This article appears in the May/June 2006 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.

A new national research centre located in Port Talbot, Wales, is set to play a critical role in ensuring the future safety of materials and components. The Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) Validation Centre was officially opened on 6 February 2006 by The Rt Hon Alun Michael, Minister of State for Industry and the Regions, and Andrew Davies, Welsh Assembly Government Minister for Economic Development and Transport.

The NDT Centre, which is managed by TWI and run in collaboration with Swansea Institute of Higher Education and Swansea University, is an independent organisation with the objective of assessing the accuracy and reliability of the various NDT methods used in the manufacturing industry (including the aerospace sector) and the construction industry (focusing on the power, oil and gas and chemical process sectors). It aims to address the need to verify and improve the accuracy of inspection techniques and flaw detection, to increase the confidence of fabricators, regulators and users.

An industrial and academic survey commissioned by the UK’s Department for Trade and Industry and the Welsh Development Agency confirmed the need for a validation centre that would offer independent research to improve the understanding and performance of NDT techniques.

This need is reinforced by industry placing increasing demands on NDT and the new developments in robotics, data handling and signal processing that are revolutionising the techniques now available.

Housing a wide variety of state-of-the-art equipment, it will provide expertise in advanced and novel inspection techniques such as digital radiography; laser shearography; eddy current array inspection; time of flight diffraction; phased array ultrasonics; immersion ultrasonics; thermography; tomography and long range guided wave ultrasonics.

The inspection techniques available at the centre permit the inspection of all engineering materials including metals, composites, plastics and ceramics. The methods are acceptable for inspecting products made using a wide range of manufacturing and fabrication processes.

Andrew Davies, Fig.1, said the decision to site this UK resource in Wales reflected the high level of academic and industrial expertise within the field of materials technology and would complement existing R&D carried out by TWI.

Dr. Bob John (Chief Executive of TWI), Andrew Davies, Alun Michael and Philip Wallace present state-of-the-art NDT equipment at the new Centre
Figure 1. Dr. Bob John (Chief Executive of TWI), Andrew Davies, Alun Michael and Philip Wallace present state-of-the-art NDT equipment at the new Centre

“We cannot compete with emerging industrial nations on the basis of cost alone – we must augment and strengthen the R&D base of our economy, support innovation and stimulate industry/academic links – all prevailing features of this new centre.

It will bring tremendous benefits for industries and create a centre of world class expertise in Wales in a critical technology. This will be supported by Swansea Institute which has become the first higher education institution in the UK to establish a Master of Science (MSc) degree in non-destructive testing and evaluation.”

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