Modern nondestructive evaluation (NDE) encompasses all aspects of materials production testing to service assessments of materials and structures. Applications range from sensors for process control and product integrity verifications to techniques for optimization of structural life cycle management and life extension.
The Center for Nondestructive Evaluation (CNDE) is an interdisciplinary cooperative group of academic and industrial partners interested in the promotion, technology development and ideas interchange in the area of nondestructive testing (NDT), nondestructive evaluation (NDE) and nondestructive characterization (NDC). The NDE/NDC techniques further developments are especially useful to control and improve product quality in manufacturing processes and to assure the highest level of reliability for materials, parts and products.
Nondestructive evaluation is extremely diverse and multi-disciplinary, involving the fields of applied physics, materials science and engineering, mechanical engineering, structural engineering biomedical engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, electronics, technologies of signal processing and artificial intelligence. The Center for Nondestructive Evaluation fosters a collaborative work and coordinates technology activities in this interdisciplinary area. CNDE provides a focus for NDE and NDC activities being pursued within interested international organizations. CNDE responds to the increasing national and international need for development, information exchange and technology transfer in this critical technology.
Historically, nondestructive techniques have been used almost exclusively for detection of macroscopic defects (mostly cracks) in structures after they have been manufactured or placed in service. It has become increasingly evident that it is both practical and cost effective to expand the role of NDT to more complete technologies of nondestructive measurement evaluations NDE and to nondestructive characterization of the materials state. (NDC). NDE and NDC include all aspects of materials production, materials in service use and materials structural applications. NDE and NDC can be beneficially introduced much earlier in the manufacturing cycle and can be utilized throughout the life of the products. In fact, the recovery of a large portion of United States industry from severe economic problems is dependent, in part, on the successful implementation of this expanded role for NDE and NDC.
Currently, efforts are directed at developing and perfecting techniques which are capable of monitoring and controlling the materials production process; materials stability during transport, storage, and fabrication; and the amount and rate of degradation during the materials in-service life. Via additional evaluation and characterization of the NDT measurements, role of NDT has expanded far beyond its historical mission of detecting macroscopic defects in structures and components which had already been constructed and most often had been in service for an extended period of time. Today, using advanced sensors and modern measurement technology, along with signal/data processing techniques, information on the processing conditions and the properties and characteristics of the materials being processed can be continuously monitored. Real-time process monitoring with real-time process control assures improved product quality and reliability.
The optimization of the processing and properties of polymers, ceramics and composites, the development of synthetically structured materials, the characterization of surfaces and interfaces, the growth of perfect electronic and optical crystals and films, and in all cases, the structures, devices and systems made from these materials demand the innovative application of modern nondestructive materials characterization techniques. Technology developments are needed to monitor and control as many stages of the materials life as possible. This cradle to grave approach is revolutionizing manufacturing operations and the application options of the advanced materials.
Simply put, intelligent use of modern materials is impossible without integrating modern NDE and NDC into the materials use system. What was once a non-systematic collection of ex-post-facto NDT techniques, NDE/NDC evolution is becoming a powerful set of engineering tools that are used throughout the manufacturing and service operations to make products more reliable, safer and cost efficient.