Magnetic Particles Inspection is accomplished by inducing a magnetic field in a ferromagnetic material and then dusting the surface with iron particles (either dry or suspended in liquid). Surface and near-surface flaws produce magnetic poles or distort the magnetic field in such a way that the iron particles are attracted and concentrated. This produces a visible indication of defect on the surface of the material.

Magnetic particles are usually applied as a suspension in water or paraffin. This enables the particles to flow over the surface and to migrate to any flaws. On hot surfaces, or where contamination is a concern, dry powders may be used as an alternative to wet inks. On dark surfaces, a thin layer of white paint is usually applied, to increase the contrast between the background and the black magnetic particles. The most sensitive technique, however, is to use fluorescent particles viewed under UV (black) light.

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