Nondestructive Testing:

What It Is and Why It Matters

What Is Nondestructive Testing?

Engineers and manufacturers rely on materials testing for a wide range of applications, including product design, reverse engineering, quality assurance, and failure analysis. Some materials testing involves dismantling or otherwise damaging the material in question, which can pose a problem — especially when testing low-volume, high-cost products. For this reason, many industries employ nondestructive testing, or NDT, which includes X-ray and neutron imaging (radiography).

Nondestructive Testing at Phoenix:
X-Rays vs. N-Rays

At Phoenix, we offer both X-ray and N-ray radiography to serve our clients. To put the difference between these techniques in simple terms, X-rays show dense materials within light materials (such as the bones in your arm), whereas N-rays show light materials within dense materials (such as a metal object with another substance or empty space inside it). X-ray radiography is more common than N-ray radiography due to the ubiquity of and easy access to X-ray sources. However, X-ray has its limitations, making N-ray more suitable for certain applications. 

Since neutrons can penetrate high-density material in a way that X-rays cannot, neutrons are widely used for critical aerospace components with thick outer shells, such as turbine blades and energetic fuses, which are difficult to inspect using X-ray radiography. N-rays can also be used to detect water and moisture within components and defects in energetic materials including munitions, among a variety of other applications.


With neutron radiography becoming more accessible and finding use in more industrial NDT niches, knowing how to interpret neutron radiographic films will become an increasingly valued skill in the coming years.

Held at our imaging center in Fitchburg, Wisconsin,  three-day Neutron Radiography Film Interpretation course blends theory and practical applications. It's designed to meet the requirements of NAS 410 and SNT-TC-1A for the qualification of Level 1 or Level 2 personnel in the radiographic testing NDT method. NDT and quality assurance professionals of all levels are encouraged to attend.

A Phoenix Employee studying N-Ray images.
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Our Certifications

Nondestructive testing
We have a NAS 410 compliant training program and can certify films in accordance with ASTM E-545 and ASTM E-748.
We maintain safety and security programs compliant with DoD Manuals 4145.26 and 5200.08.
We hold a Federal Explosives License (FEL) from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) and a Radioactive Materials License from Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Quality Management
We maintain an ISO 9001:2015 and AS9100D quality management system certified by DQS, Inc.
We're a U.S. Department of State Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) registered global exporter of products and services.
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