Magnetic particle inspection standards ASTM E709, ASTM E1444 and ASTM E3024

Magnetic particle users outside the aerospace industry have typically used ASTM E709 Standard Guide for Magnetic Particle Testing as their baseline standard for procedures. ASME, AWS, and API standards all use ASTM E709 as a reference to build their specific requirements.

However, from an ASTM perspective, E709 is officially a “Guide,” which ASTM defines as, “a compendium of information or series of options that does not recommend a specific course of action. A guide increases the awareness of information and approaches in a given subject area.” This means it provides information and recommendations, but it does not actually include any hard requirements.

That’s why there are also Standard Practices like ASTM E1444 Standard Practice for Magnetic Particle Testing. According to ASTM, a Practice is, “a definitive set of instructions for performing one or more specific operations or functions that does not produce a test result. Examples of practices include, but are not limited to: application, assessment, cleaning, collection, decontamination, inspection, installation, preparation, sampling, screening, and training.”

The problem many NDT pros run into when trying to use ASTM E1444 is that it includes a lot of aerospace-specific practices that aren’t appropriate for other industries.

To resolve this technical issue, the ASTM committee formed a task group in 2014 to draft a new standard practice that includes hard requirements but is geared towards more industrial applications.

After two years of work, the result was a new standard – ASTM E3024 Standard Practice for Magnetic Particle for General Industry.

With ASTM E3024, aerospace-specific requirements are not imposed on industrial applications like billet, tube, powdered metal, pipeline, tank or welding inspections. But at the same time, calibration and equipment reliability checks are improved and standardized.

Looking forward, industry standards such as ASME, AWS, and API will be updated to reference this new document. And as a result, we will have consistent magnetic particle inspections across all industries, which will simplify the training required for users and inspectors.

With the publication of ASTM E3024, work is underway in the ASTM committee to update E1444 as well.

The opportunity to make ASTM E1444 an aerospace-only document promises to greatly simplify this practice since requirements for dry powders and visible inspection will be removed or referenced to ASTM E3024. Of course, changes to E1444 will take time to make sure the details are correct and all the changes are appropriate; but we can all look forward to a simplified E1444 in the future.

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