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X-ray Welding: The Ultimate Guide

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Have you ever considered that there might be more to X-ray welding than you presently know?

Various industries, including manufacturers in multiple industries, are beginning to consider X-ray welding, not for anything else but the benefits and potential it offers them. Notably, the foremost potential they often consider is the accuracy that X-ray welding promises and the phenomenal speed with which manufacturers hope they can achieve with X-ray welding. 

This guide gives you a comprehensive rundown of everything you need to know about X-ray welding, including its workings, advantages, as well its limitations.

So, if you are ready, then let’s dive in together. 


I. What is X-ray Welding?

To begin with, sources of x-rays of ample energy that can lead to adequate intensified heating for welding were non-existent in the past. However, introducing, developing, and applying third-generation synchrotron radiation sources have made the power required for localized melting and vaporization possible in varying materials and components.

A lot of the technological advances in welding have stemmed from the introduction of new thermal energy sources necessary for localized melting. Now here’s the best part, these advances are not limited in any way but include the introduction of contemporary methodologies such as gas tungsten arc and gas-metal arc. Although these processes improved welding stability, reproducibility, and accuracy, they collectively share a common constraint: inadequate energy to infiltrate the material to be welded fully. X-ray beams have been identified to have potential as welding tools for stuff that cannot be commonly welded.


  what is x-ray welding


II. What is Weld Inspection?

The failure of a welded part during a manufacturing process can halt production and can cause delay. Consequently, weld quality is paramount in many industries, including power plants, aerospace, boiler connections, and shipbuilding. Welds are a crucial part of component construction and must satisfy stipulated codes and standards. Furthermore, welds can encounter prolonged exposure to intense forces even through regular operations. In time, some welds can start showing signs of deterioration or depreciation. However, it is vital to inspect the base metal, weld material, and heat-affected zones of welds – as even minor defects can metamorphose into more significant worries over time. Weld’s quality assurance professionals and inspectors look for discontinuities such as cracks, cold lap, cluster porosity, internal concavity, incomplete penetration, incomplete fusion, and slag inclusions.


x-ray weld inspection


III. What is an X-ray Welder?

In this context, an X-ray welder represents a dealer who exhibits competence in welding and frequently welds expertly that no defect is noticeable in the weld pool and can also identify and rectify faults in the weld pool during the welding process. An x-ray welder is entrusted to fabricate a weld that can be easily certified as a standard by regulating authorities in any manufacturing factory. It is also assumed to be devoid of any form of defects like porosity, concavities, cracks, cold laps, slag and tungsten inclusions, lack of fusion & penetration, etc., that are scarcely seen in a radiographic X-ray inspection of a weld done by an X-ray welder expert.


IV. What is a Weld X-ray Film?

X-ray inspections mostly use an X-ray machine to project X-ray energy via an X-ray generator onto the welded portion of the material, which the detector picks up after the material has absorbed some amount of the radiation. An X-ray film will be required to produce the image reflected on the detector and imprinted in a two-dimensional projection on the detector for an accurate and precise weld analysis in detail.

Ultimately, a technical X-Ray film personnel is also required to view the developed image and analyze it for defects. This part is necessary since some flaws can be difficult for an untrained eye to detect. Nonetheless, recent advancements have enabled a transition from old-fashioned film viewers to compact new film viewers with LED lamps that are much more efficient.


weld x-ray film


VI. What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of X-ray in Welding?

It is common knowledge that welds are used in major sectors such as military, aerospace, petrochemicals, manufacturing, packaging, waste management, automotive, marine, transportation, power, offshore, and medical devices. Hence, it is requisite to maintain the quality of welds by performing an X-ray weld inspection test.

Here are some advantages of using X-ray weld inspection test:


  • It’s less cumbersome as compared to other inspection techniques
  • It identifies a range of defects from the shape, position, location, and type of defect.
  • Varying defects such as porosity, planar cracks, voids, inclusions, and delamination can be easily detected.
  • Inspection of varying sample materials such as their density, thickness, and volumes is possible.
  • Both sides of the welded joints can be inspected.
  • Composition variations can also be determined.
  • Discontinuities on the surface subsurface and internal regions can be detected.


advantages of x-ray welding



  • Prolonged exposure to X-rays at an instance or over many years can be harmful to human health.
  • The inaccurate interpretation could prove costly to production.


VII. How does X-ray Welding Work?

There are different techniques and ways of welding, such as electron beam welding and laser beam welding. Still, with x-ray welding, the process entails the production of directed high-powered thermal heating to make the weld, and it’s the latest advancement in welding technology.

The focused high-powered beam commences melting, which eventually forms the weld when its temperature cools off. A similarity exists between this mode of welding and the other types of welding earlier mentioned (electron beam welding and laser beam welding). And the significant similarity is the increased stability and the quick process of weld formation. The level of accuracy is often applauded with this welding technique. It requires forming the weld, another similarity it shares with the other forms of welding technique.


VIII. Weld X-ray Inspection Machine for X-ray Welding

Inspecting welds using X-ray machines is quite unique and different from other non-destructive test methods like a visual inspection. It uses X-ray radiation to penetrate the materials, revealing hidden defects that might have been difficult for other test methods to identify.

Basically, the process involves the production of X-rays from an X-ray tube within the welding X-ray machine and then projecting it towards the test sample to penetrate it. The sample absorbs some of this radiation depending on the thickness and density of the material. Naturally, the thicker the material, the more radiation it absorbs, disallowing a good amount of the radiation from reaching the detector. Finally, the detector receives the remaining radiation passing through the test sample and generates an image using this remaining radiation. 

The image’s quality depends on the resolution and the magnification power of the X-ray machine, which in turn determines the accuracy of the inspection result.


IX. What are the Applications of X-ray Welding?

X-ray welding is a pretty recent method that is gradually gaining ground and has very limited applications. However, due to the reasonably low thermal energy it produces relative to other welding methods like arc welding, X-ray welding is often used for thin metals to have enough penetrating energy for a complete fusion.

Another limitation that has limited the use of X-ray welding is the technical competence required to handle the X-ray welding machine. The required expertise is highly specialized, and since it’s new, there is not much-skilled personnel in the field. 

Nonetheless, it is still very advantageous for its speed and accuracy in spot welding since its more controlled and has a limited human interface removing the element of human error. 


x-ray welding application


X. What Defects can be Detected in X-ray Welding Inspection?

Deploying a suitable x-ray welding inspection mechanism ranks topmost in quality control measures, and with x-ray welding inspection, its advantages are quite numerous. These advantages are why it is most preferred in industries like automotive, alternative power, aerospace, and military. However, its application is also extensive, and it includes the detection of defects like discontinuities on the surface, subsurface, and awkward points within complex geometrical regions of the weld.

Furthermore, X-ray welding inspection is suitable for identifying incomplete penetration, inadequate weld reinforcement, slag inclusion, internal and external undercut. But that’s not all. X-ray welding inspection is also appropriate for detecting the weld’s porosity, planar cracks, voids, and delamination. These defects undermine the integrity of the welding works and the load-carrying capacity of the final product. 


x-ray welding defects



To sum these all up, though X-ray welding is still a relatively new technology, it holds a lot of promise and potential, especially since it can be very accurate, removing the element of human error as it has a limited interface with a human operator. 

However, it still has its limitations and challenges, including the low thermal energy that makes it practically impossible to weld thick metallic materials. Nonetheless, it is still efficient at welding thin ferrous material. 

On the other hand, the X-ray welding inspection machine efficiently identifies difficult-to-spot defects for other non-destructive testing methods like a visual inspection. It is also beneficial in various applications and a wide array of industries. 

Finally, ensuring that you choose an X-ray supplier like Uni X-ray with a consistent track record of successful delivery is more important to help you achieve your inspection objective.


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