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Non-Destructive Evaluation (Phase III) (CNDE)

Iowa State University

Last Reviewed: (not done)

Advances in nondestructive evaluation can enhance the quality and reliability of manufactured products; these same noninvasive measurement techniques are beginning to find application in biological systems

Center Mission and Rationale

Nondestructive evaluation is the use of measurement techniques to non-invasively determine the integrity of a material component or structure. It plays an integral role in modern damage tolerant design and life management strategies as well as in other approaches to assure structural integrity.  The Center for Nondestructive Evaluation (CNDE) uses quantitative approaches to develop nondestructive evaluation as an engineering tool applicable throughout the life cycle of a structural component. The Center's traditional emphasis has been in the fields of aviation, transportation, energy, and manufacturing, with a mission of conducting directed research that advances the science of nondestructive evaluation and ensures the integrity of structures and materials. These same techniques are now being extended to the development of solutions to agricultural, biomedical, and food processing problems.

Research program

Nondestructive Evaluation

CNDE conducts a full spectrum of research including the development of new measurement techniques, the development of models and simulation tools that predict the outcome of those measurements based on a fundamental understanding of the interaction between probing methods and the flaws and properties of materials, the development of one-of-a-kind prototype instruments, and the assessment of the effectiveness of the techniques through evaluation of the probability of detection.  Successful solutions depend on an interdisciplinary approach, and CNDE’s work has involved faculty, staff and students from 4 colleges, 15 departments and 1 research institute.  Areas in which the Center is currently conducting research, with examples of current focus, include --

  • Ultrasonic techniques-current focus on the development of improved simulation tools, including new approaches for guided wave NDE
  • Electromagnetic techniques-current foci include the development of simulation tools, new techniques for the characterization of stress, hardness and other near surface conditions, and new techniques for the inspection of low conductivity materials
  • Radiographic techniques-current focus on the development of improved simulation tools and the development of advanced measurement techniques such as high resolution CT
  • Magnetic techniques-current focus on the improvements of techniques for the characterization of properties such as hardness and stress
  • Thermal techniques-current focus on the development of an improved understanding of the emerging techniques of vibrothermography (Sonic IR)
  • Terahertz techniques-current focus on novel applications of this emerging technology to composites and ceramics
  • Penetrant techniques-current focus on improving the engineering understanding of best practices
  • Signal processing techniques-current focus on new approaches to take advantage of recent advances of sparse data processing
  • Nondestructive characterization of materials-current focus on the characterization of fatigue and near surface properties in metals and of impact damage and other degradation in composites.

The work in the Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers Program is augmented by additional state and federal grants in which CNDE applies its expertise to major societal problems.  Included are --

  • The Center for Aviation Systems Reliability (CASR) and Engine Titanium Consortium (ETC) are research and technology development programs funded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). These programs help provide solutions to pressing aircraft structures and engine nondestructive inspection (NDE) and maintenance problems. Beneficiaries include commercial airline operators and engine and airframe OEM's in the United States and abroad.
  • The Quantitative Inspection Technologies program is developing a wide range of new techniques to assist the U.S. Air Force in managing its aging fleet.
  • The Multi-Utility Materials for Army Combat Systems, conducted in conjunction with South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and Florida State/FAMU is focused on a broad range of problems including the inspection of ceramic-based armor systems.
  • The IPRT Company Assistance NDE Group is an outreach effort funded by the State of Iowa to aid in technology transfer to Iowa businesses.

Special Activities

CNDE is strongly focused on the transfer of its research both through working hand-in-hand with industry on specific projects and through education the future generation of NDE engineers and researchers in the field.  Some of the Center's recent technology transfer and education/training accomplishments include:

  • Creation of two small businesses to make specialized capabilities available when an existing vendor with appropriate interest could not be identified
  • Conduct of numerous programs, supported by member companies, in which the generic, pre-competitive work of the I /UCRC was applied to corporate specific projects.  One example is in the development of novel applications of phased array technology.
  • Led an OEM team in the development of default Probability of Detection curves for inclusion in an FAA Advisory Circular
  • Led an OEM team in the development of standards for selected technologies for the FAA
  • Developed an enhanced engineering understanding of fluorescent penetrant inspection that is guiding industrial practice around the world
  • Worked with a small business in the development of air leak detection/location technologies based on structural born noise for use in space craft
  • Led an international working group in the developed a new class of model-based procedures for determining the probability of flaw detection and demonstrated their advantages on aircraft engine and pipeline applications
  • Laid the foundation for more uniform NDE education and standards world-wide through the formation of the World Federation of NDE Centers.
  • Developed a web-based NDT Resource Center that is widely used throughout the world
  • Continued to lead the NDE minor program in the College of Engineering at Iowa State University, the only such minor in the United States
  • Developed a distance education program for NDE engineers
  • Organized the annual Review of Progress in Quantitative Nondestructive Evaluation, an international research meeting with attendance typically between 300  and 350.

Many companies have used advances developed by CNDE in their manufacturing and service businesses.

Facilities and Laboratory

Most of CNDE's facilities are housed in ISU's Applied Sciences Complex.  CNDE research equipment

Most of CNDE's facilities are housed in ISU's Applied Sciences Complex. CNDE research equipment and instrumentation include a comprehensive set of x-ray sources and detectors, high- and low-frequency ultrasonic instruments, ultrasonic phased array equipment, cw and pulsed eddy current instrumentation, instrumentation for vibrothermography and flash thermography, a state of the art facility for Terahertz measurements (both cw and pulsed), photoinductive equipment for characterizing eddy current probes, special purpose equipment for making a variety of magnetic-based NDE measurements in the laboratory and field, a unique "testbed" for validation of models and work related to the role of NDE and materials in concurrent engineering and life cycle management, and a PC-based cluster for performing parallel computations on large-scale problems. In addition, examples of all of the major equipment items used by industry in practical inspections are available.


Iowa State University

Applied Sciences Complex II
1915 Scholl Road

Ames, Iowa, 50011-3042

United States