NDT.net Mar 2006, Vol. 11 No.3
Official Opening of The NDT Validation Centre

A new national research centre located in Port Talbot, Wales, is to set to play a critical role in ensuring the future safety of materials and components used in virtually all areas of engineering - from aeroplanes to pacemakers.

The Non-destructive Testing (NDT) Validation Centre was officially opened on 6 February 2006 by The Rt Hon Alun Michael, Minister of State for Industry and the Regions, and Andrew Davies, Welsh Assembly Government Minister for Economic Development and Transport.

The Centre, which is managed by TWI and run in collaboration with Swansea Institute of Higher Education and Swansea University is an independent organisation with the objective of assessing the accuracy and consistency of the NDT methods used in manufacturing and construction industries. It aims to address the need to verify and improve the accuracy of inspection techniques and flaw detection to increase the confidence of manufacturers, regulators and users alike.

An industrial and academic survey commissioned by the DTI and WDA also confirmed the need for a validation centre that would offer independent research to improve the understanding and performance of NDT techniques.

This need is reinforced by industry placing increasing demands on NDT and the new developments in robotics, data handling and signal processing that are revolutionising the techniques now available.

Housing a wide variety of state-of-the-art equipment, it is well placed to provide expertise in advanced inspection techniques such as digital radiography; laser shearography; eddy current array inspection; time of flight diffraction; phased array ultrasonics; immersion ultrasonics; thermography; tomography and long range guided wave ultrasonics.

The inspection techniques available at the centre permit the inspection of all engineering materials including metals, composites, plastics and ceramics. The methods are acceptable for inspecting products made using a wide range of manufacturing and fabrication processes.

Andrew Davies said the decision to site this UK resource in Wales reflected the high level of academic expertise within the field of materials technology and would complement existing R&D carried out by TWI.

"We cannot compete with emerging industrial nations on the basis of cost alone - we must augment and strengthen the R&D base of our economy, support innovation and stimulate industry/academic links - all prevailing features of this new centre.

"It will bring tremendous benefits for industries and create a centre of world class expertise in Wales in a critical technology. This will be supported by Swansea Institute which is become the first higher education institution in the UK to establish an MSc in Non Destructive Testing and Evaluation."

The Centre is an integral part of the National Composites Network - a DTI Knowledge Transfer Network, also managed by TWI - which facilitates knowledge sharing, networking and technology transfer. Inspection of composite materials requires significant research, but successful development and validation of appropriate techniques will have tremendous benefits for industries keen to make use of composites in everyday production.

For more information contact Phil Wallace: philip.wallace@twi.co.uk.

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