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Introduction to Magnetic Particle Inspection

Basic Principles
History of MPI

Magnetic Domains
Magnetic Fields
Electromag. Fields
Field From a Coil
Mag Properties
Hysteresis Loop
Field Orientation
Magnetization of Mat'ls
Magnetizing Current
Longitudinal Mag Fields
Circular Mag Fields
Measuring Mag Fields

Equipment & Materials
Portable Equipment
Stationary Equipment
Multidirectional Equipment
Field Strength Indicators
Magnetic Particles
Suspension Liquids

Testing Practices
Dry Particles
Wet Suspension
Magnetic Rubber
Continuous & Residual Mag
Field Direction & Intensity
L/D Ratio

Process Control
Particle Concentration
Suspension Contamination
Electrical System
Eye Considerations

Example Indications
Visible Dry Powder
Fluorescent Wet


Magnetic Domains

Ferromagnetic materials get their magnetic properties not only because their atoms carry a magnetic moment but also because the material is made up of small regions known as magnetic domains. In each domain, all of the atomic dipoles are coupled together in a preferential direction. This alignment develops as the material develops its crystalline structure during solidification from the molten state. Magnetic domains can be detected using Magnetic Force Microscopy (MFM) and images of the domains like the one shown below can be constructed.

Magnetic Force Microscopy (MFM) image showing the magnetic domains in a piece of heat treated carbon steel.

During solidification, a trillion or more atom moments are aligned parallel so that the magnetic force within the domain is strong in one direction. Ferromagnetic materials are said to be characterized by "spontaneous magnetization" since they obtain saturation magnetization in each of the domains without an external magnetic field being applied. Even though the domains are magnetically saturated, the bulk material may not show any signs of magnetism because the domains develop themselves and are randomly oriented relative to each other.

Ferromagnetic materials become magnetized when the magnetic domains within the material are aligned. This can be done by placing the material in a strong external magnetic field or by passing electrical current through the material. Some or all of the domains can become aligned. The more domains that are aligned, the stronger the magnetic field in the material. When all of the domains are aligned, the material is said to be magnetically saturated. When a material is magnetically saturated, no additional amount of external magnetization force will cause an increase in its internal level of magnetization.

Unmagnetized Material
Magnetized Material