Home - Education Resources - NDT Course Material - Radiography


Present State
Future Direction

Physics of Radiography
Nature of Penetrating Radiation
Gamma Rays
Decay Rate
  -Carbon 14 Dating
Inverse Square Law
Interaction of RT/Matter
Attenuation Coefficient
Half-Value Layer
Sources of Attenuation
  -Compton Scattering
Geometric Unsharpness
Filters in Radiography
Scatter/Radiation Control
Radiation Safety

Equipment & Materials
X-ray Generators
Radio Isotope Sources
Radiographic Film
Exposure Vaults

Techniques & Calibrations
Imaging Consideration
Radiographic Density
Characteristic Curves
Exposure Calculations
Controlling Quality

Film Processing
Viewing Radiographs
Radiograph Interp-Welds
Radiograph Interp - Castings

Advanced Techniques
Real-time Radiography
Computed Tomography



Viewing Radiographs

Radiographs (developed film exposed to x-ray or gamma radiation) are generally viewed on a light-box. However, it is becoming increasingly common to digitize radiographs and view them on a high resolution monitor. Proper viewing conditions are very important when interpreting a radiograph. The viewing conditions can enhance or degrade the subtle details of radiographs.

Viewing Radiographs

Before beginning the evaluation of a radiograph, the viewing equipment and area should be considered. The area should be clean and free of distracting materials. Magnifying aids, masking aids, and film markers should be close at hand. Thin cotton gloves should be available and worn to prevent fingerprints on the radiograph. Ambient light levels should be low. Ambient light levels of less than 2 fc are often recommended, but subdued lighting (rather than total darkness) is preferable in the viewing room. The brightness of the surroundings should be about the same as the area of interest in the radiograph. Room illumination must be arranged so that there are no reflections from the surface of the film under examination.

Film viewers should be clean and in good working condition. There are four groups of film viewers. These include strip viewers, area viewers, spot viewers, and a combination of spot and area viewers. Film viewers should provide a source of defused, adjustable, and relativity cool light as heat from viewers can cause distortion of the radiograph. A film having a measured density of 2.0 will allow only 1% of the incident light to pass. A film containing a density of 4.0 will allow only 0.01% of the incident light to pass. With such low levels of light passing through the radiograph, the delivery of a good light source is important.

The radiographic process should be performed in accordance with a written procedure or code, or as required by contractual documents. The required documents should be available in the viewing area and referenced as necessary when evaluating components. Radiographic film quality and acceptability, as required by the procedure, should first be determined. It should be verified that the radiograph was produced to the correct density on the required film type, and that it contains the correct identification information. It should also be verified that the proper image quality indicator was used and that the required sensitivity level was met. Next, the radiograph should be checked to ensure that it does not contain processing and handling artifacts that could mask discontinuities or other details of interest. The technician should develop a standard process for evaluating the radiographs so that details are not overlooked.

Once a radiograph passes these initial checks, it is ready for interpretation. Radiographic film interpretation is an acquired skill combining visual acuity with knowledge of materials, manufacturing processes, and their associated discontinuities. If the component is inspected while in service, an understanding of applied loads and history of the component is helpful. A process for viewing radiographs (e.g. left to right, top to bottom, etc.) is helpful and will prevent overlooking an area on the radiograph. This process is often developed over time and individualized. One part of the interpretation process, sometimes overlooked, is rest. The mind as well as the eyes need to occasionally rest when interpreting radiographs.

When viewing a particular region of interest, techniques such as using a small light source and moving the radiograph over the small light source, or changing the intensity of the light source will help the radiographer identify relevant indications. Magnifying tools should also be used when appropriate to help identify and evaluate indications. Viewing the actual component being inspected is very often helpful in developing an understanding of the details seen in a radiograph.

Interpretation of radiographs is an acquired skill that is perfected over time. By using the proper equipment and developing consistent evaluation processes, the interpreter will increase his or her probability of detecting defects.