The quarterly newsletter from Phoenix National Laboratories that focuses on quality, testing technology, and inspection trends
We have now been officially approved by ADOT to test the following:
Elastomeric Bridge Bearings: AASHTO LRFD and ADOT 1013
Rebar Testing: ASTM A615 & A706 covering tensile strength, yield strength, elongation %, bend tests, dimensional and weight measurements
Multistrand Wire: ASTM A1061 covering tensile strength
General Metal Testing: A370, E8, AASHTO T224 covering tensile strength, yield strength, elongation and hardness tests
PNL has been providing physical/mechanical testing services since 1995 including tensile, compression, shear, hardness, bend, and other physical properties testing and have been ISO 17025 accredited since 2012 for nondestructive testing, physical mechanical testing, and welding technology, through Perry Johnson Laboratory Accreditation, a third party accrediting agency. But up until this year, PNL was only approved by ADOT to test elastomeric bearing pads per ADOT Standard Specification for Road and Bridge Construction Section 1013. PNL was not approved to test iron, steel, rebar or multi-strand wire because of a requirement in the ADOT Standard Specification to be accredited to AASHTO R-18, through a single accrediting body, AASHTO re:source. Since AASHTO accreditation was primarily established to accredit testing of asphalt, soils, and concrete products and didn’t accredit nondestructive testing or elastomeric bridge bearing testing, it didn’t make sense for PNL to maintain two accreditation programs that were essentially identical. Since AASHTO re:source also provides ISO 17025 accreditation and since ISO 17025 accreditation is actually more comprehensive than the R-18 accreditation, ADOT determined that PNL’s ISO 17025 accreditation meets the requirements for approval. ADOT then contacted us to set up the in-person laboratory audit for July 7,2021. After conducting the audit ADOT issued our approval letter on July 21, 2021.
Prior to seeking approval, PNL purchased a Rebar Bend and Re-bend test machine with capabilities of bending rebar up to size No.14. That combined with our 450K tensile machine gives us the capability to provide tensile and bend testing for A615 and A709 reinforcing steel up to size No. 14. PNL is also enrolled in the Cement and Concrete Reference Laboratory Rebar Proficiency Program (AASHTO CCRL) and is currently in good standing. For physical/mechanical testing needs including for rebar, multi-strand wire, metals, plastics, or rubbers please contact Kyle Fleege through our office number at 602-431-8887 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ADOT approval for metals testing
The importance of eye safety and protection is in fact two-fold in nature, beginning first and foremost with the fundamental care and maintenance of our eyes. One of the most essential changes we can make is an investment in quality sunglasses. Sunglasses are a form of protective eyewear designed primarily to prevent bright sunlight and high-energy visible light from damaging or discomforting our eyes. Purchasing sunglasses that offer both UV protection which guards your eyes from harmful Ultra Violet rays, and Polarization which minimizes glare is key. In the digital society in which we live, using special screen filters over the front of your devices can reduce the amount of digital blue light, like a mobile screen protector or computer screen protector for reducing blue rays from electronic devices. There are numerous supplements, foods and nutrients that support eye health. Nutrients such as Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins A, C and E as well as zinc can be added to your diet. Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, collard greens, corn, flaxseed oil, salmon and tuna are examples of foods which promote eye health. Everyone should visit an optometrist annually for a checkup.
In the workplace, safety glasses may look like normal eyewear, but they provide significantly more eye protection. Thousands of people are blinded each year from work-related eye injuries that could have been prevented with the proper use of eye protection. OSHA standards mandate safety glasses be worn for protection from impact, dust, flying particles, chemical gases, heat and chemical splash. Welding helmets protect the face and neck from sparks, weld splatter, and radiation. The helmet’s dark lenses filter ultraviolet and infrared light that can damage the cornea. Eye wash stations and or eyewash kits should be readily available to all industrial workers in their respective facilities.
Pictured here are technicians Jim Tarr, Zander Zuran, and Zach Zuran
The last two years has seen the rapid expansion of PNL services to include an upgrade in metallurgical and materials testing services. Our metallurgical/materials engineer, Amber Trees, PE, worked in the field for almost two decades before joining the PNL team. Her work has spanned material characterization and failure analysis for industries such as semi-conductors, aerospace, mining as well as product quality control and liability inspections. The region’s need for her services has skyrocketed which resulted in hiring a new materials technician, Zachary McWhorter.
PNL has now improved its capabilities in failure analysis and material characterization due to upgrades of our services in optical microscopy, metallographic sectioning, hardness testing and scanning electron microscopy. These techniques are not limited to just metals but can be applied to characterizing all types of materials and systems.
These improvements to the metallurgical/materials testing services only serve to complement the work being done at PNL in the welding, mechanical and NDT departments as we strive to provide only the highest quality testing and inspection services for every project.
Below highlights a few of our metallurgical capabilities. Our services include a complete metallurgical and materials analysis laboratory. Our experts can provide a failure analysis, root cause analysis, and materials characterization ranging from mining, microelectronics, bio-medical, aerospace, and more. To see a full list of our services, click below to find out more.
One of the most widely used techniques is optical microscopy, both macro and micro. Macro examination follows closely with visual inspections but takes it a step further with use of a stereoscope, varying magnifications from 0.6x to 5x. Stereomicroscopy at PNL is used primarily in examining fracture surfaces to assess potential origin sites and failure modes as well as viewing and documenting other features of interest that are not readily detectable by the human eye.
Micro examination involves utilizing a light microscope for viewing at 50x-1000x magnification. Samples typically viewed with such magnifications are prepared metallographic samples, such as a weld cross-section, a field replication or a section of failed component.
Metallographic samples can be mounted in either a hot or cold mounts, prepared to a mirror finish (1um or less) and etched to reveal the underlying microstructure. Viewing the microstructure of a component provides a wealth of information such as processing techniques, heat treatments/history, defects and failure mechanisms.
Metallographic sections can also be used to measure plating layers to ensure conformity to thickness specifications. Precision sections to a specific plane are also available, such as a sectioning through a pinhole leak in a ½” copper pipe to assist in the root cause analysis of the failure (leak ).
Not only can the sections be used for visual examination, but physical properties of the material can be assessed. Weld hardness and case depth hardness profiling are one of the more prevalent needs for micro-hardness to ensure proper processing conditions. Both Vicker's and Knoop hardness testing is now available at PNL.
Another technique new to PNL is scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS). PNL has acquired a variable pressure FeSEM which uses electrons to visually examine the surface (up to 400,000x), revealing details not possible with optical techniques, such as fracture initiation sites or failure mechanisms.
Using electrons for imaging is similar to x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF aka PMI), in that characteristic x-rays are being emitted during imaging. Each element has it's own characteristic x-ray so while images are being generated in the SEM, EDS can collect the spectral information and provide a 'fingerprint' of elements present on minute sample areas, i.e. analyzing metallic particles from a fuel filter or corrosion product from a failed component.
For metallurgical testing or failure analysis needs including for steels, ceramics, or plastics, please contact Amber Trees through our office number at 602-431-8887 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PNL Tech Talk provides insights into the testing and inspection industry from a technician's viewpoint and gives a close-up look at the day-to-day life working at PNL. It may include interviews with one of our technicians, or vendors who support our services, or an editorial written by one of our technicians. This quarter’s feature is a video interview with one of our up and coming technicians, Kalun Kratochvil hosted by our NDE Advanced Services Manager, Matt Sorce.
As a third-party inspection agency specializing in nondestructive testing and weld inspection, we are often called out to perform visual weld inspections when specified on the plans or detailed in the project specifications. The inspection might be necessary because of the special inspections required by a Municipal Code established by a city or county for a building with a structural steel frame or other steel structure. There might also be a State or Federal Code requirement that calls for visual weld inspection during construction or after a period of service for bridges, tanks, piping systems, or pressure vessels. Visual weld inspection is also often required prior to performing nondestructive testing (NDE) such as radiographic or ultrasonic examinations. This article will focus on visual weld inspections during fabrication and construction of welded steel structures where the AWS D1.1/D1.1M Structural Welding Code–Steel is specified. Tanks, piping systems, and pressure vessels are typically covered by the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code (ASME BPVC) and will be discussed in a separate article.
During construction of structural steel frames, it is usually the general contractor (GC) who is responsible to schedule inspections. Often, the GC will rely on the welding subcontractor to let them know when inspections are required. This usually happens only after the welding is completed. It seems a simple matter that visual weld inspection would indicate the final weld is all that needs to be examined. However, this is far from the case. There is much more to a visual weld inspection than performing final examination where only length and profile can be seen and measured. The AWS D1.1/D1.1M:2020 Structural Welding Code-Steel, Clause 8.5 details the requirements for “Inspection of Work and Records” in part as follows.
The 2018 International Building Code Council, through reference to AISC 360, also details the same inspection requirements listed in AWS D1.1 and lists the inspection tasks to be performed or observed before, during, and after welding. The 2009 International Building Code, which is still in use, further defines periodic and continuous inspection based on weld type and size, which could be used as a guide to determine inspection frequencies. In this regard, groove welds in high stress areas would receive a higher level of in-service inspections (continuous) while single pass fillet welds in low stress areas would require less frequency (periodic).
Furthermore, the AWS D1.1/D1.1M:2020 clause 8.3 requires the inspector to ensure that welding procedure specifications (WPS’s) conform with the requirements of the code and contract documents. In addition, the Inspector shall ensure that all welding operations are performed in accordance with WPS’s that meet the requirements of the code and contract documents. Clause 7.5 requires that the applicable WPS be readily available and followed during the performance of welding. WPS verification would then be an inspection performed both before and during welding. Clause 8.4 requires that the inspector ensure that each welder has been qualified in conformance with the code for each process to be used during production. It is important that welder qualification matches the production welding to be performed and that the welder is following the WPS. In this regard, verification of welder qualifications would be inspected both before and during welding.
Improper or lack of welder qualifications and WPS’s is a common issue our inspectors routinely uncover. In some cases, it is just a lack of understanding the code requirements by both the inspector and the welding contractor. In other cases, it is simply a total disregard of the code and project requirements. In any event the proper qualification of welders and the correct use of WPS’s is a one of the best methods for ensuring welding quality.
In conclusion, it should now be apparent that visual weld inspection cannot just be performed after the welds are completed and the welding contractor has left the project, and that welding quality begins prior to making the first weld by reviewing WPS’s and welder qualifications. In addition, inspection is required to be performed before, during, and after welding on an appropriate basis dependent on the size and difficulty of the project and that this basis should be agreed upon by the contractor and inspector if not detailed in the plans and specifications.
Jeff Barnes, Quality and Safety Manager
Rick began his lengthy illustrious career in NDT (Non-Destructive testing) long before there were accredited colleges offering Associates Degrees in the field. He started his career while serving in the United States Army in 1958 as a Medical X-Ray Technician at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii helping soldiers and their families. After serving in the Army, he pursued Industrial X-Ray at Time National Labs in Chicago, Illinois. In 1965, he met his lifelong friend Alex Zuran II, when they worked in the same lab. The pair were self-taught in all of the NDT methods.
In the ensuing years, Rick worked for many large NDT Companies and eventually in 1973, started his own company Calumet Testing in the Chicago area. That company is still in business today, currently owned by the two technicians Rick hired in 1979. Also in 1979, Rick hired his old friend Alex Zuran II to be his Quality Assurance Manager at Calumet Testing. Later Alex’s son, Alex Zuran III was hired as an NDT technician and later founded and has served as President of Phoenix National Laboratories in Phoenix, Arizona for 27 years. Rick has hired and trained hundreds of technicians over the years. He has worked on two nuclear power plants, more than twenty fossil plants, thirty bridges, countless buildings and refineries. Some interesting anecdotes he recalls involved inspection projects X-raying frozen turkeys, trees, and two churches for termites. Rick has always loved the NDT business and encourages young people to get into the business. Although he is an accomplished professional in the field, he says jokingly, “if anyone tells you they are an expert in the NDT field, they are either a fool or a liar,” because even after 60 years, he still learns something new all the time.
Rick’s responsibilities include all facets of the recruitment and hiring process for all open positions at Phoenix National Laboratories as well as Business Development special projects.
Richard Viduka, Business Development
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