Innovators at NASA Johnson Space Center have developed flaw size parameter modeling to determine if a specific X-ray setup can detect cracks of various sizes within materials. These models allow users to optimize X-ray radiography setups, for the detection of crack and crack-like flaws, to penetrate various materials to show internal structures of parts.

A schematic of a crack flaw in a manufactured metal part. (Image: NASA)

NASA’s software technology uses an Image Quality Indicator (IQI)-based model. Because this modeling software can predict minimum crack sizes that can be detected by a particular X-ray radiography testing setup, users can test various setups until the desired crack detection capabilities are achieved (predicted) by the modeling system.

These flaw size parameter models use a set of measured inputs, including thickness sensitivity, detector modulation transfer function, detector signal response function, and other setup geometry parameters, to predict the minimum crack sizes detectable by the testing setup and X-ray angle limits for detecting such flaws.

Current X-ray methods provide adequate control for detection of volumetric flaws but do not provide a high probability of detection, and crack detection sensitivity cannot be verified for reliable detection. This results in reduced confidence in terms of crack detection.

Given that these cracks, if undetected, can cause catastrophic failure in various systems (e.g., pressure vessels, etc.), verifying that X-ray radiography systems used for nondestructive evaluation (NDE) of manufactured parts can detect such cracks is of the utmost importance in many applications.

NASA is actively seeking licensees to commercialize this technology. Please contact NASA’s Licensing Concierge at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call at 202-358-7432 to initiate licensing discussions. For more information, visit here .