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Safe and sound

Hands-on at the exhibit

  • Use ultrasonic waves to find small cracks in a structure – a high pressure steam pipe from a power station. Can you find all them all? Do you think the structure is safe?
  • Use the world’s first ever magnetic camera to see how some metal objects such as coins or keys produce a magnetic field pattern. You may even see messages written in metallic ink can be also be detected, even when hidden behind thick layers of card (or other non-conducting material).
  • Activate an ultrasonic measurement and see it animated and projected onto a complex structure. Generate an acoustic signal that you can print out and keep.

Find out more

Engineers play a vital role by testing engineering structures to ensure they are safe. They keep planes flying, trains running and power stations operating. Without this testing our modern world would grind to a halt.

Many of these structures can be challenging to test. For example, some are huge, such as Airbus A380; or are tricky to reach and have challenging conditions, such as off-shore wind turbines. Scientists and engineers that test structures like these are the unsung heroes of the engineering world, working to the highest standards in extreme conditions.

Our exhibit will take you behind the scenes and show you the vital science and engineering that takes place to ensure modern structures are safe. Our research   is discovering creative ways to find tiny defects such as cracks and capture their signals in large and complex structures under challenging conditions, and distinguishing defects from the undamaged material. To test these structures, we send energy, such as sound waves or electromagnetic waves, into the structure, and explore how it interacts with defects buried deep within structures. Defects smaller than a millimetre can be catastrophic, but it’s like finding a needle in a haystack!

Come along to our exhibit and try this for yourself. Have a look inside complex structures made from metals, plastics, and composites. Is our mock-up of a power plant safe? You decide!

Find out more about what non-destructive testing is.

Presented by: University of Bristol, Imperial College London, University of Nottingham, University of Strathclyde, University of Warwick, University of Manchester, British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing (BINDT) and UK Research Centre in NDE (RCNDE).