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January 20 - January 24, 2014

Is it practical to use black light to check for dirt or other foreign matter during surface preparation inspection?

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Selected Answers

From Larry Pitre of CBI on January 27, 2014:
In addition to my previous response, ASTM A-380 Standard Practice for Cleaning, Descaling, and Passivation of Stainless Steel Parts, Equipment, and Systems contains specific details on use of black light for surface inspection:  7.3.2 "Black Light Inspection is a test suitable for the detection of certain oil films and other transparent films that are not detectable under white light. In an area that is blacked out to white light, inspect all visible accessible surfaces with the aid of a new, flood-type, ultraviolet lamp." However, ASTM A-380 also indicates that "The test will not detect straight-chain hydrocarbons such as mineral oils." Use of Black Light for inspection of surface preparation is a useful tool and can be a required step for certain industries.

From Larry Pitre of CBI on January 27, 2014:
Yes, black light is an improved means of detecting invisible contamination on apparently clean surfaces. It is a quick, cheap, effective, and easy method to improve and maintain cleanliness prior to coating products. UV light provides an instant visual check of surface cleanliness; allows for monitoring the effectiveness of cleaning procedures and chemicals; identifies problem areas not cleaned properly, which can then be re-cleaned to the required standard ensuring dirt and chemicals are removed; and trains new and existing staff on how to clean to higher standards.

From Michael Halliwell of Thurber Engineering Ltd. on January 24, 2014:
I don’t know that it is a matter of being blind, David, but rather a question of contrast. You can see lint on your clothes under regular light, but it stands out considerably more under blacklight. Perhaps that’s what sparked the question?

From david cuthbertson of savcor on January 22, 2014:
What...Are you blind? Think about why you would use a different light spectrum...Would it be for non-visible contaminants?

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Tagged categories: Inspection; Surface preparation


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