Industrial radiography involves exposing a test object to penetrating radiation so that the radiation passes through the object being inspected and a recording medium placed against the opposite side of that object. For thinner or less dense materials such as aluminum, electrically generated x-radiation (X-rays) are commonly used, and for thicker or denser materials, gamma radiation is generally used.
Gamma radiation is given off by decaying radioactive materials, with the two most commonly used sources of gamma radiation being Iridium-192 (Ir-192) and Cobalt-60 (Co-60). IR-192 is generally used for steel up to 2-1/2 – 3 inches, depending on the Curie strength of the source, and Co-60 is usually used for thicker materials due to its greater penetrating ability.
The recording media can be industrial x-ray film or one of several types of digital radiation detectors. With both, the radiation passing through the test object exposes the media, causing an end effect of having darker areas where more radiation has passed through the part and lighter areas where less radiation has penetrated. If there is a void or defect in the part, more radiation passes through, causing a darker image on the film or detector.