Hands On: Magnetic Particle Tester

magnetic particle machine 

Located in the Non-Destructive Foundations Labs in the Johnson-Cobbe Energy Centre, the TSI WHM-3000 Series Magnetic Particle Tester shines a light on industry tools and parts.

This stationary wet bench uses magnetic forces and black light to find defects or damage in tools and parts — without breaking them.

That’s vital because identifying flaws or corrosion means the object can be repaired or replaced before it causes mechanical or structural failures that harm the environment, cause delays or cost lives. This bench is used by students in the Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) Foundations program to inspect small — to medium-sized parts or tools made of ferromagnetic material such as iron, steel, cobalt or nickel. The item is sprayed with fluorescent, coloured iron particles suspended in mineral oil; then electricity is run through it to magnetize it.

“If there’s a crack or another defect, the particles will tend to gather there because that’s where the magnetic lines of force are most concentrated,” explains George Gavelis, an NDT instructor with the School of Manufacturing and Automation. “When we shine black light on it, any flaw will light up.”

Tech on campus

close up of tool being tested


This wet bench identifies surface-breaking and near-surface faults or flaws up to 1 millimetre deep in ferromagnetic materials.


Testing and assessment requires two kinds of magnetization: the flat copper electrodes create circular magnetic fields; the copper-wired coil creates longitudinal magnetization.

testing fluid in measured funnel


NDT certification requires:

  1. certified training
  2. qualifying work experience
  3. successful completion of Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) written and practical examinations.
tool being tested


NDT Foundations students learn five testing and assessment methods: magnetic particle inspection and eddy current testing; ultrasonics, liquid penetrate and radiography.


NDT inspection is used in the five major disciplines of industry: manufacturing, transportation, construction, power generation, and oil and gas.

This story was originally written for the print version of the Fall 2022 issue of LINK magazine.