|Evaluating Critical Products
by Clare Coppa
Bruce Parker would rather wear a sweatshirt than his best suit.
The president of the Parker Industrial X-Ray Laboratory, he describes
himself as a very casual person although hes partly responsible
for aircraft integrity. When it comes to the standard reference
radiographs his company produces for ASTM International, his commitment
to quality is renowned.
Manufacturers use ASTM reference radiographs to check critical
components after theyre cast or welded. A radiographer might
compare an X-ray of a jet-engine blade with an ASTM radiograph
to determine its final acceptability.
The staff of Parker X-Ray, East Hartford, Conn., has been producing
ASTM radiographs for over 30 years. They also use ASTM radiographs
in-house to inspect parts for clients. There have been many instances
when production of critical parts have had to be put on hold,
Bruce Parker said, because those parts did not meet the X-ray
acceptance standards as set forth in the manufacturing requirements.
From jet engines having to be taken off the production line,
to race-car engines that could not be used in a specific race,
Parkers job is to inspect a wide variety of sub and final assembly
of parts, he said. A key part of the inspection process is comparing
the X-rays Parker takes against the appropriate reference radiographs
for that particular job.
On Jan. 22 in Florida, ASTM Committee E07 on Nondestructive Testing presented Parker X-Ray with an award
for maintaining the highest standards of workmanship and professionalism.
They do an absolutely fabulous job, said Tom Jones, Committee
Weve been very very pleased with the quality of work that weve
gotten from Parker X-Ray, and not only with the quality of work
but with the attitude that theyve taken, said Jones, a nondestructive
testing (NDT) engineer with Howmet Research Corporation. As well
as helping to develop ASTM reference radiographs, Jones uses ASTM
radiographs at Howmet to evaluate the acceptability of turbine
blades for jet engines.
Founded in 1953, Parker X-Ray maintains historic plates. We have
been entrusted with the [radiograph] standards of the world,
Parker said, hard metal plates, that have been created by the
government, or one of its subcommittees, sometime after World
War II. In order for us to produce these films, i.e. take the
X-ray film of the plate, we need the plate in house.
Maintaining an original reference radiograph is difficult because
the master film degrades over time. Parker X-Ray developed a process
to duplicate the original look of the old film. Some of our staff
have been here for 30 years, Parker said. We have a lot of continuity
with our people and our process. Its important.
Speaking for Committee E07, Jones said the Lab staff sets the
highest level of quality on the radiographs they produce for ASTM.
We see them as absolutely critical to the consistent conduct
of business, he said.
The feeling that Parker Labs is more like an ASTM partner than
a vendor arose over the years, said Daniel Polansky, a physical
scientist and former E07 chairman who has developed ASTM standards
since 1958. The relationship solidified, he said, because Parker
nearly always agreed with the committees critical rejection of
production radiographs. As a result, the relationship which developed
was not adversarial but that of a team whose objective was to
produce a final product that would be accepted worldwide.
Polansky relied on ASTM radiographs in his former work at the
U.S. Naval Ordinance Laboratory, Silver Spring, Md. He explained
how Parkers partnership with ASTM began. Early in the 1970s,
a question arose in industry as to the interpretation of a specific
grade of an anomaly in a given radiograph, he said. A review
of the radiographic standards indicated that depending on their
production there was a possibility of grading differences between
At Polanskys suggestion, Committee E07 established a review team
of metallurgists and radiographers to inspect ASTM radiographs
in production at Parker X-Ray, twice annually. The current team
includes Polansky, Jones, Edwin Lewis (chairman of the current
review team, Subcommittee E07.93 on Illustration Monitoring),
William Plumstead (chairman of E07.92, Editorial Review), and
Dwight Isenhour (chairman of E07.02, Reference Radiological Images).
What ASTM is trying to do is maintain the continuity of safety,
and the continuity of world standards, Parker said.
George Luciw, E07 Technical Committee director, has accompanied
the review team to Parker X-Ray for 20 years. They know and they
understand how important these reference radiographs are to the
NDT industry, he said from his desk at ASTM headquarters in West
Conshohocken, Pa. Their work is really magnificent and has been
consistent over 20 years. //
Copyright 2002, ASTM