Capabilities / Services Offered
PH Tool manufactures special NDT test blocks and reference standards to customer specifications in our fully-equipped CNC/EDM manufacturing facility. We are a full-capability shop, from start to finish, so lead times are always reasonable. Our broad range of machining capabilities and expertise enables us to respond quickly to emergency or rush delivery requirements. If you need one block or 100, we can make it. We offer the complete package; including CAD/CAM, pre-machining, ultrasonic inspection of raw material, CNC milling and EDM, drilling, turning, boring, grinding, dimensional inspection, welding, cladding, and more.
Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) using Sinker or “Ram” machines has been our specialty since the 1970’s when this technology first became available to industry. As a pioneer in EDM, PH Tool quickly became known as the logical source for EDM Notch reference standards for the NDT community. Today, we have 40 Sinkers in our EDM Department ready to handle your notch requirements. All of our EDMs are purpose-built, low-energy notching machines, and allow us to accommodate any size standard from the smallest weighing only a few ounces to those exceeding five tons.
Wire EDM is another area of expertise for the company. This unique, non-conventional machining method allows the precise shaping of metals that cannot be machined any other way. Machines can be equipped with wire diameters from 0.002” for fine slotting, to 0.012” for high-speed cutting. These machines can make complex shapes up to 16” tall including turbine disks, hubs, wheels, pipe sections of special size or heavy walls, dovetails, gears, and more.
When we decided to expand our capabilities beyond EDM Notch standards into the manufacture of ultrasonic test blocks, eddy current standards, and magnetic particle/liquid penetrant standards, we knew that we’d need to invest in CNC machining centers. Today we have 15 CNC mills running every day making test blocks for NDT and drilling flat bottom holes (FBH.) We can program directly from customer-supplied 3D models, or design 3D models from scratch to upload to our milling centers.
Deep Flat-bottom Hole (FBH) Drilling
When the bar and tube industry adopted sophisticated, in-line phased array ultrasonic and eddy current technology to inspect their product, they turned to PH Tool to manufacture their complex calibration standards. In the past, if customers needed deep FBHs drilled, the standard would have needed to be “stepped” due to machine and tooling limitations. Thanks to the experience and pioneering spirit of PH Tool, our customers can now calibrate on large-diameter standards that are not compromised with invasive steps or access pockets and slots. To support this effort, we have added several vertical CNC mills dedicated to deep FBH drilling. The largest of these has been modified to have an incredible Z-axis travel of 41 inches. Combined with specially-engineered tooling, PH Tool can now drill FBHs at 20 inches deep into a 21 inch diameter bar! This is achieved through the use of a larger pilot hole (a.k.a. – “counterbore”) that allows us to slip a tooling extension and precision collet for the smaller drill down to the final required depth.
EDM Fine-hole Machining
With the help of new, sophisticated EDM machines, PH Tool is pushing the boundaries on what is possible in the world of small hole machining. These machines are not “hole-poppers” (a.k.a. EDM start-hole machines.) Start-hole EDM uses high amperage to quickly create a rough, ugly hole that should not be used as a finished product. Their primary purpose is to get a through-hole in a part quickly that can be used to thread a wire EDM machine. Fine-hole EDM machining on the other hand, uses a high-RPM spindle and low-energy settings to create a hole that can have an extremely high depth-to-diameter aspect ratio (e.g. 150:1 at .030” diameter) and that maintains an exceedingly fine surface finish the whole way through. Diameters can be as small as 0.002” (e.g. 30:1 depth-diameter,) and can be held to tight tolerances (down to ±0.0005”.) The holes can be made as through-holes or blind holes to be examined from the side like SDHs. We have also specially configured these machines to create FBHs down to 0.002” in diameter. These machines make holes without risk of drill breakage and without regard for material hardness or toughness. Part height can be up to 11.81” (300mm.)
Turning and Boring
Six lathes cover a wide range of capability up to 26” diameter turning. Our largest turret lathe has a through-hole measuring 6.250” and is tailored to machining UT bar and pipe standards requiring axial holes and the machining of weld preps for subsequent joining. Our CNC lathes are perfect for the complex turning of ASTM Blocks and special-purpose blocks. Turning, boring, and facing is easily accomplished at PH Tool.
Twenty surface grinders give us capacities that are unheard of in the NDT world. Our largest wet grinders are perfect for the incredibly accurate grinding of test blocks, while ensuring the exacting surface finishes that are expected in our industry. Beyond our normal range of grinders, we built a custom machine for grinding tall parts such as extra-long ASTM flat bottom hole reference blocks up to 48”.
Dimensional Inspection of EDM Notch Standards
PH Tool offers replication (where applicable) and recertification services of existing EDM Notch standards. Standards of unknown origin, or those lacking certification, can be certified to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Recertified standards are inspected using the same exacting methods and procedures as “new” standards. One of many calibrated devices used, our Video Measurement Systems provide accurate measurement of parts of all sizes within an 864 cubic inch working area. All standards are inspected using instruments calibrated in accordance with ISO 10012-1, ANSI/NCSL Z540-1, and MIL-STD-45662A using master gage blocks directly traceable to NIST. Quality Assurance Program complies with MIL-Q-9858A, 10CFR50 Appendix B, ANSI N45.2, ASME Section III Division 1, and MIL-I-45208.
Dimensional Inspection of Test Blocks
In addition to the inspection of newly-made standards and test blocks, PH Tool also offers recalibration/recertification services. This service is offered on products manufactured by us, as well as by other manufacturers. Typical items that we recertify are: ultrasonic test blocks such as IIW and step blocks, and ASTM flat bottom hole reference block sets made to ASTM E127 and E428. Blocks of unknown origin or with missing documentation may be able to be recertified, saving the expense of replacement. We also offer refurbishing service for worn or damaged test blocks. See our full page on recertification later in the catalog for more info.
Surface Roughness Measurement
Precise surface roughness measurements of machined standards are obtained using an electro-mechanical surface analyzer. Measurement of roughness is normally reported in Ra (Roughness Average in micro-inches), the universally recognized parameter of surface roughness. Standards can be manufactured to meet the surface roughness requirements of a particular testing application. We can also alter the surface finish of existing standards.
Electrical Conductivity Measurement
More and more customers are requesting that we report the actual Electrical Conductivity measurement (in % IACS) for the Eddy Current test standards we manufacture for them. Our Conductivity Meter allows us to accurately do just that. In addition to the alloy designation, and heat or lot number, we are now able to report conductivity on the Certification Report when requested.
PMI Testing (XRF Analysis)
XRF analyzers are used to positively determine the exact chemistry of materials in a non-invasive manner. This process, also known as PMI (Postive Material Identification,) is performed on all incoming raw material to PH Tool that is used in production of our test blocks and reference standards.
We also provide PMI service on customer-supplied materials or test blocks that come in for recertification if an alloy is in question. A “PMI Certification Report” showing chemical composition and grade match is now included for materials that undergo this process at PH Tool. For newly-made test blocks, a PMI report is included along with our normal documentation package at no additional cost, adding an extra level of assurance that the correct alloy has been used in their production.
Ultrasonic Plotting of ASTM Blocks
A critical part of any ASTM E127 or E428 Flat-bottom Hole (FBH) Block Set is the plot / graph of the ultrasonic responses from the FBHs. The graph shows the relationship between metal travel distance (MTD) and signal amplitude (for distance amplitude sets,) or hole diameter and signal amplitude (for area amplitude sets.) Any good set of blocks should show a linear, “non-erratic” relationship from block to block. This ensures they will perform properly when used to set inspection sensitivity.
Because this ultrasonic plotting capability is so critical to our product line and the services we offer, PH Tool decided in 2018 to bring this capability in house. We have invested in state-of-the-art immersion ultrasonic testing equipment, built custom fixturing for holding and articulating blocks, and procured transducers that meet the requirements of ASTM E127 and E428. We have also developed a modern, professional look for the ultrasonic testing reports generated by this process.
Welding and Cladding
PH Tool offers both welding and cladding services. GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding), GMAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding), and SMAW (Shielded Metal Arc Welding) are available in many materials. Cladding of pipe and plate products for ASME calibration blocks, and welding of pipe or plate mockups and test props for UT, ET, PT and MT are routinely performed. Another popular application is the joining of two sections (butt-weld) of a Round Bar UT standard after machining the axial SDHs (side-drilled holes), and precisely re-attaching two halves of an Ultrasonic Cylinder standard after EDM of the ID reflectors.
In addition, we also embed precisely-machined EDM notches in welds at specific locations. The embedded notches have a well-defined depth (height,) width, and length, and are not to be confused with actual weld flaws or flawed specimens, which we do not manufacture. PH Tool is the preferred manufacturer for ASME Performance Demonstration Qualification (PDQ) demonstration blocks with embedded EDM notches.
Product Branding / Engraving
PH Tool offers several possibilities for marking/identifying test blocks and reference standards. The most permanent method for marking products is to machine-engrave them on a CNC milling machine. This is a fully-customizable option that allows for engraving of text and even artwork (logos) on virtually any surface in nearly any orientation. Laser engraving is another marking option. We use CO2 laser engraving machines that etch a black image on the surface of the product. This is the most common method for private labeling or branding test blocks with customer logos. We also have a full selection of metal stamps for identifying parts with a more “industrial” look.
Nickel-Plating of Steel Test Blocks
PH Tool is the only manufacturer of NDT test blocks with dedicated, in-house nickel plating capabilities. The line decreases cycle time from weeks to hours, and allows us to control the quality of the plated product far better than the days of using an outside processor. Electroless nickel plating provides excellent corrosion protection with 0.0003 inch (7.5 microns) coating thickness per surface, helping to keep your steel test blocks looking perfect for years. Let us put our line to work for you on your next order!
Custom Case Fitting and Manufacture
When purchasing a test block or reference standard from PH Tool, you have the option to kit it with a protective storage case. All of our standard test blocks have an option for a hardwood case that is specially-fitted to house the block. The wooden cases are perfect for lab storage. For transportation to job sites and shipping long distances, a hard plastic case is a smart investment. These cases are even “shipping-ready,” and can be sent through most major couriers without the need to use additional packing materials. We fit them with custom-cut dense foam pockets so that your blocks and standards are always protected.
Exotic Material Sourcing
Need a test block or reference standard made from a hard-to-find material? PH Tool can help! Whether it is a superalloy, light metal, refractory alloy, forging, casting, you name it - We work with an extensive network of material suppliers to get you the alloys you need quickly. It might even be on the shelf, and chances are, we’ve machined it before, too!