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How Sensitive is a Bubble Test — Really?

The basic principle of the bubble test consists of creating a pressure differential across a leak and observing bubbles formed in a liquid medium located on the low pressure side of the leak or pressure boundary. The sensitivity of the bubble test technique can be influenced by factors such as: pressure differential acting across the leak; viscosity of pressurizing tracer gas; test liquid used for bubble formation; contamination such as paint, dirt and oil on inside or outside surfaces of object being tested; ambient weather conditions (such as rain, temperature, humidity or wind); lighting in test area; test equipment; and test personnel technique and attitude.

  1. ASTM E 515, Standard Practice for Leaks Using Bubble Emission Techniques. West Conshohocken, PA: ASTM International (2011).
  2. Marr, J.W. Leakage Testing Handbook. Report No. CR-952. College Park, MD: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Scientific and Technical Information Facility (1968).
  3. Nondestructive Testing Handbook, third edition: Vol. 1, Leak Testing. Columbus, OH: American Society for Nondestructive Testing (1998).
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