Non-destructive testing

Non-destructive testing: A system approach

Industry 4.0 and big data methods will lead to a paradigm shift in the application of non-destructive components testing and materials diagnostics methods. These methods are an essential source of valuable data. New sensor concepts, robot-assisted measurements, cloud-based data acquisition, and data evaluation using AI methods are driving this transformation and expanding the application range of new and well-established NDT methods.

Backed by several decades of experience, Fraunhofer IKTS and its Materials Diagnostics Division are positioned to cope with these challenges. IKTS concepts established in ceramics development – covering complete value chains and realizing material and process innovations at the system level – can also be transferred to materials diagnostics. Non-destructive components testing (NDT) and materials diagnostics will be performed over the entire product life cycle, from development to testing or monitoring in production and use. For this, Fraunhofer IKTS draws on traditional methods such as ultrasonic, eddy current, and x-ray inspection as well as acoustic diagnostics, combining or supplementing these techniques with new methods such as laser speckle photometry or optical coherence tomography. By linking the data acquired during testing with a dynamic simulation model of the part or system, it is possible to predict the service life or performance with the help of the “digital twin”.

Fraunhofer IKTS is part of the globally leading Dresden Materials Research Cluster and cooperates with the Dresden Microelectronics Network as well as various established mechanical engineering companies.


The range of capabilities at Fraunhofer IKTS goes far beyond that of a classic provider of NDT testing services. The traditional strength of the institute – handling noisy signals – is reflected at the hardware level by adapted sensors and in-house electronics with excellent signal-to-noise ratios as well as by an in-house software library and use of state-ofthe- art machine learning methods. The mathematical knowhow of the institute and research partners fuels the algorithm development process and forms the basis of sensor data fusion concepts.

Sensor development activities profit from the main Fraunhofer IKTS materials systems and technology offering, which includes thin-film, thick-film, and multilayer technologies as well as printed electronics and ceramic sensors for use in harsh operating conditions. In the profile lines of nanoanalytics and robust electronics, knowledge related to failure models is acquired and applied in reliable sensor solutions. Interference-free optical data transmission and data compression by preprocessing in the sensor round out the profile.

With these core technological capabilities – combined with a systematic approach and driven by a creative team of scientists, technicians, and engineers – established methods can be advanced and new non-destructive testing methods can be qualified.

Services offered

For customers of Fraunhofer IKTS, various contract and cooperation modes are available to accommodate the given task and in-house capabilities. Projects range from simple service provision and improvement of specific aspects of a method or customer components to complete system development. Each project begins with a clear problem analysis and a feasibility demonstration. Feasibility studies in the early phase of
development reduce the financial risk and provide a stable basis for all further project steps. The result is a CE-certified system and approval of the testing process by the Accredited Test Lab. IKTS can work flexibly with the client to coordinate individual development and implementation steps. Successful hardware developments are commercialized via industrial collaborations and can be licensed by industry customers for their applications.



Ultrasonic methods

Ultrasonic methods are some of the most frequently used methods for non-destructive testing. Fraunhofer IKTS combines years of experience in materials testing with unique capabilities in the field of ultrasonic technologies. 


Acoustic methods

Like ultrasonic methods, acoustic methods utilize elastodynamic interactions in an object to yield information about the condition of the object. This is frequently connected with acoustic signal radiation. Acoustic resonance testing is a wellknown and widely applied method for detection of cracks in parts such as ceramic utensils.


Electromagnetic methods

High-frequency eddy current methods

The eddy current method is an electromagnetic technique for non-destructive testing of metals and non-conductive or weakly conducting materials such as plastics or ceramics.


X-ray methods

Micro-computed tomography

Industrial micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) is an established method of analysis for technical and scientific applications and is increasingly established in the investigation of artistic and cultural goods. It is ideal for visualizing air inclusions, cracks, and other material inhomogeneities in objects of any shape. Micro-CT enables non-destructive three-dimensional examination of objects with a high spatial resolution.


Optical methods

Optical coherence - tomography

At Fraunhofer IKTS, optical coherence tomography (OCT) is used for three-dimensional detection and imaging of structures in various materials such as ceramics, plastics, glasses, glass fiber-reinforced plastics, and biological materials.


Advanced NDT

In the scope of Industry 4.0-related testing, a huge volume of process data is accumulated from different sources and must be analyzed. Suitable methods can be applied to obtain further information from already determined or additionally measured parameters. Fraunhofer IKTS optimizes established and new NDT methods to show customers how they can use this valuable information.

Cooperation models

Innovation and development are the cornerstones of a promising corporate future. In order to create a competitive edge, Fraunhofer offers tailored options for cooperation, so that small and medium-sized companies can work together in the best possible way. This also allows to utilize development skills at short notice and as needed.