Thermal inspection comprises all methods in which heat-sensing devices or substances are used to detect irregular temperatures. Inspection of workpieces can be used to detect flaws and undesirable distribution of heat during service. Though there are several methods of thermal inspection and many types of temperature-measuring devices and substances, this article focuses only on thermography, which is the mapping of isotherms, or contours of equal temperature, over a test surface, and on thermometry, which is the measurement of temperature. Thermography techniques can be classified as contact thermographic methods using cholesteric liquid crystals, thermally quenched phosphors, and heat-sensitive paints, and noncontact techniques using hand-held infrared scanners, high-resolution infrared imaging systems, and thermal wave interferometer systems. Contact thermometric inspection devices include bolometers, thermocouples, thermopiles, and meltable substances, whereas radiometers and pyrometers come under the noncontact category.
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