The components of the hot gas path in gas turbines can survive to very high temperatures because they are protected by ceramic Thermal Barrier Coatings (TBC); the failure of such coatings can dramatically reduce the component life. A reliable assessment of the Coating integrity and/or an Incipient TBC Damage Detection can help both in optimising the inspection intervals and in finding the appropriate remedial actions. In this paper the potential of three different NDT techniques applicable to the metallo/ceramic coatings of hot parts are discussed in the light of both results obtained on laboratory aged specimens and in field measurements on operated components. An investigation of the NDTs capability to detect damage evolution was performed on thermal-cycled specimens coated with TBC (both EB-PVD and pseudocolumnar APS) by means of an F-SECT eddy current system, by an innovative portable Piezospectroscopic system and by pulsed thermography. The observation of metallographic sections of the thermal cycled specimens allowed to give the right interpretation to the results of each NDT methodology and enlightened its specific characteristics and potentiality. Moreover in field applicability is discussed for each technique. Finally it is shown how an integrated approach of suitable coating evolution models and complimentary NDT techniques can provide an interesting assessment of the damage level of the metallo/ceramic coatings of operated rotating blades.

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