The Auto-Reference Creep Management and Control (ARCMAC) system is being developed as a technique to evaluate the remaining life of power plant components. The system consists of a pair of Inconel plates with a configuration of silicon nitride (SiN) spheres on them, and a camera system used to take images of the gauge during the component’s deformation. The purpose of the system is to measure the creep strain accumulated by a component at regular intervals, tracking the relative motion of the spheres in order to measure a point-to-point value of strain. The system is currently used to capture images of gauges already installed on power plants in the UK as part of scheduled maintenance during plant outages.

It is also possible to use the ARCMAC system to capture speckle paint pattern data used in digital image correlation (DIC) in order to visualise the strain field across the heat affected zones (HAZ) in welds and around other strain concentration features. A newer version of the system: the Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) ARCMAC is being developed specifically to capture this kind of data in order to complement the point-to-point strain measurements obtained.

This article presents results of experiments performed at room temperature with the purpose of establishing the basic accuracy of the conventional ARCMAC and the DSLR ARCMAC in order to compare their performance. It also intends to evaluate the performance of the latter when used for digital image correlation. The results showcase the accuracy of the technique at high strains using the DSLR camera, showing its usefulness as a tool to measure creep strain.

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