In industry, the surface replication technique is employed as a practical method for the lifetime assessment of high temperature components. However, the method is limited as it is a time consuming processes, is susceptible to subjective interpretations and is only sensitive to surface damage, whereas creep damage often initiates sub-surface. A replica of a component’s surface is made by applying a softened plastic foil to it. This foil moulds itself to the alloy’s surface when pressed. After its removal from the alloy, the plastic replica provides an exact copy of the etched surface’s microstructure, which can then be examined.

A new image processing technique has been developed that provides a reliable and repeatable, quantified measure of creep cavitation using images obtained from replica films. A series of interrupted tests have been performed at the same load on 2.25CrMo (P22) ferritic steel at 650 °C. Post testing, samples were prepared and replication performed. A quantitative 2D map of the cavities across the specimens’ surface has been obtained using a novel image processing technique. The results are related to the specimens’ strain measurements using a displacement gauge and a novel potential drop technique. This new image processing technique may provide a valuable tool for industry.

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