PSM-5 TAM Panel Recommended Care & Maintenance

The PSM-5 simulated defect panel has become the industry standard for repeated function of a company’s Liquid penetrant process, utilised commonly with fluorescent systems monitoring daily performance and aiding to fault find the defective element of the system wherever monitoring would fall below an established baseline.

The PSM-5 panel is manufactured from stainless steel sheet material, chromium plated and Impressed from the rear of the panel with 5 Brinell hardness indents in a controlled manner to crack the layer of chromium of the panels test side. You’ll also note that on the (right) test side the panel has an aluminium oxide media blasted surface, this roughness creates a surface for washability tests called out by your specifications or national standard.

One common misconception is that the TAM is used to measure sensitivity by the number of stars you can achieve. This thinking is only a crude estimation, more realistically this is a measure of the manufacturer’s formulation, viscosity, pigmentation, and fluoro-optical properties.

This guide and recommended practice are recommended for new and experienced users. With the passage of time many people will have troubles with there simulated defect monitoring panel, but by experience it always comes back to best practices. There are a multitude of cleaning options (not all best for use with your panel) and with some effective pointers and tips you should experience trouble free use for many years.

Storage: Store your panel by immersion in a fast evaporating solvent. Acetone is suitable and easy to obtain. Just make sure its in a well-sealed container to stop any evaporation losses.



  • Remove your panel from storage and wipe the panel area with a clean lint free wipe before the solvent evaporates away. You don’t want any residual streaks staining your testing area.
  • Preferably dry your panel in an air circulated drying oven at 60-70oC for 15 mins prior to the application of penetrant materials, but if your liquid penetrant system doesn’t utilise this a compressed air blast (<25psi) will accelerate evaporation. The panel may appear to be dry after point-one but without this stage starburst 5 (smallest crack) may become difficult to replicate.
  • After removal from your drying oven, allow the surface to cool <38oC is recommended. You don’t want to accidently dry the penetrant on the surface of your panel or increase the penetrant viscosity.
  • Apply your penetrant and process in a typical manner to that of your production parts. Recommendable to process daily with your first batch production run. (For ease of description a process control chart of operation sequences is recommended).
  • Following development evaluate and view your panels results to that of BASELINE calibration that was created when first established, The comparison will be to a 1:1 scale colour photograph replica.
  • After completion remove the developer residues with a lint free cloth and return your panel to storage in solvent.

Common faults:

I can’t find Starburst 4 or 5 (dependent chosen penetrant): As described earlier, most cases come down to poor pre-processing. If you don’t fully evaporate or dry the panel before applications, you’ll still hold an amount of solvent residue in the tight Indications. This will reduce effective penetration, may dilute your penetrant constituents in the flaw reduce detectability.

A second reason could be your developer application layer. Has there been a difference in application time compared to the BASELINE or is the developer chosen In-affective? If this has happened and you try to Isolate the developer, apply a thin layer of non-aqueous developer to see if there is penetrant in the flaw itself. (don’t do this more than once) repeated wipes will remove any penetrant you try to locate.

Discrepancy between multiple operators can have an outcome on results obtained, the practices here will help but recommended to develop a process control chart or data card to standardise the processing of the test panel…. this way you achieve repeatable results.

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