Reprocessed Penetrant! Settled in 2005 – No Way!


We have recently heard about a company that offers to reprocess used water washable penetrant which has failed to meet ASTM E-1417 specifications, and return it to acceptable condition. The reproces­sing is said to remove water and particulate matter. The supposed attraction of this is that the price of reconditioning the penetrant is less than the price of new penetrant. The PENETRANT PROFESSOR has reservations about this, along with label? What batch number would it members of ASTM Committee E-07 (which writes and controls specification E-1417).

There are a number of very good reasons for this. Let us suppose that one of Met-L-Chek’s customers has some penetrant which has failed the in-use ASTM E-1417 tests, and it is then reprocessed. While it may be possible to verify that it no longer has particulates in it, and that the water level is within acceptable hmits, for used penetrant, there is no way to know whether the chemical composition is the same as when the product was new. For example, many users require that the content of elements deleterious to austenitic stainless steels ( or other metals) be below a certain level. That is one question. But then there is the question of sensitivity level. The only approved method of measuring sensitivity is the method used by Wright Patterson Air Force Base, and they are the only approved laboratory to perform this test. There is no way to know what effect reprocessing would have on sensitivity, and no way for the reprocessor to measure orto verify that the sensitivity has not changed.

Well, so what? The reprocessor sends the penetrant back to the company who sent it, and we have no idea about what label would be on the container. Would it be a Met-L-Chek label? What batch number would it be?

Our fictitious user puts the reprocessed penetrant in his tank, but then his customer begins to reject parts, or worse yet, one of the parts fails, causing major damage and possibly injury to personnel. Who is it that would be liable? Would a swarm of attorneys accuse Met-L­Chek?

Would they go after the company who had the failing penetrant reprocessed? Would they hold the reprocessor responsible?  This seems to be a can of worms with which we are uncomfortable. We believe that the next meeting of ASTM Committee E-07 will have this item on the agenda, and we also believe that the next meeting of SAE AMS Committee K will also discuss the issue. There are questions concerning whether reprocessed penetrant would still be listed as approved on the QPL, and how to deal with the issue with regard to ASTM E-1417. We will keep you posted.