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What can dye penetration tell us about carbon bike damage?

What is dye penetration?

Dye penetration showing fracture to frame tube
Dye penetration showing fracture to frame tube

In tricky areas that can be difficult to access with ultrasound, such as bottom brackets, dye penetration can be used to highlight damage and trace its spread.

Dye penetrant inspection is a method used to check for surface-breaking defects in non-porous materials.

It can be used to visually highlight hairline fractures, and in particular, fractures located in tight or complex areas with limited access.

How can dye penetration be used to detect damage in carbon bike frames?

Dye penetration was used on the Saracen (pictured below) to confirm whether the stress indicators on the painted surface actually ran deeper into the carbon.

  • The damage to the painted surface is recorded.

  • The paintwork is then carefully removed.

  • A fluorescent dye is applied to the surface of the carbon and is then cleaned back.

  • Another chemical solution is then used to draw up any dye that sank into potential cracks in the carbon.

  • Ultraviolet light is shone onto the area, and if the pattern on the carbon surface corresponds with the pattern that was on the painted surface, then there is damage.


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