7 Must-Have Industrial Inspection Tools in Any Toolbox


What makes a coating inspection team stand out? Aside from having the right qualifications and certifications, it’s about the tools they use and how they use them. In this blog, we will discuss the seven most common devices wielded by professional coating inspectors. The tools involved are not mere gadgets – they are signs that you have the right professionals on your side. From simple surface thermometers to specialized “holiday” detectors, each tool ensures your project’s success.

Standard Tools for Industrial Coating Inspections

Whether you’re starting a new project or need reassurance about an ongoing one, seeing these tools in your coating inspector’s toolbox should give you some peace of mind:

1. Holiday Detector

By “holidays,” we don’t mean Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve. Holidays are pinholes, cracks, areas of low dry film thickness, or contaminants in the paint, lining, or coating film. Most of these defects are invisible to the naked eye, but using special inspection equipment can help locate them. Industrial Inspection Group uses DeFelsko LPD & HHD Holiday Detectors to identify these issues.

2. Digital Psychrometer

A digital psychrometer is a handheld unit for measuring relative humidity and temperature, dew point, and wet-bulb temperature in professional, industrial, and laboratory settings. In industrial coatings, this device provides accurate readings to ensure optimal conditions for adhesion and curing. It helps maintain quality control and prevents improper drying or adhesion failure. Industrial Inspection Group uses the Kestrel 5000L Environmental Meter and DeFelsko DPM & DPML Meter for precise data acquisition.

3. Magnetic Surface Thermometer

Thermometers monitor surface temperatures before, during, and after application. It ascertains that the substrate temperature falls within the recommended range for proper coating adhesion and curing. Deviations from optimal temperatures can lead to defects like blistering or improper curing, compromising coating integrity.

Magnetic surface thermometers, in particular, are engineered to measure surface temperature, with accuracy improving alongside the thermal mass of the source. As an alternative, infrared digital thermometers provide non-contact temperature readings from specific surfaces, typically within a range of 3 to 35 feet.

Industrial Inspection Group uses DeFelsko DPM & DPMLs along with Fluke 62 MAX IR Temp Guns to track and record surface temperatures.

4. Testex Replica Tape and Digital Surface Profile Gauge

These tools help prepare steel, alloy, or other non-ferrous metals for coatings, as most coatings rely on a specific surface profile for adherence. The combination of a Testex replica tape and a micrometer dial measures the surface profile of abrasive blast-cleaned surfaces. At Industrial Inspection Group, we use DeFelsko SPG & Micrometers. Rubbing the replica tape onto the surface achieves a reverse replication of the peak-valley pattern. Then, a digital surface profile gauge measures the peak-to-valley surface profile on flat or curved surfaces.

Additional resource: What Is Surface Preparation?

5. Inspection Mirror

A telescopic inspection mirror gives visual access to hard-to-reach areas like the inside of pipes, concealed corners, or the undersides of a tank. Its extendable design enables reaching into tight spaces, making it easier to detect imperfections in hidden spots.

6. Wet and Dry Film Coating Thickness Gauges

When it comes to measuring coating thickness, the best industrial coating inspectors use a wet film thickness (WFT) gauge and a dry film thickness (DFT) gauge. The WFT gauge evaluates the thickness of a liquid-based coating during application. It offers accurate measurements before significant solvent evaporation. The DFT gauge estimates a coating’s expected life, appearance, and performance once the applied coating has reached thumbprint hardness. Industrial Inspection Group uses DeFelsko Coating Thickness Measurement Gages.

7. Camera

A camera records all stages of a coating project, from initial inspections and throughout the application process to the final outcome. A professional camera, or even a smartphone, conveniently takes detailed inspection photos and videos.

A Word to the Wise

Not everyone can use these tools. Only AMPP Certified Coating Inspectors and their expertise in industry best practices can deliver satisfactory, fail-proof results using the equipment mentioned in this post. If you want assurance of a job well done, contact Industrial Inspection Group by calling 480-993-8999 or emailing greg@indinspect.com. Our professionals can spot issues early and provide the best protective solutions for any condition.