Advanced Ultrasonic Testing Equipment and Software Support Innovative NDT Solutions
Nondestructive testing (NDT) analyzes a material for flaws, defects, and discontinuities without damaging the material. It is one of the most vital elements in securing the quality and reliability of modern infrastructure and industrial products or assets. There are a variety of techniques employed in NDT including eddy current testing and radiographic testing using x-rays. However, one of the most widely used NDT solutions is ultrasonic testing.
Ultrasonic testing equipment scans material with high-frequency sound waves generated through probes. These probes detect the soundwaves that bounce back from a material and instrumentation displays the results for analysis. Ultrasonic testing solutions can scan deeper than eddy current techniques and can be used to scan overall material thickness. Ultrasonic testing equipment can be used to create a detailed image of the opposing side of the scanned surface. Ultrasonic waves are also safer than x-rays when it comes to exposure and the tests and equipment are far easier to manage than with radiographic NDT. The flexibility and accuracy of ultrasonic testing equipment has made it a mainstay for NDT for decades.
Zetec has been a leading provider of ultrasonic testing solutions for many of the decades, offering a full suite of ultrasonic testing equipment for NDT. Zetec also releases educational materials, such as webinars, covering NDT and the applications where ultrasonic testing equipment is the best solution.
Understanding Ultrasonic Testing Equipment and Software
The value in ultrasonic testing equipment is the extra layer of insurance it provides against costly equipment failures that could lead to dangerous accidents. Ultrasonic testing can detect incongruities in metals or composites with speed and efficiency. Zetec maximizes these benefits with intuitive and easy-to-use ultrasonic testing instrumentation featuring powerful software tools that can speed up analysis.
Ultrasonic testing doesn’t only take place in the controlled environment of a factory’s quality control shop. Routine maintenance of railways, pipelines, and aircraft requires NDT and portable ultrasonic technology allows technicians to conduct NDT on infrastructure or vehicles while in the field. This portability during testing helps keep machinery in service, with little to no interruption, extending their lifespan while ensuring safety.
Advantages of portable ultrasonic equipment.
Ideally, portable ultrasonic testing equipment should be fast, powerful, and easy-to-use. It could feature an intuitive interface and a full-color screen to make discontinuities in the material easier to visualize on the spot with less equipment. These features will make an NDT technician’s job easier to perform and improve the speed of testing. Technology is continuously improving and quality ultrasonic testing equipment will make full use of it.
Software is at the heart of any ultrasonic testing equipment’s instrumentation. It is the software that controls the scan and that interprets the returning waves to generate a visual image. Advanced software enables side by side displays to allow their comparison during analysis, along with other display functions. The right software gives technicians all the functionality they need in a clear, and easy-to-view full-color display.
Ultrasonic testing is a flexible testing solution with a wide range of applications. That doesn’t mean that it is the correct solution for every application. Eddy current testing, for example, may work better for some types of NDT. In any regard, getting the best results for ultrasonic testing equipment means understanding the limits of the technology and what it can do.
How Phased Array Techniques Improve Ultrasonic Testing
Ultrasonic scanning offers more options than simple straight beam ultrasonic testing through a single probe. Multiple ultrasonic transducers in an array firing in carefully timed pulses create significantly more wave patterns and more data for instrumentation to interpret. This is a type of testing called Phased Array Ultrasonic Testing (PAUT). Resolutions of the workpiece are improved with PAUT. PAUT can also cover more area more quickly than conventional ultrasound can, allowing NDT to proceed more quickly.
A distinct component of PAUT is Time of Flight Diffraction (TOFD). By comparing the time different sound waves take to return to the receiver, a better resolution of irregularities in the scanned material can be obtained. Combined with a beam coming from multiple points in the array, PAUT allows for the detection of incongruities in the material that might not be detected with other types of ultrasonic testing equipment.
Phased array and time of flight diffraction ultrasonic testing.
Radiography NDT uses radiation to scan materials and generate views of their interior. Typically the x-ray is generated from a portable emitter. It is an effective form of NDT, but it can be slow. The need to protect the testing technician and any other personnel from the radiation generated can make this form of NDT cumbersome and difficult to use. Ultrasonic testing equipment like phased array ultrasonic testing is safer, easier to use, and has comparable resolutions.
Iron and carbon are two of the most abundant elements on earth, and the steel made from these two elements is one of the most common building materials globally. It provides the frames for large buildings and vehicles, and it forms the pipes and pipelines that fuel and chemicals are pumped through. Corrosion or internal flaws can cause these structures to fail, routine NDT with PAUT equipment can detect corrosion or flaws before they cause structural failures.
Using phased array ultrasonic for nondestructive testing of steel structures.
The movement of large amounts of freight depends on railways. PAUT equipment can check rails and railway wheels for wear and stress cracking. This helps to keep railway equipment working smoothly and critical goods they transport like food, fuel, and medicine moving smoothly. It also helps to avert major accidents like train derailments.
Ultrasonic Testing in the Aviation Industry
Aircraft are subject to a lot of stresses as they operate. They fly at high speeds and wing and wing roots experience force as drag pushes upon them. Fuselages experience high-pressure changes as the aircraft ascends and descends. Airlines use ultrasonic testing equipment to inspect for flaws that could lead to costly failures.
Ultrasonic nondestructive testing for commercial aircraft.
Aircraft engines experience far greater stress than airframes with turbines making several thousand revolutions per minute. They are exposed to extreme heat in addition to this mechanical stress. Any flaws could cause failure mid-flight, and regular ultrasonic scanning of turbine blades and roots is needed to check for flaws and prevent dangerous in-flight failures.
Ultrasonic Testing in the Oil and Gas Industry
The oil and gas industry is known for its large scale infrastructure. The integrity of this infrastructure is vital for the flow of fuel, the safety of workers, and the health and safety of the surrounding environment. Maintaining that integrity depends on NDT conducted with ultrasonic testing equipment during its installation and routinely over the course of its operating lifespan.
Among the most vital infrastructure in the oil and gas industry are the pipelines that transport fuel cross country. Ensuring the integrity and reliability of these pipelines is an ongoing effort. Ultrasonic testing solutions have the speed needed to conduct these inspections regularly, and routinely.
Welds are what joins the pressure vessels and pipelines in the oil industry. Welding is as much an art as it is a science and welders as a group have a wide range of skill levels. Ultrasonic testing solutions play a large role in validating welds and ensuring that their quality is sufficient for their purpose.
Ultrasonic Testing Solutions for Composite Materials
Composite materials are increasingly being used in numerous industries. These materials are made up of different materials and structures. The blending of radically different elements can pose a challenge in NDT—especially with eddy current testing, for example, as it’s not able to interact with non-conductive elements. Ultrasonic testing equipment faces no such obstacle, however.
PAUT offers several benefits to composite NDT. Its multiple-beam nature provides higher resolutions to scans of composite materials as well. Advanced techniques in PAUT like time-reversed phased array further improve the effectiveness of ultrasonic testing equipment in composite NDT.
Composites are lightweight when compared to most metals, and the aviation industry has made wide use of them. They can be found in the latest commercial and military aircraft. Ultrasonic testing solutions provide an NDT solution for the composites used in aerospace applications.
Ultrasonic testing solutions for the NDT of aerospace composites.
Innovative Ultrasonic Testing Solutions for the Future
Ultrasonic testing solutions for NDT have established themselves in a wide range of fields. They play a vital role in the safety and reliability in nearly every industry. They have a role in developing industries too. One of these is additive manufacturing—or 3D printing. The metals and composites printed need to be checked for flaws before being used for production.
The increasing resolutions of ultrasonic testing equipment have allowed it to measure the thickness of materials. The resolutions are fine enough to measure the erosion of pipe walls or coatings like paint. This can be useful in testing for corrosion or testing for preventative maintenance and service.
Ultrasonic testing equipment provides an NDT solution for a diverse range of applications in industries the modern world depends on to operate. The ability to detect flaws or wear inside of material keeps the world running, protecting investments, and saving lives. It is a critical element in maintaining the infrastructure that we depend on daily.
Zetec has been a leading provider of ultrasonic testing equipment and ultrasonic testing solutions for a generation. To learn more about using ultrasonic technology in your industry, contact Zetec today.