Ultrasonic Non-Destructive Testing: How Does It Work and What’s It Used for?

ultrasonic non-destructive testing

Ultrasonic non-destructive testing (NDT) has existed since the end of World War II. Traditionally, it’s been a highly accurate form of inspection that does not impact the integrity of the inspected part in any way. Recently, however, new manufacturing technology has enabled ultrasonic NDT to become a major source of productivity, too.

Before you can assess the relative value of ultrasonic NDT for your application, it’s important to first understand the basics: how it works and what it’s typically used for.

How Does Ultrasonic Non-Destructive Testing Work?

The most basic elements of any ultrasonic NDT system include a source of pulsing/receiving, a transducer and some form of data visualization. The pulsing device creates an electrical signal the drives the transducer to emit very high frequency ultrasonic energy. Sound waves travel through the solid material being inspected for flaws. Any irregularities or discontinuity in the material will partially reflect some ultrasonic energy back to the receiver. The receiver then converts the reflected ultrasonic energy into an electrical signal again and this data is visualized in one form or another.

Typically, ultrasonic NDT waves are directed at a perpendicular angle and also with a slight tilt, as discontinuities that are parallel to the NDT device may go unnoticed. There are a few different types of discontinuity information ultrasonic NDT processes can assess:

  • Detection of the discontinuity
  • Location of the discontinuity
  • Type of discontinuity
  • Orientation of the discontinuity

What is Ultrasonic Non-Destructive Testing Used for?

Ultrasonic NDT is a highly accurate form of inspection. Robotic technology has made ultrasonic NDT a highly productive form of inspection, too. Incredibly high levels of robotic uptime, along with increased consistency and fewer errors, creates enormous efficiencies for manufacturers.

The aerospace sector has adopted ultrasonic NDT almost uniformly. Carbon fiber aircraft components, for example, are perfectly positioned to leverage the advantages of ultrasonic NDT. This is true for structural components across the aerospace sector. Ultrasonic NDT has eliminated bottlenecks and created cost-efficiencies for many aerospace manufacturers.

Ultrasonic NDT is particularly effective in the aerospace sector, although it is flexible enough to be used in other applications too. While the underlying technology has been around for some time, only recently have robotic capabilities unlocked it’s true potential.

Learn more about real world examples of ultrasonic NDT solving aerospace manufacturer’s production problems and helping them achieve profitability. Read our aerospace robotic ultrasonic non-destructive testing case studies.
robotic ultrasonic testing

Posted in Non-Destructive Testing
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