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Ultrasonic Testing (UT) uses high frequency sound energy to conduct examinations and make measurements. Ultrasonic inspection can be used for flaw detection/evaluation, dimensional measurements, material characterization, and more. To illustrate the general inspection principle, a typical pulse/echo inspection configuration as illustrated below will be used. A typical UT inspection system consists of several functional units, such as the pulser/receiver, transducer, and display devices. A pulser/receiver is an electronic device that can produce high voltage electrical pulses. Driven by the pulser, the transducer generates high frequency ultrasonic energy. The sound energy is introduced and propagates through the materials in the form of waves. When there is a discontinuity (such as a crack) in the wave path, part of the energy will be reflected back from the flaw surface. The reflected wave signal is transformed into an electrical signal by the transducer and is displayed on a screen. In the applet below, the reflected signal strength is displayed versus the time from signal generation to when a echo was received. Signal travel time can be directly related to the distance that the signal traveled. From the signal, information about the reflector location, size, orientation and other features can sometimes be gained.
Cathode ray tubes. some instruments are capable modifying the measurement based on the surface conditions of the material. motion control and robotics have contributed to the advancement of ultrasonic . Thickness gauging is an example application where instruments have been refined make data collection easier and better. are extremely easy to view in a wide range of ambient lighting. for the most part. Also. and on some instruments even the color of the screen and signal can be selected. Built-in data logging capabilities allow thousands of measurements to be recorded and eliminate the need for a "scribe. have been replaced with LED or LCD screens. This has led to more accurate and repeatable field measurements. Screens can be adjusted for brightness. the signal from a pitted or eroded inner surface of a pipe would be treated differently than a smooth surface. The operator only has to connect the transducer and the instrument will set variables such as frequency and probe drive. which allows for fast and accurate location of indications when performing shear wave inspections. Through the 1980's and continuing through the present. computers have provided technicians with smaller and more rugged instruments with greater capabilities. The waveform option allows an operator to view or review the A-scan signal of thickness measurement long after the completion of an inspection." Some instruments have the capability to capture waveforms as well as thickness readings. For some time. in most cases. These screens.Present State of Ultrasonics Ultrasonic testing (UT) has been practiced for many decades. Initial rapid developments in instrumentation spurred by the technological advances from the 1950's continue today. For example. Transducers can be programmed with predetermined instrument settings. Bright or low light working conditions encountered by technicians have little effect on the technician's ability to view the screen. contrast. Along with computers. ultrasonic flaw detectors have incorporated a trigonometric function.
in 1931.History of Ultrasonics Prior to World War II. Shortly after the close of World War II. another significant diagnostic tool for physicians. the technique of sending sound waves through water and observing the returning echoes to characterize submerged objects. Japan's work in ultrasound was relatively unknown in the United States and Europe until the 1950s. an application of ultrasound that detects internal moving objects such as blood coursing through the heart for cardiovascular investigation. Researchers learned to use ultrasound to detect potential cancer and to visualize tumors in living subjects and in excised tissue. Sokolov studied the use of ultrasonic waves in detecting metal objects. gray scale image. researchers in Japan began to explore the medical diagnostic capabilities of ultrasound. Japan was also the first country to apply Doppler ultrasound. presented ultrasound images directly on the system's CRT screen at the time of scanning. That was followed by a B-mode presentation with a two dimensional. The first ultrasonic instruments used an A-mode presentation with blips on an oscilloscope screen. The introduction of spectral Doppler and later color Doppler depicted blood flow in various colors to indicate the speed and direction of flow. Ultrasound pioneers working in the United States contributed many innovations and important discoveries to the field during the following decades. Researchers then presented their findings on the use of ultrasound to detect gallstones. and the prototype for the first articulated-arm hand held scanner. The United States also produced the earliest hand held "contact" scanner for clinical use. obtained a patent for using ultrasonic waves. Firestone (1940) and Simons (1945) developed pulsed ultrasonic testing using a pulse-echo technique. In 1929 and 1935. sonar. and tumors to the international medical community. Mulhauser. inspired early ultrasound investigators to explore ways to apply the concept to medical diagnosis. using two transducers to detect flaws in solids. the second generation of B-mode equipment. Real-time imaging. with 2- . breast masses.
Wave Propagation Ultrasonic testing is based on time-varying deformations or vibrations in materials. It is these elastic restoring forces between particles. When the particles of a medium are displaced from their equilibrium positions. Many different patterns of vibrational motion exist at the atomic level. surface waves. sound waves can propagate in four principle modes that are based on the way the particles oscillate. internal (electrostatic) restoration forces arise. its individual particles perform elastic oscillations. that leads to oscillatory motions of the medium. All material substances are comprised of atoms. . however. In solids. which is generally referred to as acoustics. and in thin materials as plate waves. When a material is not stressed in tension or compression beyond its elastic limit. combined with inertia of the particles. Longitudinal and shear waves are the two modes of propagation most widely used in ultrasonic testing. Acoustics is focused on particles that contain many atoms that move in unison to produce a mechanical wave. Sound can propagate as longitudinal waves. which may be forced into vibrational motion about their equilibrium positions. shear waves. The particle movement responsible for the propagation of longitudinal and shear waves is illustrated below. most are irrelevant to acoustics and ultrasonic testing.
as well as solids because the energy travels through the atomic structure by a series of comparison and expansion (rarefaction) movements. Shear waves effective propagation and. are not effectively propagated particles oscillate at a right angle propagation. Compression waves can be generated in liquids. the oscillations occur in the longitudinal direction or the direction of wave propagation. Since compressional and dilational forces are active in these waves. In the transverse or shear wave. They are also sometimes called density waves because their particle density fluctuates as they move. they are also called pressure or compressional waves. the or transverse to the direction of require an acoustically solid material for therefore.In longitudinal waves. in materials such as liquids or .
Shear waves are relatively weak when compared to longitudinal waves In fact.gasses. . shear waves are usually generated in materials using some of the energy from longitudinal waves.
The table below summarizes many. various types of elliptical or complex vibrations of the particles make other waves possible.Modes of Sound Wave Propagation In air. a number of different types of sound waves are possible.Rayleigh Plate Wave . Wave Types in Solids Longitudinal Transverse (Shear) Surface . sound travels by compression and rarefaction of air molecules in the direction of travel.symmetrical mode Component perpendicular to surface (extensional wave) Parallel to plane layer. longitudinal and transverse (shear) waves are most often used in ultrasonic inspection. perpendicular to wave direction Wave guided along interface Antisymmetric mode Longitudinal and transverse waves were discussed on the previous page. of the wave modes possible in solids. Some of these wave modes such as Rayleigh and Lamb waves are also useful for ultrasonic inspection. However. Surface or Rayleigh waves travel the surface of a relative thick solid material penetrating to a depth of one . at surfaces and interfaces. molecules can support vibrations in other directions.Lamb Plate Wave . in solids. hence.Love Stoneley (Leaky Rayleigh Waves) Sezawa Particle Vibrations Parallel to wave direction Perpendicular to wave direction Elliptical orbit . so let's touch on surface and plate waves here. However. Wave can be characterized in space by oscillatory patterns that are capable of maintaining their shape and propagating in a stable manner. but not all. The propagation of waves is often described in terms of what are called “wave modes”. As mentioned previously.