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This is the official training handbook of my course Ultrasonic Level
1 training presented online. It covers all the training outlines with
the maximum information that the students need to understand the
course and to be well prepared for the official UT-L1 exam. Find my
UT-L1 course for only $5 here:

El mustapha BEN BIHI

(VVI UT/TOFD L2 No.054 & ASNT L2: UT)
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This handbook is dedicated to the pioneer in the field of nondestuctive
testing who made me intersted in this field:
Dr. Othmane BOUKSOUR
Without the contributions of these giant, the world would not be the same
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Table of Contents
Historical perspective of the use of ultrasound .........................................................2

Comparison between the commonly used NDT methods .....................................4

Fundamental Properties of Ultrasound

Definition of ultrasonic vibrations ..................................................................................10
Relationship of velocity, frenquency and wavelenght ..........................................12
Diffraction Theory ..................................................................................................................13
Mode of particle vibration ..................................................................................................15
Ultrasonic uses ..........................................................................................................................18

Generation of Ultrasonic Waves

Piezoelectric crystal types and characteristics ..........................................................21
Search unit construction .....................................................................................................25

Search unit characteristics: resolution sensitivity ..................................................35

Search unit types ....................................................................................................................37
Contact transducers ....................................................................................................................37
Immersion transducers ...............................................................................................................38
Twin crystal transducers ............................................................................................................39
Delay line transducers .................................................................................................................40
Angle beam transducers .............................................................................................................41
Normal incidence shear wave transducers ................................................................................42
Paint brush transducers...............................................................................................................42

Test material characterestics

Velocity .......................................................................................................................................43

Sound attenuation .................................................................................................................46

Acoustic impedance ................................................................................................................48

Sound beam characterestics
Intensity variations .................................................................................................................50
Dead zone, near zone, far zone .........................................................................................50
Dead zone ......................................................................................................................................50
Near zone ......................................................................................................................................51
Far zone .........................................................................................................................................52
Probe diameter and frequency effects ........................................................................53

Angular incidence
Reflection ....................................................................................................................................56

Refraction ..................................................................................................................................57

Mode conversion ....................................................................................................................58

Snells law ....................................................................................................................................60

Critical angles .........................................................................................................................63

Ultrasonic inspection techniques

Through transmission ..........................................................................................................65

Pulse echo ....................................................................................................................................76

Angle beam .................................................................................................................................84

Contact testing .......................................................................................................................88

General knowledges .....................................................................................................................88
Pulse echo method .....................................................................................................................107
Pitch and catch method .............................................................................................................113
Immersion testing ................................................................................................................117

Ultrasonic testing equipement

Basic pulse echo instrument ............................................................................................121

Control functions and uses ..............................................................................................124

Information displays ............................................................................................................129

Computer enhanced displays ..........................................................................................134

Ultrasonic reference blocks

Calibration methods ..........................................................................................................136

Introduction to the common standards .....................................................................137

Area amplitude block ...........................................................................................................138

Distance amplitude block ..................................................................................................139
The international institute of welding block ...........................................................140

Minuature angle beam block ...........................................................................................143

Uses of artificial reflectors compared ..........................................................................144
Comparison of echo amplitude ................................................................................................144
Distance amplitude curve .........................................................................................................147

Inspected part variations

Effect of surface roughness ..............................................................................................150

Effect of surface coatings ................................................................................................156

Surface curvature ................................................................................................................157

Grain size ...................................................................................................................................160

Discontinuity variations
Sizing methods ........................................................................................................................164
Scanning methods ......................................................................................................................164
Evaluation of small discontinuities: the DGS methods ...........................................................167
Shape ...........................................................................................................................................173

Distance from the entry surface ....................................................................................179

Appendix 1: Locating a discontinuity ...........................................186

Appendix 2: Vocabulary ..................................................................................201
Appendix 3: Acoustic characteristics of materials ......208
References ............................................................................................................................212
1. Introduction

Non-destructive Testing
The field of Nondestructive Testing (NDT) is a very broad, that plays
a critical role in assuring that structural components and systems
perform their function in a reliable and cost effective fashion. NDT
technicians and engineers define and implement tests that locate and
characterize material conditions and flaws that might otherwise
cause serious accidents such as, planes to crash, reactors to fail, trains
to derail, pipelines to burst, and a variety of troubling events.
These tests are performed in a manner that does not affect the future
usefulness of the object or material. In other words, NDT allows
parts and materials to be inspected and evaluated without damaging
them. Because it allows inspection without interfering with a
product's final use, NDT provides an excellent balance between
quality control and cost-effectiveness.

Nondestructive Evaluation
Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE) is a term that is often used
interchangeably with NDT. However, technically, NDE is used to
describe measurements that are more quantitative in nature. For
example, a NDE method would not only locate a defect, but it would
also be used to measure something about that defect such as its size,
shape, and orientation. NDE may be used to determine material

properties such as fracture toughness, ductility, conductivity and
other physical characteristics.

Uses of NDE
Flaw Detection and Evaluation
Leak Detection, Location Determination
Dimensional Measurements
Structure and Microstructure Characterization
Estimation of Mechanical and Physical Properties
Stress (Strain) and Dynamic Response Measurements
Material Sorting and Chemical Composition Determination

1.1. Historical perspective of the use of ultrasound

Paul Langevin (Mason) first propagated ultrasonic waves in 1917 in

seawater and has been credited as the father of ultrasonics.
For a complete history of the early work on acoustics please refer to
R.Bruce and Lindsey.
The piezoelectric effect which was very critical in the development of
ultrasonic method was found in 1880 by Curies. They discovered that
alternating voltage applied to piezoelectric crystal produces sound
waves in the surrounding medium.
The Other effect, namely magnetostricitive effect is also used for
generating ultrasonic waves.
J.P.Joules whose results are given in a paper dated 1847 discovered
magnetostrictive effect.

The first use of sound waves in water was for the detection of
submarines and was developed during World War l.
As electromagnetic waves cannot penetrate water, use of acoustic
waves to penetrate seawater, found importance and Prof. Paul Langevin
produced the first underwater transducer.

World War II saw the development of many new piezoelectric crystals.

The first ultrasonic flaw detection system for locating flaws in materials
and for measuring the thickness of material was developed between
1939 and1945.
Ultrasonic waves have also been applied to a large number physical
phenomena investigations. Some of the studies done are oscillatory
magneto acoustic phenomenon in metals, giant quantum oscillations,
effect of dislocations and impurities on sound wave propagation, Fermi
surfaces of metals and other phenomena.
The present day ultrasonic transducers are limited in frequency to 100
GHz (1011 Hz).


As opposed to low amplitude devices described earlier, high intensity
sound waves have also been applied in areas like ultrasonic cleaning, to
produce fine grain size in metals and in producing biological changes.
High amplitude devices have also been used to study internal friction,
acoustic emission and fatigue.

In the recent past, surface wave devices have evoked some interest.
They are used as delay lines, complex coded waveforms and wide band
signals for missile guidance and airport flight control. Bombs in Pacific
Ocean were probably the starting point for the ultrasonic technique.
The famous Krautkramer brothers of Germany had in the meantime
perfected the technique to such an extent that reliable ultrasonic testing
method was available.
Technique they employed was based on valves, which was
subsequently changed transistors and ultimately to use of
microprocessors. Most of the present day efforts in improving the
technique are centered on employing the microprocessor. Design of
Superior probes, and application of the technique to tough ceramics.

1.2. Comparison between the commonly used NDT methods

Below you will find a general outline of the capabilities of common

nondestructive testing methods. This is intended as brief summary of
each discipline's capabilities.

Excellent Fair Poor

Defect type Eddy Current Magnetic Particle Ultrasonic Radiography Resonant Acoustic


Missed processes/operations

Material property

Structurally significant
Product lot variations

Defect Location
Surface (external)
Eddy Current Magnetic Particle Ultrasonic Radiography Resonant Acoustic

Part troughput

Training requirements
Overall inspection costs
Automation Capacity
Quantitative results

Automation requirements NA

Automation cost NA

Figure 1: comparison between different NDT methods

Advantages and disadvantages of the NDT methods


Detects resonant frequency shifts resulting from changes in mass,

stiffness or damping of a part. Defects such as cracks, voids, chips,
brazing problems, nodularity, porosity, variations in hardness, missed
manufacturing processes and delamination can be detected.
Applications include powder metal parts, ductile iron parts, brazed
assemblies, forgings, stampings and ceramic parts.

Advantages Disadvantages
Whole part test for internal and Not diagnostic - does not indicate
external flaws where flaw is, just there is one

Fast as 1 part per second Materials that resonate only - metal,
composites and ceramic parts
No part preparation required Large parts (> 60lbs) difficult to test
Objective pass/fail result Significant lot to lot variations can
mask defect detection
No consumables expenses
Easily automated
Permanent record capability
Easily finds first n number of natural
frequencies for NVH applications
Best for high volume quality
Designed to be on the plant floor

Measures thickness, velocity or detects internal defects and variations,
such as cracks, lack of fusion, delaminations and lack of bond.
Applications include wrought metals, welds, brazed joints, adhesive or
bonded joints, non-metallic materials and in-service parts.

Advantages Disadvantages
Most sensitive to cracks Couplant required
Immediate results Complex, or small parts may be
difficult to check
Automation possible Reference standards required
Permanent record capability Trained operators for manual
Portable Special probes

High penetration capability Surface condition

Measures or detects, internal defects and variations, porosity,
inclusions, cracks, lack of fusion, corrosion, geometry variation,
density changes, misassembled and misaligned parts.

Advantages Disadvantages
Permanent records Radiation hazard
Portable Expensive
Geometry variation does not affect Trained operators needed
direction of radiation beam
Linear defect may be missed
Depth of defect not indicated
Access needed to at least two sides of
the part


Measures or detects surface and subsurface cracks and seams, alloy

content, heat treatment variations, wall and coating thickness, crack
depth, conductivity and permeability.

Advantages Disadvantages
High speed Conductive material only
Low cost Shallow depth of penetration
Permanent record capability

No couplant required
No probe contact required


Measures or detects defects open to the surface of parts such as cracks,

porosity, seams, laps and through wall leaks.

Advantages Disadvantages
Low cost Defect must be open to the surface
Portable Parts must be cleaned before and after
Indications may be further examined Surface films, such as coatings, scale,
and smeared metal may visually mask


Measures or detects surface and qualified subsurface defects, cracks,

seams, porosity, inclusions, and very sensitive for locating small tight

Advantages Disadvantages
Low cost Ferromagnetic materials only
Portable Alignment of magnetic field is critical

Subsurface defects Demagnetization required after the test
Surface coatings can mask defects
Pre and post cleaning necessary


Measures or detects, hot spots, heat transfer, temperature ranges, and

temperature monitoring and electrical assemblies.

Advantages Disadvantages
Permanent record or thermal picture Expensive
Remote sensing Reference standards required
Portable Poor resolution on thick sections

2. Fundamental Properties of Ultrasound

2.1. Definition of ultrasonic vibrations

The definition of ultrasonic, also known as ultrasound, is sound

waves that have a higher frequency than the human ear can hear.
An example of ultrasonic is an ultrasound image of an unborn baby
An example of ultrasonic is a dog whistle that cannot be heard by
An example of ultrasonic is the detection of ships and objects
underwater by bouncing a high frequency sound wave off their hulls,
a process discovered by Paul Langevin.
Sound is made when something vibrates. You can twang a ruler on a
table or flick a stretched elastic band to verify this. The stretched
surface of the rubber band or the ruler vibrates and sets up a series of
vibrations, sound waves, in the air. As the surface of the band or ruler
pushes into the air, the air molecules are forced together and a region
of high pressure forms: compression. As the surface moves back, the
air molecules move apart, forming a low pressure area or rarefaction.
As the surface vibrates, alternate compressions and rarefactions set
up in the air and travel out from the surface to form a sound wave.
The air molecules dont move with the wave they vibrate to and fro
in time with the vibrating surface.
If we plot the displacement of the particle against time it will produce
a sine wave as shown below.

Figure 2: A Wave Illustration

Mechanical vibrations for nondestructive tests can be generated by

electromechanical transducers -devices with the ability to transform
electrical into mechanical and vice versa. For ultrasonic testing at
frequencies above 200 kHz, piezoelectric transducers are generally
used (they can be used also at lower frequencies).
Such materials generate electric charges when mechanically stressed
and conversely become stressed when electrically excited.
Piezoelectric elements mounted for ultrasonic testing are commonly
identified as transducers, search units, probes, transmitters (or
receivers) or crystals.
Sound is created when something vibrates. It is a stress wave of
mechanical energy. The piezo-electric effect changes mechanical
energy into electrical energy. It is reversible, so electrical energy - a
voltage - can be changed into mechanical energy or sound, which is

the reverse piezo-electric effect. The first people to observe the
piezo-electric effect were the Curie brothers who observed it in
quartz crystals.

2.2. Relationship of frequency velocity and wavelength

We are all familiar with waves in one form or another. We shall

define a wave as a disturbance or vibration propagating through
space. In general, waves can be classified as being either transverse
or longitudinal. In a longitudinal wave, the medium vibrates in a
direction parallel to the direction the wave is traveling. Sound is an
example of a longitudinal wave. In a transverse wave, the medium
vibrates in a direction perpendicular to the direction the wave is
traveling. Figure 3 shows a wave with its corresponding wavelength,
amplitude and crest.

Figure 3
The wavelength () is the distance of one complete wave. The
amplitude of a wave is the maximum displacement of any part of the
wave from its equilibrium position. The time it takes for a wave to
travel a distance of one wavelength is called the period (T). The
frequency (f) is the number of oscillations or cycles that occur during

a given period of time. Frequency is usually measured in cycles per
second, or Hertz. The period (T) is usually measured in seconds. The
frequency (f) and the period (T) are related by the following
Period (T) = 1/ Frequency (f)
One of the properties of a wave is that the velocity of a wave is
related with its frequency and wavelength by the following equation.

Velocity of a wave (v) = frequency (f) wavelength ()

A wave traveling along a plucked string is transverse in nature. Note

that as the wave travels to the right, the medium (the string) is
actually only moving up and down.

2.3. Diffraction theory

Diffraction of Light at Ultrasound Waves

In 1932 Debye and Sears discovered in the USA and Lucas and
Biquard discovered in France that transparent media diffract light
when an ultra- sound wave is sent through them. This effect is a
consequence of a periodical variation of the refractive index, which
in turn is a consequence of a local periodical pressure change caused
by the ultrasound wave.

Figure 4: Sound diffraction
A thin slit, lit up by the lamp La serves as a source of light. The lens L1
is placed in the distance of its focal length from the gap and thus
produces a broad beam of parallel light. The light then penetrates a
transparent medium (gas, liquid or solid) in which an ultrasonic wave
transducer Q, located perpendicularly to the direction of the incidence
light beam, produces elastic waves. For experiments with liquids or
gases a container with plane parallel glass walls is required. The second
lens L2 projects a real image S0 of the gap S on a screen. If the
ultrasound wave is excited, several orders of the spectrum of the lamp
La can be seen on both sides of S0. By introducing alter F into the path
of the light beam we produce monochromatic light and obtain only one
interference strip of each order near S0.
To understand this phenomenon we must assume that the local
periodical pressure changes of the elastic wave create local changes in
the refraction index of the medium. The surfaces of equal phase S(x; y;
z) of the light wave are then no longer plains (S(x; y; z) = k0x for light

propagation in the x-direction.) but they become a sine function with
the same period as the ultrasonic wave. This arises from the fact that in
an area with a higher refractive index n the light wave travel slower than
in an area with a lower refractive index (c = c0n ).

2.4. Modes of particle vibration

All material substances are comprised of atoms, which may be forced

into vibrational motion about their equilibrium positions. Many
different patterns of vibrational motion exist at the atomic level;
however, most are irrelevant to acoustics and ultrasonic testing.
Acoustics is focused on particles that contain many atoms that move in
harmony to produce a mechanical wave. When a material is not stressed
in tension or compression beyond its elastic limit, its individual
particles perform elastic oscillations. When the particles of a medium
are displaced from their equilibrium positions, internal restoration
forces arise. These elastic restoring forces between particles, combined
with inertia of the particles, lead to the oscillatory motions of the

In solids, sound waves can propagate in four principal modes that are
based on the way the particles oscillate. Sound can propagate as
longitudinal waves, shear waves, surface waves, and in thin materials
as plate waves. Longitudinal and shear waves are the two modes of
propagation most widely used in ultrasonic testing. The particle

movement responsible for the propagation of longitudinal and shear
waves is illustrated in the figure.

Figure 5: Longitudinal and shear wave illustration

In longitudinal waves, the oscillations occur in the longitudinal

direction or the direction of wave propagation. Since compression and
expansion forces are active in these waves, they are also called pressure
or compression waves. They are also sometimes called density waves
because material density fluctuates as the wave moves. Compression
waves can be generated in gases, liquids, as well as solids because the
energy travels through the atomic structure by a series of compressions
and expansion movements.

Figure 6: Longitudinal wave representation
In the transverse or shear waves, particles oscillate at a right angle or
transverse to the direction of propagation. Shear waves require an
acoustically solid material for effective propagation, and therefore, are
not effectively propagated in materials such as liquids or gasses. Shear
waves are relatively weak when compared to longitudinal waves. In
fact, shear waves are usually generated in materials using some of the
energy from longitudinal waves.

Figure 7: Shear wave representation

2.5. Ultrasound uses

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. Through the 1980's and
continuing through the present, computers have provided technicians
with smaller and more rugged instruments with greater capabilities.

Thickness gauging is an example application where instruments have

been refined make data collection easier and better. Built-in data
logging capabilities allow thousands of measurements to be recorded
and eliminate the need for a "scribe." Some instruments have the
capability to capture waveforms as well as thickness readings. The
waveform option allows an operator to view or review the A-scan signal
of thickness measurement long after the completion of an inspection.
Also, some instruments are capable of modifying the measurement
based on the surface conditions of the material. For example, the signal
from a pitted or eroded inner surface of a pipe would be treated
differently than a smooth surface. This has led to more accurate and
repeatable field measurements.

Many ultrasonic flaw detectors have a trigonometric function that

allows for fast and accurate location determination of flaws when
performing shear wave inspections. Cathode ray tubes, for the most
part, have been replaced with LED or LCD screens. These screens, in
most cases, are extremely easy to view in a wide range of ambient
lighting. Bright or low light working conditions encountered by

technicians have little effect on the technician's ability to view the
screen. Screens can be adjusted for brightness, contrast, and on some
instruments even the color of the screen and signal can be selected.
Transducers can be programmed with predetermined instrument
settings. The operator only has to connect the transducer and the
instrument will set variables such as frequency and probe drive.

Along with computers, motion control and robotics have contributed to

the advancement of ultrasonic inspections. Early on, the advantage of a
stationary platform was recognized and used in industry. Computers
can be programmed to inspect large, complex shaped components, with
one or multiple transducers collecting information. Automated systems
typically consisted of an immersion tank, scanning system, and
recording system for a printout of the scan. The immersion tank can be
replaced with a squitter systems, which allows the sound to be
transmitted through a water column. The resultant C-scan provides a
plan or top view of the component. Scanning of components is
considerably faster than contact hand scanning, the coupling is much
more consistent. The scan information is collected by a computer for
evaluation, transmission to a customer, and archiving.

Today, quantitative theories have been developed to describe the

interaction of the interrogating fields with flaws. Models incorporating
the results have been integrated with solid model descriptions of real-
part geometries to simulate practical inspections. Related tools allow
NDE to be considered during the design process on an equal footing
with other failure-related engineering disciplines. Quantitative

descriptions of NDE performance, such as the probability of detection
(POD), have become an integral part of statistical risk assessment.
Measurement procedures initially developed for metals have been
extended to engineered materials such as composites, where anisotropy
and inhomogeneity have become important issues. The rapid advances
in digitization and computing capabilities have totally changed the faces
of many instruments and the type of algorithms that are used in
processing the resulting data. High-resolution imaging systems and
multiple measurement modalities for characterizing a flaw have
emerged. Interest is increasing not only in detecting, characterizing, and
sizing defects, but also in characterizing the materials. Goals range from
the determination of fundamental microstructural characteristics such
as grain size, porosity, and texture (preferred grain orientation), to
material properties related to such failure mechanisms as fatigue, creep,
and fracture toughness. As technology continues to advance,
applications of ultrasound also advance. The high-resolution imaging
systems in the laboratory today will be tools of the technician

Looking to the future, those in the field of NDE see an exciting new set
of opportunities. The defense and nuclear power industries have played
a major role in the emergence of NDE. Increasing global competition
has led to dramatic changes in product development and business
cycles. At the same time, aging infrastructure, from roads to buildings
and aircraft, present a new set of measurement and monitoring
challenges for engineers as well as technicians.

Among the new applications of NDE spawned by these changes is the
increased emphasis on the use of NDE to improve the productivity of
manufacturing processes. Quantitative nondestructive evaluation
(QNDE) both increases the amount of information about failure modes
and the speed with which information can be obtained and facilitates
the development of in-line measurements for process control.

The phrase, "you cannot inspect in quality, you must build it in,"
exemplifies the industry's focus on avoiding the formation of flaws.
Nevertheless, manufacturing flaws will never be completely eliminated
and material damage will continue to occur in-service so continual
development of flaw detection and characterization techniques is

Advanced simulation tools that are designed for inspectability and their
integration into quantitative strategies for life management will
contribute to increase the number and types of engineering applications
of NDE. With growth in engineering applications for NDE, there will
be a need to expand the knowledge base of technicians performing the
evaluations. Advanced simulation tools used in the design for
inspectability may be used to provide technical students with a greater
understanding of sound behavior in materials. UTSIM, developed at
Iowa State University, provides a glimpse into what may be used in the
technical classroom as an interactive laboratory tool.

As globalization continues, companies will seek to develop, with ever

increasing frequency, uniform international practices. In the area of

NDE, this trend will drive the emphasis on standards, enhanced
educational offerings, and simulations that can be communicated
electronically. The coming years will be exciting as NDE will continue
to emerge as a full-fledged engineering discipline.

3. Generation of Ultrasonic Waves
3.1. Piezoelectric crystal types and characteristics

An Introduction to Piezoelectric Transducer Crystal

Piezoelectric Materials and their Properties

Certain single crystal materials exhibit the following phenomenon:

when the crystal is mechanically strained, or when the crystal is
deformed by the application of an external stress, electric charges
appear on certain of the crystal surfaces; and when the direction of the
strain reverses, the polarity of the electric charge is reversed. This is
called the direct piezoelectric effect, and the crystals that exhibit it are
classed as piezoelectric crystals.

Figure 8. The direct piezoelectric effect.

Conversely, when a piezoelectric crystal is placed in an electric field,

or when charges are applied by external means to its faces, the crystal

exhibits strain, i.e. the dimensions of the crystal change. When the
direction of the applied electric field is reversed, the direction of the
resulting strain is reversed. This is called the converse piezoelectric

Figure 9: The converse piezoelectric effect.

Many of today's applications of piezoelectricity use polycrystalline

ceramics instead of natural piezoelectric crystals. Piezoelectric
ceramics are more versatile in that their physical, chemical, and
piezoelectric characteristics can be tailored to specific applications.
Piezo-ceramic materials can be manufactured in almost any shape or
size, and the mechanical and electrical axes of the material can be
oriented in relation to the shape of the material. These axes are set
during poling (the process that induces piezoelectric properties in the
material). The orientation of the DC poling field determines the
orientation of the mechanical and electrical axes.

The direction in which tension or compression develops polarization
parallel to the strain is called the piezoelectric axis.
In quartz, this axis is known as the "X-axis", and in poled ceramic
materials such as PZT the piezoelectric axis is referred to as the "Z-
axis". From different combinations of the direction of the applied field
and orientation of the crystal it is possible to produce various stresses
and strains in the crystal. For example, an electric field applied
perpendicular to the piezoelectric axis will produce elongation along
the axis as shown in Figure 9. If, however, the electric field is applied
parallel to the piezoelectric axis, a shear motion is induced. This type
motion is shown in Figure 10.

Figure 10: Shear motion generation.

3.2. Search unit construction

Transducer Design Requirements

In the design of practical transducers for various applications,

additional requirements include mechanical (contact area, wear
resistance, waterproofing and connectors), electrical (voltages, wave
shapes, capacitance and grounding) and acoustic (noise level, cross

coupling, damping and face plates). Construction of three types of
transducer assemblies is shown in Fig. 11.
Figure 11a shows a straight beam contact transducer. These use thin
wear plates to prevent crystal breakage and to protect the front
electrode, which provides internal grounding. Facings of ceramic,
metal, plastic and rubber have been used. Applications include tests of
rough surfaces and electrical nonconductors. Angle beam transducers
direct the ultrasonic beam away from normal incidence toward selected
areas within a test object using a wedge between the crystal and the test
object (see Fig. 11b). These wedges or shoes are usually made from
plastic materials.

Figure 11: Typical ultrasonic testing transducers: (a) straight beam contact
unit; (b) angle beam transducer; (c) immersion transducer

An ultrasonic search unit consists of an appropriate housing with

electrical connector, backing material for dampening, active
piezoelectric material, lens for acoustic focusing, or time delay material
if required. In addition, a thin coupling layer, protective layer, or wear
plate may be used ahead of the active element.
The effectiveness of the search unit for a particular application depends
on Q, bandwidth, frequency, sensitivity, acoustic impedance, and

resolving power. The Q of a transducer is given by the following

F2 F1

Where F2 - F1 = bandwidth
Fr = resonant frequency of the element
F2 = frequency above Fr where amplitude = 0.707 Fr amplitude
F1 = frequency below Fr where amplitude = 0.707 Fr amplitude
Note: In most nondestructive testing applications, the Q of the search
unit will vary from 1 to 10.
Sensitivity is the ability of the search unit to detect reflections or echoes
from small defects or flaws. Search unit sensitivity is directly
proportional to the product of its efficiency as a transmitter and its
efficiency as a receiver.
The acoustic impedance of a transducer is the product of its density and
the velocity of sound within it. Its resolving power includes the ability
to separate reflections from two closely spaced flaws or reflectors. For
example, in contact testing, the transducer must have good resolution to
separate the front surface pulse, initial pulse, or main bang from the
near-surface defect reflections. The ability of a transducer to resolve or
detect near-surface defects is related to its pulse width or length. The
transducer must stop vibrating or ringing after it is shocked in order
to resolve or see small near-surface flaws. Resolving power is also
related to crystal dampening and bandwidth. Ideally, we would like to

reduce crystal ringing or bandwidth without adversely affecting
sensitivity.In practice, compromises must be made to achieve test goals.
For most search units, the product of bandwidth and sensitivity is a
As bandwidth increases, sensitivity decreases; as bandwidth decreases,
sensitivity increases. By knowing the sensitivity bandwidth product and
bandwidth of the transducer, its sensitivity can be calculated.
Piezoelectric elements are usually coated with gold or silver on their
front and back surfaces to form electrodes. Figure 12 shows a few of
the available electrode configurations for flat crystals and some typical
Small wire leads are then attached to the electrode surfaces by welding,
soldering, or cementing them in place with conductive epoxy. Good
electrical insulation must be used in search unit construction because
high-voltage pulses (1002000 VDC) are applied to the electrodes for
10ms or less. The high voltage pulses are transmitted from the pulse
circuit of the electronics unit to the search unit through a coaxial cable
to an ultrahigh frequency (UHF) or baby N connector (BNC)-type
coaxial connector on the search unit.

Figure 12 (a, b) Crystal electrode arrangements and (c) factory assembled
transducers. Electrode diagrams courtesy of Valpey-Fisher Corp.;
transducer photo courtesy of Krautkramer Branson, Inc., manufacturer of
Ultrasonic Nondestructive Testing Equipment.

The backing material of the search unit serves two purposes. First, it
controls crystal dampening and therefore bandwidth, and second, it
attenuates the energy on the back side of the crystal so that unwanted
reflections will not be received from the back side of the transducer.
Transducers can be air backed or backed by fibrous or cellular plastic
material that effectively attenuates sound on the back side of the crystal
while reducing its undampened bandwidth from as much as 20,000 to a
range of 1 to 10, depending on the application.
Some manufacturers embed a hardened surface ring and coat the front
sides of their transducers with an aluminum oxide coating to reduce
transducer wear. In contact testing, plastic wedges are used to position
crystals at an angle for shear wave testing. Delay tips are also attached
to contact-type transducers for testing thin materials. While increasing
the versatility of the transducer, the Lucite wedges and shoes decrease
transducer sensitivity. Lucite shoes are contoured wedges that are
shaped to the contour of the test surface.
In high-speed production lines, the Lucite shoes may actually ride on
the test surface, become worn, and have to be periodically replaced.
Acoustic lenses can also be attached to the front surface of the
transducer to act as a lens for focusing the sound beam. As the radius
of curvature of a curved lens increases, the focal length of the lens
increases. Ideally, the acoustic impedance of the focusing lens is
between that of the transducer and material under test. Transducers can
be spherically or spot focused and cylindrically focused. Spherically

(spot or point) focused transducers are used when improved resolution
to small flaws is required for the test material. Cylindrically focused
transducers are typically used for pipe and tubing inspections.
Acoustic lenses with cylindrical curvatures focus sound energy into
cylindrical surfaces normally or at right angles. Focusing lenses
effectively shorten the Fresnel zone by shifting the transition distance
N toward the transducer. Backing material variations, lens
misalignment, or lens porosity can result in the propagation of
nonsymmetrical beams when using focused transducers.
Focusing can increase the echo amplitude from small flaws near the
focal point. This technique is used to obtain better near-surface
resolution without increasing transducer frequency. The disadvantage
is that the sensitivity to defects in the far field is greatly decreased.
Cylindrical focusing is used to shape the sonic wave front to conform
to part geometry. This produces a clean front surface reflection and
better resolution of near-surface flaws in pipe and tubing. This type of
focusing is also called contoured focusing. The effects of crystal
diameter, focal distance, and water path length are given in Table1.
(Test conditions a)

Crystal Focus b Beam Beam Actual Beam FD- Beam

diameter FD-water diameter water Aluminum FD-Stell
(in.) (in.) (in.) path (in.) (in.) (in.)
1.50 S 4.2 0.13 1.0 0.75 0.82
1.50 M 6.5 0.23 1.2 1.25 1.35
1.50 L 9.2 0.37 1.8 1.75 1.87
0.75 S 2.5 0.05 1.5 0.25 0.25

0.75 M 4.0 0.09 1.9 0.50 0.53
0.75 L 5.2 0.15 1.0 1.00 1.07
0.50 S 1.7 0.04 0.9 0.18 0.19
0.50 M 2.7 0.06 1.1 0.38 0.41
0.50 L 3.7 0.12 1.9 0.44 0.46
0.37 S 1.3 0.03 0.8 0.13 0.13
0.37 M 2.2 0.05 1.2 0.25 0.25
0.37 L 3.0 0.08 1.4 0.38 0.41
0.25 S 0.8 0.02 0.4 0.09 0.10
0.25 M 1.5 0.05 0.8 0.16 0.18
0.25 L 2.2 0.07 0.9 0.31 0.33
0.19 S 0.6 0.02 0.4 0.05 0.05
0.19 M 1.0 0.04 0.6 0.10 0.10

Table 1: Focused search unit characteristics

(1) Water path may vary 25% without adversely affecting test sensitivity. (2) Data applicable
to frequencies of 10MHz or above.
S = short, M = medium, L = long.

To calculate the focal distance (FD) under other conditions, the

following equation may be used:
FD (water) = metal path (water equivalent) +water path Where metal
path (water equivalent) = metal path \ (velocity of sound in
metal/velocity of sound in water) water path = distance from the
transducer face to the part surface.

The relationship between crystal frequency and thickness is given in

Table 2.

Crystal Frequency (MHz) Crystal Thickness (in.)
0.20 0.500
0.50 0.200
1.00 0.100
2.25 0.50
5.00 0.20
10.00 0.10
15.00 0.007
20.00 0.006
25.00 0.005

Table 2: Crystal Frequency versus Thickness (*)

(*) Crystal diameters vary widely, typically in the range 0.51.5 in. for 1 MHz to 0.1250.375
in. for 25MHz.

Some special-purpose transducers are mosaic and paintbrush

A multiple crystal transducer, whose crystals operate in the same plane
and in phase with each other, is known as a crystal mosaic. A paintbrush
transducer is a large-area, rectangular-shaped transducer with uniform-
intensity beam pattern. Since both mosaic and paintbrush transducers
are used for rapid scanning of relatively large areas, search units with
smaller crystals are frequently used to accurately locate and further
evaluate discontinuities found with these transducers.
Todays modern search units are quite rugged and designed to survive
heavy use. However, some common sense should be used with regard
to the care and storage of search units. They should not be dropped or

mechanically deformed; their front surfaces should be protected to
prevent scratches and minimize wear. Units should be stored at normal
operating temperatures and not subjected to excessively harsh*
chemical environments. Tank-type immersion units should be
immersed or loaded before they are pulsed, and the transmitter should
be turned off before they are removed from the immersion tank.

3.3. Search unit characteristics: resolution; sensitivity

The I.I.W. VI block is used to determine the resolution of a flaw

detector using a normal beam probe. This block has three target
reflectors at ranges of 85 mm, 91 mm and 100 mm. The probe is placed
on the block as shown in Figure 13a and echoes from the three reflectors
are obtained.
The separation of the echoes from each other indicates the degree of
resolution of the flaw detector for that particular probe. Figure 13b
shows the degree of resolution for flaw detectors using two different
normal beam probes.

Figure13: Estimating the resolving power of normal beam probe

Another block (described in B.S. 3923: Part 3: 1972) used for the
determination of resolution of flaw detectors using either normal beam
or angle beam probes is shown in Figure 5.26. With this block the
resolution is determined by the minimum distance apart that flaws can
be indicated clearly and separately. In use the probe is placed on the
center line of the block over the change in radius from one step to the
next. Its position is adjusted so that echoes from the two radii are of the
same height and approximately 1/2 full screen height. The steps are said
to be resolved when their echoes are clearly separated at half maximum
echo height or less.

Figure 14: Test block for measuring probe resolution.

3.4. Search unit types

Ultrasonic transducers are manufactured for a variety of applications

and can be custom fabricated when necessary. Careful attention must
be paid to selecting the proper transducer for the application. A previous
section on Acoustic Wavelength and Defect Detection gave a brief
overview of factors that affect defect detectability. From this material,
we know that it is important to choose transducers that have the desired
frequency, bandwidth, and focusing to optimize inspection capability.
Most often the transducer is chosen either to enhance the sensitivity or
resolution of the system.
Transducers are classified into groups according to the application.

3.4.1. Contact transducers

Contact transducers are used for direct contact inspections, and are
generally hand manipulated. They have elements protected in a rugged
casing to withstand sliding contact with a variety of materials. These
transducers have an ergonomic design so that they are easy to grip and
move along a surface. They often have replaceable wear plates to
lengthen their useful life. Coupling materials of water, grease, oils, or
commercial materials are used to remove the air gap between the
transducer and the component being inspected.

Figure 15: A simple transducer

Contact transducers are available in a variety of configurations to
improve their usefulness for a variety of applications. The flat contact
transducer shown above is used in normal beam inspections of
relatively flat surfaces, and where near surface resolution is not critical.
If the surface is curved, a shoe that matches the curvature of the part
may need to be added to the face of the transducer. If near surface
resolution is important or if an angle beam inspection is needed, one of
the special contact transducers described below might be used.

3.4.2. Immersion transducers

Immersion transducers do not contact the component. These

transducers are designed to operate in a liquid environment and all
connections are watertight. Immersion transducers usually have an
impedance matching layer that helps to get more sound energy into the
water and, in turn, into the component being inspected. Immersion
transducers can be purchased with a planer, cylindrically focused or
spherically focused lens. A focused transducer can improve the
sensitivity and axial resolution by concentrating the sound energy to a
smaller area. Immersion transducers are typically used inside a water
tank or as part of a squirter or bubbler system in scanning applications.

Figure 16: Immersion probes

3.4.3. Twin crystal probes

Also called Dual element transducers contain two independently

operated elements in a single housing. One of the elements transmits
and the other receives the ultrasonic signal. Active elements can be
chosen for their sending and receiving capabilities to provide a
transducer with a cleaner signal, and transducers for special
applications, such as the inspection of course grained material. Dual
element transducers are especially well suited for making
measurements in applications where reflectors are very near the
transducer since this design eliminates the ring down effect that single-
element transducers experience (when single-element transducers are
operating in pulse echo mode, the element cannot start receiving
reflected signals until the element has stopped ringing from its transmit
function). Dual element transducers are very useful when making
thickness measurements of thin materials and when inspecting for near

surface defects. The two elements are angled towards each other to
create a crossed-beam sound path in the test material.

Figure 17: Twin crystal probe

3.4.4. Delay line transducers

Delay line transducers provide versatility with a variety of replaceable

options. Removable delay line, surface conforming membrane, and
protective wear cap options can make a single transducer effective for
a wide range of applications. As the name implies, the primary function
of a delay line transducer is to introduce a time delay between the
generation of the sound wave and the arrival of any reflected waves.
This allows the transducer to complete its "sending" function before it
starts its "listening" function so that near surface resolution is improved.
They are designed for use in applications such as high precision

thickness gauging of thin materials and delamination checks in
composite materials. They are also useful in high-temperature
measurement applications since the delay line provides some insulation
to the piezoelectric element from the heat.

Figure 18: Delay line probe

3.4.5. Angle beam transducers

Angle beam transducers and wedges are typically used to introduce a

refracted shear wave into the test material. Transducers can be
purchased in a variety of fixed angles or in adjustable versions where
the user determines the angles of incidence and refraction. In the fixed
angle versions, the angle of refraction that is marked on the transducer
is only accurate for a particular material, which is usually steel. The
angled sound path allows the sound beam to be reflected from the
backwall to improve detectability of flaws in and around welded areas.
They are also used to generate surface waves for use in detecting defects
on the surface of a component.

Figure 18: Angle beam probe

3.4.6. Normal incidence shear wave transducers

Normal incidence shear wave transducers are unique because they

allow the introduction of shear waves directly into a test piece without
the use of an angle beam wedge. Careful design has enabled
manufacturing of transducers with minimal longitudinal wave
contamination. The ratio of the longitudinal to shear wave components
is generally below -30dB.

3.4.7. Paint brush transducers

Paint brush transducers are used to scan wide areas. These long and
narrow transducers are made up of an array of small crystals that are
carefully matched to minimize variations in performance and maintain
uniform sensitivity over the entire area of the transducer. Paint brush
transducers make it possible to scan a larger area more rapidly for
discontinuities. Smaller and more sensitive transducers are often then
required to further define the details of a discontinuity.

4. Test Material Characteristics
4.1. Velocity

The speed of sound is the distance traveled per unit of time by a sound
wave propagating through an elastic medium. In dry air at 20 C (68 F),
the speed of sound is 343.2 meters per second (1,126 ft/s). This is 1,236
kilometers per hour (667 kn; 768 mph), or about a kilometer in three
seconds or a mile in about five seconds.
In fluid dynamics, the speed of sound in a fluid medium (gas or liquid)
is used as a relative measure of speed itself. The speed of an object
divided by the speed of sound in the fluid is called the Mach number.
Objects moving at speeds greater than Mach1 are traveling at
supersonic speeds.
The speed of sound in an ideal gas is independent of frequency, but does
vary slightly with frequency in a real gas. It is proportional to the square
root of the absolute temperature, but is independent
of pressure or density for a given ideal gas. Sound speed in air varies
slightly with pressure only because air is not quite an ideal gas.
Although (in the case of gases only) the speed of sound is expressed in
terms of a ratio of both density and pressure, these quantities cancel in
ideal gases at any given temperature, composition, and heat capacity.
This leads to a velocity formula for ideal gases which includes only the
latter independent variables.
In common everyday speech, speed of sound refers to the speed of
sound waves in air. However, the speed of sound varies from substance
to substance. Sound travels faster in liquids and non-porous solids than

it does in air. It travels about 4.3 times as fast in water (1,484 m/s), and
nearly 15 times as fast in iron (5,120 m/s), as in air at 20 degrees
Celsius. Sound waves in solids are composed of compression waves
(just as in gases and liquids), but there is also a different type of sound
wave called a shear wave, which occurs only in solids. These different
types of waves in solids usually travel at different speeds, as exhibited
in seismology. The speed of a compression sound wave in solids is
determined by the medium's compressibility, shear modulus and
density. The speed of shear waves is determined only by the solid
material's shear modulus and density.
Dependence on the propreties of the medium

The speed of sound is variable and depends on the properties of the

substance through which the wave is travelling. In solids, the speed of
transverse (or shear) waves depends on the shear deformation under
shear stress (called the shear modulus), and the density of the medium.
Longitudinal (or compression) waves in solids depend on the same two
factors with the addition of a dependence on compressibility.
In fluids, only the medium's compressibility and density are the
important factors, since fluids do not tolerate shear stresses. In
heterogeneous fluids, such as a liquid filled with gas bubbles, the
density of the liquid and the compressibility of the gas affect the speed
of sound in an additive manner, as demonstrated in the hot chocolate

In gases, adiabatic compressibility is directly related to pressure
through the heat capacity ratio (adiabatic index), and pressure and
density are inversely related at a given temperature and composition,
thus making only the latter independent properties (temperature,
molecular composition, and heat capacity ratio) important. In
low molecular weight gases such as helium, sound propagates faster
compared to heavier gases such as xenon (for monatomic gases the
speed of sound is about 75% of the mean speed that molecules move in
the gas). For a given ideal gas the sound speed depends only on
its temperature. At a constant temperature, the ideal gas pressure has no
effect on the speed of sound, because pressure and density (also
proportional to pressure) have equal but opposite effects on the speed
of sound, and the two contributions cancel out exactly. In a similar way,
compression waves in solids depend both on compressibility and
densityjust as in liquidsbut in gases the density contributes to the
compressibility in such a way that some part of each attribute factors
out, leaving only a dependence on temperature, molecular weight, and
heat capacity ratio (see derivations below). Thus, for a single given gas
(where molecular weight does not change) and over a small temperature
range (where heat capacity is relatively constant), the speed of sound
becomes dependent on only the temperature of the gas.
In non-ideal gases, such as a van der Waals gas, the proportionality is
not exact, and there is a slight dependence of sound velocity on the gas

Humidity has a small but measurable effect on sound speed (causing it
to increase by about 0.1%-0.6%),
because oxygen and nitrogen molecules of the air are replaced by lighter
molecules of water. This is a simple mixing effect.

4.2. Sound attenuation

When sound travels through a medium, its intensity diminishes with

distance. In idealized materials, sound pressure (signal amplitude) is
only reduced by the spreading of the wave. Natural materials, however,
all produce an effect which further weakens the sound. This further
weakening results from scattering and absorption. Scattering is the
reflection of the sound in directions other than its original direction of
propagation. Absorption is the conversion of the sound energy to other
forms of energy. The combined effect of scattering and absorption is
called attenuation. Ultrasonic attenuation is the decay rate of the wave
as it propagates through material.

Figure 19: Attenuation diagram

Attenuation of sound within a material itself is often not

of intrinsic interest. However, natural properties and loading conditions
can be related to attenuation. Attenuation often serves as a measurement
tool that leads to the formation of theories to explain physical or
chemical phenomenon that decreases the ultrasonic intensity.

The amplitude change of a decaying plane wave can be expressed as:

In this expression A0 is the unattenuated amplitude of the propagating

wave at some location. The amplitude A is the reduced amplitude after
the wave has traveled a distance z from that initial location. The
quantity is the attenuation coefficient of the wave traveling in the z-
direction. The dimensions of are nepers/length, where a neper is a
dimensionless quantity. The term e is the exponential (or Napier's
constant) which is equal to approximately 2.71828.
The units of the attenuation value in Nepers per meter (Np/m) can be
converted to decibels/length by dividing by 0.1151. Decibels is a more
common unit when relating the amplitudes of two signals.
Attenuation is generally proportional to the square of sound frequency.
Quoted values of attenuation are often given for a single frequency, or
an attenuation value averaged over many frequencies may be given.
Also, the actual value of the attenuation coefficient for a given material
is highly dependent on the way in which the material was manufactured.
Thus, quoted values of attenuation only give a rough indication of the
attenuation and should not be automatically trusted. Generally, a
reliable value of attenuation can only be obtained by determining the
attenuation experimentally for the particular material being used.
Attenuation can be determined by evaluating the multiple back wall
reflections seen in a typical A-scan display like the one shown in the

image at the top of the page. The number of decibels between two
adjacent signals is measured and this value is divided by the time
interval between them. This calculation produces an attenuation
coefficient in decibels per unit time. This value can be converted to
nepers/length by the following equation.

Where v is the velocity of sound in meters per second and Ut is in

decibels per second.

4.3. Acoustic impedance

The acoustic impedance Z is the ratio of

sound pressure (measured in Pa) to
volume flow (measured in cubic meters per second). Let's consider a
duct or pipe with cross sectional area A. If the wavelength of sound is
large compared to the lateral dimensions of the duct, a plane wave will
propagate along the duct. Let's suppose for the moment that there are no
reflections coming back from the other end of the duct. In that rather
special case, we have a one dimensional (plane) wave travelling to the
right, with pressure p and particle velocity u in phase, as we saw in
the Sound wave equation.

The specific acoustic impedance z is the ratio of sound pressure to
particle velocity, and z = *v, where is the density and v the speed
of sound. So for our duct with cross sectional area A, provided that the
wave is strictly one dimensional and travelling in one direction, the
acoustic volume flow is just U = Au
For this very special case, we define the characteristic acoustic
impedance Z0, where
Z0 = p/U = p/Au = z/A

So Z0 = v/A

5. Sound Beam Characteristics
5.1. Intensity variations

It is convenient to define the beam 'edge' as the point, across the beam,
where the intensity of sound has fallen to one half, or sometimes one
tenth of the intensity at the center of the beam. Whenever possible we
use the Far Field in ultrasonic testing, the near field usually being
accommodated within the Perspex shoe of the probe.

Figure 20: Beam intensity variation

5.2. Dead zone; Near zone; Far zone

5.2.1. Dead zone

The Dead Zone is a zone where it is not possible to detect defects. Due
to imperfect damping of the crystals some waves will interfere with the
returning waves. This problem can be overcome by using twin crystals,
one transmitting, and one receiving. The higher the probe frequency the
shorter the Dead Zone.

Figure 20: Dead zone representation

5.2.2. Near zone

The Near Field is an area of 'turbulence' and varying sound intensity.

Due to the effect of interference in the near field the signal height from
the same size of defect may increase when it is positioned further away
from the crystal. Similarly, small defects may be completely

5.2.3. Far zone

In the Far Field the beam diverges and the signal height from the same
size of defect decreases in relation to the distance in accordance with
the inverse square law.

Figure 21: The ultrasonic beam profile

It can be seen from the formula, (Figure 21) that by increasing the probe
diameter or increasing the frequency (shorter wavelength), the solid
angle of the beam will decrease.

5.3. Probe diameter and frequency effect

Most transducers use a piezoelectric element. When piezoelectric

ceramics were introduced, they soon became the dominant material for
transducers due to their properties and their ease of manufacture into a
variety of shapes and sizes. The first piezo-ceramic in general use was
barium titanate and that was followed during the 1960s by lead
zirconate titanate (Pb(Zr,Ti)O3,
PZT) compositions, which is now the most commonly employed
ceramic for making transducers.
For ferroelectric materials the piezoelectric effect takes place only
below the Curie temperature, for barium titanate it is 110 C, for PZT
320 C.
To compare different piezoelectric materials, it is popular to compare
everything to quartz. A basic conflict is given through the fact that for
the maximisation of the transmission other crystal properties are
relevant than for the maximisation of the receiving properties.
Sometimes it can be of use to choose one material for the transmitter
and another material for the receiver.
The choice of the transducer material has also to include a consideration
of the load (immersion medium, wedge or delay line material).
The damping is done by a backing, usually a highly attenuating dense
material that is used to control the vibration of the transducer by
absorbing the energy radiation from the back face of the active element.
When the acoustic impedance of the backing matches the acoustic
impedance of the active element, the result will be a heavily damped

transducer that displays good range resolution. If there is a mismatch in
acoustic impedance more sound energy will be reflected forward into
the test material.
The frequency f depends on the thickness d of the transducer crystal and
the sound velocity v of the transducer material. Transducers with higher
frequency are more complicated to produce and they are therefore more
Transducers can be used as transmitter or as sensor alternatively or as
both of them intermittently. Probes with only one transducer are also
called transceivers.

Figure 22: Various piezoelectric crystals

The basic purpose of the transducer wear plate is to protect the
transducer element from the testing environment. For immersion, angle
beam and delay line transducers the wear plate has the additional
purpose of an acoustic transformer between the high acoustic
impedance of the active element and the water, the wedge or the delay
line all of which are of lower acoustic impedance. This is accomplished
by selecting a matching layer that is wavelengths thick and of the
desired acoustic impedance. The choice of the wear surface thickness

is based upon the idea of superposition that allows waves generated by
the active element to be in phase with the wave reverberating in the
matching layer. Not properly designed wear plates result in disruptions
in the wave front.
Piezo-composite materials usually have a structure called 1-3, where
the piezoelectric rods are embedded in a polymer matrix by a dice-and-
fill technique. The ceramic and the resin are chosen according to the
characteristics required for the composite material. The geometry of the
microstructure itself can be adapted. One of the characteristics of a 1-3
structure is that the percentage of the ceramic can be varied by
modifying the size of the rods and their spacing.
The designation simply codes the type of composite: piezoelectric
material hits the surface in one direction; the resin does so in three.
The height of the ceramic rods long compared to their lateral
dimensions favor their vibration according to the thickness mode to
the detriment of the radial mode. This results in improved electro-
acoustic efficiency that gives the sensor a high level of sensitivity and
a high signal/noise ratio. In addition, the natural damping of composite
materials allows a relative bandwidth of 60% to 90% to be obtained
while retaining a very good level of sensitivity. The optimum size of
the rods, not only their length, depends on frequency.
The mechanical properties of the polymers are used to enable the piezo-
composite materials to be shaped for focused transducers or such that
are adapted to the surface.

6. Angular Incidence
6.1. Reflection

If an acoustic wave meets an interface of two materials with different

impedances (impedance mismatch) a part of the energy is reflected
while the other part is transmitted. For perpendicular incidence the
reflection coefficient R and transmission coefficient T in terms of
pressure are defined as
Zt Zi
Zt + Zi
2 Zt
Zt + Zi

Zi and Zt are the acoustic impedances for the incident and the
transmitting material, respectively. Clearly, the transmission coefficient
is always positive, the reflection coefficient, however, can be positive
or negative. A change of sign corresponds to a phase change of the
reflected wave.

Figure 23: transmission and reflection coefficients variations

6.2. Refraction

Refraction is a change of beam direction at a boundary two media in

which ultrasound travels at different velocities. It is caused by a change
of wavelength as the ultrasound crosses from the first medium to the
second while the frequency remains unchanged. We recall that:
Velocity= frequency x wavelength
Therefore. When velocity changes but frequency remains the same, the
wavelength must undergo change.

Figure 24: Phenomenon of refraction

The refraction occurs when the angle of incidence at the boundary is
zero. In the case of normal incidence, part of the beam energy is
reflected directly backwards, and the remaining energy is transmitted
into the second medium without directional change. At any other angle
of incidence, the transmitted beam is deviated from the original
direction of the incident beam, either towards or away from the normal,
depending on the relative velocities of ultrasound in the two media.

6.3. Mode conversion

When an ultrasonic wave obliquely impinges on an interface between

two media as shown in Fig.3, several things happen depending on the
incident angle of the wave as well as the material properties of the two
media. One of important things is refraction in which a transmitted
wave has a different angle from the incident. The refraction is basically
caused by the velocity difference on either side of the interface. The
refraction angle can be calculated from Snells law if the velocities of
the two media and the incidence angle are known.
Another important phenomenon is mode conversion that is a generation
of one type of wave from another type in refraction as shown in Fig. 3.
For example, a longitudinal wave incident on an interface between
liquid and solid is transmitted partially as a refracted longitudinal wave
and partially as a mode converted shear wave in the solid. Mode
conversion can also take place on reflection if the liquid shown in Fig.
3 is a solid. It is noted that any types of waves can be converted to

another type, e.g. from a shear wave to a longitudinal wave, and from a
longitudinal wave to a surface wave. The angles of reflection and/or
refraction by mode conversion can be calculated from Snells law.
Figure 26 shows a simulation result for refraction and mode conversion,
calculated by a finite difference method. We can see that an incident
plane wave (longitudinal wave) of 10 in water is refracted at the
refraction angle of 43 in steel and simultaneously converted to shear
wave at refraction angle of 22.

Figure 25: Schematics of reflection, refraction and mode conversion at an

oblique interface.

Figure 26: Simulation result for refraction and mode conversion.

6.4. Snell's Law

Snell's law (also known as the SnellDescartes law and the law of
refraction) is a formula used to describe the relationship between
the angles of incidence and refraction, when referring to light or
other waves passing through a boundary between two different isotropic
media, such as water, glass and air.
In optics, the law is used in ray tracing to compute the angles of
incidence or refraction, and in experimental optics to find the refractive
index of a material. The law is also satisfied in metamaterials, which
allow light to be bent "backward" at a negative angle of refraction with
a negative refractive index.
Although named after Dutch astronomer Willebrord Snellius (1580
1626), the law was first accurately described by the scientist Ibn Sahlat
the Baghdad court in 984. In the manuscript On Burning Mirrors and
Lenses, Sahl used the law to derive lens shapes that focus light with no
geometric aberrations.
Snell's law states that the ratio of the sines of the angles of incidence
and refraction is equivalent to the ratio of phase velocities in the two
media, or equivalent to the reciprocal of the ratio of the indices of

With each as the angle measured from the normal of the boundary, as
the velocity of light in the respective medium (SI units are meters per

second, or m/s) and as the refractive index (which is unitless) of the
respective medium.
The law follows from Fermat's principle of least time, which in turn
follows from the propagation of light as waves.
Snell's law is used to determine the direction of light rays through
refractive media with varying indices of refraction. The indices of
refraction of the media, labeled , and so on, are used to represent
the factor by which a light ray's speed decreases when traveling through
a refractive medium, such as glass or water, as opposed to its velocity
in a vacuum.
As light passes the border between media, depending upon the relative
refractive indices of the two media, the light will either be refracted to
a lesser angle, or a greater one. These angles are measured with respect
to the normal line, represented perpendicular to the boundary. In the
case of light traveling from air into water, light would be refracted
towards the normal line, because the light is slowed down in water; light
traveling from water to air would refract away from the normal line.
Refraction between two surfaces is also referred to
as reversible because if all conditions were identical, the angles would
be the same for light propagating in the opposite direction.
Snell's law is generally true only for isotropic or specular media (such
as glass). In anisotropic media such as some crystals, birefringence may
split the refracted ray into two rays, the ordinary or o-ray which follows
Snell's law, and the other extraordinary or e-ray which may not be co-
planar with the incident ray.

When the light or other wave involved is monochromatic, that is, of a
single frequency, Snell's law can also be expressed in terms of a ratio
of wavelengths in the two media, 1and 2:
Example 1:
Suppose you wish to calculate the refracted angle within a material
when you know the incident angle (20), incident material velocity
(2330 m/s) and refracted material velocity (5960 m/s):
A1 = 20
V1 = 2330 m/s
A2 = we dont know!
V2 = 5960 m/s
Substituting these figures into the equation above gives us:

We cross multiply the fractions to give us

6.5. Critical angles

When the ultrasonic wave passes from one medium (material) to

another it changes speed. This is because the speed of a wave is
determined by the medium through which it is passing.
When the wave speeds up as it passes from one material to another, the
angle of refraction is bigger than the angle of incidence.
For example, this happens when the wave passes from water to
aluminum or from glass to water.

Figure 27: A wave incident on a water-air interface.

Angle of incidence is the angle between an incident wave and the
Angle of refraction is the angle between a refracted wave and the

First Critical Angle

Before the angle of incidence reaches the first critical angle, both
longitudinal and shear waves exist in the part being inspected. The first
critical angle is said to have been reached when the longitudinal wave
no longer exists within the part, that is, when the longitudinal wave is
refracted to greater or equal than 90, leaving only a shear wave
remaining in the part.

Second Critical Angle

The second critical angle occurs when the angle of incidence is at such
an angle that the remain shear wave within the part is refracted out of
the part. At this angle, when the refracted shear wave is at 90 a surface
wave is created on the part surface.
Beam angles should always be plotted using the appropriate industry
standard, however, knowing the effect of velocity and angle on
refraction will always benefit an NDT technician when working with
angle inspection or the immersion technique.

7. Ultrasonic Inspection Techniques
7.1. Through transmission

Through-transmission ultrasonic testing (UT) is used for detection,

verification, sizing, and growth rate monitoring of cracks in piping,
vessels, cylindrical shapes, and sometimes noncylindrical shapes.
Through-transmission UT is a two transducer technique in a pitch-catch
arrangement. While there are many types of UT techniques, because of
the wide variety of component shapes, sizes, and orientations it is
sometimes valuable to have an alternative technique for verification,
such as through-transmission.
Through-transmission UT is most widely known as a method of
inspection in automated immersion testing for detection of laminars in
steel or disbanding in composite materials where two opposite and
parallel surfaces can be used for scanning Fig. 27.
The through-transmission UT discussed in this article is done manually
from external cylindrical surfaces such as the outside of a pipe, vessel,
valve, or casting. There are many possible arrangements for sending
and receiving search units. One typical arrangement uses two
transducers radially oriented to each other on a heavy-wall pipe Fig.
In automated immersion testing, the ultrasonic instruments have
settings for pulse-echo and dual just as conventional flaw detectors do.
The immersion instruments also have a setting for through-

transmission. Conventional flaw detectors usually dont have a setting
for through-transmission, but the dual setting can be used. The only
difference is that when the dual setting is used on a conventional flaw
detector for through-transmission testing, the sound path distance
indicated by the instrument must be doubled Fig.29. It is often
valuable to have an additional technique for verifying the suspected
length or depth of a crack. Three examples are described here.

Figure 27 Examples of ultrasonic through-transmission testing:

(A) Thick steel plate is shown with no laminations present to block the
sound traveling from the sender to the receiver, resulting in an

indication brought to 100% full screen height (FSH); (B) the same
sample plate, but there is a large midwall lamination present that blocks
all of the sound from being transmitted, resulting in no echo on the
screen; (C) the transducer pair is centered over the edge of the large
lamination and half of the original sound is transmitted, resulting in a
50% FSH indication.

Figure 28: through-transmission Setup

(A) Example of a simple setup for through-transmission testing using
angled shear waves on part of a pipe with no interference. All of the
sound is transmitted, resulting in a 100%

FSH indication; (B) a different location where there is a deep inside
connected axial crack that blocks all of the sound; (C) the angle beam
transducers are centered at the edge of the crack and half the sound is
transmitted, resulting in a 50% FSH indication.

Figure 30: When a conventional UT flaw detector is used for through-

transmission testing, and there is no throughtransmission option in
the instrument setup menu, dual can be used instead. If dual is used,
the measured soundpath will be half of the true soundpath distance
because the instrument is calculating a round-trip distance rather than
the actual one-way trip. (A) Dual element staight beam transducer; (B)
through transmission travel time is the same even though the material
is twice as thick.

Example 1: Radial cracks in a small-diameter branch bore hole in a
heavy-walled pipe.
A heavy-walled, high-energy pipe in a fossil-fuel power plant had a
small-diameter branch connection that leaked and was repeatedly seal
welded in a series of temporary repairs. The leaks were at the outside
edges of the fillet weld joining the branch and the main pipe Fig. 31.
After the branch was cut off flush to the main pipe surface, the source
of the leak was found to be a series of radial cracks around the bore hole
that extended down to the inside of the main high-energy pipe Fig.
Engineers planning repairs were especially interested in knowing the
lengths of the cracks inside the main pipe at the upstream and
downstream orientations of the bore hole the 12 oclock and 6
oclock orientations. This would be an important factor in planning for
removal of all the cracks by boring a new, larger-diameter drilled hole
centered on the old bore hole.
The lengths of the cracks inside the main pipe at the upstream and
downstream orientations were estimated with conventional shear wave
and then verified with through-transmission
UT. The probe separation distance and the search unit angles chosen
were based on the size and schedule of the main pipe. A full-size sketch
was made, and distances and angles were measured directly from the
sketch Fig. 33.

Figure 31 The high-energy branch connection shown here had a
recurring series of leaks. A number of temporary repairs had been made,
which included the addition of a fitting to make the seal welded fillet
weld a larger diameter in an attempt to seal off the leak. As the cracks
grew, new leaks appeared.

Figure 32 After removal of the branch connection shown in Fig. 4, the

outside surface of the pipe shows a series of radial cracks that continue
down the bore hole all the way to the inside of the main high-energy

pipe. The maximum length of the radial cracks at the upstream and
downstream orientations (12 oclock and 6 oclock) was 0.85 in. long
at the outside surface. Through-transmission UT was used to verify the
cracks axial length at the inside surface.

Figure 33 The sending and receiving transducers are separated to a

position where the sound path travels close to the inside of the main
pipe wall as shown in Section A-A. The transducers are then moved in
tandem together up the pipe until half the sound is blocked by the crack
from the bore hole as shown in Section B-B.

Example 2: Heater channel head outlet penetration crack.

A vertically oriented heater had inlet and outlet penetrations in the
heater channel head Fig. 34.
The outlet nozzle had a crack where the outlet penetration meets the
inside of the channel head. When there was access to the inside of the

channel head, the crack lengths could be measured at the inside
surfaces Fig. 35.
It was difficult to ultrasonically measure the subsurface depth of
cracking from the inside because all the surfaces were concave. It was
also difficult to ultrasonically measure the crack depth from the outside
of the heater with conventional techniques because of the curved
surfaces, the heavy-walled thickness of the components, and the fillet
weld around the outside of the outlet nozzle.
A full-size sketch was made of the cross section at the penetration.
Scan lines were established for through-transmission testing at a series
of probe separations to measure the location of the edge of the crack at
various depths. These measurements were precisely measured and
documented. During later outages, there was no scheduled access to the
inside of the heater to look for and measure crack growth. Through-
transmission UT was repeated from the outside and the measurements
did not change, indicating that the crack had not grown Fig. 37.

Figure 34: vertically oriented heater outlet pipe.

Figure 35 View of red dry powder magnetic particle indications of the
crack during access to the inside of the heater channel head. A view of
the crack looking down the outlet; B view of the crack inside the
channel head.

Figure 37 Four pairs of scan lines were set up on the outside of the

channel head for four pairs of through-transmission scans. The

elevations of each scan where the transmission dropped from 100% to
50% FSH was recorded as the boundary edge of the crack.
Example 3: Mud drum penetration repair weld crack sizing.

A large power boiler had cracks around the outside edges of most of the
large-diameter penetrations on the inside of the mud drums. Many
ultrasonic techniques were used and cracks were estimated to be
shallow, probably less than 0.25 in. deep. Some of the cracks were at
old repair welds that visually looked severe, as if they could be quite
deep. The cracks were wide open and had longitudinal and transverse
orientations Fig. 38.
It was suggested that it would be reassuring if another technique could
be used to verify the shallowness of those cracks.
Through-transmission was used as an additional technique for
verification. Full-size sketches were developed for the section at the
worst-looking cracks Fig. 39.
A pitch-catch through-transmission setup was chosen using a
0-deg straight beam search unit as the sender from the inside of the mud
drums penetrating pipe, the crossover pipe. The other search unit was
a 45-deg L-wave used on the outside surface of the mud drum head as
the receiver. Scan patterns were drawn on the inside and outside of the
mud drum Fig. 40.
The location of the edge of the cracks was verified with through-
transmission testing. The crack edge was located as in the previous
examples where the amplitude of the transmitted signal was 50% of the
sound transmitted in an unflawed area.
Through-transmission testing verified that the cracks at the 3 oclock
orientation were close to 0.5 in. deep.

Figure 38: Cracks at the weld toe of a large penetration into a mud drum
of a power boiler.

Figure 39: Mud drum setup utilized a 0-deg straight beam probe from
inside the crossover pipe, and a 45-deg L-wave transducer from
outside the mud drum head.

Figure 40: (A) Scan lines drawn on the outside of the mud drum; (B)
scan lines drawn on the inside of the mud drum crossover pipe.

7.2. Pulse echo

Contact Scanning Using Compression Waves. Compression wave

pulse-echo techniques usually employ, either a single or dual crystal
transducer directing ultrasonic energy perpendicular or near
perpendicular to the scanning surface. These techniques are often
known as straight beam testing techniques. There are some special
techniques using compression waves at steeper angles used, for
instance, in detecting cracks in ferrous materials under stainless steel
cladding and for time of flight diffraction (ToFD) testing, but these will
be covered separately.
In the standard compression wave techniques, reflections from the back
wall and discontinuities are used to assess the suitability of a component
for service. In order to obtain a reflection, it is necessary for the reflector
to be orientated so that part of its surface is parallel to the scanning
surface, in other words, normal to the beam. Laminar discontinuities
and volumetric discontinuities like gas pores and nonmetallic inclusions

are all suitably orientated. Discontinuities that are angled to the
scanning surface may either not reflect at all or may reflect the sound
away from the transducer.
Figure 41a shows a single crystal compression wave transducer set up
for thickness measurement of a metal part, and Figure 41b shows the
corresponding ultrasonic A-scan trace in which the time base has been
calibrated for 25 mm full scale.
The initial pulse appears at zero on the left of the trace and the back
reflection signal appears three-quarters along the time base, indicating
a sample thickness of 18.75 mm.
Thickness gauging is one of the simplest examples of compression
wave testing. Notice that the initial pulse occupies almost a quarter of
the time base so that 6 mm of metal path are obscured. This obstructed
area is known as the dead zone.
Figure 42a shows a dual element transducer set up for thickness
measurement on a sample that is 4 mm thick. Figure 42b shows the trace
for this sample with the time base again calibrated for 25 mm. Notice
that the selection of dual operation of the flaw detector isolates the
transmitter from the receiver circuit, so there is no initial pulse and,
therefore, no dead zone. The first back reflection signal (also called
back wall echo or
BWE) shows at 4 mm on the time base. Notice also that multiples of
the BWE appear at 8, 12, 16, 20, and 24 mm on the time base.

One way in which the reading accuracy can be improved is to take a
reading from a multiple and divide the result by the number of passes
corresponding to that multiple.
Take, for example, the reading at 24 mm (which is the sixth signal).
Divide 24 by 6 and the answer is 4 mm. However, suppose the actual
thickness was 4.15 mm. It would be difficult to read that accurately on
the first back reflection signal, but the sixth signal would have been
judged at 24.9. This number divided by 6 equals 4.15 mm. In practice,
this sort of accuracy could only be expected on samples with very
smooth scanning and back wall surfaces. For thickness measurement in
the field on corroded surfaces, errors of up to 0.5 mm are typical.
Figure 42c illustrates an actual thickness gage being used to read the
thickness of a plate that is corroded.
Figure 43a shows a single element transducer set up to detect
laminations in steel plate 20 mm thick. The lamination is smaller than
the beam. Notice in Figure 43b that the position of the lamination echo
occurs on the screen at 11 mm below the scanning surface and the back
reflection echo indicates a 20 mm thickness. The back reflection echo
is reduced in amplitude because part of the beam is reflected by the
lamination. If the lamination had been bigger than the beam, there
would be no back reflection echo. If, on the other hand, the lamination
had been smaller, the signal from the lamination would have been
smaller in amplitude and the back reflection echo bigger. It might have
been necessary to increase the equipment gain to see the lamination at
all. In the extreme case, the lamination might be so small that it could

not be detected at the test frequency or gain used. Therefore, the
detection of suitably orientated discontinuities is dependent on the size
of the discontinuity, the test frequency, and the gain used. Higher
frequencies can detect smaller reflectors due to their shorter
It must be remembered that attenuation of the ultrasonic beam also has
an effect on detection.
As the energy penetrates deeper into the material, it weakens.
Eventually, the beam is too weak to allow small echoes to get back to
the receiver. The higher the test frequency, the greater the attenuation
and the less penetration that can be achieved. The material and its grain
structure also affect attenuation. The practitioner must balance the
conflicting requirements of discontinuity size to be detected, material
properties, and ultrasonic beam properties in the choice of transducer
and test frequency.
Figures 44a and b show two discontinuities unfavorably oriented to the
sound beam. The inclined discontinuity in Figure 7-65a is reflecting the
energy away from the transducer, but also obscuring the back wall. The
result would be no signals visible on the display, but there would be a
reduction in the back reflection. In Figure 44b, the vertical crack allows
the sound to pass on either side without reflecting but would give a
normal back wall echo. The possible orientation of the discontinuity
must also be considered in devising a test procedure.
Finally, a test technique for the detection of laminations in thin plate is
illustrated in

Figures 45a, b, and c. The technique is called the multiple echo
technique for reasons that are obvious from Figures 7-66b and c. The
time base has been calibrated for 50 mm for a sample 3 mm thick. With
the transducer in position 1 (sound material), the multiple echo pattern
stretches to 30 mm (14 signals) as shown in Figure 7-66b. With the
transducer in position 2, over the lamination, the multiple echo pattern
only stretches to 15 mm, as can be noted in Figure 7-66c. This is
because the echoes are closer together; so close, in fact, that they
interfere with each other, leaving no clear time base in between echoes.
Contact Scanning Using Angle Beam Shear Waves. If the possible
orientation of any discontinuity is considered to be unfavorable to a
beam perpendicular to the scanning surface, it will be necessary to tilt
the beam to an appropriate angle to ensure that the beam strikes the
discontinuity as near perpendicular as possible. For small angles (up to
about 10 in the test material), compression waves may be used.
However, for larger angles, mode conversion to shear wave energy
makes the use of compression waves alone impossible.
It therefore becomes necessary to increase the incident angle beyond
the first critical angle, leaving only a shear wave in the part.
The lowest practical angle for testing with a shear wave alone is about
35 refracted shear wave angle. This does not mean that testing at angles
between 10 and 35 is impossible.
However, if an angle in this range needs to be used, the practitioner
must consider carefully the geometry of the part. The next decision is
whether to use the compression wave or the simultaneous shear wave,

depending on what happens to the unwanted mode. Regular off the shelf
transducers are either straight beam compression wave or shear wave
angle transducers of 35 to 70.
The common or preferred angles available in ultrasonics for shear
wave testing are 45, 60, and 70, although other angles can be made
to order. The angles marked on a shear wave transducer are for steel,
unless followed by an identifying letter for other materials.
For instance, 45Al would denote a 45 shear wave angle transducer
for aluminum.

Figure 41: Thickness measurement

Figure 42a and 42b: Thickness measurement

Figure 42c: Thickness gauge on corroded plate

Figure 43: Perpendicular reflector

Figure 44: Adverse reflector Figure 45: Lamination detection

7.3. Angle beam

The angle beam technique is used to transmit ultrasonic waves in to a

test specimen at a predetermined angle to the test surface. According to
the angle selected, the wave modes produced in the test specimen may
be mixed longitudinal and transverse, transverse only, or surface wave
modes. Usually, transverse wave probes are used in angle beam testing.
Transverse waves at various angles of refraction between 35 and 80
are used to locate defects whose orientation is not suitable for detection
by normal beam techniques.

Calculation of Various Distances for Angle Beam Probes

Half Skip and Full Skip Distances and Beam Path Lengths
Figure 46 defines the half-skip-distance (BSD), fullskip distance (FSD),
half-skip-beam-path-length (HSBPL) and full-skip-beam-path-length
(FSBPL) for an angle beam probe of refraction angle.

Figure 46: BSD FSD

Distance AB = Half - Skip - Distance (HSD)

Distance AC = Full - Skip - Distance (FSD)
Distance AD = Half - Skip - Beam - Path - Length (HSBPL)
Distance AD + DC = Full-Skip-Bearn - Path - Length (FSBPL)
The relations used to calculate HSD, FSD, HSBPL and FSBPL for a
specimen of thickness t, are given below:
HSD = t * tan
FSD = 2 * t * tan
HSBPL = t/cos
FSBPL = 2*t/cos
If the actual probe angle is exactly equal to the nominal probe angle
then these distances can be calculated by the following formula:
Distance required = F * t

Where F is the appropriate factor from Table 3.

F probe angle factor 35o 45o 60o 70o 80o
HSD factor 0.7 1.0 1.73 2.75 5.67
FSD factor 1.4 2.0 3.45 5.49 11.34
HSBPL factor 1.22 1.41 2.0 2.92 5.76
FSBPL factor 2.44 2.83 4.0 5.85 11.52

Table 3: Probe factor for different angles

Calculation of Maximum Penetration Thickness for Thick Wall Pipes

The normal range of transverse wave angle beam probes (45 , 60 & 70),
when used on thick wall pipe may not penetrate to the bore of the pipe,

but cut across to the outside surface again, as shown in Figure 47 and
miss the defect.

Figure 47

For a given probe angle, the maximum wall thickness of a pipe that
allows the center of the beam to reach the bore of the pipe can be
calculated from the following formula:
(1 )
T: maximum wall thickness.
D: Outer diameter (OD) of the pipe
: probe angle
The previous Equation can be rewritten to determine the best angle for
a given wall thickness as:
= Sin-1 (1 - (2t/d))
For convenience the equation above can be simplified for standard
angle probes as

Where f is the probe factor given in Table 4.
Probe angle () 35o 45o 60o 70o 80o
Probe factor (f) 0.213 0.146 0.067 0.030 0.0076

Table 4: Probe factor

Table 5 gives values of maximum wall thickness for various pipe sizes
and probe angles.
Probe angle 60o

Pipe O.D 35o 45o Maximum wall

4 (100 mm) 21.3 mm 14.6 mm 6.7 mm
6 (150 mm) 31.95 mm 21.9 mm 10.05 mm
8 (200 mm) 42.6 mm 29.2 mm 13.4 mm
10 (250 mm) 53.25 mm 36.5 mm 16.75 mm
12 (300 mm) 63.9 mm 43.8 mm 20.1 mm
14 (350 mm) 74.55 mm 51.1 mm 23.45 mm
16 (400 mm) 85.2 mm 58.4 mm 26.8 mm
18 (450 mm) 95.85 mm 65.7 mm 30.15 mm
20 (500 mm) 106.5 mm 73.0 mm 33.5 mm

Table 4: Maximum wall thickness

7.4. Contact testing
7.4.1. Knowledge Normal Beam Inspection

Pulse-echo ultrasonic measurements can determine the location of a

discontinuity in a part or structure by accurately measuring the time
required for a short ultrasonic pulse generated by a transducer to travel
through a thickness of material, reflect from the back or the surface of
a discontinuity, and be returned to the transducer. In most applications,
this time interval is a few microseconds or less. The two-way transit
time measured is divided by two to account for the down-and-back
travel path and multiplied by the velocity of sound in the test material.
The result is expressed in the well-known relationship:
vt 2d
= =
2 t
Where d is the distance from the surface to the discontinuity in the test
piece, v is the velocity of sound waves in the material, and t is the
measured round-trip transit time.

Figure 48

Figure 49

Figure 50

Precision ultrasonic thickness gages usually operate at frequencies

between 500 kHz and 100 MHz, by means of piezoelectric transducers
that generate bursts of sound waves when excited by electrical pulses.
A wide variety of transducers with various acoustic characteristics have
been developed to meet the needs of industrial applications. Typically,
1. Lower frequencies are used to optimize penetration when measuring
thick, highly attenuating or highly scattering materials,
2. While higher frequencies will be recommended to optimize
resolution in thinner, non-attenuating, non-scattering materials.
In thickness gauging, ultrasonic techniques permit quick and reliable
measurement of thickness without requiring access to both sides of a
Accuracy's as high as 1 micron or 0.0001 inch can be achieved in
some applications. It is possible to measure most engineering materials
ultrasonically, including metals, plastic, ceramics, composites, epoxies,
and glass as well as liquid levels and the thickness of certain biological

specimens. On-line or in-process measurement of extruded plastics or
rolled metal often is possible, as is measurements of single layers or
coatings in multilayer materials. Modern handheld gages are simple to
use and very reliable. Angle Beams

Angle Beam Transducers and wedges are typically used to introduce a

refracted shear wave into the test material. An angled sound path allows
the sound beam to come in from the side, thereby improving
detectability of flaws in and around welded areas.

Figure 51

= Angle of reflection, T=Material thickness, S= Sound path,

Surface distance = Sin * S, Depth= Cos * S

Figure 52
Angle Beam Transducers and wedges are typically used to introduce a
refracted shear wave into the test material. The geometry of the sample
below allows the sound beam to be reflected from the back wall to
improve detectability of flaws in and around welded areas.

Figure 53
= Angle of reflection, T=Material thickness, S= Sound path,
Skip = 2(T * Tan), Leg = T/Cos, V Path = 2 * Leg

Figure 54

Figure 55

Why angle beam assemblies are used

Cracks or other discontinuities perpendicular to the surface of a test
piece, or tilted with respect to that surface, are usually invisible with

straight beam test techniques because of their orientation with respect
to the sound beam.
Perpendicular cracks do not reflect any significant amount of sound
energy from a straight beam because the beam is looking at a thin edge
that is much smaller than the wavelength, and tilted cracks may not
reflect any energy back in the direction of the transducer. This situation
can occur in many types of welds, in structural metal parts, and in many
other critical components. An angle beam assembly directs sound
energy into the test piece at a selected angle. A perpendicular crack will
reflect angled sound energy along a path that is commonly referred to
as a corner trap, as seen in the illustration below.

Figure 56

The angled sound beam is highly sensitive to cracks perpendicular to

the far surface of the test piece (first leg test) or, after bouncing off the
far side, to cracks perpendicular to the coupling surface (second leg
test). A variety of specific beam angles and probe positions are used to
accommodate different part geometries and flaw types. In the case of
angled discontinuities, a properly selected angle beam assembly can
direct sound at a favorable angle for reflection back to the transducer.

Figure 57

There are two advantages to designing common angle beams to take

advantage of this mode conversion phenomenon:
(1) First, energy transfer is more efficient at the incident angles that
generate shear waves in steel and similar materials.
(2) Second, minimum flaw size resolution is improved through the use
of shear waves, since at a given frequency, the wavelength of a shear
wave is approximately 60% the wavelength of a comparable
longitudinal wave, and minimum flaw size resolution increases as the
wavelength of a sound beam gets smaller.

Flaw location and echo display

Figure 58

Figure 59

Figure 60

Figure 61

Figure 62

Figure 63

Figure 64

Figure 65

Figure 66

Figure 67

Figure 68

Figure 69

Selecting the right angle beam assembly
The parameters that affect angle beam performance include not only the
(1) Beam angle generated by the wedge, but also (2) transducer
frequency and (3) element size. The optimum beam angle will generally
be governed by the geometry of the test piece and the orientation of the
discontinuities that the test is intended to find. Transducer frequency
affects penetration and flaw resolution:
1. As frequency increases, the distance the sound wave will travel in a
given material decreases, but resolution of small discontinuities
2. As frequency decreases, the distance the sound wave will travel
increases but the minimum detectable flaw size will become larger.
3. Similarly, larger element sizes may decrease inspection time by
increasing coverage area, but the reflected echo amplitude from small
discontinuities will decrease. Smaller element sizes will increase
reflection amplitude from small discontinuities, but the inspection may
take longer because the smaller beam covers less area.
These conflicting factors must be balanced in any given application,
based on specific test requirements.

Figure 70

The IIW recommends the use of a contoured wedge whenever the gap
between the wedge and the test surface exceeds 0.5 mm (approximately
0.020 in.). Under this guideline, a contoured wedge should be used
whenever part radius is less than the square of a wedge dimension
(length or width) divided by four:

Figure 71
R = radius of test surface

W = width of wedge if testing in axial orientation, length of wedge if
testing in circumferential orientation.
Of course switching to a small wedge, if possible within the parameters
of inspection requirements, will improve coupling on curved surfaces.
As a practical matter, contouring should be considered whenever signal
strength diminishes or couplant noise increases to a point where the
reliability of an inspection is impaired.

Focused dual element angle beams

The vast majority of angle beam assemblies use single element,
unfocused transducers. However, in some tests involving highly
attenuating or scattering materials such as coarse grain cast stainless
steel, focused dual element angle beams are useful. Because they have
separate transmitting and receiving elements, dual element transducers
can typically be driven at higher excitation energies without noise
problems associated with ringdown or wedge noise. Focusing permits
a higher concentration of sound energy at a selected depth within the
test piece, increasing sensitivity to discontinuities in that region.

Figure 72

High temperature wedges

Standard angle beam assemblies are designed for use at normal
environmental temperatures only. For situations where metal must be
inspeced at elevated temperature, special high temperature wedges are
available. Some of these wedges will tolerate brief contact with surfaces
as hot as 480 C or 900 F. However, it is important to note that high
temperature wedges require special attention with regard to the sound
path they generate. With any high temperature wedge, sound velocity
in the wedge material will decrease as it heats up, and thus the refracted
angle in metals will increase as the wedge heats up. If this is of concern
in a given test, refracted angle should be verified at actual operating
temperature. As a practical matter, thermal variations during testing will
often make precise determination of the actual refracted angle difficult.
Surfaces as hot as 480C / 900F

105 Automated Scanning

Ultrasonic scanning systems are used for automated data acquisition

and imaging. They typically integrate a ultrasonic instrumentation, a
scanning bridge, and computer controls. The signal strength and/or the
time-of-flight of the signal is measured for every point in the scan plan.
The value of the data is plotted using colors or shades of gray to produce
detailed images of the surface or internal features of a component.
Systems are usually capable of displaying the data in A-, B- and C-scan
modes simultaneously. With any Ultrasonic scanning system there are
two factors to consider:
How to generate and receive the ultrasound.
How to scan the transducer(s) with respect to the part being inspected. Precision Velocity Measurements

Changes in ultrasonic wave propagation speed, along with energy

losses, from interactions with a materials microstructures are often used
to nondestructively gain information about a material's properties.
Measurements of sound velocity and ultrasonic wave attenuation can
be related to the elastic properties that can be used to characterize the
texture of polycrystalline metals. These measurements enable industry
to replace destructive microscopic inspections with nondestructive

Of interest in velocity measurements are longitudinal wave, which
propagate in gases, liquids, and solids. In solids, also of interest are
transverse (shear) waves. The longitudinal velocity is independent of
sample geometry when the dimensions at right angles to the beam are
large compared to the beam area and wavelength. The transverse
velocity is affected little by the physical dimensions of the sample. Pulse-Echo and Pulse-Echo-Overlap Methods

Rough ultrasonic velocity measurements are as simple as measuring the

time it takes for a pulse of ultrasound to travel from one transducer to
another (pitch-catch) or return to the same transducer (pulse-echo).
Another method is to compare the phase of the detected sound wave
with a reference signal: slight changes in the transducer separation are
seen as slight phase changes, from which the sound velocity can be
calculated. These methods are suitable for estimating acoustic velocity
to about 1 part in 100. Standard practice for measuring velocity in
materials is detailed in ASTM E494.

7.4.2. Pulse Echo Method

Pulse Echo Method: Sound pressure on axis (schematic) for the incident
wave (top) and the wave reflected from a reflector in form a circular
disc (bottom).

Figure 73

Figure 74

Pulse Echo Method- Schematic screen pictures obtained by the pulse-
echo method. (a) Small flaw in sound beam; (b) two small flaws in
sound beam; (c) large flaw in sound beam, smaller second flaw and
back wall masked; (d) large, obliquely orientated flaw, back wall
masked; (e) small flaw but no back wall echo because the axis of the
beam is not incident at right angles on back wall; (f) strong attenuation
of sound beam due to scattering, no echo from flaw or back wall, only

Figure 75

Pulse Echo Method- Multiple echoes in a plate. (a) schematic; (b) actual
screen picture without time or thickness scale; steel plate 50 mm thick,
frequency 4 MHz

Figure 76

Figure 77: Amplitude loss: Inverse Square Law

Figure 78: Influence of Shadow on axial defects

Figure79: Influence of reflector orientation on signal

Figure80: Influence of reflector size on signal

Figure 81: Basic pulse echo testing presentation

Figure 81: Basic pulse echo testing presentation

7.4.3. Pitch-catch methods

Sensitive to near surface defect
Capable of penetrating thicker material due to pitch-catch mode.

It measures only sound energy loss at the receiver, without giving
details information of location. Pitch-Catch Methods- Through Transmission

Through transmission testing uses two search units; one unit is used as
a transmitter and the other unit is used as a receiver, as shown in Figure
With this technique, the ultrasonic beam passes through the test piece
or is attenuated by one or more discontinuities. Total or partial
attenuation of the signal is possible depending on the severity of the
discontinuity. Both transducers must be properly coupled with a liquid
coupling agent to obtain reliable results. As with other techniques using
two search units, greater efficiency may be obtained by using a ceramic
element in the transmitting search unit and a lithium sulfate element in
the receiving unit.

Figure 82: Through transmission presentation Pitch-Catch Methods- Tandem

The tandem method, the examination is normally carried out using

two similar 45angle probes, one probe operating as the transmitter and
the other probe as receiver. For wall thicknesses greater than
approximately 160 mm, probes with different transducer sizes are
preferred in order to ensure approximately the same beam diameters in
the examination zone.
The use of probe angles other than 45 may be necessary to comply
with particular geometrical conditions. Probe angles that give rise to
mode conversions shall be avoided. The probes are located in a line
with their acoustic axis in the same direction. In this way the sound
beam from the rear probe will, after reflection from the opposite

surface, intersect the sound beam from the front probe at the center of
the examination zone.
Extract from: EN 583-4 Non-destructive testing - Ultrasonic examination - Part
4: Examination for discontinuities perpendicular to the surface.

Figure 83 shows the relationship between the spacing of the probes (y)
and the examination depth of the cross point (tm) and the height of the
examination zone (tz). When examining objects with plane parallel
surfaces the distance between the probes can be defined using the
following equation:
y = 2 tan (d tm) or 2 tan (bottom depth)

Figure 83: Basic principle of tandem technique

Figure 84: Distance between Transmitter / Receiver Probes

7.5. Immersion testing

Immersion testing techniques are mainly used in the laboratory and for
large installations doing automatic ultrasonic testing. It has the
advantage that uniform couplant conditions are obtained and
longitudinal and transverse waves can be generated with the same probe
simply by changing the incident beam angle.
The three basic techniques used in immersion testing are the immersion
technique, the bubbler technique and the wheel transducer technique.
In the immersion technique both the probe and the test specimen are
immersed in water. The ultrasonic beam is directed through the water
in to the test specimen, using either a normal beam technique (Figure

85a) for generating longitudinal waves or an angle beam technique
(Figure 85b) for generating transverse waves.
When the normal beam technique is being used the water path distance
must always be longer than the distance S in the following equation:

thickness specimen sound velocity in water

Sound velocity in specimen

When the specimen is steel the water path distance must be longer than
1/4 steel thickness otherwise the 1st back wall echo overlaps the 2nd
surface echo and defects near the back wall may not be seen.
In the bubbler or squirter technique, the ultrasonic beam is directed
through a water column in to the test specimen (Figure 86). This
technique is usually used with an automated system for high speed
scanning of plate, sheet, strip, cylindrical forms and other regularly
shaped forms.
The ultrasonic beam is either directed in a perpendicular direction (i.e.
normal direction) to the test specimen to produce longitudinal waves or
is adjusted at an angle to the surface of the test specimen for the
production of transverse waves.
In the wheel transducer technique the ultrasonic beam is projected
through a water-filled tire in to the test specimen. The probe, mounted
on the wheel axle, is held in a fixed position while the wheel and tire
rotate freely.

The wheel may be mounted on a mobile apparatus that runs across the
specimen, or it may be mounted on a stationary fixture, where the
specimen is moved past it (Figure 87 a and b). The position and angle
of the probe mounted on the wheel axle may be constructed to project
normal beams, as shown in Figure 87 a and b or to project angled beams
as shown in Figure 88

Figure 85: Normal beam & angle beam immersion techniques

Figure 86: Bubbler and wheel transducer techniques

Figure 87: stationary and moving wheel transducer

Figure 88: Wheel transducer angular capabilities

8. Ultrasonic Testing Equipment
8.1. Basic pulse echo instrument

The basic electronic instrument used in pulsed ultrasonic testing

contains a source of voltage spikes (to activate the sound source-that is,
the pulser) and a display mechanism that permits interpretation of
received ultrasonic acoustic impulses. Figure 89 shows a block diagram
of the basic unit. The display can be as simple as a digital meter for a
thickness gage or a multidimensional representation of signals over an
extended area of interest.
The timer circuitry triggers the pulser (activates the transducer) and the
sweep generator forces the electron beam within the display to move
horizontally across the screen. Other special circuits triggered as needed
include markers, sweep delays, gates, distance amplitude correction and
other support circuits. Pulse signals from the receiver transducer are
amplified to a level compatible with the display.
The term pulse id used in two contexts in ultrasonic testing. The
electronic system sends an exciting electrical pulse to the transducer
being used to emit the ultrasonic wave. This electrical pulse is usually
a unidirectional spike with a fast rise time. The resulting acoustic wave
packet emitted by the transducer is the ultrasonic pulse with both a
positive and negative excursion. It is characterized by a predominant
central frequency at the transducers natural thickness resonance.

Figure 89: Basic pulse-echo instrument

The received signals are often processed to enhance interpretation with

filters (that limit spurious background noise and smooth the appearance
of the pulse), rectifiers (that change the oscillatory radio frequency
signals to unidirectional video spikes) and clipping circuits (that reject
low level background signals). The final signals are passed on the
vertical displacement circuits of the display unit and produced the time
delayed echo signals interpreted by the operator. This type of display is
commonly referred to as an A-scan (signal amplitude displayed as a
function of time).Most functions are within the control of the operator,
and their collective settings are the setup of the instrument.

Characteristics of the initial ultrasonic, radio frequency pulse (shape

and frequency content) are carried forward throughout the system, to

the test object, back to the transducer the receiver (amplifier), the
gate and display. In essence, the information content of the initial
electrical pulse is modified by each of these items. It is the result of
this collective signal processing that appears on the screen. The
initial pulse may range from 100 to 500 V and have a very short rise

In some systems, the initial pulse may represent a portion of a

sinusoidal oscillation, tuned to correspond to the nature frequency of
the transducer. The sinusoidal driving pulses are needed to help
penetrate highly attenuative materials such as rubber and concrete.

Signals from the receiving transducer (usually in the millivolt range)

maybe too small to be directly sent to the display unit. Both linear
and logarithmic amplifiers are used to raise signal levels needed to
drive the display. These amplifiers, located in the receiver sections
of A-scan units, must be able to produce output signals linearly
related to the input signals and which supply signal processing intend
to assist the operator in interpreting the display signals.

Amplifiers may raise incoming signals to a maximum level,

followed by precision attenuators that decrease the signal strength to
levels that can be positioned on the screen face- capable of changing
amplification ratios in direct response to the gain control.

Discrete attenuators (which have a logarithmic response) are

currently used because of their ease of precise construction and

simple means for altering signal levels beyond the viewing range of
the screen. Their extensive use has made decibel notation a part of
the standard terminology used in describing changes in signal levels,
such as changes in receiver gain and material attenuation.

The ratio of two pulse amplitudes (A2 and A1) can be expressed in
decibel notation (Ndb)

Ndb = log10

8.2. Control functions and uses

Timing and synchronization

The operation of a basic instrument is timed and synchronized by the

so-called timing section, which control the systems pulse repetition
frequency. The timing section also generates the internal sweep rate
signals which determine the separation between the received
ultrasonic signals on the instruments display.

The pulse repetition frequency timing signals are fed directly to a

pulser that drives the ultrasonic transducer through a manually
selectable diplexer. Diplexers are also known as transmit/receive

Following a propagation delay corresponding to the ultrasonic time
of flight between the transducer and an internal reflector, the back
scattered ultrasonic signals are received by the same transducer.
These signals are then directed by the receiver preamplifier.

However before the received signals can be processed and displayed,

additional signal processing steps are needed. Processed signals are
displayed for evaluation by inspectors or automatic detectors. It is
assumed that the travel time is long enough to keep signals of
different transmitter pulses from overlapping.

Receiver gain adjustment

After preamplification to help establish the best electrical signal-to-

noise ratio, the amplitudes of the received signals on the display can
be adjusted using a combination of fixed and variable attenuators.
The overall gain of the amplifier can be selected by switching in two
or three 20 dB gain circuits. Generally, this selection can be
accomplished using controls at the front panel of the instrument.
Receiver gain might be adjusted also through an external controller.

After preamplification, band pass filtering and video detection

(rectification and low pass filtering), the signals are amplified again
by the video amplifier. This amplification is often followed by an
adjustable low pass filter and the output of the filter is then applied
to the vertical axis of the display, as function of time (horizontal axis
of the display). The final detected and filtered signal is called the

video display or A-scan. In some designs, it is possible to display
radiofrequency waveforms directly.

Sweep, signal filtering and display

The horizontal axis of the display device is driven by the weep signal
generated in the systems timing section. Generally, the start of each
sweep signal is delayed with respect to the transmitter pulse or by an
interface trigger. This delay is used to offset the start of the display
to some convenient interface echo.

The amplitude of the displayed signals are determined principally by

the receiver gain and frequency filter settings. They can also be
affected by the low pass filter in detector circuit. In addition, the
setting of the transmitter pulse amplitude and pulse damping controls
can affect the amplitude and the appearance of the displayed
ultrasonic signals.

Signal Gating and threshold selection

Among the essential functions of a basic instrument are the signal

gate and the alarm threshold controls. These functions enable the
operator to isolate a specific portion of the received signal train and
to compare its peak amplitude with a preset threshold level.

The signal gate delay, width parameters and alarm threshold level
typically can be selected from the front panel. To ensure reliable
results, receiver gain levels and the alarm threshold level within the

gate interval should be adjusted before the test using an appropriate
ultrasonic reference standard and an instrument calibration

Pulse repetition frequency

Battery powered discontinuity detectors can be operated at relatively

high pulse repetition frequencies (500 Hz and higher) to ensure a
bright display. Thickness gages can achieve even higher pulse
repetition frequencies. However high repetition frequencies use
more power and so make the instrument less portable. High pulse
repetition frequencies can cause interference of ultrasonic signals
generated by different transmitter pulses, in turn producing
undesirable fluctuations in signal amplitude. Interference must be
avoided because of its detrimental effect on test reliabilities.

In many advanced instruments, fast digital sampling, storage

techniques and advanced display technologies increase display
brightness while reducing power consumption. In these designs,
pulse repetition frequencies can be as low as 40 Hz. Lower
frequencies could result in perceptible flicker and make real time
scanning inadvisable because of wide intervals between adjacent

Pulse amplitude and shape control

Most portable ultrasonic instruments use relatively simple pulse

circuitry. In the twentieth century, spike pulser designs were

common. In the twenty-first century many designs incorporate
square wave pulsers.

If the instrument uses a spike pulser, then the operator may be able
to modify the pulse amplitude by adjusting the energy of the pulse.
Pulse is adjusted by selecting the value of the energy storage
capacitor. In addition, an adjustment of the damping resistor value
may be made to minimize transducer ringing.

If the instrument uses a square wave pulser, the operator is generally

required to adjust pulse width individually for each transducer to
exactly match the frequency characteristics. In addition, the value of
the damping resistor should be adjusted to match the impedance
characteristics. To protect the transducer from the effects of voltage
overdrive, pulser voltages seldom exceed 400V.

Avoidance of receiver saturation

Most ultrasonic testing procedures require the operator to adjust the

gain of the input amplifier and attenuator to ensure that none of the
components in the receiver amplifier chain are in saturation.
Typically, the maximum displayed signal level is adjusted to the
saturation value, about 80 percent of the full display. Such an
adjustment can be made using front panel controls. The overall gain
of typical receiver may be adjustable over a range of 100 dB in
discrete steps of 1, 2, 6 and 10 dB

Signal gate and alarm level settings

The gain adjustment and signal gate functions are important because
they can be used to control accept/reject threshold. If the amplitude
of the signal in a discontinuity gate exceeds a pre-established
threshold, then the discontinuity alarm is activated. The
discontinuity alarm is usually built-in and can be audible or visual.

Operation in pitch catch or through-transmission modes

If the diplexer or transmit/receive switch is set in the open position,

then it is possible to operate in pitch catch or through-transmission
modes. In this configuration, separate transducers are used to
generate and receive the ultrasonic signals.

8.3. Information displays: A scan, B scan, C scan, digital


The A-Scan Method

The ultrasonic A-scan presents one-dimensional data showing the

response along the beam path at a specific location of the test object.
Such scans can produce detailed information about discontinuities in
the scanned material. The depth of discontinuities is indicated by the
time-of-flight as measured from the time base of the display screen.
The size of discontinuities can be estimated from the amplitude of the
reflected signal. The type of discontinuity can be determined by

analysis of the amplitude and phase information. The A-scan method is
the most widely used and can be displayed on most standard ultrasonic

Figure 90: Diagram of pulse echo A-scan system

The B-Scan Method

With the ultrasonic B-scan, the test object is scanned along one axis to
produce a presentation of its cross section. The location along the
scanning path is shown on the X axis and time-of-flight values are

shown along the Y axis. Because a cross section is produced, the B-scan
is not used where large volumes of material must be inspected.
The B-scan is popular for medical diagnosis where cross-sectional
views are very useful. In medical applications, the angular manipulation
of the transducer is monitored to prevent image distortion and the
display is adjusted to account for changes in the beam angle along the
cross section of the examined area.

Figure 91: Diagram of typical ultrasonic B-scan presentation

The C-Scan Method

The ultrasonic C-scan is applied to the test object in a raster pattern and
presents a view of the discontinuity's area as seen from above.
Discontinuity location and size data are available from changes in
amplitude as a function of position. These are displayed on a screen or
recorded on paper. Modern C-scan systems use computers to control
the transducer position and to acquire, display, document and store the
test results. The computer synchronously acquires the digitized position
of the transducer and the associated reflected signal or the value of a
specific ultrasonic parameter. The position can be obtained by various
means, including optical encoders or sonic digitizers.
Computerized C-scan systems can acquire several ultrasonic
parameters as a function of position. In most cases, the parameter is
time of flight or the amplitude of reflection or transmission amplitude
at a certain time range. The parameters are digitized with aid of an
analog-to-digital converter.
In immersion ultrasonic testing, the C-scan systems can scan at speeds
up to 500 mm.s-l (20 in..s-l) or higher. Speeds must be kept at a level
that does not induce water turbulence, which introduces noise and
degrades the reliability of the test.

Figure 92: Diagram of simple ultrasonic C-scan presentation

Multiple transducers can be used in C-scan tests. A multiplexer is used

to sequentially trigger the transducers in a predetermined order during
scanning. As an alternative to mechanical scanning, these transducer
arrays are operated synchronously and their scanning location is
indicated by the cursor position on the computer monitor.
Ultrasonic C-scan systems are large in size and most are limited to on-
site testing conditions. With the increasing availability of inexpensive
microprocessors, scanners have also been used for field applications.

The limitations of this generation of field systems are: (l) high cost, (2)
small scanning area and (3) reliability for testing objects with simple
Crawlers have been developed to perform field scanning of structures.
Current crawlers are tethered to provide power. Air coupled systems
make it possible to test parts of complex geometry.

8.4. Computer enhanced displays

Scientists and engineers have developed a new family of ultrasonic

testing systems based on miniaturized electronic modules. In
combination with a modular designed software architecture and suitable
PC hardware, these new products permit custom configurations for a
wide range of client-specific applications, from simple PC-aided
manual ultrasonic inspections through fully automated inspections
using compact portable systems with up to four channels or very
sophisticated multi-channel systems for the ultrasonic inspection of
heavy components. Highly integrated electronic circuits and the
powerful processing capabilities of todays PC systems allow the
integration of electronic components even for multi-channel systems
into portable computers, thus providing compact and simple to operate
instruments to the ultrasonic inspector in the field.
The inspection software contains modules for setup, examination,
analysis, and reporting. Various database modules provide substantial
information on inspection parameters such as inspection procedure

requirements, component geometry and history, material
characteristics, heat treatment, operating temperature, and pressure.
The integration of the synthetic aperture focusing technique (SAFT)
analysis module provides three-dimensional views of the inspected
zones in various cross-sections. This tool helps the qualified technician
to accurately determine type, location, and size of detected material
discontinuities important for fracture and fatigue mechanics analysis;
for example, for use in the assessment of a component's lifetime.

9. Ultrasonic Reference Blocks
9.1. Calibration Methods

Calibration refers to the act of evaluating and adjusting the precision

and accuracy of measurement equipment. In ultrasonic testing,
several forms of calibration must occur. First, the electronics of the
equipment must be calibrated to ensure that they are performing as
designed. This operation is usually performed by the equipment
manufacturer and will not be discussed further in this material. It is
also usually necessary for the operator to perform a "user
calibration" of the equipment. This user calibration is necessary
because most ultrasonic equipment can be reconfigured for use in a
large variety of applications. The user must "calibrate" the system,
which includes the equipment settings, the transducer, and the test
setup, to validate that the desired level of precision and accuracy are
achieved. The term calibration standard is usually only used when
an absolute value is measured and in many cases, the standards are
traceable back to standards at the National Institute for Standards and

In ultrasonic testing, there is also a need for reference standards.

Reference standards are used to establish a general level of
consistency in measurements and to help interpret and quantify the
information contained in the received signal. Reference standards
are used to validate that the equipment and the setup provide similar
results from one day to the next and that similar results are produced

by different systems. Reference standards also help the inspector to
estimate the size of flaws. In a pulse-echo type setup, signal strength
depends on both the size of the flaw and the distance between the
flaw and the transducer. The inspector can use a reference standard
with an artificially induced flaw of known size and at approximately
the same distance away for the transducer to produce a signal. By
comparing the signal from the reference standard to that received
from the actual flaw, the inspector can estimate the flaw size.

This section will discuss some of the more common calibration and
reference specimen that are used in ultrasonic inspection. Some of
these specimens are shown in the figure above. Be aware that there
are other standards available and that specially designed standards
may be required for many applications. The information provided
here is intended to serve a general introduction to the standards and
not to be instruction on the proper use of the standards.

9.2. Introduction to the Common Standards

Calibration and reference standards for ultrasonic testing come in

many shapes and sizes. The type of standard used is dependent on the
NDE application and the form and shape of the object being
evaluated. The material of the reference standard should be the same
as the material being inspected and the artificially induced flaw should
closely resemble that of the actual flaw. This second requirement is a
major limitation of most standard reference samples. Most use drilled
holes and notches that do not closely represent real flaws. In most

cases the artificially induced defects in reference standards are better
reflectors of sound energy (due to their flatter and smoother surfaces)
and produce indications that are larger than those that a similar sized
flaw would produce. Producing more "realistic" defects is cost
prohibitive in most cases and, therefore, the inspector can only make
an estimate of the flaw size. Computer programs that allow the
inspector to create computer simulated models of the part and flaw
may one day lessen this limitation.

9.3. Area amplitude blocks

Area-amplitude blocks are also usually purchased in an eight-block

set and look very similar to Distance/Area-Amplitude Blocks.
However, area-amplitude blocks have a constant 3-inch metal path
distance and the hole sizes are varied from 1/64" to 8/64" in 1/64"
steps. The blocks are used to determine the relationship between flaw
size and signal amplitude by comparing signal responses for the
different sized holes. Sets are commonly sold in 4340 Vacuum melt
Steel, 7075-T6 Aluminum, and Type 304 Corrosion Resistant Steel.
Aluminum blocks are fabricated per the requirements of ASTM
E127, Standard Practice for Fabricating and Checking Aluminum
Alloy Ultrasonic Standard Reference Blocks. Steel blocks are
fabricated per the requirements of ASTM E428, Standard Practice
for Fabrication and Control of Steel Reference Blocks Used in
Ultrasonic Inspection.

9.4. Distance amplitude blocks

Distance-amplitude blocks also very similar to the distance/area-

amplitude blocks pictured above. Nineteen block sets with flat-
bottom holes of a single size and varying metal path distances are
also commercially available. Sets have either a #3 (3/64") FBH, a #5
(5/64") FBH, or a #8 (8/64") FBH. The metal path distances are
1/16", 1/8", 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", 5/8", 3/4", 7/8", 1", 1-1/4", 1-3/4", 2-
1/4", 2-3/4", 3-14", 3-3/4", 4-1/4", 4-3/4", 5-1/4", and 5-3/4". The
relationship between the metal path distance and the signal
amplitude is determined by comparing signals from same size flaws
at different depth.

Sets are commonly sold in 4340 Vacuum melt Steel, 7075-T6

Aluminum, and Type 304 Corrosion Resistant Steel. Aluminum
blocks are fabricated per the requirements of ASTM E127, Standard
Practice for Fabricating and Checking Aluminum Alloy Ultrasonic
Standard Reference Blocks. Steel blocks are fabricated per the
requirements of ASTM E428, Standard Practice for Fabrication and
Control of Steel Reference Blocks Used in Ultrasonic Inspection.

9.5. International Institute of Welding (IIW) block

Figure 94: IIW reference block

The standard shown in the above figure is commonly known in the

US as an IIW type reference block. IIW is an acronym for the
International Institute of Welding. It is referred to as an IIW "type"

reference block because it was patterned after the "true" IIW block
but does not conform to IIW requirements in IIS/IIW-23-59. "True"
IIW blocks are only made out of steel (to be precise, killed, open
hearth or electric furnace, low-carbon steel in the normalized
condition with a grain size of McQuaid-Ehn) where IIW "type"
blocks can be commercially obtained in a selection of materials. The
dimensions of "true" IIW blocks are in metric units while IIW "type"
blocks usually have English units. IIW "type" blocks may also
include additional calibration and references features such as
notches, circular groves, and scales that are not specified by IIW.
There are two full-sized and a mini versions of the IIW type blocks.
The Mini version is about one-half the size of the full-sized block
and weighs only about one-fourth as much. The IIW type US-1 block
was derived the basic "true" IIW block and is shown below in the
figure on the left. The IIW type US-2 block was developed for US
Air Force application and is shown below in the center. The Mini
version is shown on the right.

Figure 95: IIW Type US-1

Figure 96: IIW Type US-2

Figure 96: IIW Type Mini

9.6. Miniature angle beam calibration block

Also known as a Rompas block, this ASTM and U.S. Air Force
miniature angle beam block is a substitute for the DSC block for
distance, beam index, refracted angle and sensitivity calibration.
Contains a 1.0 radius opposite a 2.0 radius, and a 5/64 diameter x
.750 deep flat-bottom hole. In accordance with ASTM E164 and U.S.
Bureau of Public Roads, Type B specifications. Dimensions: 1.0 thick.
Metric version available.

Figure 97: Miniature angle beam block

9.7. Uses of artificial reflectors compared

The uncertainties in evaluation can be reduced when there is a reference

block available which is made of the same material as the object to be
tested and which also contains artificial reflectors whose echoes can be
directly compared to the discontinuity echoes from the test object.
The application of the reference block method is, in practice, made in
two different ways:

9.7.1. Comparison of echo amplitudes

The test object is tested with a high gain setting by which the smallest
detectable reflector is displayed. An echo indication is peaked, i.e. the
maximum echo indication is achieved by careful movement of the
probe and the echo peak set by adjustment of the gain to a
predetermined height, e.g. 80% CRT screen height (reference height).

Figure 98: Test object with a flaw: echo at 80% (reference height)

Using the same settings, the reflector from the reference block is
scanned which is approximately positioned at the same distance as the

Figure 99: Reference block: reference echo at 30%

The quantative unit for evaluation is now the gain change of the
ultrasonic instrument which is necessary to set the reference echoto the
reference height.

Figure 100: References block: reference echo to reference height

Result: The discontinuity echo is 8 dB higher than the reference echo

because the gain must be increased by 8 dB (from 34 dB to 42 dB).
The recording limit normally corresponds to the echo height of the
reference reflector whose size is to be determined, the same as the DGS
method, before the ultrasonic test.

9.7.2. Distance amplitude curve

All reflectors in the reference block are scanned before the test, their
maximum echo heights marked on the attachment scale of the display
and joined by a curve.

Figure 101: Reference block wiht side drilled holes and resulting echoes

The curve produced is called the Distance Amplitude Curve, or DAC

for short. When a discontinuity echo appears, an immediate assessment
can be made whether or not the discontinuity echo exceeds the DAC.
In addition to this a determination is made, by a corresponding gain
change, to see by how many dBs an echo exceeds the curve. This excess
recording echo height (EREH) is our reproducible measure for the
evaluation and reporting of the discontinuity. The advantages of the
reference block method with a DAC are:
1. That it is no longer necessary to compare each discontinuity echo
with the corresponding reference echo from the reference block but to
directly make the evaluation with the DAC.

2. That the heavy reference block need not be transported to the testing
3. That the recording of a DAC for certain applications is only required
once because the curve is documented on a transparency or in the
memory of a modern ultrasonic test instrument. By recording the curve
using reflectors in a test object comparable to the work piece, this curve
contains all the influences in the test object (distance law, sound
attenuation, and surface losses). Corresponding corrections are
therefore not necessary. Regarding the evaluation results, we must
understand here that the effect of the discontinuity (geometry,
orientation and surface quality) is not taken a great deal into account
the same as the DGS method. Therefore, the result of a discontinuity
evaluation with the reference block method has the same uncertainty as
DGS method.
The preference regarding which method to use is subjective. The
corresponding national test specifications normally state the test
method to be used so that the operator is not able to make his own
decision. If no data is available, the test situation should be analyzed in
order to decide which method be best used:
Firstly, it must be established whether a reference block exists which
corresponds to the test object. If yes, then the test can be carried out
simply and reproducibly with the reference block method. If no
reference block is available then the DGS method can be used, or a
reference block must be subsequently produced comparable to the test

object. However, in many cases the DGS method can be used without
difficulty, namely when the test object is made of low alloy steel, has a
simple geometry, a low sound attenuation and an even surface quality.
The test should be carried out with a narrow band standard probe with
a frequency between 1 MHz and 6 MHz for which there is a DGS
diagram or a DGS scale. The new computer controlled instruments
normally support the program controlled recording of DACs. With the
USD 10 the recorded DAC is automatically converted to a horizontal
line. This is known as time corrected gain (TCG).

Figure 102: DAC of the reference echoes (left) and with time corrected gain

10. Inspected Part Variations

An important variable is that of surface condition. The differences in

surface finish can result in large variations in the results of an
examination. Paint or other coatings can have similar effects.

10.1. Effect of surface roughness

What is surface roughness?

It is clear that materials have natural properties such as density,

conductivity and elastic modulus. Surfaces, representing material
boundaries have perhaps rather more insubstantial properties but we
still think of some of these properties are natural, like color. There
are other properties, however, which are easy to define but whose
value seems to depend on the technique or scale of measurement:
hardness, for instance. Roughness seems to be such a property, with
the added difficulty that is not always so easy to define as a concept.

The fact is that roughness is the natural state of surfaces, and left to
its own devices, nature will make sure they are rough. The roughness
of a surface is a measure of its lack of order. Disorder is entropy
under another name, and if a solid surface is considered as a closed
system then the Second Law of Thermodynamics predicts that its
entropy will tend to a maximum. To reduce its roughness, its entropy
must be reduced, and the Second Law tells that it can only be done
this by doing work. Thus if the axes of the well-known figure are

transposed which relates machining time to roughness, it can easily
seen that, it is nothing but an entropy diagram.

Figure 103: Relationship of surface texture to production time (b) the same
figure replotted as work reducing entropy

Terminology on Surfaces and Profiles

Types of Surfaces

Surface: A surface is a boundary that separates an object from another

object or substance.

Nominal Surface: A nominal surface is the intended surface. The shape

and extent of a nominal surface are usually shown and dimensioned on
a drawing. The nominal surface does not include intended surface

Real Surface: A real surface is the actual boundary of an object. It
deviates from the nominal surface as a result of the process that created
the surface. The deviation also depends on the properties, composition,
and structure of the material the object is made of.

Measured Surface: A measured surface is a representation of the real

surface obtained with some measuring instrument. This distinction is
made because no measurement will give the exact real surface. Later
portions describe many different types of measuring instruments.

Form: Form refers to the intentional shape of a surface which differs

from a flat line.

Surface Finish Imperfections

Form Error: Form error encompasses the long wavelength deviations

of a surface from the corresponding nominal surface. Form errors result
from large scale problems in the manufacturing process such as errors
in machine tool ways, guides, or spindles, insecure clamping, inaccurate
alignment of a work piece, or uneven wear in machining equipment.
Form error is on the dividing line in size scale between geometric errors
and finish errors.

Texture: Surface texture is the combination of fairly short wavelength

deviations of a surface from the nominal surface. Texture includes
roughness, waviness, and lay, that is, all of the deviations that are
shorter in wavelength than form error deviations.

Figure 104: An Exaggerated Surface Shape

Roughness: Roughness includes the finest (shortest wavelength)

irregularities of a surface. Roughness generally results from a particular
production process or material condition.

Waviness: Waviness includes the more widely spaced (longer

wavelength) deviations of a surface from its nominal shape. Waviness
errors are intermediate in wavelength between roughness and form
error. The distinction between waviness and form error is not always
made in practice, and it is not always clear how to make it. New
standards are emerging that define this distinction more rigorously.

Lay: Lay refers to the predominant direction of the surface texture.

Ordinarily lay is determined by the particular production method and
geometry used. Turning, milling, drilling, grinding, and other cutting
tool machining processes usually produce a surface that has lay:
striations or peaks and valleys in the direction that the tool was
drawn across the surface. The shape of the lay can take one of several
forms as shown below. Other processes produce surfaces with no
characteristic direction: sand casting, spark erosion and grit blasting.

Sometimes these surfaces are said to have a non-directional,
particulate, or protuberant lay. Several different types of lay are
possible depending on the manufacturing and machining processes.

Lay (or the lack thereof) is important for optical properties of a

surface. A smooth finish will look rough if it has a strong lay. A
rougher surface will look more uniform if it has no lay (it will have
more of a matte look).

How the surface roughness affects the results of the ultrasonic test

Surface roughness will have several possible effects on the

inspection of a test piece. In contact testing, roughness on a gross
scale results from: weld spatter, plate scale, dirt (sand) and rough
cast surfaces from sand casting and different rough surfaces occurred
from various machining operations. These irregularities will cause
some points of contact to push away the couplant and force it into
the lower areas around the probe. If the couplant is not sufficiently
viscous it will drain away quickly and fail to couple the probe to the
test piece.

Figure 105: Poor coupling results due to rough surface and thin couplant

In addition to reduced coupling, which will reduce signal
amplitudes, the rough surface increases the rate of wear on the probe.
On an otherwise smooth surface isolated sticky regions such as weld
spatter can hinder or stop probe motion or in the case of mechanized
systems there may be sufficient force to move the probe past the
obstruction but this could result in damaging the probe by either
tearing it from its mounting or severely scoring the plastic wedge.
When the dirt on the test piece is very fine (similar to a flour texture)
coupling can be prevented due to surface tension preventing the
liquid couplant penetrating to the metal. Unless a transfer value has
been established between test piece and calibration piece, this could
go undetected.

In addition to affecting coupling, surface roughness tends to reduce

signal amplitude by scattering and focusing the beam. This applies to
both contact and immersion testing.

Whether uniform or irregular, a rough surface has the potential to

present a scattering effect at an interface where a beam impinges. The
degree of scattering is based on the ratio of roughness to wavelength.
When roughness is less than about 1/10 a wavelength, scatter will be
negligible. To reduce signal losses due to scattering an operator can
select a lower frequency probe. In addition to signal reduction another
effect of surface irregularities is to redirect and mode convert some
energy which when returned to the probe can be the source of spurious
signals. In contact testing false indications from standing waves

resulting from scatter on rough surfaces will normally have short sound
paths. They can be eliminated as true flaws by failing to locate any trace
of indication from the full skip or from the opposite side.

Unless done properly, removal of surface roughness by mechanical

means can result in further scattering problems. Small curved gouges
left by a grinding wheel used to remove spatter or machining grooves
can form small lenses. The effect of grinding can be unpredictable.
Some of the lensing may concentrate the beam thereby increasing
signal amplitude, or, the lens effect may be a de-focusing of the
beam, again resulting in lower than expected signal amplitudes.
Uniform surface preparation by sand or shot blasting usually
provides a good surface for ultrasonic testing. Removal of excess
metal by a hand held grinding wheel is commonly used on weld caps
and roots. When a pipe weld has had its root ground flush and
inspection can only be performed from the outside diameter, quality
of grinding can result in unnecessary repair calls if grinding has been
along the weld axis. The small grooves made by the grinding wheel
run parallel to the root edge and are easily confused with lack of
fusion, missed edge or undercut defects.

10.2. Effect of surface coatings

Surface coatings are added to protect a surface from corrosion or to

enhance its appearance. Thin films, such as oxide layers, anodizing
layers or electroplated finishes, and the slightly thicker coatings of paint
or lacquer are usually well bonded to the surface. Quality of bond may

be compared to the uncoated reference block by a simple transfer value.
Even a slight loss due to the coating may be preferable to removing the
coating and trying to inspect on the rough surface it hides. Tightly
adhering coatings on the surface generally allow good transfer of the
energy. Loose or flaking coatings are undesirable and should be
removed prior to conducting the examination. When calibrating the
equipment for reference sensitivity on critical applications, it is
essential to evaluate the component for any energy losses due to surface
condition and apparent attenuation variations. The procedure for this is
fairly simple and is performed by using two transducers in a pitch
catch technique.

10.3. Surface curvature

In ultrasonic pulse/echo immersion inspection, the transducer beam

transmits through the water-solid interface and is reflected back by
flaws in the part, producing a flaw signal that can be used to find, locate,
and size flaws. In many applications, for example, the monitoring of the
cleanliness of steel billet and the detection of flaws in pipes, interfaces
between water and parts are not flat, but rather curved. Curved surfaces
can modify flaw signals, making the performance of an inspection
process more difficult to predict and the inspection results more
difficult to interpret. A solution to this problem is to use physics-based
simulation tools to design and assess the performance of inspections. In
this work, we present a particular example, the use of models to aid in
the characterization of the cleanliness of steel billet.

To accurately predict the effects of curved surfaces on pulse/echo
immersion inspection, it is necessary to have a set of models for the
transducer radiation field, the flaw response signal, and the
microstructure induced noise. Over the years, many fast and reasonably
accurate models have been developed in a number of laboratories. For
the transducer radiation field, the Gauss-Hermite beam model produces
good results for transducer radiation into liquids and for transmission
of those fields through flat or curved liquid-solid interfaces. By taking
advantage of the paraxial approximation, the model runs much faster,
by many orders-of-magnitude, than other numerical methods. This
"beam" model enables the transducer wave fields on the solids to be
rapidly computed for a series of transducers and focal lengths as a part
of the inspection design process. For the flaw response signal, a "flaw
signal" model has been developed that uses a modified born
approximation and requires a numerical integration of the incident
pressure field over the flaw volume. This model can predict time
domain flaw signals that can be compared, on an absolute level, to
actual measurements. As for the beam models, use of an appropriately
selected approximation allows the code to run much faster than purely
numerical methods such as the finite element method. For the
microstructure-induced noise, a backscattered noise model has been
developed that uses a single-scattering approximation and assumes that
the observed RF noise is an incoherent summation of echoes from all
insonified grains. The model can predict the backscattered grain noise

level for a given inspection scenario in a computationally efficient
In this work we describe the use of these physics-based models of an
ultrasonic pulse/echo inspection process to guide technique
optimization for detecting inclusions through cylindrical surfaces in
steel bar stock. Models are used for three purposes. The beam model is
used to select transducer focal properties that will be minimally affected
by the cylindrical geometry of the billet surface, which acts to defocus
the beam in a plane perpendicular to the billet axis. The flaw response
model is used to predict the strength of echoes from undesirable
inclusions that can lead to premature failure. The microstructural
response model is used to predict backscattered grain noise levels for
microstructures of a given type and grain size. The flaw response and
noise predictions combine to yield estimates of the minimum detectable
inclusion size.
As an example of the integrated use of these tools, we discuss two
competing immersion designs for a system to inspect 3-inch diameter
cylindrical billet used for the manufacture of gears. One design uses a
standard, spherically focused transducer; and the other uses a
bicylindrically focused transducer, designed to better inspect the zone
where gear teeth will later be machined. We will assume that the
inclusions are hypothetical "stringers" whose elongation direction is
aligned with the billet axis. Our main goal is to estimate stringer
detectability for both the standard and optimized transducers.

10.4. Grain size

Small crystallites (also called grains) in polycrystalline metals can

scatter a propagating ultrasonic wave in various directions, leading
to an attenuation of the beam and producing backscattered noise that
can mask the signals reflected from small flaws in pulse/echo
inspections. Attenuation and backscattering are thus important in
studying the flaw detectability of a given material. Attenuation and
backscattering are also fundamental properties of ultrasonic wave
propagation in polycrystalline materials, and can be directly related
to microstructure of the material. Hence, the study of the
relationships between microstructure and ultrasonic attenuation and
backscattering properties are foundations for understanding both
flaw detection and material characterization.

Ultrasonic attenuation of polycrystalline metals has been extensively

studied, especially for single-phase materials. Papadakis provided a
review of much of the early work, Important recent contributions
include the work of Rokhlin, Hirsekorn, and Stanke and Kino, The
theory of Stanke and Kino is of particular interest, since it uses a
twopoint correlation function to characterize microstructure and is
claimed by the authors to be accurate for all frequencies, even for
materials with texture and grain elongation. Stanke and Kino
developed a general formalism and then applied it explicitly to the
case of untextured materials having equiaxed grains. More recently,

Ahmed and Thompson, and Panetta have extended the theory to treat
polycrystalline materials with texture and elongated grains.

The theoretical calculations of attenuation in this study use their

extended methods since we mainly deal with elongated grains.

Backscattering is another ultrasonic quantity that is closely related

to material microstructure. Previous work has been of two kinds.
First, several researchers have developed the independent scattering
model for predicting the rms noise, as influenced by the details of a
measurement system in terms of a material property known as the
backscattering coefficient. They assumed single scattering and that
the total scattered power would be equal to the sum of the power
scattered by individual crystallites. This model can be used to deduce
the backscattering coefficient from measured grain noise in
pulse/echo inspections by providing a basis for removing the effects
of measurement systems. Rose has also developed a formal theory
for relating the backscattering coefficient of longitudinal waves to
the microstructure, based on the assumptions of single scattering and
the Born approximation, Given material and microstructural
properties, in terms of density, single-crystal elastic constants, and
the two-point correlation function of elastic constants, Rose's theory
can calculate backscattering coefficients. Ahmed and Thompson
have extended Rose's theory to treat single-phase polycrystalline
materials with texture and elongated grains.

Han and Thompson have extended Rose's theory to treat duplex
titanium alloys. Rose's theory and related extensions will be used in
this work to analyze backscattering of longitudinal waves. It is also
desirable to extend the theory to calculate backscattering for
transverse waves since it can provide additional valuable
information about the microstructure.

In addition to their importance in flaw detection, ultrasonic

attenuation and backscattering can also be used to characterize
material microstructure. One of the important microstructural
parameters is the grain size that influences mechanical properties
such as yield and tensile strength. Grain size is usually determined
from optical photomicrographs.

Ultrasonic methods are advantageous since they are nondestructive

and fast. Much work has been done in using ultrasonic attenuation
and/or backscattering to determine grain size, However, that work
was primarily based on empirical correlations, and almost always
assumed equi-axcd grains and used a single mean grain size to
describe microstructural dimension. A more general approach, good
for elongated grains, is highly desirable. Based on our studies of the
relationships between attenuation and backscattering and elongated
grain structure, we developed three approaches to simultaneously
determine grain size and shape orientation. One was based on a
simultaneous measurement of the attenuation and backscattering of
waves propagating collinearly and the second was based on

measuring longitudinal wave backscattering from three orthogonal
directions. The third one was based on measuring longitudinal and
transverse wave backscattering from a single surface.

11. Discontinuity Variations
11.1. Sizing methods

A discontinuity is best evaluated when its size (extension) is known.

The operator's wish to accurately know the "real reflector size" is
understandable therefore it is expected that an nondestructive testing
method, such as ultrasonic testing, give this information. However,
due to the fact that on the display only the echo can be interpreted,
this means the reflected sound coming from the discontinuity, it is
very often difficult, and in some cases even impossible, to reliably
assert the size of the reflector. In fact, the echo height plays the
decisive part when evaluating discontinuities during manual
Ultrasonic Testing.

11.1.1. Scanning method

In ultrasonic evaluation one is frequently able to come near to the

true reflector size as long as the discontinuity is large compared to
the diameter of the sound field. The discontinuity then reflects the
complete impacting energy back, Figure 106.

Figure 106: A large reflector in the sound beam

By scanning the boundaries of the discontinuity, reliable information

can be obtained about its extension. The ultrasonic operator normally
observes the height of the discontinuity echo. The probe position on
the test object at which the echo drops by exactly half indicates that
the discontinuity is only being hit by half the sound beam, Figure

Figure 107a: Straight beam probe on the reflector boundry

This means that the acoustic axis is exactly on the boundary of the
discontinuity. The probe position is marked and the operator
determines further boundry points until a contour of the
discontinuity is formed by joining the marked points together, figure

Figure 107b: Top view with reflector for extension

11.1.2. Evaluation of small discontinuities: The DGS method

A reflector which is completely contained within the sound beam is

regarded as a small reflector. If such a reflector is evaluated by scanning
then it is not the size of the reflector which is obtained as a result but
the diameter of the sound beam! Therefore, the scanning method is not
practical in this case. We have noticed previously that the height of a
reflector echo will become greater the larger the sound beam area is
which covers the reflector. This feasible behavior can be used on small
reflectors: their echo heights increase with their areas, Figure 108.

Figure 108: Reflectors with different areas and their echoes

Under optimal conditions, e.g. drill holes with flat bottoms and at equal
depths, this law can be confirmed:

The echo heights are proportional to their area or The echo heights are
proportional to the square of their diameter

Example: The flat-bottom hole with a diameter vof 2 mm has an echo

which is 4 times that of a 1 mm flat-bottom hole because the area has
quadrupled. However, if the echoes from two drill holes at different
depths are compared then an additional distance dependence of the echo
heights is established, figure 109.

Figure 109: Reflectors at different depths and their echoes

With accurate tests using flat-bottom holes at different depths a simple
law can be found, at least in the far field of the applied sound beam:

The echo heights inversely reduce to the square of their distance

This does not normally apply to the nearfield of the sound beam! Here,
the test results show that the echo heights within the focus reach their
highest amplitude and are reduced again at shorter distances, figure 110.

Figure 110: Distance amplitude curve of a 2 mm disk reflector

If such curves are put on transparent scales having the CRT format then
we immediately have the possibility to comparatively evaluate echoes
from unknown reflectors and those from natural reflectors, i.e. the echo
height of the discontinuity is compared to that of a circular disk.
The discontinuity in figure 111 reflects the sound waves the same as a
circular disk having a diameter of 4 mm.

Figure 111: Evaluation of a discontinuity (F) using evaluation curves

Due to the fact that we can only assess the sound reflected from the
discontinuities we must of course not equate the diameter of 4 mm with
the "true size" of the discontinuity. We therefore refer to them as an
equivalent disk-shaped reflector or as equivalent reflector size (ERS).
The equivalent reflector size only correspondsto the true reflector size
of a discontinuity in an ideal case which is when it is circular and
exactly hit vertical to the acoustic axis. In practise this almost never
occurs which means that the true size of a discontinuity is normally
larger than the equivalent reflector size. A law for this cannot be derived
because the echo height is strongly dependent on the characteristics of
the discontinuity, this means its geometry, orientation to the sound
beam and the surface quality. For example, a pore (spherically shaped
gas inclusion) with a diameter of 2 mm has an equivalent reflector size
of 1 mm; an angled flat reflector 5 mm long gives, according to
orientation, a result of ERS 0 (not detectable) to perhaps ERS 2.
This uncertainty in the evaluation of the discontinuity is however
neutralized when other possibilities and techniques in ultrasonic testing

are used to inspect detected discontinuities closer. An experienced
ultrasonic operator can, without additional expense, accurately give
information about the discontinuity which he has detected.
Scanning the discontinuity from different directions, assessing the echo
shape and the behavior of the display when moving the probe (echo
dynamics) are just a few techniques which can be successfully applied.
Despite the remaining uncertainty with evaluation of natural
discontinuities theabove method of discontinuity evaluation is applied
in many countries due to the fact that the method is based on well
proven laws in the sound field. It is therefore reproducible, i.e. the
evaluation results are independent of testing device and operator.
The socalled DGS scales or discontinuity evaluation can be obtained
from the probe manufacturer for many probes and various calibration
ranges. DGS means that the scale is allocated an echo at the Distance,
with correctly set Gain and (equivalent reflector) Size. However, the
modern version of the DGS scale would need some explanation because
it was developed to fulfill the requirements of the most common
specifications in practical testing: If, on a certain test object whose
purpose and therefore stress values are known, an ultrasonic test is to
be carried out then firstly, if necessary with destructive testing, it should
be established how large the permitted material flaw should be. Of
course, the position of such a flaw in the material and its rate of
occurance play a part.
If a permitted flaw size has been determined then this size is multiplied
with the safety factor which, amongst others, also takes the evaluation

uncertainty of the ultrasonic test into account. The corresponding echo
amplitude curve for this size is now of importance for the ultrasonic
test. The ultrasonic operator scans the test object with the probe and
only needs to record the indications which exceed this recording curve,
figure 112.

Figure 112: DGS scale for the probe B 4 S

Consequently, only one curve is necessary for the evaluation. Due to

the fact that, depending on the application, different recording limits
occur, it must be possible to allocate other equivalent reflector sizes to
this curve. This allocation is shown by a table positioned at the top right
of the scale: starting from a defined default setting of the instrument,
the auxiliary gain is taken from the table which belongs to the required
recording value and added to the gain controls. If the correct range
calibration has been made then test object scanning can now begin.
When an indication from the test object exceeds the recording curve
then this result is to be recorded in writing and evaluated. If required,

the test instructions provide the following measures: rejection, repair
or further tests for exact assessment of the discontinuity (diagnosis).
Figure 113 shows testing of a forged part. The recording curve
corresponds to Equivalent Reflector Size 3. The detected discontinuity,
at a depth of 110 mm, exceeds the curve, i.e. all reflector data must now
be recorded into a predetermined form.

Figure 113: Discontinuity evaluation with a DGS scale

11.2. Shape

Discontinuities are interruptions in the typical structure of a material.

These interruptions may occur in the base metal, weld material or
"heat affected" zones. Discontinuities, which do not meet the
requirements of the codes or specification used to invoke and control
an inspection, are referred to as defects.The following discontinuities
are typical of all types of welding:

Crack is tight linear separations of metal that can be very short to
very long indications. Cracks are grouped as hot or cold cracks. Hot
cracks usually occur as the metal solidifies at elevated temperatures.
Cold cracks occur after the metal has cooled to ambient temperatures
(delayed cracks).

Figure 114: Cracks

Lack of fusion (Cold Lap) is a condition where the weld filler metal
does not properly fuse with the base metal or the previous weld pass
material (inter pass cold lap). The arc does not melt the base metal
sufficiently and causes the slightly molten puddle to flow into base
material without bonding.

Figure 115: Lack of fusion

Porosity is the result of gas entrapment in the solidifying metal.
Sometimes porosity is elongated and may have the appearance of
having a tail This is the result of gas attempting to escape while the
metal is still in a liquid state and is called wormhole porosity. All
porosity is a void in the material.

Figure 116 : Porosity

Cluster porosity is caused when flux coated electrodes are

contaminated with moisture.

The moisture turns into gases when heated and becomes trapped in
the weld during the welding process. Cluster porosity appear just like
regular porosity but the indications will be grouped close together
(Please verify the applicable norme of the project to know more
about indications groupement).

Figure 117: Cluster Porosity

Slag inclusions are nonmetallic solid material entrapped in weld
metal or between weld and base metal.

Figure 118: Slag inclusion

Incomplete penetration (IP) or lack of penetration (LOP) occurs

when the weld metal fails to penetrate the joint. It is one of the most
objectionable weld discontinuities. Lack of penetration allows a
natural stress riser from which a crack may propagate.

Figure 119: Incomplete penetration

Root or Internal concavity or suck back is condition where the weld

metal has contracted as it cools and has been drawn up into the root
of the weld.

Figure 120: Internal concavity

Internal or root undercut is an erosion of the base metal next to the

root of the weld. Undercutting is not as straight edged as LOP
because it does not follow a ground edge.

Figure 121: Root undercut

External or crown undercut is an erosion of the base metal next to

the crown of the weld.

Figure 122: Crown undercut

Offset or mismatch are terms associated with a condition where two
pieces being welded together are not properly aligned. The
difference in density is caused by the difference in material
thickness. The dark, straight line is caused by failure of the weld
metal to fuse with the land area.

Figure 123: Offset

Inadequate weld reinforcement is an area of a weld where the

thickness of weld metal deposited is less than the thickness of the
base material.

Figure 124: Inadequate weld reinforcement

Excess weld reinforcement is an area of a weld that has weld metal

added in excess of that specified by engineering drawings and codes.
A visual inspection will easily determine if the weld reinforcement
is in excess of that specified by the engineering requirements.

Figure 125: Excess weld reinforcement

11.3. Distance from entry surface

Flaw Position Estimation

The flaw position is used for both region of interest (ROI) selection
the depth normalisation (which is required for the feature extraction
performed later). It is therefore important that the position estimation
is accurate and robust. The current method to find the flaw position
is based on fitting an hyperbolic function to the flaw response in B-
scan data. The algorithm operation is illustrated at Fig 126. Consider
the A-scan 48 mm from the centre of the weld, marked with a vertical
line in Figure 126b (also included in the box in the same figure). The
maximum response yielded by the algorithm is approx. Rmax= 45mm.

Figure 126: Illustration of defect position estimation.

Depth Normalisation

Due to the lobe characteristics (cone-beam geometry) of the probe,

a defect located close to the transducer will be seen in a fewer A-
scans in a B-scan than a similar defect detected further away from
the probe. Echo-dynamics of the flaw close to the transducer will
have a narrower shape than the other echo-dynamics corresponding
to the remote flaw. A simple way to normalise is to re-sample the
echo-dynamics (or wavelet coefficients) in some angle interval. That
is, the feature vector (or matrix) is re-sampled in an angular scale
instead of the original linear scale. This is illustrated in Figure 127,
where the two horizontal arrows indicate the distances where the
flaws f1, and f2, are inside the ultrasonic beam. The depth
normalisation procedure consists of re-sampling the features for a

suitable angular range given the depth of the flaw. This implies
interpolating features from flaws located close to the probe, and
down sampling features for flaws that lie further away from the

Fig 127: Illustration of the effect of the cone beam geometry for two defects
at different depths. Defect f1 will be seen in fewer A-scans than defect f2.

ROI Selection

Region of interest (ROI) for defect characterisation is an important

issue since all further processing relies on it. If the analysing window
for ROI is not positioned correctly the features fed to the classier will
vary between different measurements, giving inconsistent results. It
appears however, that accurate positioning of the analysing window in
ultrasonic B-scans is not a trivial task.
Ideally, a hyperbolic analysing window should be positioned around a
flaw response in a B-scan, and the exact position of the window should
be determined based on the estimated position of the flaw. The
estimation procedure described above is, however, not accurate enough
for the precise horizontal positioning required here. In the previous
studies the echo-dynamics (max amplitude variation) of the flaw
response was used for horizontal positioning.

However, for realistic defects the echo-dynamics curves may be
skewed, have more than one peak, etc. The approach used previously
was to smooth the echo-dynamics, with low-pass filtering, which
partially solves the problem. This method was suitable for the simulated
and artificial defects. Experiments have been performed using entre-of-
mass calculations in order to find a robust estimate for the echo-
dynamics centre point. This approach was, however, too sensitive to
long tails with high amplitude (energy) in the echo-dynamics.
Therefore, the previously used algorithm was adopted here as well. The
algorithm includes: low-pass filtering and finding the maximum of the
echo-dynamics in the first step, and selecting a number of A-scans
centred around the A-scan corresponding to max amplitude in the
second step.

Classical Features

The perhaps most commonly used features for classification of defects

during ultrasonic inspection is the rise time, pulse duration and fall
time. These three features are calculated from the A-scan envelope
using time instants corresponding to the 10% and 90% amplitude
These basic features are reliable provided that the ultrasonic pulses
(echoes) are well defined. However, reliability of these features may
be considerably impaired for realistic defects since they often result in
pulses with envelopes that cannot be approximated by well-defined
bell curves. Smoothing (low-pass filtering) partly alleviates these

problems, but at the expense of some loss of information. Figure 128
shows three examples of envelopes corresponding to different types of

Fig 128: Envelopes of A-scans corresponding to three different flaws. The

pulse duration and the raise- and fall times are similar despite the very
different pulse shapes.

In spite of the very different shape of the waveforms, the rise time,
pulse duration, and fall time are rather similar for all of the signals in
Figure 128. It is evident that more powerful features are needed if the
classification should be feasible for this type of signals.


During the evaluation of ultrasonic data acquired from the V-welded

steel blocks it became evident that the characterisation task is much
more complex than for simulated and artificial flaw signals. The feature
space of possible flaw signals is also considerably larger for the real
defects than for the artificial counterparts, i.e., the variation of the

ultrasonic signals within one type (class) of defects is much larger for
real than for artificial defects. Our goal was to separate soft (or
volumetric) defects from the sharper ones (crack-like defects), but if
one studies the echo-dynamics and the pulse shapes (i.e. the envelope)
it becomes apparent that some sharp and soft defect types are very hard
to separate. This implies that overlapping feature regions are
encountered, especially when using classical features (fall/raise times,
pulse duration and echo-dynamics). To avoid overlapping class
boundaries, more powerful feature extraction algorithms are needed to
achieve a good classification performance. High variation of the
ultrasonic signals also has two further consequences: flaw position
estimation (needed for feature extraction) may be poor and the amount
of data needed to construct reliable classifiers large. The following is
recommended during design of a self-learning classifier:

Ensure that the measurements are informative enough to

distinguish between different types of defects.
The features must be representative. The features that are
fed to the classifier must preserve the information needed
for successful classification.
The number of representative training examples must be
sufficient. As a rule of thumb at least ten times as many
examples as the parameters in the classifier are needed, to
avoid that the classifier learns the training examples and
performs poor on unseen examples.

The first recommendation may be not fulfilled using single B-scan
measurements only. A common practice is to combine measurements
from several transducers (with different angles, centre frequencies, etc.)
and TOFD measurements. The second condition is clearly not fulfilled
if only classical features are used and therefore more powerful methods
are needed.

The third condition is a common problem in NDT, it can be hoped that

mathematical modelling can contribute to the a priori knowledge and
thus lead to decreasing the required number of examples. This
knowledge can also take the form of expert knowledge acquired from
experienced operators. A reasonable approach to defect characterisation
is to concentrate on improving flaw imaging and leave the classification
tasks to experienced operators.

Appendix 1: Locating a discontinuity

Calibration of the instrument

The location of a discontinuity can be instantly determined using its

echo if the instrument is correctly calibrated. Calibration means, linear
display, from the zero point on the scale, of a certain distance range of
the object to be tested. The zero point on the scale corresponds to the
surface of the test object and the 10th scale graduation the maximum
distance, e.g. 100 mm steel, 10 mm aluminum, 25 mm brass etc. When
specifying the calibration rangethe naming of the material is also
important because the displayed distance of the echo, sound path s, is
always deduced from the time of flight t of the pulse and the sound
velocity c according to the equation:

s = sound path [mm]

c = sound velocity [km/s]
t = transit time [ms]
This relationship is not unimportant for the ultrasonic operator but it is
not required for the sequence of calibration. The rule simply says: Use
a work piece of the same material as the test object whose dimensions
are known. By coupling the probe onto an object of known thickness t
an echo sequence appears on the display, Fig. 39. The associated sound
paths correspond logically to the paths being travelled in the test object,
for example with a straight-beam probe it is the multiple of the test
object's thickness t, therefore:

1st Echo = t,
2nd Echo = 2t,
3rd Echo = 3t, etc.

We must now adjust 2 of these echoes on

the corresponding scale graduation to
the required calibration range. The
instrument is then calibrated, i.e. by Fig. 39 USK 7: Backwall
reading off the scale position T the echo sequence with a
sound path s (distance) of the associated straight-beam probe
reflector can be determined (location of reflectors, wall thickness

Calibration with a straight-beam probe

The reference piece used for calibration is called the Calibration

Block, or Standard Calibration Block, if the block used is
standardized. The Standard Calibration Block 1, also simply referred
to as V1 block (according to BS 2704 - A2), has a thickness of exactly
25 mm and is made of low-alloyed fine grained steel so that it can be
used for nearly all types of calibration when similar steels are to be

Example 1: Calibration range 100 mm steel (longitudinal waves)

The 10 scale graduations on the horizontal display scale are to have a

range of 0 to 100mm steel, Fig. 40. One scale graduation therefore
corresponds to 10 mm in the test object. We say: the scale factor k

(display scale) is 10 mm per scale
graduation. We couple the straight-
beam probe to the V1 block (laying
flatwise), Fig. 39. The backwall echo
sequence now comes from the 25 mm Fig. 40 Calibration range: 0-
steel path. The allocation of sound 10mm
paths si to the corresponding scale
positions Ti is carried out using the calibration table:

Echo-No Sound path si Scale factor k Skalen-position Ti

i [mm] [mm/scale grad.] [scale grad.]

1 25 10 2.5

2 50 10 5.0

3 75 10 7.5

4 100 10 10.0

The corresponding scale position Ti is calculated by using the formula:

si = sound path of umpteenth echoes

Ti = scale position of the umpteenth echo
k= scale factor

Fig. 41 USK 7: Calibration in the 100 Fig. 42 USK 7 D: Consideration of
mm range the probe delay

The exact adjustment of echoes from the calibration block, as in Fig.

41, is made with analog ultrasonic flaw detectors using the
controls pulse shift (or delay) as well as coarse and fine ranges. In
doing this, the adjustments must be alternately carried out at these
points until the echo flanks are at the correct scale positions. With
modern digital instruments the calibration range of 100 mm and the
sound velocity of 5920 m/s are firstly entered. After coupling the probe
to the calibration block, the function delay or probe delay is changed
until the echoes are correctly positioned, Fig. 42.

Example 2: Calibration range of 250 mm in aluminum

10 scale graduations correspond to 250 mm in aluminum: k = 25

mm/graduation. We couple the straight-beam probe to an aluminum test
block which is 80 mm thick, i.e. a backwall echo sequence is produced
from this thickness (t = 80 mm), Fig. 43.

The calibration table now looks like this:

Echo-No Sound path si Scale factor k Skalen-position Ti
i [mm] [mm/scale grad.] [scale grad.]

1 80 25 3.2

2 160 25 6.4

3 240 25 9.6

Exact reflector location is only possible after correct calibration of a test

instrument. The ultrasonic operator moves the probe over the test
object. In a normal case, i.e. when a discontinuity does not exist, only
the initial pulse and the backwall echo are visible on the display. As
soon as a discontinuity is within the area of the sound beam, an
additional echo appears between the initial pulse and the backwall echo,
Fig. 44, e.g. an echo at scale graduation 1.4. With calibration in the 250
mm range the distance to the reflector s is therefore 1.4 x 25 = 35 mm.

Fig. 43 USK 7 D: Calibration of

a 250 mm range with an 80 mm Fig. 44 USK 7 D: Sound path
aluminum path measurement.

Calibration with a TR probe

For technical reasons, the calibration with a TR probe can only be made
to a certain extent using a backwall echo sequence from a comparison
object. Due to the slight angular beaming, Fig. 35, transverse waves
occur with the TR probe which cause strong interference behind the 1st
backwall echo so that the 2nd backwall echo is often unable to be
identified. Therefore, a stepped calibration block is used for the
adjustment of both echoes, alternately going between two steps (2 point

Example 3: Calibration range for 10 mm steel

Step block VW (steel: 1 - 8 mm). The 3 mm and 6 mm steps should be

used for calibration. The step selection depends on the depth range of
the expected reflectors. Here the echo from 3 mm must be adjusted to
the 3rd scale graduation and the echo from 6 mm to scale graduation 6,
Fig. 45a+b.

a) Firstly, we couple the TR probe to the 3mm step

and use the delay control for adjusting the echo
flank to the 3rd scale graduation.

b) Now we couple the probe to the 6 mm step and
bring the echo to the 6th scale graduation with the
range control.
c) Steps a) and b) are alternately repeated until both
echo flanks are exactly on the 3rd and 6th scale
graduations, Fig. 45a+b.

The main application of TR probes are wall thickness measurements,

but they are also suitable for the detection of near-to-surface
discontinuities, Fig. 46a+b.

Fig. 45a The two positions (3 mm

and 6 mm step) of the TR probe
on the stepped calibration block

Fig. 46a Probe DA 312 on a

Fig. 45b Calibration echo at the speciemen with a side drilled hole
3rd graduation (top) Calibration in a depth of 1 mm.

echo at the 6th graduation

Fig. 46 b Detection of the drill

hole from Fig. 46 a

Calibration with an angle-beam probe

For calibration of the test instrument with an angle-beam probe the
standard calibration block 1, Fig. 47a, and the calibration block V2
(according to BS 2704 - A4), Fig. 47b, are almost exclusively used
because no backwall echo sequence is received due to the angular
beaming from a plane-parallel calibration block.

Fig. 47a WB 60-2E on

Calibration Block 1 Fig. 48 Different probe angels at
V1 block

Fig. 49a Sound path in the V1
block without angle reflection

Fig. 47b MWB 45-4E on

Calibration Block 2

Fig. 49b Sound path in the V1

block with angle reflection.

The advantage with echoes from the circle segment of the calibration
block is that the same sound path is always given independent of the
probe angle, Fig. 48. When the angle-beam probe is exactly coupled in
the center of the circle segment, a first echo is exactly received from
100 mm out of V1 block. According to the reflection law, the sound
waves coming out of the arc are reflected away from the coupling
surface to the back, this means away from the arc, Fig. 49a. A second
echo out of the arc, needed for the calibration sequence, cannot
therefore be produced. For this, there are two saw cuts made in the
center of the quarter circle: in the edges, which these saw cuts form with
the surfaces, the sound waves are reflected back within themselves due

to double reflection (angle reflection effect) so that they go back to the
arc, Fig. 49b.

Because the radius of the circle segment is exactly 100 mm we will

regularly receive an echo sequence with distances of 100 mm, 200 mm,
300 mm etc. with which we are able to carry out calibration of the test
instrument the same way as the straight-beam probe. Fig. 50 shows
calibration of the 250 mm range.

Fig. 50 Range: 250 mm with a Fig. 51a Path of a sound wave in a

WB 60-2 on V1 block V2 block, radius 50 mm

For the miniature angle-beam probe one uses the considerably smaller
and lighter Standard Calibration Block 2 (V2 block). This has, as
opposed to the V1 block, two circle segments with a common center
point, however it does not have saw cuts. The required echo sequence
is produced here by the alternating reflection of the sound waves, Fig.

Fig. 51b Path of a sound wave in a Fig. 52 Range: 100 mm calibrated
V2 block, radius 25 mm on V2, radius 25 mm.

The corresponding echo sequence is produced according to whether the

probe beams into the 25 mm radius or the 50 mm radius. No echoes
appear with sound paths by which the sound pulses from the "wrong"
direction meet at the center point because these pulses are absorbed by
the front damping element of the probe. Fig. 52 shows calibration of the
100 mm range by scanning into the 25 mm radius of Standard
Calibration Block V2.

Locating reflectors with an angle-beam probe

The echo of a discontinuity on the instrument display does not now give
us any direct information about its position in the material. The only
available information for determination of the reflector position is the
scale position and therefore the sound path s, this means the distance of
the discontinuity from the index point(sound exit point) of the probe,
Fig. 53.

The mathematics of the right-
angled triangle helps us to evaluate
the Surface Distance and
the Depth of a reflector which are
both important for the ultrasonic
test, Fig. 54a. We therefore now
have the possibility to instantly Fig. 53 Scanning a reflector using
mark a detected flaw's position on an angle beam probe
the surface of the test object by
measurement of the surface distance from the sound exit point and to
give the depth. For practical reasons, the reduced surface distance is
used because this is measured from the front edge of the probe. The
difference between the surface distance and the reduced surface
distance corresponds to the x-value of the probe, this is the distance of
the sound exit point to the front edge of the probe, Fig. 54b.

Fig. 54b Reduced surface

Fig. 54a The flaw triangle distances and x-value

With ultrasonic instruments having digital echo evaluation these

calculations are naturally carried out by an integrated microprocessor

and immediately displayed so that the operator does
not need to make any more time-consuming
calculations, Fig. 55. This is of great help with weld
testing because with the calculation of the flaw depth
Fig. 55 USN 50:
an additional factor must be taken into account,
A hole being
namely: whether the sound pulses were reflected
scanned with the
from the opposing wall. If this is the case then
probe MWB 60-
an apparent depth of the reflector is produced by
using the depth formula which is greater than the
thickness T of the test object. The ultrasonic operator must acertain
whether a reflection comes from the opposite wall and then proceed
with calculating the reflector depth, Fig. 56b.

Fig. 56b The real reflector depth

Fig. 56a The apparent depth after sound reflection

Locating reflectors with an angle-beam probe

The echo of a discontinuity on the instrument display does not now give
us any direct information about its position in the material. The only
available information for determination of the reflector position is the
scale position and therefore the sound path s, this means the distance of

the discontinuity from theindex point (sound exit point) of the probe,
Fig. 53. The mathematics of the right-angled triangle helps us to
evaluate the Surface Distance and the Depth of a reflector which are
both important for the ultrasonic test, Fig. 54a. We therefore now have
the possibility to instantly mark a detected flaw's position on the surface
of the test object by measurement of the surface distance from the sound
exit point and to give the depth. For depth of the reflector is produced
by using the depth formula which is greater than the thickness T of the
test object. The ultrasonic operator must acertain whether a reflection
comes from the opposite wall and then proceed with calculating the
reflector depth, Fig. 56b.

Appendix 2: Vocabulary of the Ultrasonic testing

A-scanA method of data presentation on an ultrasonic display
utilizing a horizontal baseline, that indicates distance, and a vertical
deflection from the baseline, that indicates amplitude.
A-Scan presentationA method of data presentation utilizing a
horizontal baseline to indicate distance, or time, and a vertical
deflection from the baseline to indicate amplitude.
AmplitudeThe vertical height of a signal, usually base to peak, when
indicated by an A-scan presentation.
Angle beamA term used to describe an angle of incidence or
refraction other than normal to the surface of the test object, as in angle
beam examination, angle beam search unit, angle beam longitudinal
waves, and angle beam shear waves.
Area amplitude response curveA curve showing the relationship
between different areas of reflection in an material and their respective
amplitudes of ultrasonic response.
AttenuationA factor that describes the decrease in ultrasound
intensity or pressure with distance. Normally expressed in decibels per
unit length.
B-scan presentationA means of ultrasonic data presentation that
displays a cross section of the specimen, indicating the approximate
length (as detected per scan) of reflectors and their relative positions.
Back reflectionAn indication, observed on the display screen of a
UT instrument, that represents the reflection from the back surface of a
reference block or test specimen.
Back echoSee back reflection.
Back surfaceThe surface of a reference block or specimen that is
opposite the entrant surface.
Beam spreadA divergence of the ultrasonic beam as it travels
through a medium.
BubblerA device using a liquid stream to couple a transducer to the
test piece.
C-scanAn ultrasonic data presentation that provides a plan view of
the test object and discontinuities.

CollimatorA device for controlling the size and direction of the
ultrasonic beam.
Contact testingA technique in which the transducer contacts directly
with the test part through a thin layer of couplant.
CouplantA substance, usually a liquid, used between the transducer
unit and test surface to permit or improve transmission of ultrasonic
Critical angleThe incident angle of the ultrasonic beam beyond
which a specific refracted wave no longer exists.
DACDistance amplitude correction. Electronic change of
amplification to provide equal amplitude from equal reflectors at
different depths. Also known as swept gain, time corrected gain, time
variable gain, etc.
DAC curveA curve (usually drawn on the screen) derived from equal
reflectors at different depths.
Damping, search unitLmiting the duration of a signal from a search
unit subject to a pulsed input by electrically or mechanically decreasing
the amplitude of successive cycles.
dB controlA control that adjusts the amplitude of the display signal
in decibel (dB) units.
Dead zoneThe distance in the material from the surface of the test
specimen to the depth at which a reflector can first be resolved under
specified conditions. It is determined by the characteristics of the search
unit, the ultrasonic instrumentation, and the test object.
Decibel (dB)Logarithmic expression of a ratio of two amplitudes or
intensities. (UT) dB = 20 log10 (amplitude ratio).
Delay lineA column of material such as Plexiglas that is attached to
the front of a transducer. It behaves similarly to a water path and allows
the initial pulse to be shifted off the scree. This often improves near
surface resolution.
Delay sweepAn A-scan or B-scan presentation in which an initial
part of the time scale is not displayed.

DiscontinuityA lack of continuity or cohesion; an intentional or
unintentional interruption in the physical structure or configuration of a
material or component.
Distance amplitude, compensation (electronic)The compensation
or change in receiver amplification necessary to provide equal
amplitude on the display of an ultrasonic instrument for reflectors of
equal area that are located at different depths in the material.
Distance amplitude, response curveSee DAC. A curve showing the
relationship between the different distances and the amplitudes of an
ultrasonic response from targets of equal size in an ultrasonic
transmitting medium.
Distance linearity rangeThe range of horizontal deflection in which
a constant relationship exists between the incremental horizontal
displacement of vertical indications on the A-scan presentation and the
incremental time required for reflected sound to pass through a known
length in a uniform transmission medium.
Doppler effectThe change in frequency of a sound wave due to
movement of the reflector. Movement toward or away from the sound
will result in a change in frequency (e.g., the tone of a train whistle
changing as the train passes).
Dual search unitA search unit containing two elements, one a
transmitter, the other a receiver.
Dynamic rangeThe ratio of maximum to minimum reflective areas
that can be distinguished on the display at a constant gain setting.
Entrant surfaceThe surface of the material through which the
ultrasonic waves are initially transmitted.
Far fieldThe zone of the beam (beginning at the Y0 point) where
equal reflectors give exponentially decreasing amplitudes with
increasing distance.
FlawA discontinuity in a material or component that is unintentional.
Flaw characterizationThe process of quantifying the size, shape,
orientation, location, growth, or other properties of a flaw based on
NDT response.

Frequency (examination)The number of cycles per second (Hz).
Frequency, pulse repetitionThe number of times per second that a
search unit is excited by the pulser to produce a pulse for ultrasonic
imaging. This is also called pulse repetition rate or pulse repetition
frequency (PRF).
GateAn electronic means of selecting a segment of the time range
for monitoring, triggering an alarm, or further processing.
Immersion testingAn ultrasonic examination technique in which the
search unit and the test part are submerged (at least locally) in a fluid,
usually water.
Impedance, acousticA mathematical quantity used in computation
of reflection characteristics at boundaries. It is the product of wave
velocity and material density
IndicationA response or evidence of a response disclosed through
an NDT that requires further evaluation to determine its full and true
Initial pulseThe response of the ultrasonic system display to the
transmitter pulse (sometimes called main bang).
Lamb waveA specific mode of propagation in which the two parallel
boundary surfaces of the material under examination (such as a thin
plate or wall of a tube) establish the mode of propagation. The Lamb
wave can be generated only at particular values of frequency, angle of
incidence, and material thickness. The velocity of the wave is
dependent on the mode of propagation and the product of the material
thickness and the examination frequency.
Linearity, amplitudeA measure of the proportionality of the
amplitude of the signal input to the receiver and the amplitude of the
signal appearing on the display of the ultrasonic instrument or on an
auxiliary display.
Linearity, time or distanceA measure of the proportionality of the
signals appearing on the time or distance axis of the display and the
input signals to the receiver from a calibrated time generator or from
multiple echoes from a plate or material of known thickness.

Longitudinal waveA wave in which the particle motion of the
material is essentially in the same direction as the wave propagation.
(also called compressional wave).
Metal pathSee Sound path
ModeThe type of ultrasonic wave propagating in the material as
characterized by the particle motion (e.g., longitudinal, transverse, etc.)
Mode conversionPhenomenon by which an ultrasonic wave that is
propagating in one mode refracts at an interface to form ultrasonic
wave(s) of other modes.
Multiple back reflectionsSuccessive signals from the back surface
of the material under examination.
Near fieldThe region of the ultrasonic beam adjacent to the
transducer having complex beam profiles and intensity variations. Also
known as the Fresnel zone.
NoiseAny undesired signal (electrical or acoustic) that tends to
interferes with the interpretation or processing of the desired signals.
Normal incidence (also see Straight beam)A condition in which the
axis of the ultrasonic beam is perpendicular to the entrant surface of the
part being examined.
Penetration depthThe maximum depth in a material from which
usable ultrasonic information can be obtained and measured.
ProbeSee Search unit.
Pulse-echo techniqueAn examination method in which the presence
and position of a reflector are indicated by the echo amplitude and time.
Pulse lengthA measure of the duration of a signal as expressed in
time or number of cycles.
RangeThe maximum distance that is presented on a display.
Rayleigh waveAn ultrasonic surface wave in which the particle
motion is elliptical and the effective penetration is approximately one
Reference blockA block of material that includes reflectors. It is
used both as a measurementscale and as a means of providing an
ultrasonic reflection of known characteristics.

ReflectorAn interface at which an ultrasonic beam encounters a
change in acoustic impedance and at which at least part of the sound is
Reject, suppressionA control for minimizing or eliminating low-
amplitude signals (electrical or material noise) so that true signals are
Relevant indicationAn indication caused by a discontinuity that
requires evaluation.
ScanningThe movement of a transducer relative to the test part in
order to examine a volume of the material.
Search unitAn electroacoustic device used to transmit and/or receive
ultrasonic energy.
The device generally comprises a piezoelectric element, backing,
wearface and/or wedge. Sometimes known as a probe or
SensitivityA measure of the smallest reflector that produces a
discernible signal on the display of an ultrasonic system.
Shear wavewave motion in which the particle motion is
perpendicular to the direction of propagation (transverse wave).
Sound pathThe path of the sound energy from the time that it leaves
the transducer and reflects back to the transducer.
Skip distanceIn angle beam testing, the distance along the test
surface from sound entrant point to the point at which the sound returns
to the same surface. It can be considered the top surface distance of a
complete vee path of sound in the test material.
TransducerA piezoelectric element used to produce ultrasonic
Through-transmission techniqueA technique in which ultrasonic
waves are transmitted by one search unit and received by another at the
opposite surface of the material being examined.
Vee pathThe angle beam path in materials starting at the search-unit
examination surface, through the material to the reflecting surface,
continuing to the examination surface in front of the search unit, and

reflecting back along the same path to the search unit. The path is
usually shaped like the letter V.
Water pathThe distance from the transducer to the test surface in
immersion or water column testing.
WedgeIn angle beam examination by the contact method, a device
used to direct ultrasonic energy into the material at an angle.
Wheel search unitAn ultrasonic device incorporating one or more
transducers mounted inside a liquid-filled flexible tire. The beam is
coupled to the test surface through the rolling contact area of the tire.
Also known as a wheel probe or roller search unit.

Appendix 3: Materials acoustic characteristics

Density Acoustic
Longitudinal Shear Surface
Metals Velocity Velocity Velocity

cm/s in/s cm/s in/s cm/s in/s

Aluminum 0.632 0.2488 0.313 0.1232 N/A N/A 2.70 17.10

AL 1100-0
0.635 0.25 0.310 0.122 0.290 0.114 2.71 17.20

AL 2014
0.632 0.2488 0.307 0.1209 N/A N/A 2.80 17.80

AL 2024 T4
0.637 0.2508 0.316 0.1244 0.295 0.116 2.77 17.60

AL 2117 T4
0.650 0.2559 0.312 0.1228 N/A N/A 2.80 18.20

Babbitt 7.4 -
0.230 0.0906 N/A N/A N/A N/A 23.20
Bearing 11.0

Beryllium 1.29 0.5079 0.888 0.3496 0.787 0.310 1.82 23.50

Bismuth 0.218 0.0858 0.110 0.0433 N/A N/A 9.80 21.40

Brass 0.428 0.1685 0.230 0.0906 N/A N/A 8.56 36.70

Brass, Half
0.383 0.1508 0.205 0.0807 N/A N/A 8.10 31.02

Brass, Naval 0.443 0.1744 0.212 0.0835 0.195 0.0770 8.42 37.3

0.353 0.139 0.223 0.0878 0.201 0.0790 8.86 31.28

Cadmium 0.278 0.1094 0.150 0.0591 N/A N/A 8.64 24.02

0.0967 0.0381 N/A N/A N/A N/A 1.88 1.82

Columbium 0.492 0.1937 0.210 0.0827 N/A N/A 8.57 42.16

Constantan 0.524 0.2063 0.104 0.0409 N/A N/A 8.88 46.53

Copper 0.466 0.1835 0.233 0.0890 0.193 0.0760 8.93 41.61

Gallium 0.274 0.1079 N/A N/A N/A N/A 5.95 16.3

Germanium 0.541 0.213 N/A N/A N/A N/A 5.47 29.59

Gold 0.324 0.1276 0.120 0.0472 N/A N/A 19.32 62.6

Hafnium 0.384 0.1512 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Inconel 0.572 0.2252 N/A N/A 0.279 0.110 8.25 47.19

0.222 0.0874 N/A N/A N/A N/A 7.30 16.21

Iron 0.590 0.2323 0.323 0.1272 0.279 0.110 7.70 45.43

Iron, Cast 0.480 0.189 0.240 0.0945 N/A N/A 7.80 37.44

Lead 0.216 0.085 0.070 0.0276 0.0630 0.0248 11.4 24.62

Lead 5%
0.217 0.0854 0.081 0.0319 0.0740 0.0291 1.9 23.65

Magnesium 0.631 0.2484 N/A N/A N/A N/A 1.74 10.98

0.579 0.228 0.310 0.122 0.287 0.113 1.74 10.07

0.547 0.2154 0.303 0.1193 N/A N/A 1.69 9.24

0.567 0.2232 0.301 0.1185 N/A N/A 1.70 9.64

0.576 0.2268 0.309 0.1217 N/A N/A 1.75 10.08

0.580 0.2283 0.304 0.1197 N/A N/A 1.82 10.56

0.571 0.2248 0.305 0.1201 N/A N/A 1.83 10.45

Manganese 0.466 0.1835 0.235 0.0925 N/A N/A 7.39 34.44

Molybdenum 0.629 0.2476 0.335 0.1319 0.311 0.122 10.2 64.16

Monel 0.602 0.237 0.272 0.1071 0.196 0.0772 8.83 53.16

Nickel 0.563 0.2217 0.296 0.1165 0.264 0.104 8.88 49.99

Platinum 0.396 0.1559 N/A N/A N/A 21.4 84.74

Plutonium 0.179 0.0705 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 28.2

(1% 0.182 0.0717 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 28.6

0.182 0.0717 N/A N/A N/A N/A 0.83 1.51

Radium 0.0822 0.0324 0.111 0.0437 0.103 0.0404 5.0 4.11

Rubidium 0.126 0.0496 N/A N/A N/A N/A 1.53 1.93

Silver 0.360 0.1417 0.159 0.0626 N/A N/A 10.5 37.8

Silver, Nickel 0.462 0.1819 0.232 0.0913 0.169 0.0665 8.75 40.43

0.476 0.1874 N/A N/A N/A N/A 8.70 41.41

Steel, 302
0.566 0.2228 0.312 0.1228 0.312 0.123 8.03 45.45

Steel, 347
0.574 0.226 0.309 0.1217 N/A N/A 7.91 45.4

Steel, 410
0.539 0.212 0.299 0.118 0.216 0.085 7.67 56.68

Steel, 1020 0.589 0.2319 0.324 0.1276 N/A N/A 7.71 45.41

Steel, 1095 0.590 0.2323 0.319 0.1256 N/A N/A 7.80 46.02

Steel, 4150,
0.586 0.2307 0.279 0.1098 N/A N/A 7.84 45.94

Steel, 4150,
0.589 0.2319 0.318 0.1252 N/A N/A 7.82 46.06

Steel, 4150,
0.587 0.2311 0.320 0.126 N/A N/A 7.81 45.84

Steel, 4150,
0.582 0.2291 0.277 0.1091 N/A N/A 7.80 45.4

Steel, 4340 0.585 0.2303 0.319 0.1259 N/A N/A 7.80 45.63

Tantalum 0.410 0.1614 0.114 0.0449 N/A N/A 16.6 68.06

0.162 0.0638 N/A N/A N/A N/A 11.9 19.28

Thorium 0.240 0.0945 0.156 0.0614 N/A N/A 11.3 27.12

Tin 0.332 0.1307 0.167 0.0657 N/A N/A 7.29 24.2

Titanium 0.607 0.239 0.331 0.1303 N/A N/A 4.50 27.32

0.827 0.3256 0.516 0.2031 N/A N/A 5.15 42.59

Tungsten 0.518 0.2039 0.287 0.113 0.265 0.104 19.25 99.72

Uranium 0.338 0.1331 0.196 0.0772 N/A N/A 18.9 63.88

0.518 0.2039 N/A N/A N/A N/A 6.03 31.24

Vanadium 0.600 0.2362 0.278 0.1094 N/A N/A 6.03 36.18

Zinc 0.417 0.1642 0.241 0.0948 N/A N/A 7.10 29.61

Zircaloy 0.472 0.1858 0.236 0.093 N/A N/A 9.03 42.6

Zirconium 0.465 0.1831 0.222 0.0874 N/A N/A 6.48 30.1


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