Automated Ultrasonic Inspection Systems
These automated systems are usually designed around their specific applications and are generally immersion tanks or squirter system gantry scanners. Here we will take a closer look at some examples of automated ultrasonic inspection systems that Soundpath-NDT have been directly involved with.
Automated Inspection Immersion Tanks
Automated multi-axis cartesian scanner used to inspect parts that are fully immersed within a tank of fluid, typically water. Due to high inspection speeds and good reliable inspection consistency, these systems are generally found in high volume production plants, such as foundries that mass produce steel billet or slabs, or aircraft manufacturers that mass produce inspection critical components, such as high-speed rotating parts for instance.
At a high level, this type of inspection system is composed of a water tank with an upper bridge that moves along the length of the tank (X-axis), this axis is often referred to as the ‘indexing’ axis. The bridge will hold a manipulator arm that moves along the length of the bridge, that is, the width of the water tank (Y-axis). The manipulator arm will move up and down toward the immersed part (Z-axis) and the manipulator itself, attached to the end of the arm, holds the ultrasonic transducer, immersed and normalized to the surface of the part under inspection.
During inspection of a part, all axis will be coordinated by means of computer controlled ‘kinematics’, an algorithm that maps out the location and size of the part area to be inspected, starting from a designated datum point, often referred to as ‘home’ (X=0; Y=0; Z=0). At all times of the inspection the transducer will remain submerged, using the tank water as ultrasonic couplant to the part surface. For this type of inspection ultrasonic pulse-echo mode will be used to accurately locate, size and characterize reflectors of interest.
Turbo-blade Immersion Scanner
This ultrasonic immersion scanner was designed to inspect titanium Trent engine turbo-blades for service induced stress related cracking.
This ultrasonic immersion scanner yields an automated bridge (X-axis) that holds the manipulator arm (Y-axis) which itself will ascend and descend (Z-axis) a fixed manipulator which accommodates the ultrasonic transducer. In this particular design, an additional submerged rotation axis (R-axis) is used to slightly rotate the curved part during inspection to keep the surface area normalized to the ultrasonic transducer.
During inspection, the Y-axis manipulator arm alternates from left to right, covering the full inspection area width, whilst the bridge will index 0.5mm on each stroke. Subsequently this creates a raster scan of the object surface area.
Billet Immersion Scanner
This ultrasonic immersion scanner was designed to inspect titanium ingot and billet material for manufacturing process induced voids, cavities or porosity, predominantly located in the centre of the material.
This ultrasonic immersion scanner yields an automated bridge (X-axis) that holds the manipulator arm (Y-axis) which itself will ascend and descend (Z-axis) a fixed manipulator which accommodates the ultrasonic transducer. In this particular design, the Y-axis manipulator arm remains stationary over the centre of the billet keeping the ultrasonic transducer normal to the centre of the material.
An additional submerged rotation axis is used to rotate the billet throughout inspection and the bridge will index at 0.5mm per revolution along the full length of the billet creating a helical type scan of the cylindrical billet material
Carbon Composite Immersion Scanner
This automated immersion phased array scanner was designed to inspect large size, contoured carbon composite aircraft parts for manufacturing process defects, such as disbonding.
This ultrasonic immersion scanner yields an automated bridge (X-axis) that holds the manipulator arm (Y-axis) with a multi-axis manipulator (A, B & C-axis) which accommodates a submerged phased array probe.
In this particular design, all axis of the tank and manipulator work together, coordinated by a complex kinematics algorithm that is written to follow the contoured inspection path of the shaped part. It is imperative the phased array probe is continually normal to the surface of the part under inspection.
Squirter System Gantry Scanner
This multi-axis gantry style scanner uses through-transmission mode ultrasonics with a water jet couplant to inspect large, flat, honeycomb carbon composite aero-structures, for manufacturing process defects such as disbonding and lamination etc.
The two towers (X-axis) are sat on rails and move, synchronously, the full length of the part under inspection, which is secured in place by a large rectangular shaped stainless steel frame positioned exactly between the two towers. Each tower has its own manipulator arm which will move vertically (Y-axis) and horizontally (Z-axis). Each manipulator arm is terminated with a fixed reservoir of water that houses the ultrasonic transducer. The reservoir is a squirter system forming a jet of water couplant for the ultrasonics, one side tower squirter will transmit ultrasonic signals, and the opposite tower will receive.
During inspection, the X-axis towers move up and down the tracks the full length of the part under inspection whilst the manipulator arms will index up, or down, 0.5mm on each stroke of the X-axis. Throughout the entirety of the inspection it is essential the transmit and receive water jets are in perfect alignment. Subsequently this creates a raster scan of the object surface area.
Soundpath-NDT can assist with the design, manufacture, implementation and commissioning of automated ultrasonic inspection systems. This includes automated system upgrades, maintenance, service, collision recovery and calibration of existing systems to satisfy relevant industry standards.
Soundpath-NDT also offer flaw detector and phased array instrumentation refurbishment and calibration services and will buy your redundant equipment.
Soundpath-NDT offer the full range of conventional, advanced and automated ultrasonic inspection services at prices that are reasonable and fully justifiable, our commitment to our customers is to minimize costs wherever possible. To help our customers realize savings, Soundpath-NDT offer extremely versatile pricing options that can be scaled depending scope of project.
Contact us today to discuss your inspection requirements and start realizing meaningful savings...
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