Part 2 Of What Is Ultrasonic Examination

Travis Jolliff

Ultrasonic examination comprises a range of non-destructive testing techniques that send ultrasonic waves through an object or material. These high frequency sound waves are transmitted into materials to characterize the material or for flaw detecting. Most ultrasonic examination applications use short pulse waves with frequencies ranging from 0.1-15 MHz, although frequencies up to 50 MHz can be used.

This 4 part series of articles provides information that will help the reader better understand what Ultrasonic Examination is including:

  • How ultrasonic examination works
  • Pulse-echo and Through-transmission
  • Contact and Immersion Testing
  • Why ultrasonic examination is used
  • Advantages of ultrasonic examination
  • Limitations of ultrasonic examination
  • What Materials Can Be Tested
  • Applications for ultrasonic examination

Part 1 addressed How ultrasonic examination works and Pulse-echo and Through-transmission. Part 2 addresses Contact and Immersion Testing and Why ultrasonic examination is used. Part 3 will address Advantages of ultrasonic examination and Limitations of ultrasonic examination. Part 4 will address What Materials Can Be Tested and Applications for ultrasonic examination.

Contact and Immersion Testing

Ultrasonic examination can also be split into two main types: contact or immersion testing.

Contact ultrasonic examination is typically used for on-site inspections accessibility or portability. Contact ultrasonic inspection can be performed where only one side of a test specimen is reachable, or where the parts to be tested are large, irregular in shape or difficult to transport.

Immersion ultrasonic examination is a laboratory-based or factory-based non-destructive test that is best suited to curved components, complex geometries and for ultrasonic technique development. In this method, the component or material is submerged in water, which acts as a couplant in place of the gels used for contact ultrasound. Immersion ultrasonic examination generally uses pulse-echo method, and robotic probe trajectories can be used to inspect complex surfaces which would be hard to cover with contact probes. Immersion ultrasonic examination can be used for a wide range of wall thickness and material types, making it a suitable testing method for a variety of applications and industries.

Why ultrasonic examination is used

As a non-destructive testing method, ultrasonic examination is ideal for detecting flaws and defects without damaging the object or material being tested. Periodic ultrasonic inspections can also be used to check for corrosion or for growth of known flaws, and thus potentially prevent a failure of a part, component or entire asset. It is used in a wide range of industries including aerospace, automotive, construction, medical, metallurgy, and manufacturing.

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