Ultrasonic inspection capability boosted by acquisition of advanced new equipment

Ultrasonic inspection capability boosted by acquisition of advanced new equipment
The ultrasonic immersion tank in TWI's new engineering hall
Ultrasonic inspection capability boosted by acquisition of advanced new equipment
Inside the immersion tank

TWI has acquired an ultrasonic immersion tank, capable of inspecting large, complex objects using the full range of ultrasonic test types.

Purchased to support the research of students undertaking postgraduate degrees at the newly launched National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC), the tank will also be available for use in projects undertaken by TWI on behalf of its Member companies. The tank was bought using funds awarded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to Brunel University London, an establishment with which TWI has a long history of partnership through the Brunel Innovation Centre.

The immersion tank, located in TWI’s 3200-square-metre new engineering hall, is a seven-axis system designed to inspect complexly shaped components weighing up to 1.5 tonnes and up to 1m3 in size. Supplied by ultrasonic specialists Metalscan, based in Chalon-sur-Saône, Burgundy, the system uses specialised software to calculate the trajectory of a probe around the complex-shaped component being inspected, and can be used for research and development work as well as production-level scanning.

As well as being capable of inspecting very large components, the tank can also be used for scanning small items, with the multi-axis probe head enabling interrogation from many directions for a better inspection.

Probes used can be single-element type or up to 128-element array types. The array ultrasonic instrumentation is capable of implementing the full range of operational modes including phased array, full matrix capture and total focusing method. The accompanying software is based on a leading platform developed for the nuclear industry called CIVA.

A number of projects are already in queue to be executed in the tank. These include the inspection of a thick-section austenitic weld for the ITER fusion reactor, complex-shaped nozzles for the nuclear and oil and gas industries, and mooring chains.

Alongside this project work, two MSc students will be undertaking their final-year projects in the tank during its first year of operation, taking part in ongoing technological developments for the inspection of nozzles and mooring chains.

The ultrasonic immersion tank is an invaluable asset for forensic studies of failed components from industry, for rapidly validating inspection techniques using the most up-to-date instrumentation and software, and as a tool for exploring new concepts in inspection for researchers, industrialists and students completing degrees through NSIRC.

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