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Ultrasonic Investigation


Ultrasonic Flaw Detection Test
Of all the applications of industrial ultrasonic testing, flaw detection is the oldest and the most common. Since the 1940s, the laws of physics that govern the propagation of sound waves through solid materials have been used to detect hidden cracks, voids, porosity, and other internal discontinuities in metals, composites, plastics, and ceramics. High frequency sound waves reflect from flaws in predictable ways, producing distinctive echo patterns that can be displayed and recorded by portable instruments. Ultrasonic testing is completely nondestructive and safe, and it is a well established test method in many basic manufacturing, process, and service industries, especially in applications involving welds and structural metals.

Ultrasonic flaw detection is basically a comparative technique. Using appropriate reference standards along with knowledge of sound wave propagation and generally accepted test procedures, a trained operator identifies specific echo patterns corresponding to the echo response from good parts and from representative flaws. The echo pattern from a test piece may then be compared to the patterns from these calibration standards to determine its condition. Sound waves are simply organized mechanical vibrations traveling through a medium, which may be a solid, a liquid, or a gas. These waves will travel through a given medium at a specific speed or velocity, in a predictable direction, and when they encounter a boundary with a different medium they will be reflected or transmitted according to simple rules. This is the principle of physics that underlies ultrasonic flaw detection.
Ultrasonic Pulse Velocity Test
Ultrasonic concrete testing is based on the pulse velocity method to provide information on the uniformity of concrete, cavities, cracks and defects. The pulse velocity in a material depends on its density and its elastic properties which in turn are related to the quality and the compressive strength of the concrete. It is therefore possible to obtain information about the properties of components by sonic investigations. Test Method: IS 13311 (Part 1)
The pulse velocity in concrete may be influenced by
a) Path length
b) Lateral dimension of the specimen tested
c) Presence of reinforcement steel
d) Moisture content of the concrete

The influence of path length will be negligible provided it is not less than 100mm when 20mm size aggregate is used or less than 150mm for 40mm size aggregate. Pulse velocity will not be influenced by the shape of the specimen, provided its least lateral dimension (i.e. its dimension measured at right angles to the pulse path) is not less than the wavelength of the pulse vibrations. For pulse of 50Hz frequency, this corresponds to a least lateral dimension of about 80mm. the velocity of pulses in steel bar is generally higher than they are in concrete. For this reason pulse velocity measurements made in the vicinity of reinforcing steel may be high and not representative of the concrete. The influence of the reinforcement is generally small if the bars runs in a direction at right angles to the pulse path and the quantity of steel is small in relation to the path length. The moisture content of the concrete can have a small but significant influence on the pulse velocity. In general, the velocity is increased with increased moisture content, the influence being more marked for lower quality concrete.
Advantages of Ultrasonic Investigation
  1. High sensitivity to both surface and subsurface discontinuities, permitting the detection of extremely small flaws.
  2. Greater accuracy than other nondestructive methods in determining the depth of internal flaws and the thickness of parts with parallel surfaces.
  3. Nonhazardous to operations or to nearby personnel and has no effect on equipment and materials in the vicinity.
  4. Capable of portable or highly automated operation.
  5. The depth of penetration for flaw detection or measurement is superior to other NDT methods.
  6. Only single-sided access is needed when the pulse-echo technique is used.
  7. It is highly accurate in determining reflector position and estimating size and shape.
  8. Minimal part preparation is required.
  9. Electronic equipment provides instantaneous results.
  10. Detailed images can be produced with automated systems.
  11. It has other uses, such as thickness measurement, in addition to flaw detection.
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