Ultrasonic Testing of Discontinuities in Closed-Rib Bridge Decks

Many of the world’s long span bridges have transitioned to a lightweight steel deck design consisting of orthotropic box sections. Common designs include “U” shaped closed-ribs to stiffen the deck and often other skins of the orthotropic section. Many designs call for a partial joint penetration weld to attach the closed ribs to the skin. Although the qualification process to weld these types of structures is comprehensive, discontinuities are sometimes found during production which require repair andor a change in the process and requalification of the weld procedure. This paper will discuss discontinuities which have been found in these partial joint penetration groove welds and ultrasonic techniques that have been developed to identify and locate the discontinuities. Discontinuities to be discussed include “C” shaped lack of fusion in the root, center-bead cracks, and cracks in tack welds. Both conventional and phase array ultrasonic testing techniques developed for each specific discontinuity detection will be discussed.

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