AWS Application of Phased Array Ultrasonics

Volumetric inspection of welds and materials is an integral part of ensuring reliability of fabricated materials and structures. With ever rising concerns over health and safety in Radiography, in addition to the time the method requires and the fact that everyone else must vacate the general area, an alternate method of volumetric inspection is being sought by many. The only other commonly used method of volumetric inspection to date is Ultrasonic testing. With conventional ultrasonics, a lack of auditable information causes many concerns from the Owners and Engineers standpoint. Because of the lack of auditable data, Owners and Engineers must trust in the individual’s knowledge, training, and integrity when opting for such an inspection method. Phased Array Ultrasonic Testing, also called PAUT, is an advanced form of Ultrasonic testing in which reliable and auditable data can be obtained in a safe and efficient manner. PAUT utilized multiple element probes which allow the sound field to be swept through different angles or manipulated at multiple constant angles using a single probe. This is the same technology used in modern day sonograms or echocardiograms in the medical industry. Though our imagery isn’t quite the same, the technology does allow for much easier discernment of indications over that in conventional ultrasonics. The weld data obtained with PAUT can be recorded which allows for other sets of eyes to verify the quality of the information obtained and create similar accountability as with Radiography. Much advancement has been made in regard to phased array technology and the software that drives it over the past several years. Many codes and standards, such as ASME and API, already recognize is use and benefits as related to quality and cost savings on Engineering materials. The technology can already be adapted to the current AWS D1.1 Annex S with Engineer approval and demonstration of the technique. Several companies are already beginning to implement this technology to Structural Codes with comparisons to RT and conventional UT resulting in similar reject rates but overall job cost savings on substitution for RT. The University of Ultrasonics is part of the task committee and drafting PAUT into the current AWS D1.1 and D1.5 codes to allow easier and more directed use of this incredible technology.

References
1. Olympus NDT, “Introduction to Phased Array Technology Applications” 2. Steve Duke, CPM & Stuart Wilkinson, PhD – University of South Florida “Advanced Ultrasonic Testing Non- Destructive Testing Techniques in Accordance with the AWS D1.5 Bridge Welding Code”, 2014 ; 3. AWS D1.1:2010 “Structural Welding Code – Steel” 4. AWS D1.5:2010 “Bridge Welding Code”
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