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Inspection of Complex Geometries Using Flexible Ultrasonic Phased Array Probes

Performing high-resolution ultrasonic inspection of complex shapes with changing geometries, such as pipe elbows or aerospace composite parts, is very challenging. To inspect such components, conventional ultrasonic probes must be held perpendicular to the surface at every point of data acquisition. This process is slow and defects can be missed between acquisition points. Ultrasonic phased array allows large areas to be rapidly scanned at high-resolution, but standard phased array probes are rigid and cannot conform to changes in component geometry. Complex geometry inspection can be improved and drastically simplified by utilizing a flexible ultrasonic phased array probe designed for high-resolution inspections. Flexible phased array probes conform to changing surfaces or geometry allowing the elements to orient perpendicular to the surface throughout the inspection. This unique ability reduces the need for complex scan plans, increases coverage of each scan, simplifies the data interpretation, and reduces the equipment requirements to complete an inspection. Recent advances in technology have made off-the- shelf flexible arrays available for inspector level development using standard battery operated instruments. This paper presents flexible phased array technology used for inspection of complex geometries on carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) aerospace components.

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