Article Article
Nondestructive Evaluation of Electroplating-Induced Hydrogen Embrittlement in Cadmium-Coated High-Strength Steel Using Ultrasonic Surface Waves

Development of a nondestructive evaluation (NDE) method to detect nascent hydrogen embrittlement (HE) in electroplated high-strength steel parts is becoming important for the aerospace industry. This research investigates the feasibility of surface acoustic waves (SAWs) measurements to distinguish between cadmium (Cd) plated SAE 4340 steel samples with low and high HE susceptibilities. SAWs were generated with a 10 MHz piezoelectric transducer and detected by line scans via a laser Doppler vibrometer setup. Using signal processing algorithms in MATLAB, SAW velocities as well as attenuation coefficients were estimated. Depth profiles of steel hardness near coatings were also evaluated using Vickers microindentation tests. Average steel hardness in not-baked samples was slightly increased. Cd coatings were characterized by laser and optical microscopy methods. Small variations found in thickness and surface roughness of the Cd coatings among the samples did not significantly affect the NDE results. On average, samples in the not-baked condition (high HE risk) exhibited lower SAW attenuation coefficients compared to immediately baked and late-baked conditions (low HE risk). However, it was not possible to distinguish between the manufacturing conditions of individual samples due to overlaps in attenuation measurement results. SAW velocities as estimated by the cross-correlation method were found to be not sensitive to manufacturing conditions.



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