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Optimizing Probe Active Aperture for Phased Array Weld Inspections

Phased array ultrasonic testing (PAUT) has become a popular nondestructive technique for weld inspections in piping, pressure vessels, and other components such as turbines. This technique can be used both in manual and automated modes. PAUT is more attractive than conventional angle-beam ultrasonic testing (UT), as it sweeps the beam through a range of angles and presents a cross-sectional image of the area of interest. Other displays are also available depending on the software. Unlike traditional A-scan instruments, which require the reconstruction of B- and C-scan images from raster scanning, a phased array image is much simpler to produce from line scans and easier to interpret. Engineering codes have incorporated phased array technology and provide steps for standardization, scanning, and alternate acceptance criteria based on fracture mechanics. The basis of fracture mechanics is accurate defect sizing. There is, however, no guidance in codes and standards on the selection and setup of phased array probes for accurate sizing. Just like conventional probes, phased array probes have a beam spread that depends on the probe’s active aperture and frequency. Smaller phased array probes, when used for thicker sections, result in poor focusing, large beam spread, and poor discontinuity definition. This means low resolution and oversizing. Accurate sizing for fracture mechanics acceptance criteria requires probes with high resolution. In this paper, guidance is provided for the selection of phased array probes and setup parameters to improve resolution, definition, and sizing of discontinuities.



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