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Ultrasonic testing is often performed on steel and other metals and alloys, though it can also be used on concrete, wood and composites, albeit with less resolution. It is a form of non-destructive testing used in many industries including aerospace, automotive and other transportation sectors. Ultrasonic Testing (UT) uses high frequency sound energy to conduct examinations and make measurements. Ultrasonic inspection can be used for flaw detection/evaluation, dimensional measurements, material characterization, and more. To illustrate the general inspection principle, a typical pulse/echo inspection configuration as illustrated below will be used.

 
   
 
A typical UT inspection system consists of several functional units, such as the pulser/receiver, transducer, and display devices. A pulser/receiver is an electronic device that can produce high voltage electrical pulses.

Driven by the pulser, the transducer generates high frequency ultrasonic energy. The sound energy is introduced and propagates through the materials in the form of waves. When there is a discontinuity (such as a crack) in the wave path, part of the energy will be reflected back from the flaw surface. The reflected wave signal is transformed into an electrical signal by the transducer and is displayed on a screen. In the applet below, the reflected signal strength is displayed versus the time from signal generation to when a echo was received.

Signal travel time can be directly related to the distance that the signal traveled. From the signal, information about the reflector location, size, orientation and other features can sometimes be gained.

 
 
The technique is also commonly used to determine the thickness of the test object, for example, to monitor pipework corrosion.

Ultrasonic testing uses high frequency, highly directional sound waves to measure material thickness, find hidden internal flaws, or analyze material properties in metals, plastics, composites, ceramics, rubber, and glass.

Using frequencies beyond the limit of human hearing, ultrasonic instruments generate shorts bursts of sound energy that are coupled into the test piece, and the instrument monitors and analyzes reflected or transmitted wave patterns to generate test results.
 
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
 
 
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