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5th Pan American Conference for NDT

2-6 October 2011, Cancun, Mexico

Generation of Focused Ultrasonic Guided Waves for Nondestructive Testing of Structures.


Roberto OTERO , Eduardo MORENO , Benjamn MEZA Engineering Institute Foundation. Caracas. Venezuela; email: rotero_pujol@hotmail.com,
mezabenjamin@hotmail.com Leia. Technological Centre. Basque Country. Spain; email: eduardo.moreno@tecnalia.com Abstract The long range inspection and monitoring of industrial structures (pipes, plates, etc.) is a very important issue for structural integrity. Pipelines and tubing systems are widely used for the transportation of gas, water, chemicals and many other products. An experimental system was specially developed for these applications which allow exciting, receiving and post-processing of ultrasonic signals using a Labview application. Different transducers arrays were designed to generate ultrasonic guided waves in a carbon steel pipe of 6 inches of external diameter (Standard 40) with length of 6 meters. Different linear arrays were also designed for steel plates. The experimental results are presented using focused B-scans images. The influence of different experimental parameters in the focusing process is discussed. Key words: cylindrically guided waves, pipes line inspection, ultrasonic long range focusing, long range phased array, lamb waves

1. Introduction
There are thousands of kilometers of pipes in a country like Venezuela, which are part of a normal infrastructure for oil exploitation and for commercializing hydrocarbons. Relative recent papers reports [1-7] the possibility of focusing guided waves in commercial equipment. This fact and our previous efforts [8-9] motivated us to design a system to study these new possibilities implementing the phased array technologies using guided waves. We would like also to include several signal processing techniques to be used in real time in specific applications. This would allow us to measure the impact of these technologies in the application of guided waves. There has been published many papers [10-11] related with guided waves for the monitoring of different structures. Each application has its own specific rules to detect different kinds of discontinuities. The conventional guided wave technique in pipes uses symmetrical modes and the study of non-axisymmetric modes has introduced the Flexural Mode Focusing (FMF) technique [6, 12-13]. It has been reported gains between 5 dB to 10 dB in detected discontinuities related with the same detected signal without focusing. However this technique would be a very time consuming process if you decide to focus a priori in every point of a pipe. This would be against the possibility to inspect large areas using focused guided waves efficiently. Another approximation would be to focus synthetically (in receiving mode) the ultrasonic signals already acquired [5]. It has been also presented the focusing technique based on Time Reversal Method (TRM) [14]. One drawback is that it needs an initial knowledge of the position of defects to be implemented. Taking into account the previous considerations we decided with this work to show the scope and the characteristics of our developed experimental system capable to setup several methodologies to focus using guided waves (excepting time reversal). In this way many experimental data could be generated and several methods and technical solutions using phased array could be compared between them. In each experimental case we use first the commercial

software DISPERSE [15] to obtain theoretically all the possible modes in pipes and plates applications.

Figure 1. Group velocity vs. freq.-thickness obtained using DISPERSE software. (Steel pipe outer diameter: 6 inches, Standard 40).

Currently the services based on guided waves technology are property (including know how, patents, transducers, equipment and methodologies) of a very few companies in the world. This work is mainly an effort of technological development as an alternative for implementing advanced technologies using guided waves to solve industrial problems in our countries.

2. Experimental System
The general experimental setup is shown in Figure 2 and it was employed to excite guided wave modes in pipes. A multi-channel system for transmission and reception of ultrasonic signals was implemented using the commercial cards PCIAD1650 and PHA16T from US Ultratek, Inc. A Labview interface program was developed to control different experimental setups and drive the cards.

Figure 2. Phased array experimental system developed for transmitting-receiving and post-processing ultrasonic guided waves. a) Desktop with PCIAD 1650 and PHA 16T cards US Ultratek Inc. b) Transducer array. c) Steel pipe outer diameter 6 inches. Standard 40 d) Initial screens depicting the developed five modules to obtain the images of ultrasonic guided waves.

With this system it is possible to work in pulse-echo and transmission mode. All the parameters

can be defined independently for each active channel. The main menu of A-scan module application is presented in Figure 3. The ultrasonic signals can be generated introducing some parameters such as frequency, transmitting voltage, number of cycles in the excitation burst, among others. Several parameters can be also defined independently in receiving mode, for example, gain, filters range, number of channels, etc. The signals were digitalized using the well-known criteria from signal processing (i.e. Nyquist criteria) and it is possible to choose the number of samples in the signal, the sampling frequency, the pulse repetition frequency, etc. The data files generated can be stored and they are compatibles with the majority of commercial software for post-processing purposes. The ultrasonic signals can be presented in A and B-scan format. Amplitude and time measurements can be done using specialized cursors developed in a virtual oscilloscope presented in the main screen for each module of the system.

Receiving parameters for each channel

General parameters for all channels Defined parameters for Focal Laws

Filtering parameters for each channel

Figure 3. Main menu of A-scan module developed using a Labview application to define experimental parameters for signal acquisition in each channel.

The developed program has five modules (see Figure 2) in close relation allowing generate different setups. These setups can be saved and used later for similar applications. The five developed modules are: A-scan module This module was designed to define the A-scan signals in real time of active channels. This screen has several common control buttons which can be found in all modules. We can appreciate in Figure 3, three main zones with different purposes. In the upper part, it will be found a board with buttons for receiving parameters in each channel. In the middle part it is shown buttons for general parameters valid for all channels and in the lower part it has been defined buttons for ultrasonic signal post-processing (i.e. removing noise using wavelets,

defining different kind of filters, defining band frequencies, etc.) for each channel. Sweeping Frequency module This module is an application developed to identify echoes in a range of frequency defined by the user in any experimental configuration. A submenu with several parameters needs to be fulfilled to obtain the frequency scanning properly. One of the advantages of this module is to identify all present echoes in a range of frequency to analyze possible defects for practical applications. Focal Law module This module defines focal laws introduced by the user to focus the energy in some place inside the material. The delays between channels are calculated introducing several parameters (i.e. focal distance, mode velocity and distance between transducers). Synthetic Focusing module The Synthetic Focusing module establishes the configurations between transmitting and receiver channels to implement the Total Focusing Method (TFM) and SAFT algorithms to obtain images focused in receiving mode [5]. B-scan module The B-scan module visualizes the active channels using a pulse-echo and/or transmission mode. When this option is activated, two screens appear: one in a B-scan format and the other one in Ascan format. Both screens are close related by dynamic cursors. Two different transducer arrays were also developed for experimental purposes. One linear array of 12 elements for plates and another one circular collar array of 14 elements for a 6 inches outer diameter pipe. The fabricated arrays are presented in Figures 4 and 8. The squared piezoelectric elements (12 mm side) were shear polarized to generate torsional modes in pipes and to study experimental images in plates [16].

Figure 4. Collar array transducer developed for pipe examination (Steel pipe outer diameter: 6 inches, Standard 40) using the guided wave technology.

Figure 5. Experimental setup depicting a notch on pipes surface at 5, 0 m from the transducer array.

3. Preliminary Experimental Results


Several experimental setups were designed to demonstrate the proper function of the developed system. Using a 6 inches outer diameter pipe, an experimental setup was designed to excite symmetric waves (fundamental torsional mode) and for detecting defects artificially created. It is possible to identify the echoes from the end of the pipe and also a previous echo corresponding to the notch located at 5 m from the transducer array in the A-scan presented in Figures 6 and 7.

Figure 6. Representative Ascan depicting the range obtained using the developed experimental system. It is shown the echoes from the end of the pipe corresponding to T (0, 1) mode for f=50 KHz. The notch was also detected at the correct distance.

Figura 7. A-scan showing the echo corresponding to the notch at 5, 0 m. T (0, 1) mode for f = 50 KHz.

Some preliminary results in plates are shown using a steel plate with 103.5 cm length, 40.5 cm width and 4.5 mm of thickness. The linear array was mounted as indicated in Figure 8. The distance between elements was 3 cm center to center. The delays were calculated using the Focal Law module to focus at 80 cm where an artificial notch was created. The focal law calculated was used in the B-scan module to visualize the final result. In Figure 9 a) it is presented an ultrasonic Lamb waves reconstructed image using a gray color palette without delays between channels. An experimental focused B-scan is presented in Figure 9 b) for the same experimental conditions and in this case the artificial notch was detected after the proper delays were introduced.

Figure 8. Experimental setup showing the steel plate and the dimensions of the notch used to obtain B scan images of Lamb waves using linear ultrasonic shear transducers arrays.

Figure 9. Phased array ultrasonic Lamb waves reconstructed image of a steel plate without (a) and with focusing algorithm (b) detecting a notch (marked with an arrow). The delays were implemented scanning the plate from -60 to 60, and focusing at 80 cm from the linear array.

4. Conclusions
In this paper an experimental prototype system has been presented which allow implementing the phased array technique using guided waves in pipes and plates. Some preliminary experimental results have been shown using the developed system. Linear and collar type array transducers has been developed and shown. Several studies are ongoing using this experimental system and it is not discarded new modules or new configurations be added in the near future to compare the advantages and disadvantages of new focusing methodologies.

Acknowledgements
This work was supported by the Project No. 1-41-11001 in the Materials Technology Center from Engineering Institute Foundation, which belongs to MPPCTII in Caracas, Venezuela.

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