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​​​​Phased Array Ultrasonic Testing: Your Ultimate Guide

In this blog post, you’ll read:Phased array ultrasonic testing has been an efficient method of inspecting materials with different thicknesses, angles, and metallurgical elements.

Table of Contents


Have you been searching through numerous texts to uncover what Phased Array Ultrasonic Testing is all about?

Sometimes, such knowledge is acquired on the field or in a testing laboratory during quality assessment procedures. However, reading ultimate guides like this one is another sure way to understand the whole process involved using this type of nondestructive testing (NDT).

Metallurgy and welding professionals are some of the disciplines that turn to phased array ultrasonic testing as an effective method of assessing flaws and defects in components. They also use it to understand the necessary solutions to provide for these flaws. It is a suitable method of unveiling defects like hidden cracks, voids, corrosion, and other detectable flaws that can hinder a production process. If you are ready to find out more about this NDT method, then come along.


I. What is phased array ultrasonic testing (PAUT)?

Looking at PAUT as an enhanced non-destructive testing procedure which uses sound waves is perhaps one way to elaborate on it as a defect-identifying process. This perspective might make its explanation clearer.

It is such an efficient testing technique that numerous industries have come to rely on it for their quality assessment procedures. Also, its exhaustive visual examination has presented it as a reliable substitute for regular ultrasonic and radiographic non-destructive testing. More importantly, it allows the electrical charge from the probes to speed past the test material, at a systematically delayed timing for proper and accurate inspection results. This method often utilizes concepts from wave physics while incorporating the rules of electromagnetism and optics.


II. What is Ultrasonic B Scan?


Phased array ultrasonic testing has been an efficient method of inspecting materials with different thicknesses, angles, and metallurgical elements. It is unlike conventional ultrasonic testing where the probe moves in relation to the test material. You never have to move the probes when using PAUT as a testing and defect-finding utility. Also, a range of ultrasonic beams of between 0.5MHz and 50MHz is often the standard for a conventional PAUT operation using a single transducer for transmitting the waves.  The feedback signal is then analyzed to ascertain the level of defect present. PAUT on the other hand deploys several transducers (typically between 16-256 singular components). Its piezoelectric crystals pulses at different time delays for optimal focus. This ensures the probes do not need to be moved across the test material. The focus optimization of the beams often gets a little boost from the time delay along with its geometry. The efficiency of phased array ultrasonic testing in quality assessment is very evident because no other testing method can identify defects such as cracking, inclusion, etc., and measure component thickness and other metal materials discontinuities in one sweep. Here is a further explanation of the different scanning methods used in the PAUT process below.

  • Electrical scanning: This scanning method does not require moving the transducer mechanically but requires the manual inspection of the test samples after transmitting the beam through it. This ensures faster inspection with the scan conducted across the length of the test material at a stationary angle.
  • Depth-focus scanning: By sweeping through the specimen with a single-focused pulse, this scanning method ensures the test sample is accurately covered. The focus can be adjusted at varying focal depths for optimal scanning.
  • Sectional scanning: This method deploys the electronic laws of delay to electronically control the ultrasonic beam that is being transmitted through the length of the material. Applying a single probe to cover various points of the specimen while ensuring accurate and fast inspection is its forte when compared with conventional UT.


III. What’s the advantage of phased array ultrasonic testing (PAUT)

Array Ultrasonic Testing
source: @mme-group

The phased array ultrasonic testing method holds many advantages over regular methods of testing. Quick inspection, safe operation, and convenience are a few of its merits. Here are more of its advantages highlighted below

  • Reduction in false results – It offers a reduction in false alarms and inspects specimens with outstanding proficiency. It is user-friendly and has a vast range of inspection applications.
  • Quick result production – It also provides instant imaging as inspection is undertaken, and data documentation is on the go.
  • High accuracy – PAUT reveals both the depth and height of the flaws and its lateral position as well.

Having mentioned all these amazing qualities from the PAUT method of inspection, it is worthy of note that different Phased Array Probe Manufacturers prioritize certain advantages over others. From the advantages, a hassle-free inspection and interpretation seems the most prioritized advantages by most employers. This implies that PAUT makes inspection simple and easy to interpret, thereby eliminating the need for complicated methods and the use of multiple probes.

Additionally, the scope of inspection increases with PAUT, this is because the probe determines the shape and direction of the beam, which makes inspection possible from different angles. There is higher coverage of detecting defects and complex geometries. It is exceptionally useful when detecting corrosion and component’s thickness. Still, inspection speeds are phenomenal, and the results gathered are very reliable.


IV. What’s the disadvantage of phased array ultrasonic testing (PAUT)?


With all these fantastic merits, phased array ultrasonic testing is not without its drawbacks. However, compared to other testing methods, the drawbacks for the phased array ultrasonic testing technique of inspection are very few.

Firstly, cost is considered the chief among these demerits. The cost of phased array ultrasonic testing equipment is quite high. But then again, considering the value PAUT offers it would be a small price to pay for fast, accurate, and reliable inspections.

Another setback of PAUT is its applicability. Although this testing method can detect a lot of defects, like cracks, bolt holes, and metal fatigue, yet phased array ultrasonic testing may not be your primary testing method. A different testing method may be suitable for these types of flaws depending on the size and accuracy of the results you desire. Moreover, PAUT’s application includes the detection of specific defects in ferrous and nonferrous materials like welding and corrosion defects. Conversely, traditional equipment features are not as complex as what you’d find on more advanced equipment used for PAUT. An adequately trained professional is best preferred to operate PAUT equipment. Then you can optimally utilize the features and achieve accurate results.


V. What are the Applications of phased array ultrasonic testing (PAUT)?


Because of its wide range of application in various sectors, typically in the industrial non-destructive tests, the phased array ultrasonic testing method can perform any function regular ultrasonics perform. It is also appropriate for non-invasive material examinations, and measurements of coating and material thickness. Also, certain anomalies resulting from corrosion are often easily detected using PAUT, including cracks, voids, and pits. Let’s not forget adhesive mapping, which can likewise identify the difference in a material’s features. Phased array ultrasonic testing as an advanced testing method can determine the quality of rivets, and the inspection of interfaces and joints.

Since phased array ultrasonic testing has a wide spectrum of inspection purposes, it is no wonder it is applicable in industries such as oil and gas, construction, power generation, among others. These industries use PAUT for inspections such as corrosion, welds, thickness measurement, rolling stock wheels and axles, pressure vessels, to mention a few. It is not surprising it costs so much, but value for money is guaranteed.


VI. What Product do we Recommend for Phased Array Ultrasonic Testing?


Globally, suppliers of phased array ultrasonic testing equipment are well-spread. But identifying a reliable source and supplier of one valuable equipment such as one used to conduct phased array ultrasonic testing can cause a headache for many individuals. The saturation of the global market with so many suppliers can be the leading cause of this challenge. Hence, our recommendation here for the products that can meet your requirements while saving you stress.

NDT-KITS is a supplier that has been in the industry long enough to earn the trust of numerous customers. It has over forty years of industry experience, several patents, and standard certifications of quality products. NDT-KITS is a leading brand and a reliable supplier of phased array ultrasonic testing equipment.

With its first phased array flaw detector manufactured in 2010, and after numerous five-star reviews of quality garnered since its introduction to the market, it has become a favorite amongst its users.

NDT-KITS’ PAUT tools offer all the features expected in both performance and operation. And to top it all, it provides these quality features at very pocket-friendly prices. Therefore, next time you’re in the market shopping for a phased array ultrasonic equipment, don’t forget to give NDT KITS a chance to help you solve your quality assessment and testing challenges.


VII. Related Resources for Phased Array Ultrasonic Testing


Owing to the various advantages offered using the phased array ultrasonic testing method, technicians are allowed to save time, cost, and replacement of components. Arguably the most cost-effective and easy-to-operate NTD method in the industry, PAUT is becoming the preferred means to spot challenging and hard-to-find defects accurately. However, other related resources for phased array ultrasonic testing include, piping stress corrosion cracking, Improvement in nozzle weld inspection, Austenitic weld inspection, Composite material inspection, Riser-weld inspection cracking, and riser bolt inspection. Bond testing is not so popular, but it can also be classified as a PAUT related resource. This is a bonding material that helps join multiple components to form one unit. The integrity of such bonds must also be measured, and phased array ultrasonic testing can help with such inspection.


To briefly summarize all we’ve been discussing. Phased array ultrasonic testing is an advanced testing technique that allows technicians to execute a lot of inspections. It uses a probe that transmits beams through a test material using piezoelectric waves. Additionally, the phased array ultrasonic testing method identifies voids, inclusions, cracks, and other discontinuities. Nonetheless, it has some disadvantages like its high cost. But the advantages offered by PAUT outweigh the disadvantages. And while it can’t serve general inspection goals, it can also serve a large list of specific and targeted inspection objectives. Still the most important objective for you will be to get a trusted supplier of phased array ultrasonic testing equipment, which our opinion is NDT-KITS.

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