Quality Innovations: Ultrasonic C-Scan System Goes Handheld

February 23, 2006
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Ultrasonic A, B and C-Scan testing, thickness gaging and basic flaw detection are now on a single, handheld data acquisition system.


The Pocket UT from NDT Automation (Princeton Junction, NJ) is a battery-operated, handheld, stand-alone, full C-Scan data acquisition system. With its portability and ease of use, coupled with its full A, B and C-Scan capability, the Pocket UT system-along with its available companion scanners or other compatible devices-is suitable for on-site inspection applications. It assesses the presence, depth, shape and orientation of cracks, flaws, corrosion or erosion, delaminations and internal anomalies in a variety of structures, materials and surfaces.

The Pocket UT offers full C-scan inspection capability in a portable, handheld unit. Source: NDT Automation
Weighing less than 2 pounds, this system uses the same Windows CE operating system found on current-generation pocket personal computer (PPC) handheld devices. All ultrasonic components, except the transducer, are integrated with the PPC-type display in a handheld enclosure. The system operates via a rechargeable battery pack or via its 90-240 Volt AC/DC adapter/charger. Battery life is up to 4 hours.

This new tool can work anywhere a full-scale C-Scan system would work. "It works best in places where bringing in large-scale equipment like automated scanners would be difficult," says Richard E. Kazares, general manager at NDT Automation. "This would include large chemical refineries or power generation facilities. It has generated interest in aircraft maintenance because of its small size and light weight. It can quickly get to a small area without major setup."

Another application is corrosion mapping. "It can find rust in pipes, storage tanks and pressure vessels," Kazares says. "It can map for corrosion in metal or composite storage containers without putting the operator at risk of hazardous chemicals."

This tool gives a complete resolution of surfaces. "Mapping shows the mountainous vs. the flat terrain contours of the backside of materials, like the insides of tanks," Kazares says. "Problem areas come up automatically, instead of just sampling at random with independent data points. You can get a lot of data very quickly."

Primarily designed as a portable, full dual-axis C-Scan system, it is capable of interfacing most manual dual-axis encoded scanners. It also provides active output signals-clock and direction-for two active automated scanning axes. This means that the unit can operate most stepper motor-based dual-axis scanners, immersion systems and other automated data acquisition systems. Until now, a limitation in the use of C-Scan type data acquisition in the field has necessitated more complex, computer-based data acquisition systems combined with the scanner itself. This handheld tool eliminates this constraint.



The Z-Scan dry-coupled, rolling dual-element transducer scanner can be coupled with the Pocket UT to provide full C-Scan, or B-Scan, data acquisition capabilities. Source: NDT Automation

Another feature of this system is the operating language; Kazares says it is designed to be an international product. Operators can choose English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Greek, Japanese and Chinese in initial versions. Another feature to be added in the near-term future is the capability to perform a time-of-flight diffraction-based weld inspection. This capability, which uses the system's single channel design, is a code-approved weld inspection technique.

A keypad enters common commands and there is a standard Windows CE compatible screen for detailed data entry, system control and image presentation. The system operates as a conventional thickness meter for spot readings, a flaw detector with radio frequency display and alarm gates, or either active B-Scan or complete C-Scan data acquisition and display. It can be integrated with most single- or dual-axis scanners, manual or automated, with conventional or dry-coupled UT transducers.

The system has an ultrasonic pulser/receiver, data acquisition software, motion control hardware and software for scanning, signal capture, display, analysis, replay, transfer or storage. It connects to many dual-axis manual scanners and includes software to directly operate and control many automated dual-axis scanning systems. "This is what separates it from just a simple flaw detector, which is not designed to back up to anything," Kazares says. Scanning systems include the vendor's own large structure inspection systems or other portable X-Y and pipe scanning systems.

The system has integrated compact flash disk capability. All data can be directly transferred to laptop or desktop computers using the flash memory or USB port. The data can be off-loaded and further processed, if desired, in an office environment.

To work with its C-Scan capabilities, NDT Automation is introducing three new, fully compatible scanning systems, including a fully automated, battery-operated X-Y, dual-axis scanner; a lighter weight, manual version of the X-Y scanner; and a scanner that resembles a mouse called the Z-Scan.

Z-Scan is a free-motion handheld scanner and companion to the Pocket UT. The dual-axis scanner uses a rolling sensor and encoders that enable complete and accurate, raster-type C-Scan data acquisition. Not much bigger than a computer mouse, Z-Scan permits the system to be used without couplant on most unprepared surfaces encountered in an industrial or field environment.

These scanners can be interfaced directly with the Pocket UT, which has built-in calibration factors for all three. Combining this system with the available scanners, or others provided by operators, allows the previously mentioned inspection of surfaces, surface geometries under difficult real-world field conditions, where a full C-Scan is needed to assess the real condition or geometry of materials and structures. C-Scan permits the assessment of many types of indications-flaws and defects-in better detail than conventional manual-flaw detector or thickness meter-types of instruments.



TECHNOLOGY CONTACT

For more information on the Pocket UT, contact:
NDT Automation
195 Clarksville Rd.
Princeton Junction, NJ 08550
(609) 716-4123
E-mail: sales@ndtautomation.com
URL: www.ndtautomation.com


QUALITY SPECS

  • Weighing less than 2 pounds, this system uses the same Windows CE operating system found on current-generation pocket personal computer handheld devices.
  • Primarily designed as a portable, full dual-axis C-Scan system, it is capable of interfacing with most manual dual-axis encoded scanners.
  • Z-Scan is a free-motion handheld scanner and companion to the Pocket UT. The dual-axis scanner uses a rolling sensor and encoders that enable complete and accurate, raster-type C-Scan data acquisition.

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