Application of Ultrasonic Beam Modeling to Phased Array Testing of Complex Geometry Components

Roy, O.
Mahaut, S.
Serre, M.
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For several years, the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) has developed phased array techniques to improve defect characterization and adaptability to various inspection configurations [1]. Such techniques allow to steer and focus the ultrasonic beam radiated by a transducer split into a set of individually addressed elements, using amplitude and delay laws. For most conventional systems, those delay laws are extracted from geometric ultrasonic paths between each element of the array and a geometric focusing applied to perform beam-forming abilities [2] for simple geometry components (e.g. beam- steering over a plane specimen), whereas experimental delays can be supplied to the array at transmission and reception to optimally adapt the ultrasonic beam to the detected defect, in a so-called self-focusing process [3,4]. This method, relevant for complex material or geometry leading to phase distortion or complex paths that cannot be predicted by simple geometrical calculations, obviously requires the existence of a reflector and the ultrasonic beam radiated by the experimental delay law cannot be known. Therefore this technique is used to improve defect detection (optimal sensibility) rather than defect characterization. To assess complex geometry components inspection with an adaptive system, the CEA has developed new modeling devoted to predict the ultrasonic field radiated by arbitrary transducers through complex geometry and material specimen [5]. A model allows to compute optimized delay laws to preserve the characteristics of the beam through the complex surface, as well as the actual radiated field using those delays. This paper presents two applications of this model : the inspection of a misaligned specimen, and the inspection of an irregular surface.