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5/21/2012 | 1 MINUTE READ

NDE system uses ultrasonics for composites inspection

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U.K.-based Babcock has developed a non-destructive examination (NDE) system for evaluation of composite repairs and the underlying substrate.

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Babcock (Devon, U.K.) reports that it has developed a new technique allowing non-destructive examination (NDE) of composite repairs and the underlying substrate. The company, combining its composite technology and non-destruction examination expertise, has developed an advanced ultrasonic method for the examination of fiber-reinforced composites, which allows defects to be identified in sufficient detail to enable verification for quality assurance purposes and long-term asset integrity management.

The quality of the consolidated laminate stack making up the composite repair, in addition to the bond line performance, are integral design constraints in offering a composite repair or strengthening solution. Any defects, and in particular voids, in the laminate will compromise the structural integrity of the designed matrix. With the new method, Babcock says it can now identify discontinuities, flaws, air pockets, creases or foreign bodies in laminate or the area between the substrate and laminate that could affect the reliable performance or lifetime of the composite repair.

Babcocks notes that its system produces images featuring high clarity, showing the individual plies of the laminate. Babcock’s method, it says, is potentially capable of identifying the actual type of defect. Trials also proved that examinations can be carried out through substrates of mild steel up to 10 mm thick to examine the laminate and bond line.

Additionally, the trials showed that the metallic substrate below the repair can also be clearly seen, along with a good indication of its thickness. In designing a composite repair the substrate is not always assumed to be redundant, so the ability to monitor any further substrate degradation can be a useful means of risk assessment, where structural integrity is important.

The data produced by the inspection technique allows the production of images showing cross sections through the structure of the composite in three planes: the surface and two sides. 

Visit Babcock's Composites Technology group for more information.

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