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PAUT inspection of complex shaped composite materials through 6 DOFs robotic manipulators

Mineo, C and Pierce, S G and Wright, B and Cooper, I and Nicholson, P I (2015) PAUT inspection of complex shaped composite materials through 6 DOFs robotic manipulators. Insight: The Journal of the British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing, 57 (3). ISSN 1354-2575

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The requirement to increase inspection speeds for the non-destructive testing (NDT) of composite aerospace parts is common to many manufacturers. The prevalence of complex curved surfaces in the industry provides significant motivation for the use of six-axis robots for the deployment of NDT probes in these inspections. The IntACom project, developed by TWI Technology Centre (Wales) and supported by a number of major aerospace partners and the Welsh government, has produced a prototype robotic NDT system. The prototype system is capable of inspecting complex-geometry composite components with great time savings. Two six-axis robotic arms deploy end effectors carrying phased array ultrasonic testing (PAUT) probes. A simple-to-use graphical user interface (GUI) has been developed to control all aspects of the robotic inspection, from initial loading of part data, through scanning of the part to data analysis. The collaboration between TWI and the University of Strathclyde has boosted the establishment of new approaches for robotic tool-path generation, targeted to NDT inspections. Many unique features, such as the real-time B-scan for optimisation of PAUT settings and the external control of the robotic manipulators to allow returning to points of interest, increase the usefulness of the inspection process. This paper presents an overview of the project and of the research outcomes.