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Finite element analysis simulations for ultrasonic array NDE inspections

Dobson, Jeff and Tweedie, Andrew and Harvey, Gerald and O'Leary, Richard and Mulholland, Anthony and Tant, Katherine and Gachagan, Anthony (2016) Finite element analysis simulations for ultrasonic array NDE inspections. In: 42nd Annual Review of Progress in Quantitative Nondestructive Evaluation. AIP Conference Proceedings, Melville, NY., 040005-1 - 040005-14. ISBN 9780735413535

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Advances in manufacturing techniques and materials have led to an increase in the demand for reliable and robust inspection techniques to maintain safety critical features. The application of modelling methods to develop and evaluate inspections is becoming an essential tool for the NDE community. Current analytical methods are inadequate for simulation of arbitrary components and heterogeneous materials, such as anisotropic welds or composite structures. Finite element analysis software (FEA), such as PZFlex, can provide the ability to simulate the inspection of these arrangements, providing the ability to economically prototype and evaluate improved NDE methods. FEA is often seen as computationally expensive for ultrasound problems however, advances in computing power have made it a more viable tool. This paper aims to illustrate the capability of appropriate FEA to produce accurate simulations of ultrasonic array inspections – minimizing the requirement for expensive test-piece fabrication. Validation is afforded via corroboration of the FE derived and experimentally generated data sets for a test-block comprising 1D and 2D defects. The modelling approach is extended to consider the more troublesome aspects of heterogeneous materials where defect dimensions can be of the same length scale as the grain structure. The model is used to facilitate the implementation of new ultrasonic array inspection methods for such materials. This is exemplified by considering the simulation of ultrasonic NDE in a weld structure in order to assess new approaches to imaging such structures.