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Fast ultrasonic phased array inspection of complex geometries delivered through robotic manipulators and high speed data acquisition instrumentation

Mineo, Carmelo and MacLeod, Charles and Morozov, Maxim and Pierce, S. Gareth and Lardner, Timothy and Summan, Rahul and Powell, Jonathan and McCubbin, Paul and McCubbin, Coreen and Munro, Gavin and Paton, Scott and Watson, David and Lines, David (2016) Fast ultrasonic phased array inspection of complex geometries delivered through robotic manipulators and high speed data acquisition instrumentation. In: 2016 IEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium (IUS). IEEE, [New York]. ISBN 978-1-4673-9897-8

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Performance of modern robotic manipulators has enabled research and development of fast automated non-destructive testing (NDT) systems for complex geometries. This paper presents recent outcomes of work aimed at removing the bottleneck due to data acquisition rates, to fully exploit the scanning speed of modern 6-DoF manipulators. State of the art ultrasonic instrumentation has been integrated into a large robot cell to enable fast data acquisition, high scan resolutions and accurate positional encoding. A fibre optic connection between the ultrasonic instrument and the server computer enables data transfer rates up to 1.6GB/s. Multiple data collection methods are compared. Performance of the integrated system allows traditional ultrasonic phased array scanning as well as full matrix capture (FMC). In FMC configuration, linear scan speeds up to 156mm/s with 64 pulses per frame are achieved - this speed is only constrained by the acoustic wave propagation in the component. An 8x increase of the speed (up to 1.25m/s) can be achieved using multiple transmission elements, reaching the physical limits for acceptable acoustic alignment of transmission and reception paths. Scan results, relative to a 1.2m x 3m carbon fibre sample, are presented.