Non-contact in-process ultrasonic screening of thin fusion welded joints

Vasilev, Momchil and MacLeod, Charles and Galbraith, Walter and Javadi, Yashar and Foster, Euan and Dobie, Gordon and Pierce, Gareth and Gachagan, Anthony (2021) Non-contact in-process ultrasonic screening of thin fusion welded joints. Journal of Manufacturing Processes, 64. pp. 445-454. ISSN 1526-6125 (

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Joining of metal structures, or welding, plays a critical role in our modern world, where safety critical welds of thin sheet metals are used in pipework, nuclear cannisters and aircraft ducting among others. A potential failure in such welds could prove to be catastrophic, hence the need for thorough inspection and testing. With the ever-increasing automation of welding operations, manually deployed Non-destructive Evaluation (NDE) has become a major bottleneck in the supply chain. This paper introduces for the first time, non-contact gas-coupled ultrasonic sensors deployed in-process during weld deposition, for screening of weld penetration directly at the point of manufacture. 3mm thick mild steel plates were butt-welded together using Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) while non-contact air-coupled ultrasonic transducers, generating surface guided Lamb waves, performed inspection screening of the weld seam. Optimised Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR) was achieved through a customised acoustic matching layer, low-noise amplifiers and real-time signal processing. By performing multiple trials at varying levels of welding input power (0.59 kJ/mm to 1.03 kJ/mm), it was demonstrated that the amplitude of the through transmission A0 Lamb wave is correlated to the Weld Penetration Depth (WPD) and can be used for on-line weld quality screening. Advantages of the outlined method include higher production rates, reduced levels of scrap and higher production quality in regards to thin metal sheet welded components.


Vasilev, Momchil, MacLeod, Charles ORCID logoORCID:, Galbraith, Walter ORCID logoORCID:, Javadi, Yashar ORCID logoORCID:, Foster, Euan, Dobie, Gordon ORCID logoORCID:, Pierce, Gareth ORCID logoORCID: and Gachagan, Anthony ORCID logoORCID:;