Phased Array Ultrasonics - The Future of Ultrasonic NDT

Published: 8 Feb 2010

By Aditya Nair, Consultant

For a few years now, analysts have been predicting that phased array will be the future of ultrasonic non-destructive testing. Though that future has not come yet, it is becoming increasingly apparent to all that this is indeed the case. Granted, there have been factors that have inhibited the growth of the market and continue to do so; however, they are starting to fade, and 2010 may just be the year that sees the start of a decade to be dominated by phased array. Indeed, market participants believe that growth will be in double digits in the next couple of years. This article will touch upon the salient points regarding the technology and the market as it stands today. Trends that are expected to define the technology shall be explored.

What is Phased Array Ultrasonics?

Quite simply put, phased array is a more recent and advanced method of executing ultrasonic scans. In place of a single transducer element, phased array systems employ an array of elements that can be sequentially, or rather separately, pulsed. This implies that it is possible, through the creation of interfering wave patterns, to electronically manipulate beams so that their direction and angle can be controlled. This enables capabilities such as more precise software control, inspection from multiple angles, and the inspection of complex geometries. Owing to this increased ability to steer and focus beams, phased array has been, for a while, touted as the next big thing in ultrasonic testing (UT) or, indeed, NDT (Non-Destructive Testing) as a whole. However, the growth hasn't been as quick as expected.

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