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Saudi Aramco

Inspection Department

Training & Contractor Workforce Saudization Group


The training materials contained in this module are the property of the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) and
are intended for the exclusive use of Saudi Aramco employees enrolled in advanced inspection training courses. Any
material contained in this manual which is not already in the public domain, may not be copied, reproduced, sold, given or
disclosed to third parties or otherwise used, in whole or in part, for purposes other than for use in Saudi Aramco’s
Professional Engineering Development Unit courses without the prior written permission of the Chief Engineer of Saudi





Terminal Objective 1
Enabling Objectives 1
Ultrasonic Testing in nutshell. 2
The PERIOD (T ) 6
Working of a Flaw Detector. 16
Equipment Control. 18
Thickness Measurement. 19
Generation and Reception of Ultrasound 22
Normal and Angle Beam Probe. 23
Types of Probes. 24
Skip and Path Distances 25
Flaw Location with Angle Beam Probe 26
Profile of Ultrasonic Beam 27
Wave Propagation in Material. 29

Equipment Characteristics. 31
Horizontal Linearity 31
Vertical Linearity 32
dB control 33
Resolution 33
Sensitivity 34
Calibration Blocks. 35
Time-base linearity 36
Amplifier linearity 36
Near surface resolution ( dead zone ) 36
Far surface resolution 36
Penetration power 36
Range setting 37
Beam index 37
Beam angle 37
Range setting 38
Miniature Calibration Block ( V 2 Block) 38
ASTM Distance & Area Amplitude Blocks 39
ASTM Distance Amplitude Blocks 39
ASTM Area Amplitude Blocks 40
Step wedge 41
Half Moon Block 42
Pulse Echo Technique 46
Through Transmission Technique 47
Resonance Technique 48
Couplant 49
Methods of Presentation 50
A - Scan 50
B - Scan 51
C - Scan 51
Angle Beam testing 53


Ultrasonic Testing of Plates. 56
Scanning Procedure 56
Ultrasonic Testing of Welds. 57


Terminal Objective

Upon completion of this module, the participant will be able to measure the thickness of
piping and vessel walls internal discontinuities in a weld joint by ultrasonic test, using the
Ultrasonic instrument.

Enabling Objectives

In order to achieve the terminal objective, the participant will be able to accomplish the

 Explain how the Ultrasonic instrument works.

 Calibrate a Ultrasonic instrument for specified ultrasonic tests.

 Select the proper probe and couplant for specified ultrasonic tests.

 Properly prepare a specimen surface for an ultrasonic test.

 Document inspection results.

Note: This training material has been developed using the latest available
versions of applicable Saudi Aramco and industry standards. However,
these documents are regularly updated. Therefore, it is the responsibility of
the inspector to ensure that he is conducting his inspections according to
the latest versions of these documents.



Ultrasonic Testing in nutshell.

Ultrasonic testing ( UT ) makes use of sound waves and is based on the principle of
echo. Sound waves are sent into material being tested and these sound waves are
reflected back by the discontinuities in the material. The reflected waves give information
about the discontinuity. Ultrasonic waves are also used for thickness measurement as
well as for studying mechanical and metallurgical properties of the materials e.g..
hardness, grain size etc.

When person speaks he is actually releasing pressure energy through his mouth, this
pressure is causing vibration of air molecules. These vibrations are transmitted from one
molecule to another till the pressure is diminished. When these vibrations reach the ear
of the other person, standing at a distance the other person is able to hear the sound. So
it is clear that sound travels from one point to another point and needs a medium. The
medium is a simply a matter through which wave travels.

Figure 1. Sound Wave Generation.

Sound waves are produced by mechanical vibrations or mechanical oscillations. One

vibration or oscillation is called a cycle. The number of cycles per second (cps ) is called
frequency of the sound waves. One cycle per second is called a Hertz ( Hz ). Sound
waves with frequencies from 20 Hz to 20 KHz are audible. Frequencies below 20 Hz are
called 'sub-sonic' or `infrasonic' waves, frequencies above 20 KHz are not audible and
are called `ultrasonic' waves. In UT ultrasonic waves are used. Frequencies from 0.5
MHz to 6 MHz are most commonly used in UT. In special cases frequencies as low as
0.2 MHz to as high as 20 MHz may be used.


Figure 2. Ultrasonic Wave Generation

Ultrasonic waves are generated by the transducer ( probe / search unit ) when it is
connected to Ultrasonic Flaw Detector (UFD - UT machine ). The waves are generated
not continuously but in small bursts or pulses. The pulses are sent into the test object by
placing the probe in contact with the test object. The waves travel through the material
and are reflected back by the far surface ( back surface ) as well as by any
discontinuities in the material. The reflected waves ( or the echoes) are received by the
same probe. The probe converts the sound waves back into electrical voltages. These
voltages are displayed on a Cathode Ray Tube ( CRT ) of the UFD.

Figure 3. Sound Beam Reflection.

The horizontal distance on the CRT is proportional to the distance of the reflecting point
from the probe. The vertical height of the reflected pulse or echo is a measure of the
energy reflected by the discontinuity and the size of the discontinuity is judged from this
echo height. At the same time shape and behaviour of an echo give some information
about the type and shape of the discontinuity. UT is performed as per, written procedure
using approved standard reference blocks or reference standards. In addition to flaw
detection, UT is also commonly used for measuring thickness, since the distance of back
echo on the CRT is proportional to the distance of the back surface, i.e. UT in principle.


Figure 4. Typical Ultrasonic Contact Test Display.



A sound wave is generated due to mechanical vibrations. When a sound wave travels
through the medium, the medium particles vibrate. A vibration is periodic phenomenon.
Vibration is a back and forth movement and vibration is energy in motion. The
transmission of ultrasonic vibrations through material is related to the elastic properties
of the material. When particle vibrates, its displacement ( movement from normal
position ) increases and decreases periodically. A wave is characterized by certain
quantities : -

The VELOCITY ( V ) of sound propagation in material is entirely decided by mechanical

properties of the material. Usually this is constant at a constant temperature and does
NOT change with the frequency of the wave. The only way to change the velocity is to
change the properties of the material. It is the rate at which a point on a wave travels per
unit of time. It is expressed as mm/sec, cm/sec, n-/sec etc.

The AMPLITUDE ( A ) is the maximum displacement of a particle on the medium from

its rest position. It is related to the amount of energy received by the pulse. A pulse with
high energy will have large amplitude.

Figure 5. A Sinusoidal Sound Wave.


Pronounced as `lambda' is a length of a complete cycle and is equal to the distance

between two successive similar corresponding ) positions in the wave. A wave has
repeating pattern and the length of one such repetition ( cycle ) is the wavelength. It may
be measured in mm, cm, m.



The period (T) is the time taken by the wave to travel a distance equal to wavelength
( one cycle ). It is measured in seconds.


The frequency of the wave (f) refers to how often the particles in the medium vibrate
when wave passes through the medium. It is measured as the number of complete
back-and-forth vibrations of a particle of the medium per unit of time. It is same as
number of cycles traveling across a point in one second. It is also same-as the number
of vibrations completed by the particles per second. The unit of frequency used to
denote one Cycle Per Second ( cps ) is one Hertz ( Hz ).

The velocity of the sound wave is mathematically related to the frequency and
wavelength of the wave. It is important to use correct unit when using this equation.
Frequency is always taken in Hz.

V ( velocity ) = f ( frequency ) X λ ( wavelength )

f ( frequency) = 1 / T ( period - seconds )

Figure 6. Ultrasound Wave in a Material.



There are different types of ultrasonic waves and are called as wave MODES. These
wave modes are categorized based on the distinguishing characteristics. One of the
characteristic is the direction of movement of the individual particles of the medium
relative to the direction that the waves travel.


In this wave the particles of the medium vibrate parallel to the direction of propagation of
wave. The particles of the medium are displaced in a direction parallel to the direction of
energy transport. The region where particles are pressed together in a small amount of
space is known as a compression. A region where the particles are spread apart is
known as rarefaction. Longitudinal wave has an alternating pattern of compressions and
rarefactions. Longitudinal wave travels through air, liquid and solid.

Figure 7. Longitudinal / Compression Wave


In this wave the particles of the medium vibrate perpendicular to the direction of
propagation of wave. The particles of the medium are displaced in a direction
perpendicular to the direction of energy transport. Longitudinal wave has an alternating
pattern of crests and troughs. Transverse wave requires relatively rigid medium in order
to transmit energy that is why transverse wave travels through solid only.


Figure 8. Shear / Transverse Wave


In this wave the particles of the medium move in elliptical path. These waves travel only
on the surface of solid

Figure 9. Surface / Raleigh Wave



In this wave the particles of the medium move in circular path. These waves travel in a
plate where thickness is smaller than the wavelength. It travels through solid. The mode
in material differ widely depending on frequency, incident angle and material thickness.

Figure 10. Plate / Lamb wave.

Of these four wave modes longitudinal and shear wave modes are most widely used in
UT. Each of these modes have different velocities. These velocities depend upon the
physical properties of the material. For a given material, longitudinal waves have the
greatest velocity. Shear velocity is smaller than longitudinal velocity, it is usually 50 % or
half of the longitudinal velocity for a given material. Surface wave velocity is smaller than
shear wave velocity, it is 90 % of shear velocity ie 45 % of longitudinal velocity. As far as
lamb waves are concerned the mode in material differ widely depending on frequency,
incident angle and material thickness.

As a sound wave travels through a medium, it often reaches the end of the medium or
encounter a discontinuity or another medium through which it could continue to travel.
When one medium ends and another medium begins the interface of the two media is
referred to as the boundary and behaviour of a wave is described as boundary
behaviour. There are four possible boundary behaviours by which a sound wave could
behave reflection ( bounce off the surface ), diffraction ( bending around the discontinuity


without crossing over the boundary ), transmission ( crossing over into new material -
straight / normal beam) and refraction ( occurs along with transmission and is
characterized by subsequent change in velocity and direction ).

When sound wave strikes an interface, some energy of sound wave will be transmitted
at point of incidence and some energy will be reflected. The amount of energy reflected
will depend upon the acoustic impedance ratio of the two mediums. `Acoustic
Impedance' is a material property and is defined as a product of sound velocity and
density of the material.

Z=Vxp Z = acoustic impedance.

V = velocity of sound wave.

p = density of medium.

Reflection Factor ( R) = { ( Z 1 – Z2 ) / (Z 1 + Z2 ) } 2 x 100.

Transmission Factor ( T) = ( 100 - R )

Reflection factor gives amount of wave energy is reflected and Transmission factor gives
amount of energy transmitted into new medium. An impedance ratio of anything lesser or
greater than 1 : 1 is less than ideal.

Table 1

Impedance Values for Typical Materials

Sr # Material Z Velocity Density
gm/cm2-sec cm/sec gm/cm3
1 Air 0.000033 x 106 0.33 x 105 0.001
2 Water 0.149 x 106 1.49 x 105 1.00
6 5
3 Aluminum 1.72 x 10 6.35 x 10 2.71

Steel 4.56 x 106 5.85 x 105 7.80





A sound beam approaching an interface is referred to as an `incident beam' or incident

wave. Sound beam strikes the material surface and like light beam gets reflected from
the surface it strikes. A line is drawn perpendicular to interface from point of incidence of
sound beam, and is called normal. Normal drawn from the point of incidence divides the
angle between incident beam and reflected beam into two equal angles. The angle
between incident beam and normal is the angle of incidence and angle between
reflected beam and normal is the angle of reflection. Reflection involves only change in
the direction of the sound beam in same medium. In case of a normal probe the incident
beam strikes surface at 90 degrees i.e. perpendicular to surface of material. Incident
beam and normal lie in one line and angle of incidence is zero. At this interface sound
beam has been reflected and transmitted

i = Angel of Incidence r = Angle of Refraction

Figure 11. Incident and Reflected Sound Beam at Interface



Mode conversion takes place when sound beam ( longitudinal wave ) strikes an interface
between two different media at an angle other than-90 degrees. Transmitted wave
undergoes a change in direction in material and is known as ' refraction'. In fact the
sound beam inside a material splits into two distinct waves namely longitudinal wave and
shear wave. This phenomenon of conversion of one mode of waves into another due to
refraction is called a mode conversion.

Figure 12. Mode Conversion of Sound

The angle of refraction 0 is given by (Snell's Law)

Sin i / Sin θ = V 1 / V2. i = angle of incidence.

θ= angle of refraction.

V I = velocity of sound in medium 1.

V2 = velocity of sound in medium 2.


The velocity of longitudinal wave is greater than the velocity of the shear wave, the
refracted angle of longitudinal wave is always greater than that of shear wave. If incident
angle is increased, the refracted angles of both the wave inside that material will also
increase and at particular incident angle the refracted angle of longitudinal wave will be
90 degrees and longitudinal wave will come to the surface of the material and thus only
shear wave will be present in the material. This corresponding incident angle for which
refracted angle of longitudinal wave is 90 degrees is called a (first critical angle)

Figure 13. First Critical Angle.

On further increase of first critical angle, refracted angle of shear wave will continue to
increase and will reach 90 degrees and shear wave will come to the surface of the
material and inside the material, there will be no wave. This corresponding incident
angle for which refracted angle of shear wave is 90 degrees is called a (second critical
angle). The shear waves which come to the surface and travel along the surface of the
material are called (surface waves) or (Raleigh waves)


Figure 14. Second Critical Angle.

In case of an angle probe the longitudinal wave produced by probe is incident through a
plastic wedge at an angle to the material surface. Since mode conversion will introduce
two waves of different velocities and angles into the test material, the results will be
misleading. Therefore one of the waves has to be eliminated. For angle beam scanning
the incident angle should be between the first and second critical angles.




The most common technique employed in a UT is pulse echo technique. First

commercial UFD made in year 1942 was based on this principle. Great improvements
have been effected since then in the circuitry to make the system more versatile and
capable. However the basic system of construction of UFD has not changed. The basic
components are cathode ray tube ( CRT ), Pulsar, clock, sweep generator and amplifier.

Figure 15. Typical Cathode Ray Tube ( CRT )

CRT is an essential part of the UFD. CRT screen is a glass tube coated with fluorescent
material. Cathode filament is heated to emit electrons. These electrons are focused into
thin beam by the focusing coils and accelerated towards screen by applying high voltage
to anode. The area where the electron beam strikes the screen will be seen as a
luminous spot. `HH' and `VV are two sets of electrodes. If a voltage is applied to 'HH'
plates the electron beam will be deflected horizontally and if a voltage is applied to the
`VV plates the electron beam will be deflected vertically. In a flaw detector, the horizontal
deflection is used-to measure time. Hence, voltage varying linearly with time is applied to
these plates. Such voltage is called `sweep voltage'. When one cycle of sweep voltage is
applied, the electron spot will travel at uniform speed from left to right and
instantaneously reach back to its starting point. Since the speed is uniform, the distance
of the spot along X-axis is proportional to time. If this cycle is repeated number of times
in a second, a continuous line is seen on the CRT screen due to persistence of vision.
Simultaneous with sweep voltage, if transient voltage appears on the `VV' plates, the


trace on the CRT screen will also instantaneously deflect up and down. This vertical
deflection on the CRT is called a (pip). In UT such pips are also called echoes,
reflections, deflection, reflected pulses etc.

Working of a Flaw Detector.

Pulsar `P' gives out a high voltage electric pulse of short duration. Electric pulse excites
the transducer `T' and the transducer generates a short pulse of ultrasonic waves. The
waves travel into the specimen material under test and get reflected by a discontinuity in
the material or the back surface.

The reflected wave returns to the transducer and get converted into an electric voltage.
This voltage is amplified by amplifier (A) and fed to the vertical deflection plates (VV) of
the CRT. This will cause a `pip' on the CRT. When pulsar emits a pulse, the sweep circuit
(S) is simultaneously activated and this sweep voltage is connected to the horizontal
deflection plates (HH) of the CRT. Hence the electron beam starts tracing the horizontal
line on the CRT.
The pip appears after some distance on the X-axis since there is an interval of time
between the start of the sweep and return of the ultrasonic pulse ; and this distance will
be proportional to the distance of the reflector from the front surface of the test object.

A part of the pulse emitted by the transducer is also reflected from the front surface of
the specimen material and returns to the transducer. Since the pulses and sweep
generate voltages periodically, these must be made to act in unison i.e. the time
difference between the start of high voltage pulse and start of the sweep should be zero
or constant or pulsar and sweep circuits must be synchronized.
This is done by the (timer) or (clock), which gives out an electrical voltage periodically
which activates the pulsar and sweep circuit simultaneously or with constant delay.


Figure 16. Pulse Echo Unit, Block Diagram


Equipment Control.

Sweep control : The sweep voltage deflects the electron beam horizontally. Hence all the
sweep controls will affect the CRT screen picture only in the horizontal direction.

Fig 17. Sweep Delay Adjustment

Figure 18. Sweep Length Adjustment.

available which can change the delay between the pulsar and the sweep circuit and is
known as delay control or zero shift control or horizontal position control. The delay


control shifts the whole trace bodily to left or right. Since the sweep rate is not changed
the horizontal distances between any two pips remain unchanged.-On the other hand, if
the ; `range control' or `sweep rate' is changed the distance between pulses is increased
or decreased.

Pulsar control : Pulsar control changes the height and the shape of pulses. Ultrasonic
pulses are generated by giving short duration electric pulses to the transducer. If the
voltage is higher, the ultrasonic vibrations will have higher amplitude and hence the
energy content of the ultrasonic pulse will also be high. Pulse control increases or
decreases the voltage applied to the transducer. The increase in the pulse energy due to
application of the higher voltage, increase not only the amplitude of the vibrations but
also the length of the ultrasonic pulse so that the pulses become broader.
Range markers : These are set into the display just under the base line to aid in
immediately identifying the location of any discontinuity within the part. These markers
can be expanded or contracted to fit the space between the front surface pip and the first
back surface pip, thus dividing the space into convenient equal increments. The higher
the frequency, the closer the spacing of the square waves and the more accurate the

Figure 19. Range markers.

Thickness Measurement.

Two different techniques are employed for thickness measurement by ultrasonic, pulse
echo technique and resonance technique.

Pulse Echo Technique : The distance between initial pulse and the reflected pulse,
measured along the X-axis on the CRT, is proportional to the distance between the
reflector and the entry surface. Thus the thickness of an object can be measured from
the position of the back echo on the X-axis of the CRT. In order to get accurate reading,


obtain multiple echoes and use lower range and bringing the back-wall echo within the
scale by zero shifting. Dead zone may prevent thickness testing of thin sections.

Figure 20 . Thickness Readings on CRT Scale.


Figure 21. Partial Range.

Resonance Technique : When continuous ultrasonic waves are generated by the probe,
the reflected waves will meet the incident waves and these two will interfere. When the
thickness `T' of the object happens to be an integral multiple of the half wave length of
the ultrasonic waves, a phenomenon called resonance takes place. Standing waves are
set up in the material under these conditions and higher current is drawn in the circuitry
of the equipment. Thus by varying the frequency of the ultrasonic waves and noting the
frequency at which resonance takes place, thickness of the material can be calculated.

T = nX/2 = nV/2f n=integer, λ=V/f.

Resonance will take place at number of frequencies, corresponding to n = 1, 2, 3, etc.

By continuously varying the frequency of the ultrasonic waves and noting the difference
between two successive resonance frequencies, the thickness can be easily calculated.
In equipment operating on a resonance principle the thickness is read on a calibrated
scale. This technique was developed when pulse echo technique was unable to give
accurate readings for thin sections. However with developments in technology pulse
echo technique has been able to match the performance of the resonance equipments
and so resonance equipments are no more used.



Generation and Reception of Ultrasound

For producing ultrasound in megahertz range for UT a phenomenon called `piezoelectric

effect' is made use of. Only certain materials exhibit this characteristic of piezoelectric
effect. When these materials re compressed, a voltage appears across its faces. If
compression is changed to expansion the voltage still appears but the polarity changes.
This is called piezoelectric effect. If alternating expansions and compressions such as by
a sound wave are applied to the piezoelectric material, an alternating voltage of
corresponding frequency is obtained. All piezoelectric materials also exhibit the reverse
effect. If voltage is applied to the material, it expands or contracts and if the polarity of
the voltage is reversed expansion becomes contraction and contraction becomes
expansion. An alternating voltage will make the crystal vibrate with the frequency of the
applied voltage. This is called reverse piezoelectric effect, and is made use of in
generation of ultrasound and piezoelectric effect is made use of in receiving ultrasound.

Figure 22. Piezoelectric Effect.

An electric pulse of very high frequency and short duration is applied to the piezoelectric
element. Transducer element ( crystal ) is activated by this pulse and it vibrates at its


natural frequency. Natural frequency depends on its thickness. f = V / 2T, where V is the
sound velocity, T is thickness of the transducer element. Thus, higher-the frequency
thinner the piezoelectric element.
For every piezoelectric material, there is a temperature above which the material loses
its piezoelectric property. This temperature is called the `curie temperature'. All
piezoelectric materials are not similar in their properties. Some are good transmitters,
some are good receivers, some have good chemical / physical stability etc. Quartz was
one of the earliest piezoelectric materials used. Quartz is no longer used as a crystal for
various reasons and is replaced by a synthetic material.
The materials used for crystals are produced by powder metallurgical methods. These
elements are still called as 'crystals'. Elements such as Lithium sulfate is used as
receiver and Barium titanate is used as transmitter and are produced by powder
metallurgical methods..

Normal and Angle Beam Probe.

The probe is the most critical part of the ultrasonic test system. Its abilities and
limitations define all aspects of UT, from instrument design to test specifications.

Figure 23. Normal Probe.


Types of Probes.

 Normal Beam Probe or Straight Beam probe : the beam is parallel to the
normal to the surface on which it is incident. The beam is perpendicular to the
surface on which it is incident.

 Angle Beam Probe : The sound beam enters the surface at an angle, angle
being measured with reference to a normal.

Figure 24. Angle Probe.

 Dual Probe : A normal probe but with separate crystals for transmitting and
receiving ultrasonic sound waves. These probes are widely used in detecting
discontinuities close to the surface and thickness testing of thin sections.

Figure 25. Dual Probe.

Special Type Probe : Mosaic, array or matrix ; wheel probe for plate testing etc.


Figure 26. Linear Array.

Construction of a Probe : The piezoelectric element ( crystal ) is coated on both sides

with thin conducting layers. The conducting layer on top is connected to central contact
of the probe connector. The voltage pulse is applied from the instrument through the
cable to this point.

During scanning the probe has to be protected against damage. A thin layer of very hard
material is bonded to the metallised crystal, which can withstand abrasion from
moderate rough surface. Wear membrane made of special grade of plastic is stretched
over probe contact surface with some oil in between. It is more suited for low frequency
probe and improves contact on curved and rough surfaces. The probe must be water
tight to avoid damage from the various liquids used as couplants. Probes are usually
specified by size ( diameter or side of square or rectangle ) and frequency. The diameter
refers to the diameter of the crystal and not the case, case will be larger than the crystal.
An angle beam probe is essentially a normal beam probe mounted on a plastic wedge.
This causes the beam to incident on the job at an angle. The entire assembly of crystal,
connector and wedge is enclosed in housing or a case. In case of an angle probe the
angle marked on the probe is not the incident angle but the refracted angle in material.
Due to the contact surface being of softer plastic, angle beam probes get more easily
worn out. A uniform wear has no noticeable effect on probe performance, only beam exit
point may shift slightly. But non-uniform wear will change wedge angle and hence beam
angle will change in addition to beam index point.

Skip and Path Distances

When testing plates or welds the angle beam gets reflected between either surfaces of
the plate and thus shows a zigzag path. The distance `AC' is called the full skip distance
and the distance `ABC' is called `V' path distance. The skip distance and path distance
are determined by the thickness of the plate `T' and the beam angle P.


Figure 27. Skip Distance and V-path

Full skip distance = 2 x T x Tan β

V-path = 2xTxCos β

T = Material thickness

β = Shear Wave Refracted Angle ( Beam Angle ).

Flaw Location with Angle Beam Probe

If discontinuity is encountered by the beam before the half skip distance, the projected
distance (X) of the discontinuity from the beam index and the depth (Y ) of the
discontinuity from the surface are given by:

Figure 28. Flaw Location


X = PxSin β

Y = P x Cos β   P = beam path as seen on the CRT.

The special cable used as probe cable is called `co-axial cable' in which the electrical
voltage is applied to a central conductor which is surrounded by insulation. Probe is
connected to co-axial cable and co-axial cable is connected to instrument by means of
connectors. Widely used connectors are Lemo, BNC, microdot etc. CO-axial cable
should not be bent too much and should be cleaned to remove couplant after use. Do
not pull the cable off from the instrument, instead disconnect the cable by holding the
connector. Avoid excess pressure or rubbing on the probe.

Profile of Ultrasonic Beam

A circular piezoelectric transducer gives a cylindrical beam which converges up to a

certain distance and then diverge. The region from the probe up to the `neck' of the
beam from where it starts diverging is called the `Near Zone' or 'Fresnel Zone', denoted
as N.

Near Zone = N = D2 /4), D = probe diameter

Figure 29. Beam Profile.


The region beyond near zone is called the `Far Zone' or 'Froanhofer Zone'. In the far
zone beam diverges and it appears as if the beam comes from a point source at the
center of the crystal with the semi-cone angle θ.

Sin θ = 1.2 λ / D θ = Half angle of Beam Spread.

The strongest intensity of the sound beam is along its central axis, with gradual
reduction in amplitude away from the axis. Sound intensity varies irregularly in near zone
and then decreases uniformly there after. So discontinuities of same size will give
different echo amplitudes within near zone, thus flaw evaluation within near zone can
lead to errors. In far field the sound intensity varies inversely as the square of the
distance and echo amplitude decreases uniformly.

Figure 30. Beam Spread


Wave Propagation in Material.

Beam divergence is not the only reason for the reduction in intensity of the beam as the
distance increases. In a real material, a sound wave also continuously loses a parts of
its energy through conversion into heat and this is called 'absorption'. In addition a part
of the sound wave is scattered from microscopic interfaces in the material and this is
called `scatter'.

The combined loss of energy due to absorption and scatter is known as 'attenuation'.
The sound attenuation increases with an increase in frequency. Absorption is different for
different material. Thus attenuation depends upon the material and its metallurgical
structure. The total decrease in intensity in sound wave due to distance is a combination
of decrease due to beam divergence and that due to attenuation.

The ultrasonic beam adopts a characteristic shape which is regulated by the size and
the frequency of the transducer. Transducer diameter has a definite influence on the
sound beam transmitted through a medium. For a given frequency, a smaller transducer
has a greater beam spread angle than a larger diameter transducer.

Figure 31. Effect of Transducer Diameter on Beam Spread.

Gain control : Amplifier control affects the shape and height of the pulses. The amplifier
amplifies the amplitude of the received signals upto 10,000 times or more and any small
signal of interest should be represented on the same small CRT screen, so there is need
to control the amplifier gain. The calibrated gain control is calibrated in numbers
representing the ratio of amplification. Since the ratios vary over a large range and


relative ratios are used, it is convenient to use logarithm of the ratio. This logarithmic
ratio is specified in terms of decibels ( dB ).

Wave form display control : The ultrasonic pulses are rectified before these are amplified
and presented on the CRT. Full wave rectification is usually done. Sometimes it is useful
to have un-rectified pulse on the CRT. The un-rectified wave form is called the radio
frequency (RF ) form. Required wave form can be displayed by this control.

Figure 32. Wave Form Display.

Suppression control : Small, clustered and constantly varying echoes, which are not due
to the discontinuities are sometimes seen on the CRT. These echoes are called `grass
echoes' or `noise echoes' or `hash'. The suppression control cuts off the fixed amount of
the height from all the signals so that the noise is removed from the CRT:


Figure 33. Suppression Control.

Monitor and Gate controls : When a particular portion or section of the CRT is to be
viewed that portion or section is `gated'. The gated section is identified on CRT either by
raised sweep line or a depressed sweep line or an intensified sweep line. The echoes
within the gate are noted manually.

Equipment Characteristics.

Horizontal Linearity

Also called time-base linearity or sweep linearity. It is an equipment characteristic and is

independent of the probe. In range setting minimum two echoes should be -obtained on
a CRT horizontal scale. Equal distances represent equal thicknesses, i.e. if first echo is
at 5th division then second echo must be at 10th division then the horizontal scale is


Figure 34. Horizontal Linearity.

Vertical Linearity

Also known as amplifier linearity. It refers to the height of echo being proportional to the
signal height as provided by the probe. It is an equipment characteristic and is
independent of the probe. Amplitude of signal ie heights on CRT should reduce or
increase proportionately if gain is reduced or increased respectively. Equipment shows
linearity up to certain height on the CRT. The vertical height of CRT where the linearity
no longer exists is called vertical limit. During UT operate below vertical limit.

Figure 35. Vertical Linearity.


dB control

The gain control calibrated in dB helps to compare echo heights in terms of dB. An
increase of gain by 6 dB should increase the echo height by a factor 2

Figure 36. dB Control.


Resolution is the ability to show distinct and well separated echoes from defects which
are close to each other. Resolution is of two types axial and lateral. Resolution is more
dependent on probe than on the equipment. Lateral resolution improves with narrower
beams. Depth resolution improves with narrower pulses. Dead zone is near surface
resolution, it is the ability to resolve reflectors close to the entry surface from the
transmitted pulse. Larger the dead zone, poorer the near surface resolution.


Figure 37. Resolution


Sensitivity is defined as the ability to detect small defects. Sensitivity is both dependent
on both the equipment and the probe characteristics. Higher frequency lead to better
sensitivity. Higher pulse energy and higher amplification increases sensitivity.



Calibration Blocks.

For successful accomplishment of the ultrasonic examination, it is necessary to have a

good flaw detector and good probes. To ensure uniform practice in checking the
characteristics of the equipment and the probe some standardized blocks which are
internationally recognized are used. These blocks are called calibration blocks.
IIW Calibration Block ( V-1 Block) : This block is used for checking the time-base
linearity, the amplifier linearity, accuracy of dB calibration, depth resolution, near surface
resolution, far surface resolution, maximum penetration power, angle probe beam exit
point and beam angle. It can be used for setting the range and sensitivity of the

Figure 38. IIW calibration Block ( V 1 Block )


Time-base linearity

Multiple echoes can be obtained from any of the thicknesses provided ie 25 mm or 100
mm. (position A and B )

Figure 39. Probe Positions.

Amplifier linearity

A multiple echo pattern is obtained from any convenient thickness and any two echoes
are compared at different amplification level.

Near surface resolution ( dead zone )

For normal probe, it is placed successively at the nearest reflectors and echo from which
could be clearly resolved from the initial pulse is quoted as dead zone ( positions E, F, G
and H ). Dead zone depends on probe-equipment combination and not only on
equipment alone.

Far surface resolution

For normal probe, ( position C ), three echoes are clearly separated on the CRT, the
resolution is said to be good. This characteristic also depends on probe-equipment

Penetration power

Checked for normal probe. Plastic insert in the V 1 block is made of plastic and is high
absorbent of ultrasonic energy. Place probe on the plastic material and adjust equipment
controls to get maximum echo height. The number of back wall echoes obtained from
plastic insert at this setting is measure of the penetration power (position D ).


Range setting

For normal probe, multiple echoes are obtained from the suitable thickness from the
block, thickness being selected such that more than one back wall echo appears on the
CRT. Two of the echoes are adjusted to their calculated thickness positions.

Beam index

For angle probe, the point on the probe at which sound beam leaves the probe to enter
into material being tested. Probe is placed on the V 1 block to get 100 mm radius echo.
The probe is moved forward and backward till the height of the echo from the radius is
maximum. The beam exit point or beam index corresponds to the centre of the 100 mm
radius of V 1 block and it is to be marked on the probe.

Figure 40. Beam Index and Beam Angle.

Beam angle

For angle probe, the beam angle is determined by using the angle graduations marked
on the edges of the V 1 block. The probe is moved forward and backward till the
reflection from the appropriate reflector is maximized. The probe angle is read off from
the angle scale, corresponding to beam index.


Range setting

For angle probe, the probe is placed near the center of the 100 mm radius quadrant of
the V 1 block. The first reflection is obtained from the 100 mm radius. The second
reflection from the 25 mm radius after the reflection from the 100 mm radius does not
occur at 100 + 25 = 125 mm, because the beam can not be received at this wrong
approach angle. The beam travels once again to 100 mm radius and returns to the
probe. The second echo therefore occurs at 225 mm. Subsequent echoes will also be at
125 mm intervals giving the sequence 100, 225, 350, 475 etc.

Figure 41. Range Setting - Angle Probe.

Miniature Calibration Block ( V 2 Block)

It is being small and handy, it is useful in field areas. Thickness less than 25 mm for
normal probe and range smaller than 100 mm for angle probe can be calibrated.
However resolution, penetration power and large thicknesses can not be checked. For
angle beam range calibration echoes are obtained at 25 mm, 100 mm, 175 mm etc if
beam is aimed at 25 mm radius and at 50 mm, 125 mm, 200 mm etc if beam is aimed at
50 mm radius.


Figure 42. Miniature Calibration Block ( V2 Block) and Range Calibration.

ASTM Distance & Area Amplitude Blocks

ASTM Distance Amplitude Blocks

These blocks consists of a series of cylindrical blocks having a flat bottom hole drilled to
a: varying depths. The hole diameter is fixed but depth is varied. Distance amplitude
curve is constructed by recording the amplitude of echoes from the holes at the same
gain setting.


Figure 43. ASTM Distance/Area Amplitude Blocks.

ASTM Area Amplitude Blocks

These blocks are identical to the distance amplitude blocks. These blocks consists of a
series of cylindrical blocks having a flat bottom holes of different diameters at fixed
depth, that gives variable amplitude from reflector. Area amplitude curve is constructed
by recording the amplitude of echoes from the holes at the same gain setting.


Table 3

Step wedge

Stepped block or step wedge provide a series of thicknesses which can be used for
calibration and checking of range and sweep linearity.

Figure 44. Step Wedges.


Half Moon Block

These are semi-cylindrical blocks and are used for path calibration using angle beam
probe. The echoes are obtained at distances of R, 3R, 5R etc. Steps are used to give
different metal paths.

Figure 45. Half moon Block.

Changing the frequency of the transducer will also change the beam spread. Divergence
of sound beam is inversely proportional to frequency ie. .increase in frequency will
reduce beam spread angle. A transducer having high frequency will produce a sound
beam of almost constant diameter than a transducer with lower frequency.


2.25 Hz

5 MHz

9 MHz

Figure 46. Effect of Transducer Frequency on Beam Spread


Beam divergence can be reduced by increasing the transducer frequency or by using a

larger diameter transducer. It can summarized as

 Increase velocity : Increase beam spread.

 Increase frequency : Decrease beam spread.

 Increase diameter : Decrease beam spread.

 Increase Beam Spread : Decrease the length of the near field.

When sound is incident normal to ( perpendicular to ) interface between two media, it is

partly reflected and partly transmitted. The ratio of sound energy reflected ( Er) to the
sound energy incident (Ei ) is called the reflection factor R. transmission factor T. The
ratio of sound energy transmitted ( Et ) to the sound energy incident (Ei ) is called the
transmission factor T. These factors depend upon the property of the material called the
`Acoustic Impedance' (Z ). Acoustic impedance of a material is the product of its physical
density (p ) and the velocity (V ) of sound in the medium.

Z = p x V.

Er % = { (Z1 - Z2 )2 / (Z1 + Z2 )2 } x 100

Et % = 100 - Er %. Z1and Z2 are acoustic impedances of materials.

Figure 47. Acoustic Impedance of Materials



Ultrasonic energy striking at an interface of two different materials, either at normal or at

inclined incidence, is partially reflected back and partially transmitted into the other
medium. It is the transmitted part of the energy which is utilized in inspection work.
Depending on conditions of test and information required, a number of techniques are
used for the ultrasonic inspection.

There are two methods of ultrasonic testing. In contact method, the transducer is placed
in direct contact with test specimen. A thin film of suitable couplant is applied between
the probe and the test piece for proper transfer of ultrasonic energy into the job under
inspection. In contact method of testing almost all probes, e.g. normal beam, angle
beam, and surface wave are used.

Figure 48. Contact Method – Principle

In immersion testing probe head and test piece are kept immersed in water. The probes
used for immersion testing are water proof and are basically normal beam longitudinal
wave probes. The couplant used is usually water with a wetting agent added. These
probes need not have wear resistant front face. The probe head is positioned at a
distance, known as water path, from the front face of the test piece. A manipulator
handles the movement and angulations of the probe. The immersion techniques are
mainly used in large installations carrying out automatic ultrasonic testing of same type
of specimen.


Figure 49. Immersion Method – Principle

The several techniques used for the ultrasonic inspection the most popular is the pulse
echo technique in which reflected part of the energy from the flaw is utilized for the
testing of materials. In through transmission one, energy transmitted through the
material is used for the estimation of soundness of the job piece. Resonance technique
is utilized to measure material thickness using resonance phenomenon.

Pulse Echo Technique

In this technique short evenly-timed pulses of ultrasonic waves are transmitted into the
material being tested. These pulses reflect from the discontinuities in their path or from
any boundary of the material on which they strike. The received reflections or indications
are then displayed on a CRT. The CRT furnishes data as to the relative amplitude of the


reflections and their travel time through the material. A single transducer is used as both
transmitter and receiver ; although sometimes two transducers are used, one acting as
transmitter and other as the receiver. The advantages of pulse echo technique over
through transmission technique are :

1. time taken for the pulses to return can be measured and hence the distance of
the discontinuity ( depth at which the discontinuity is located ) can be measured,

2. access to one side of the object is sufficient,

3. the transmitter can act as the receiver also since it is not continuously
transmitting ; thus one probe is sufficient,

4. the problem of precisely aligning two probes is eliminated.

Figure 50. Pulse Echo Technique.

Through Transmission Technique

In through transmission technique a continuous beam of ultrasonic energy is sent into

material. It requires the use of two transducers, in which case both sides of the job are
accessible. One transducer is used solely as transmitter while the other is used as the
receiver. The receiving transducer is aligned with the transmitting transducer


to pick up the sound waves which pass directly through the material. Any discontinuity
will reflect the incident ultrasonic waves and thus cause reduction in the transmitted
energy. Thus the discontinuity is detected by reduction in transmitted energy. The main
disadvantage of this system is its inability to give information about the exact size and
location of the defect.

Figure 51. Through Transmission Technique

Resonance Technique

If the thickness of material equals the half of the wavelength of sound or its multiple,
resonance takes place. Resonance occurs because the reflected wave is exactly in
synchronization with the transmitted wave i.e. the particle motion in both the transmitted
and the reflected wave are in the same direction at exactly the same time: This
synchronization of the two sound waves has the effect of intensifying the energy of the
wave. In the resonance technique an ultrasonic beam is applied torn the test material
through a transducer as in other testing methods. The frequency of the continuous
longitudinal wave transmitted in the material is varied till standing waves are set up in
the material. Presence of resonance is indicated by an increase in amplitude. Knowing
the frequency at resonance `f and velocity `V' of the ultrasonic wave in test piece, its
thickness `T' can be calculated from the relation T = V / 2f.the resonance method is used
primarily for thickness measurements of material with two opposite sides smooth and
parallel, but it will also detect the presence of discontinuities that lie in the same plane as
the test surface.. For example, if resonance indications are being obtained that are
correct for the thickness of the material then the section under the transducer is without
any discontinuity. If the transducer is over a discontinuity, the resonance indications will
disappear or will be reduced depending on the size and orientation of the discontinuity.
Discontinuities that lie in a plane that is vertical to the test surface however will go


Figure 52. Resonance Technique.


To transmit vibrations of the probe into material the. probe is kept in contact with
material. If there is a very thin air gap between the probe and the test material all the
vibrations will be reflected back from material surface into the probe. To avoid this and
thus to improve the transmission of the waves into the material, a thin layer of liquid ( oil,
water, glycerin, grease ) is applied on the test surface. This material is called 'couplant'.
The primary purpose of a couplant is to provide a suitable sound path between the
transducer and the test surface. A couplant must effectively wet or totally contact both
surfaces of the transducer and test part. A couplant must exclude all air from between
the surfaces as air is very poor conductor of sound. The couplant fills in and smoothes
out irregularities on the surface of the test part. The couplant aids in the movement of
the transducer over the surface in contact testing. A practical couplant must be very easy
to apply and easy to remove. It must be harmless to the part surface. Oil or water mixed
with glycerin are commonly used couplants. Specially formulated liquid and paste
couplants are also available. In all cases the couplant should be as thin as possible. If
the couplant is excessive, it may act as a wedge and alter the direction of the sound


Figure 53. Effect of Surface on CRT Presentation.

The surface of the test specimen can greatly affect ultrasonic wave propagation. Rough
surfaces can cause undesirable effects such as reduction of discontinuity and back
surface amplitudes due to distortion of wave directivity. A good back surface reflection
indicates a good response from the material being tested. It is reflected back to its

Methods of Presentation

Information obtained by a pulse echo system contains data on the range and amplitude
of the signal and is processed in different ways to produce three types of displays or
presentations namely A - scan, B - scan and C - scan.

A - Scan

A - Scan is a data presentation method that displays the returned signals from the
material under test on CRT screen. The horizontal base line on the CRT screen indicates
elapsed time ( from left to right ), and vertical deflection shows signal amplitudes. For a
given ultrasonic velocity in the specimen, the sweep can be calibrated directly, across


then screen, in terms of distance or depth of penetration into the specimen. The height
of the indications represent the intensities of the reflected sound beams. These may be
used to determine the size of the discontinuity, the depth or the distance to the
discontinuity, from the front or back surface.

Figure 54. A - Scan.

B - Scan

B - Scan shows cross section of the test object on the screen after the probe has been
moved on a scanning track, running across the test object. The probe movement' is
mostly displayed in X-0 direction while the distance of flaws encountered is displayed in
Y - direction. This technique of presentation is used generally for- semi- or fully
automatic testing. Portions of test object that are behind any large reflecting surface
( flaw ) come under shadow and do not show in the display. In this technique the depth
of the flaws beneath the surface and their size in the lateral direction are indicated. This
technique is particularly useful where the distribution and shape of large discontinuities
within a specimen cross section is of interest.

C - Scan

The C-scan presentation registers the presence and amplitude of the reflected
signals from discontinuities. The result is plan ( top) view display. It projects
the internal details of a material into a plane as if sliced through the specimen
at the depth of the discontinuity. If a discontinuity exists, the plan view are of
the discontinuity is revealed. In C-scan front and back surface reflections are
not used, only the reflected energy from the discontinuity is used. Normally
the depth of the flaw is not indicated.

The image is true - to - scale reproduction of discontinuity in the specimen

and usually a real time image where the formation of the image follows the


movement of the probe. The probe movement pattern over the search surface
is either closely spaced parallel lines or zigzag or a spiral.

Figure 55. B - Scan.


Figure 56. C - Scan.

Angle Beam testing

This technique is used to transmit sound waves into the test material at a predetermined
angle to the test surface. According to the angle selected, the wave modes produced in
the test material may be mixed longitudinal and shear, shear only or surface modes.
Usually, shear wave transducers are used in angle beam testing. In this technique the
sound beam enters the test material at an angle and proceeds by successive zig zag
deflections from the specimen boundaries until it is interrupted by a discontinuity or a
boundary where the beam reverses direction and is reflected back to the transducer.
Angle beam techniques are used for testing welds, pipe or tubing, sheet and plate
material and for specimens of irregular shapes where straight beam units are unable to
contact all of the surface. Angle beam transducers are identified by case markings that
show sound beam direction by an arrow and that indicate the angle of refraction in
material for shear wave.


Figure 57. Angle Beam Technique.



UT is particularly adaptable to the determination of the structural integrity of material.

Major applications are in the detection of discontinuities in raw stock and finished
products, weld joints and in thickness measurements.

The amount of energy reflected by a discontinuity ( reflector ) back into the probe and
displayed on the CRT depends upon many factors such as the characteristics of the
discontinuity i.e. its size, shape, orientation, roughness, acoustic impedance etc,
frequency of the probe, size of the probe and distance of the discontinuity from the entry
surface. There is no mathematical formula which combines all these variables. Therefore
it is necessary to simulate a discontinuity, under the test conditions to be used, and
record its response. It is not possible to simulate all the parameters of a reflector exactly,
instead an ideal discontinuity such as flat bottom hole FBH ) which represents a flat
reflector, is employed. The behaviour of the reflector echo with its distance is simulated
by having blocks of material having flat bottom holes (FBH ) of the same diameter
located at different depths. Distance amplitude blocks are used to establish the
distance / amplitude response characteristic of the UT system in the test material.
Maximum signals are obtained from each of the hole and signal amplitude is recorded.
These values may be compared to echoes from the varying metal path and reflector
sizes estimated for the test specimen. The curve is plotted using ASTM distance
amplitude blocks. If a flaw echo amplitude is equal to the amplitude of the calibration
reflector ( Flat Bottom Hole ), it is assumed that the flaw is at least as large as the
calibration reflector. The curve relating the echo height to the distance of reflector is
called the `Distance Attenuation Correction' (DAC ) curve. DAC helps to classify
reflectors as being equal to, less than or greater than a fixed size.

Figure 58. DAC Diagram.


Ultrasonic Testing of Plates.

Of all products, plates are most easily examined by ultrasonic. Since plates are
produced by rolling which takes place under heavy load, the grain size of plate is fine
and poses no problem in attenuation of beam and good sensitivities can be achieved.
Plates being flat, geometry does not pose problem. Plates are produced by rolling an
ingot. Thus discontinuities which are present in an ingot get elongated during rolling and
end up as flat planar discontinuities aligned parallel to the major surfaces of the plate.

Scanning Procedure

Pulse echo techniques may use either single or double straight beam transducers. With
the single unit, the transducer acts as both transmitter and receiver, projecting a pulsed
beam of longitudinal waves into the specimen and receiving echoes reflected from the
back surface and from any discontinuity lying in the beam path. The double transducer
unit is useful when the test surface is rough or when the shape of specimen is irregular.
Normal beam scan detects lamination easily. Lamination generally occurs in the mid
section of the plates. Therefore for thick plates dead zone will not affect testing when
looking for lamination. However, when the intent is to cover 100 % of volume by normal
beam, or when the plates are thin the problem of dead zone must be resolved. This can
be resolved by using high frequency probe or double crystal probe or scanning from both
major surfaces of the plate. In addition to lamination, normal beam will also detects
voids, inclusions etc.

Calibrate the time base to allow at least two back echoes to be displayed. Place probe
on the work piece and adjust the gain controls so that second back wall echo is at full
screen height. Scan the work piece looking for lamination indications which will generally
show up at half specimen thickness together with a reduction in back echo amplitude. In
some cases a reduction in the amplitude of the second back echo may be noticed
without a lamination signal being present. Care must be taken to ensure that this
reduction in amplitude is not due to poor couplant or surface condition.

Figure 59. Laminated Plate.


Lamination testing of plate or pipe less than 10 mm in wall thickness may be difficult
using the standard procedure because multitude echoes are so close together that it
becomes impossible to pick out lamination signals between back wall echoes. In such
cases `multiple echo technique' using single crystal compression wave can be used. In
this technique, place probe on a lamination free portion of the specimen or calibration
block. Adjust the time base and gain controls to obtain a considerable number of multiple
echoes in a decay pattern over the first half of the time base. Scan the work piece, the
presence of lamination will be indicated by a collapse of the decay pattern. The collapse
occurs because each of the many multiple echoes is closer to its neighbor in the
presence of lamination.

Normal beam scanning will not detect surface defects such as seams, laps, etc. as well
as cracks. For such defects angle beam scanning is to be employed. It is advisable to
carry out UT before the plates are trimmed to exact size. This is because during angle
beam scan, a certain area near edges may not get properly examined due to
interference of edge echoes.

Figure 60. Un-laminated Plate.

Ultrasonic Testing of Welds.

In ultrasonic testing of welds a limited and defined volume of material is of interest and
specific set of discontinuities which are likely to be present in the weld, its probable
location and orientation are known. In welds planar discontinuities ( like cracks and lack
of fusion ) are most easily detected. For this ultrasonic beam must be perpendicular to
the discontinuity present. However this condition need not be vigorously applied in


practical situations due to irregular contour of natural discontinuities, probe diameter and
divergence of sound beam. Tight cracks and tight lack of fusion have poor reflectivity.
Globular discontinuities ( like inclusions, pores and group of pores ) are not easily
detected because these discontinuities scatter the sound beam over wide angles. These
globular discontinuities are less harmful than the planar ones.

Weld geometry has a considerable role to play in the selection of scanning techniques
and many times limit the applicability of ultrasonic testing. It is more often that simpler
geometries are tested by radiographic testing while difficult ones are referred to
ultrasonic testing. For butt-welded joints of plates and pipes the pulse echo method
using zigzag transverse waves are used, the reflections between the two surfaces of the
plate being utilized. A broad beam would cover a joint of low height in one pass. On
heavier plates it is , however necessary to shift the probe at right angles to the joint so
as to expose successively the entire cross section. Shear waves at various angles of
refraction between 35 degrees and 80 degrees are used to locate discontinuities whose
orientation is not suitable for detection by longitudinal wave techniques. Some
discontinuities which have volume and their shape enables them to be detected by both
compression and angled shear waves.

Figure 61. Weld Joint - Zigzag Transverse Wave.

As for section thickness, in thinner sections it becomes more difficult to judge

discontinuity due to beam divergence and problems of distance resolution. It is easier to
test large thickness. Welds of certain materials like austenitic stainless steels and nickel
based alloys pose serious problem for ultrasonic testing. Heavy scattering leads to false
indications and wrong judgment in these materials. In addition to the presence and exact
location of the discontinuity information about its shape and size , type and nature is also
important. While presence and location of a discontinuity can be given with good
confidence, the determination of size and type remain largely a question of judgement.
Size of reflector larger than the probe size can be determined fairly accurately by probe
movement. (6dB or 20 dB down method ). Smaller discontinuities are judge by reference
DAC curve.


Scanning techniques should be selected based on considerations of weld geometry,

accessibility from various surfaces and probable orientations of discontinuities. Scanning
is done to cover not only the weld volume but also the heat affected zone ( HAZ ). The
volume through which sound beam will pass during angle beam inspection is pre-
scanned with normal beam to detect lamination and other discontinuities which will
cause misinterpretation of flaw indication of flaw from the weld.

During scanning, when using angle probe it is important to know probe beam index
relative to some datum on then specimen, beam path length to various standard
reflection points.

Figure 62. Beam Index Point, Beam Path and Skip Distance.

Full skip distance and half skip distance are measured along the top surface and beam
path length (BPL ), along the beam centre. These distances can be found out by
knowing thickness (T ) of the material and refracted angle ( 9 ) the probe.

Half Skip Distance = T x Tan θ.

Full Skip Distance = 2 x T x Tan θ.

Half Skip BPL= T / Cos θ.

Full Skip BPL= 2T/ Cos θ.


If probe angle is equal to nominal angle then these distances can be calculated using
appropriate factor.

Distance( FSD / BPL) = T x F F = appropriate factor.

Sr # Probe Angle (θ) - Deg 35 45 60 70 80

1 HSD factor 0.7 1.0 1.73 2.75 5.67
2. FSD factor 1.4 2.0 3.46 5.49 11.34
3. HSBPL factor 1.22 1.41 2.0 2.92 5.76
4. FSBPL factor 2.44 2.82 4.0 5.85 11.52

Table 4

i) Calculate the Half Skip Distance ( HSD ) for 60 deg probe testing 20 mm plate.

20 x 1.73
34.6 mm.

ii) Calculate the Full Skip Distance (FSD ) for 70 deg probe testing 20 mm plate.

20 x 5.49
109.8 mm.

iii) Calculate the Half Skip Beam Path Length ( HSBPL ) for 60 deg probe testing 20
mm plate.

20 x 2.0
40.0 mm.
iv) Calculate the Full Skip Beam Path Length ( FSBPL) for 70 deg probe testing 30 mm

= 30 x 5.85 = 175.5 mm.

Half skip distance technique is quite commonly used in flaw detection. It is basis of the
critical root scan in welding inspection to detect lack of penetration. It can be used in the
transverse scan in weld inspection to detect transverse cracks. It is used for detecting
longitudinal and circumferential cracks breaking the inside bore of tubular components
and lugs. Cracks in plate can also be detected by this method.


From fig 9.9 it is seen that a shift of one half to one full skip distance is required,
preferably little more in view of the width of joint. As a check and for the sake of greater
certainty, the test is repeated from opposite side, because some discontinuities are
indicated more favorably if exposed from one direction than from the other. In this way
practically all the discontinuities are covered except transverse cracks.

Figure 63. Sound Path at Half and Full Skip Distance.

Probe size, frequency and beam angle are three parameters whose choice rests with the
operator. The guidelines for selection are those generally applicable to UT.


Figure 64. Flaw Location in the testing of the Welds with CRT Screen Scale
for Flaw Depth and Probe Distance for a Fixed Plate Thickness and Fixed
Probe Angle.


Calibrating of Time base for Half Skip Distance : plate to be tested has thickness 20
mm. A probe of 45 deg is to be used. With V 1 block calibrate for 100 mm shear wave
velocity on CRT. Calculate half skip beam path distance, i.e. BPL = 20 / Cos 45_= 28.28
mm, with this calculation half skip reflector will show up exactly at 28.28 mm on CRT

Discontinuities Breaking the Top Surface : As shown in fig 9.11, the discontinuity which
breaks to the top surface will cause a reflection to occur at exactly the beam path
distance for full skip. Calibration of time base for full skip distance is same as for half
skip distance.

Figure 65. Discontinuity Breaking at Top Surface.

It is better to calibrate time base for full skip distance using suitable test piece, using top
corner reflector on the test piece, as shown in fig 9.12, and proving by damping with an
oily finger.

Figure 66. Time-Base Calibration - Full Skip Distance

Shape of a welding bead or crown affects the welding test by interfering echoes from the
sharply projecting edges, particularly beam angle chosen is too small. On heavy plates
beam angle of 70 and 80 degrees would result in excessive skip distances and much
lower sensitivity.


Figure 67. Interfering Echoes Resulting from Weld Bead and Displaced

There are two aspects of a discontinuity standard viz. the shape and size of the
reference block and the shape size of reference discontinuity. The ideal reference block
is one that one exactly mock up of the-weld geometry and same material as that of weld
itself. In this reference block artificial discontinuities can be introduced at locations and
directions similar to the anticipated discontinuities in then weld. The identification of real
flaw echo from the possible geometric echoes can be separated. Attenuation in weld in
compensated automatically. However fabrication and standardization of mock up
standard in quite difficult. A simple plate is taken as reference block and flat bottom hole
is taken as reference discontinuity.


Table 5
Shear Wave Surface Wave
Material p = gm Velo Impedance Velo Impedance Velo Impedance
/ cm3 =cm =Z=gm =cm =Z=gm =cm_ =Z=gm
x 103/ - x 103 / x 103 /
/ µsec / µsec / µsec
cm2-sec cm2-sec cm2-sec

Air 0 001 0 033 0 33

Al - 250 2.71 0 635 1720 0.310 840 0.290 788
Al - 17 ST 2 80 0.625 1750 0.310 868 0.279 780
Ba-titanate 0 56 0 550 310
Beryllium 1.82 1 280 2330 0.871 1600 0 787 1420
Brass 8.1 0.443 3610 0.212 1720 0.195 1580
Bronze 8.86 0.353 3120 0.223 1980 0.201 1780
Cast iron 7.7 0.450 2960 0.240 1850
Copper 89 0.466 4180 0 226 2010 0 193 1720
Cork 0.24 0.051 12
Glass plate 2.51 0 577 1450 0 343 865 0.314 765
Glass Pyrex 2.23 0 557 1240 0 344 765 0.313 698
Glycerin 1.261 0.192 242
Gold 19.3 0.324 6260 0120 2320
Ice 1.0 0 398 400 0.199 199
Lead 11.4 0 216 2460 0 070 798 0 063 717
Magnesium 1 74 0 579 1010 0 310 539 0 287 499
Molybdenum 10.09 0 629 6350 0 335 3650 0 311 339
Nickel 88 0.563 4950 0 296 2610 0 264 2320
Oil 0.92 0.138 127
Plastic 1.18 0.267 320 0.112 132
PE 0.153
Quartz 2.2 0.593 1300 0.375 825 0.339 745
Silver 10.5 0360 3800 0.159 1670
Steel 78 0 585 4560 0.323 2530 0 279 2180
SS 302 8.03 0.566 4550 0 312 2500 0 312 2500
SS-410 7 67 0739 5670 0 299 2290 0.216 2290
Tin 7.3 0.332 2420 0167 1235
Titanium 4.54 0.610 2770 0.312 1420 0.279 1420
Tungsten 19.25 0.518 9980 0.287 5520 0.265 5100
Water 100 0149 149
zinc 7.1 0.417 2960 0.241 1710