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Second Edition




The American Society for

Nondestructive Testing, Inc.
Copyright © 2013 by The American Society for Nondestructive Testing.

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Handbook, Research in Nondestructive Evaluation and RNDE are registered trademarks of The American
Society for Nondestructive Testing, Inc.

This second edition of ASNT Level III Study Guide: Ultrasonic Testing Method, was updated by members of the
Ultrasonics Committee. Chapter 7 – Guided Waves in this edition was written by Joseph L. Rose, Penn State
University and FBS, Inc.

The first edition of this Study Guide was prepared by Dr. Matthew J. Golis, and was partially based on earlier
works by Robert Baker and Joseph Bush.

First edition
first printing 02/92
second printing with revisions 04/00
third printing with revisions 09/01
fourth printing with revisions 08/06
fifth printing with revisions 06/08

Second edition
first printing 09/13
ebook 05/14

Errata, if available for this printing, may be obtained from ASNT’s web site, asnt.org. Ebooks contain all
corrections and updates, including the latest errata.

ISBN-13: 978-1-57117-309-6 (print)

ISBN-13: 978-1-57117-313-3 (ebook)

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Purpose overview of subject matter covered by the examina-

This Study Guide is intended to aid individuals tion so that students can identify those areas of the
preparing to take the ASNT NDT Level III examina- body of knowledge in which they need further study.
tion for ultrasonic testing.
The material in this Study Guide addresses the Additional Information
body of knowledge in ANSI/ASNT CP-105: ASNT
Standard Topical Outlines for Qualification of This Study Guide contains additional methods
Nondestructive Testing Personnel (2011) and includes and/or techniques not required for ASNT UT
abstracts of several typical technical specialities, Level III exam preparation. Refer to the UT Level III
codes and standards from which “applications” Topical Outline found in CP-105 for the actual body
questions are sometimes derived. It is not intended of knowledge.
to comprehensively cover all possible technical In the 2011 editions of SNT-TC-1A and CP-105,
issues that may appear on the Level III exam, but phased array and time of flight diffraction were
rather it is intended to reflect the breadth of the added as techniques under UT, and guided wave
possible technology topics which comprise potential became a separate method.
questions. Sections on phased array and time of flight dif-
The ASNT NDT Level III certification program fraction were added to Chapter 6 – Special Topics to
is a service, offered by the American Society for provide basic information on these two techniques.
Nondestructive Testing, Inc., that gives NDT person- Chapter 7 – Guided Waves was added to this
nel an opportunity to have their familiarity with the Study Guide edition to assist those interested in
principles and practices of NDT assessed by an inde- learning more about guided waves. This chapter,
pendent body. The program uses an independent written by Joseph L. Rose, does not cover the topic
body to review credentials and uses comprehensive completely, but is intended as a starting point for
written examinations to identify those who meet the additional study. ASNT does not offer a certification
criteria for becoming an ASNT NDT Level III. examination on guided waves at this time.
Stand alone study materials on guided waves,
How to Use the Study Guide phased array and time of flight diffraction may be
published by ASNT in the future.
Read through the text of the Study Guide and if the Because ASNT is an International System of
discussion covers unfamiliar material, the references Units (SI) publisher, throughout the text both SI and
should also be studied. The review questions at the Imperial units are used. For simplicity, many equa-
end of each chapter should be answered. Successfully tions in this book use 25 mm equals 1 in. Where SI
answering the questions will help determine if more units are not used in the original text of the stan-
concentrated study in particular areas is needed. dards and codes, conversions to SI units were not
Those familiar with some of the topics may wish to made.
go directly to the review questions. If the questions The ASNT Level III Study Guide: Ultrasonic
can be answered confidently and correctly, addition- Testing Method, second edition, is an update of the
al study may be optional. previous edition prepared by Dr. Matthew J. Golis.
This Study Guide is designed to assist in the That book also included materials developed by
preparation for the ASNT NDT Level III examina- Robert Baker and Joseph Bush.
tion. It is not intended to be the only source of
preparation. The Study Guide provides a general


The American Society for Nondestructive Testing, Inc. is grateful for the volunteer contributions, technical
expertise, knowledge and dedication of the following individuals who have helped make this work possible.

David Alleyne — Guided Ultrasonics Ltd.

John Brunk — Consultant
Rick Cahill — GE Inspection Technologies
Claude D. Davis — TUV Rheinland Industrial Solutions Inc.
Paul Jackson — Plant Integrity Ltd.
Danny L. Keck — BP
John J. Kinsey — CALTROP Corporation
Doron Kishoni — Business Solutions USA, LLC
Glenn M. Light — Southwest Research Institute
Donald D. Locke — Hellier
Scott Miller — Consultant
Michael Moles — Olympus NDT Inc.
Peter J. Mudge — TWI Ltd.
Luis A. Payano, P.E. — The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey
Robert F. Plumstead — Consultant
Mark R. Pompe — West Penn Testing Group
Joseph L. Rose — Penn State University and FBS, Inc.


Birks, A.S. and R.E. Green, Jr., tech. eds. P. Mclntire, ed. Nondestructive Testing Handbook, second edition: Volume 7,
Ultrasonic Testing. Columbus, OH: The American Society for Nondestructive Testing, Inc. 1991.
Dubé, N., ed. Introduction to Phased Array Ultrasonic Technology Applications: R/T Tech Guideline. Waltham, MA:
Olympus NDT. 2007.
Marks, P.T. Ultrasonic Testing Classroom Training Book (PTP Series). Columbus, OH: The American Society for
Nondestructive Testing, Inc. 2007.
Supplement to Recommended Practice No. SNT-TC-1A (Q&A Book): Ultrasonic Testing Method. Columbus, OH: The
American Society for Nondestructive Testing, Inc. Latest edition.
Workman, G.L. and D. Kishoni, tech. eds., P.O. Moore, ed. Nondestructive Testing Handbook, third edition: Volume 7,
Ultrasonic Testing. Columbus, OH: The American Society for Nondestructive Testing, Inc. 2007.

Additional References
Bray, D.E. and R.K. Stanley. Nondestructive Evaluation: A Tool in Design, Manufacturing and Service. Boca Raton, FL:
CRC Press, 1997.
Metals Handbook, ninth edition,Volume 17, “Nondestructive Evaluation and Quality Control.” Metals Park, OH: ASM
International, 1989.
Silk, M.G. Ultrasonic Transducers for Nondestructive Testing. Bristol, England: Adam Hilger Ltd., 1984.
Krautkramer, J. and H. Krautkramer. Ultrasonic Testing of Materials, 4th ed. New York: Springer-Verlag, Inc., 1990.

Guided Wave References

Rose, J.L., J.J. Ditri, A. Pilarski, K.M. Rajana and F.T. Carr. “A guided wave inspection technique for nuclear steam gen-
erator tubing,” NDT&E International, vol. 27(6), pp 307-310. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier, 1993.
Rose, J.L., Ultrasonic Waves in Solid Media. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Chapter 1 – Physical Principles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
Wave Characteristics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
Reflection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2
Refraction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
Mode Conversion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
Critical Angles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4
Diffraction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4
Resonance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5
Attenuation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5
Review Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7
Chapter 2 – Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11
Basic Instrumentation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11
Transducers and Coupling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13
Special Equipment Features . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19
Review Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21
Chapter 3 – Common Practices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25
Approaches to Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25
Measuring System Performance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28
Reference Reflectors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29
Calibration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30
Review Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35
Chapter 4 – Practical Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39
Signal Interpretation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39
Causes of Variability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40
Special Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42
Weld Inspection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42
Immersion Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43
Production Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46
Inservice Inspection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47
Review Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48
Chapter 5 – Codes and Standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51
Code Bodies and Their UT Standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52
ASTM International . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53
American Society of Mechanical Engineers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54
American Welding Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54
American Petroleum Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54
Aerospace Industries Association . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54
National Board of Boilers and Pressure Vessel Inspectors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .55
Military Standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .55
Review Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56

Ultrasonic Testing Method l contents

Chapter 6 – Special Topics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57

Flaw Sizing Techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57
Time of Flight Diffraction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58
Advantages of Time of Flight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58
Disadvantages of Time of Flight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58
Basic Principles of Phased Array . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58
How Phased Array Works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59
Practical Applications of Phased Array . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59
Chapter 7 – Guided Waves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61
Waves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61
Dispersion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63
Dispersion Curves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63
Bulk vs. Guided Waves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .66
Source Influence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .66
Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .67
Pipe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .67
Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .69
Review Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .71
Appendix A – A Representative Procedure for Ultrasonic Weld Inspection: Weld Inspection
Using an IIW Calibration Block . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .73
Review Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .78
Appendix B – A Representative Procedure for Ultrasonic Weld Inspection
Using a Distance-Amplitude Correction (DAC) Curve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .81
Review Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .85

Chapter 1
Physical Properties

Sound is the propagation of mechanical energy Wave Characteristics

(vibrations) through solids, liquids and gases.
The ease with which the sound travels, however, is The propagation of ultrasonic waves depends on the
dependent upon the detailed nature of the material mechanical characteristics of density and elasticity,
and the pitch (frequency) of the sound. At ultrason- the degree to which the material supporting the
ic frequencies (above 20 000 Hz), sound propagates waves is homogeneous and isotropic, and the dif-
well through most elastic or near-elastic solids and fraction phenomena found with continuous (or
liquids, particularly those with low viscosities. At quasi-continuous) waves.
frequencies above 100 kHz, sound energy can be Continuous waves are described by their wave-
formed into beams, similar to that of light, and thus length, i.e., the distance the wave advances in each
can be scanned throughout a material, not unlike repeated cycle. This wavelength is proportional to
that of a flashlight used in a darkened room. Such the velocity at which the wave is advancing and is
sound beams follow many of the physical rules of inversely proportional to its frequency of oscilla-
optics and thus can be reflected, refracted, diffract- tion. Wavelength may be thought of as the distance
ed and absorbed (when nonelastic materials are from one point to the next identical point along the
involved). At extremely high frequencies (above repetitive waveform. Wavelength is described math-
100 MHz), the sound waves are severely attenuated ematically by Equation 1.

Wavelength =
and propagation is limited to short travel distances.

The common wave modes and their characteristics (Eq. 1)
are summarized in Table 1.

Table 1: Common wave mode characteristics.

Mode Notable Characteristics Velocity Alternate Names

Bulk wave in all media V1 Pressure wave

(In-line motion) Dilatational (straight beam)

Bulk wave in solids Shear

Transverse VT ~ 1/2 VL
Polarized, e.g. SV, SH Torsional (angle beam)

Boundary wave in solids Raleigh wave

Polarized vertically VR ~ 0.9 VT
Surface (Guided)
Elliptical motion
Polarized horizontally Love wave

Twin-boundary wave – solids Lamb wave

Plate (Guided) Symmetrical Hourglass motion F(f,T,m)
Asymmetrical Flexing motion

(...) Common colloquial terms

~ Signifies approximate relationship for common materials
F(f, T, m) Depends on frequency, thickness and material

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 1

The velocity at which bulk waves travel is deter- dependent upon elastic moduli, density, thickness,
mined by the material’s elastic moduli and density. surface conditions and relative wavelength interac-
The expressions for longitudinal and transverse tions with the surfaces. For rayleigh waves, the use-
waves are given in Equations 2 and 3, respectively. ful depth of penetration is restricted to about one

E (1 − µ )
wavelength below the surface. The wave motion is

VL =
ρ (1 + µ )(1 − 2µ )
that of a retrograde ellipse. Wave modes such as
(Eq. 2) those found with lamb waves have a velocity of
propagation dependent upon the operating fre-

quency, sample thickness and elastic moduli. They

VT =
2ρ (1 + µ )
are dispersive (velocity changes with frequency) in
(Eq. 3) = that pulses transmitted in these modes tend to
become stretched or dispersed as they propagate in
where these modes and/or materials which exhibit fre-
VL = longitudinal bulk wave velocity, quency-dependent velocities.
VT = transverse (shear) wave velocity,
G = shear modulus, Reflection
E = Young’s modulus of elasticity, Ultrasonic waves, when they encounter a discrete
µ = Poisson’s ratio, and change in materials, as at the boundary of two dis-
 = material density. similar materials, are usually partially reflected. If
the incident waves are perpendicular to the material
Typical values of bulk wave velocities in com- interface, the reflected waves are redirected back
mon materials are given in Table 2. From Table 2 it is toward the source from which they came. The degree
seen that, in steel, a longitudinal wave travels at 5.9 to which the sound energy is reflected is dependent
km/s, while a shear wave travels at 3.2 km/s. In alu- upon the difference in acoustic properties, i.e.,
minum, the longitudinal wave velocity is 6.3 km/s acoustic impedances, between the adjacent materials.
while the shear velocity is 3.1 km/s. The wave- Acoustic impedance (Equation 4) is the product
lengths of sound for each of these materials are cal- of a wave’s velocity of propagation and the density
culated using Equation 1 for each applicable test of the material through which the wave is passing.

Z = ρ×V
frequency used. For example, a 5 MHz L-wave in
water has a wavelength equal to 1483/5(10)6 m or (Eq. 4)
0.298 mm.
When sound waves are confined within bound- where
aries, such as along a free surface or between the Z = acoustic impedance,
surfaces of sheet materials, the waves take on a very  = density, and
different behavior, being controlled by the confining V = applicable wave velocity.
boundary conditions. These types of waves are
called guided waves, i.e., they are guided along the Table 2 lists the acoustic impedances of several
respective surfaces and exhibit velocities that are common materials.
The degree to which a perpendicular wave is
reflected from an acoustic interface is given by the
Table 2: Acoustic velocities, densities and acoustic impedance
energy reflection coefficient. The ratio of the
of common materials.
reflected acoustic energy to that which is incident
ρ (g/cm3)
( Z 2 − Z1 )
upon the interface is given by Equation 5.
Material VL (m/s) VT (m/s) Z

Steel 5900 3230 7.63
( Z 2 + Z1 )2
(Eq. 5)

Aluminum 6320 3130 2.70

R = coefficient of energy reflection for normal
Plastic glass 2730 1430 1.17
Z = respective material acoustic impedances,
Water 1483 ---- 1.00
Z1 = incident wave material,
Z2 = transmitted wave material, and
Quartz 5800 2200 2.62
T = coefficient of energy transmission.
Note: T + R = 1

Physical Properties

α α

Z1 V1

Z2 V2 β
(V1 > V2)
Normal incidence
(a) (b) incidence

Figure 1: (a) Reflected (R) and transmitted (T) waves at normal incidence, and (b) reflected and
refracted waves at angled (α) incidence.

sinβ = 0.964 × 0.5 and β = 28.8°

In the case of water-to-steel, approximately 88% For an incident angle of 30°,
of the incident longitudinal wave energy is reflected
back into the water, leaving 12% to be transmitted
into the steel.1 These percentages are arrived at using Mode Conversion
Equation 5 with Zst= 45 and Zw = 1.5. Thus, R = It should be noted that the acoustic velocities (V1
(45 − 1.5)2/(45 + 1.5)2 = (43.5/46.5)2 = 0.875, or and V2) used in Equation 6 must conform to the
88%, and T = 1 – R = 1 − 0.88 = 0.12, or 12%. modes of wave propagation that exist for each given
case. For example, a wave in water (which supports
Refraction only longitudinal waves) incident on a steel plate at
When a sound wave encounters an interface at an an angle other than 90° can generate longitudinal,
angle other than perpendicular (oblique incidence), shear, as well as heavily damped surface or other
reflections occur at angles equal to the incident angle wave modes, depending on the incident angle and
(as measured from the normal or perpendicular axis). test part geometry. The wave may be totally reflect-
If the sound energy is partially transmitted beyond ed if the incident angle is sufficiently large. In any
the interface, the transmitted wave may be 1) refract- case, the waves generated in the steel will be refract-
ed (bent), depending on the relative acoustic veloci- ed in accordance with Snell’s law, whether they are
ties of the respective media, and/or 2) partially con- longitudinal or shear waves.
verted to a mode of propagation different from that of Figure 2 shows the distribution of transmitted
the incident wave. Figure 1(a) shows normal reflec- wave energies as a function of the incident angle for
tion and partial transmission, while Figure 1(b) shows
oblique reflection and the partition of waves into
reflected and transmitted wave modes.
Energy flux coefficient

Referring to Figure 1(b), Snell’s law may be stated as:

V 
0.9 Reflected L-wave

sinβ =  2  sinα

V 
(Eq. 6)
0.5 Transmi ed
For example, at a water-plastic glass interface, 0.4 longitudinal
wave Transmi ed
the refracted shear wave angle is related to the inci- 0.3 shear wave
dent angle by: 0.2
sinβ = (1430/1483)sinα = (0.964)sinα 0 4 8 12 16 20 24 28 32 36 40
Incidence angle (degrees)
1. When Equation 5 is expressed for pressure waves rather than
the energy contained in the waves, the terms in parentheses are Figure 2: Reflection and transmission coefficients versus
not squared. incident angle for water/aluminum interface.

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 1

a water-aluminum interface. For example, an L- The second occurs at 27.5° for the shear wave.
wave with an incident angle of 8° in water results in Equation 7 can be used to calculate the critical
1) a transmitted shear wave in the aluminum with incident angle for any material combination.

V 
α Crit = sin −1  1 
5% of the incident beam energy, 2) a transmitted

 V2 
L-wave with 25% and 3) a reflected L-wave with 70%
of the incident beam energy. It is evident from the (Eq. 7)
figure that for low incident angles (less than the first
critical angle of 14°), more than one mode may be
generated in the aluminum. Note that the sum of the For example, the first critical angle for a water-
reflected longitudinal wave energy and the transmit- aluminum interface is calculated using the critical
ted energy or energies is equal to unity at all angles. angle equation as

α Crit = sin −1 (1483 / 6320 ) = 13.6°

The relative energy amplitudes partitioned into the
different modes are dependent upon several vari-
ables, including each material’s acoustic impedance,
each wave mode velocity (in both the incident and
refracted materials), the incident angle and the trans- Diffraction
mitted wave mode(s) refracted angle(s). Plane waves advancing through homogeneous and
isotropic elastic media tend to travel in straight ray
Critical Angles paths unless a change in media properties is
The critical angle for the interface of two media encountered. A flat (much wider than the incident
with dissimilar acoustic wave velocities is the inci- beam) interface of differing acoustic properties
dent angle at which the refracted angle equals 90° redirects the incident plane wave in the form of a
(in accordance with Snell’s law) and can only occur specularly (mirrorlike) reflected or refracted plane
if the wave mode velocity in the second medium is wave as discussed above. The assumption in this
greater than the wave velocity in the incident case is that the interface is large in comparison to
medium. It may also be defined as the incident the incident beam’s dimensions and thus does not
angle beyond which a specific mode cannot occur encounter any “edges.”
in the second medium. In the case of a water-to- On the other hand, when a wave encounters a
steel interface, there are two critical angles point reflector (small in comparison to a wavelength),
derived from Snell’s law. The first occurs at an the reflected wave is reradiated as a spherical wave
incident angle of 14.5° for the longitudinal wave. front. Thus, when a plane wave encounters the

(a) (b)

(c) (d) N

Figure 3: Examples of diffraction due to the presence of edges: (a) point reflector; (b) edge
reflector; (c) square aperture; and (d) round aperture. N represents the edge of the near field
(length from the transducer).

Physical Properties

 20 (10 )−3  × 2 (10 )6

edges of reflective interfaces, such as near the tip of
{ }
4 × 5.9 (10 )
a fatigue crack, specular reflections occur along the  
“flat” surfaces of the crack and cylindrical wavelets 3

(10 )−3 = 33.9 mm
are launched from the edges. Since the waves are

coherent, i.e., the same frequency (wavelength) and =
in phase, their redirection into the path of subse-
quent advancing plane waves results in incident and and half-beam spread angle given by:
reflected (scattered) waves interfering, i.e., forming
 1.2 × 5.9 (10 )3 
φ = sin  = 10.2°
regions of reinforcement (constructive interference)

 20 (10 ) × 2 (10 ) 
−3 6 
and cancellation (destructive interference).
This “interfering” behavior is characteristic of
continuous waves (or pulses from “ringing” ultra-
sonic transducers) and, when applied to edges and
apertures serving as sources of sound beams, is If the 10% peak value was desired rather than the
known as wave diffraction. It is the fundamental theoretical null, the 1.2 would be changed to 1.08 and
basis for concepts such as transducer beam spread  would equal 9.2°. Using the multiplier of 0.7 for the
(directivity), near field wavelength-limited disconti- 6 dB down value, the half angle becomes 6°.
nuity detection sensitivity, and assists in the sizing of
discontinuities using dual transducer (crack-tip dif- Resonance
fraction) techniques. Figure 3 shows examples of Another form of wave interference occurs when nor-
plane waves being changed into spherical or cylindri- mally incident (at normal incidence) and reflected
cal waves as a result of diffraction from point reflec- plane waves interact (usually within narrow, parallel
tors, linear edges and (transducer-like) apertures. interfaces). The amplitudes of the superimposed
Beam spread and the length of the near field for acoustic waves are additive when the phase of the
round sound sources may be calculated using doubly reflected wave matches that of the incoming
Equations 8 and 9. incident wave and creates “standing” (as opposed to
traveling) acoustic waves. When standing waves

sin φ = 1.2
occur, the item is said to be in resonance, i.e., res-

(Eq. 8) onating. Resonance occurs when the thickness of the
item equals half a wavelength2 or its multiples, i.e.,
when T = V/2F. This phenomenon occurs when
piezoelectric transducers are electrically excited at
their characteristic (fundamental resonant) frequency.

(Eq. 9) It also occurs when longitudinal waves travel through
thin sheet materials during immersion testing.

where Attenuation
 = beam divergence half angle, Sound waves decrease in intensity as they travel away
 = wavelength in the media, from their source, due to geometrical spreading,
D = diameter of the aperture (transducer), scattering and absorption. In fine-grained, homoge-
N = length of the near field (fresnel zone). neous and isotropic elastic materials, the strength of
the sound field is affected mainly by the nature of the
Note: The multiplier of 1.2 in Equation 8 is for radiating source and its attendant directivity pattern.
the theoretical null. 1.08 is used for the 20 dB down Tight patterns (small beam angles) travel farther than
point (10% of peak), 0.88 is used for the 10 dB widely diverging patterns.
down point (32% of peak) and 0.7 for the 6 dB
down point (50% of peak).
For example, a 20 mm diameter, L-wave
transducer, radiating into steel and operating at 2. If a layer between two differing media has an acoustic imped-
a frequency of 2 MHz, will have a near field ance equal to one-quarter wavelength, 100% of the incident
acoustic energy, at normal incidence, will be transmitted
given by: through the dual interfaces because the interfering waves in
the layer combine to serve as an acoustic impendence trans-

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 1

When ultrasonic waves pass through common the incident wave front becomes distorted and often
polycrystalline elastic engineering materials (that appears to change direction (propagate better in
are generally homogeneous but contain evenly dis- certain preferred directions) in response to the
tributed scatterers, e.g., gas pores, segregated inclu- material’s anisotropy. This behavior of some materi-
sions and grain boundaries), the waves are partially als can significantly complicate the analysis of the
reflected at each discontinuity and the energy is signals.
said to be scattered into many different directions. Sound waves in some materials are absorbed by
Thus, the acoustic wave that starts out as a coherent the processes of mechanical hysteresis, internal fric-
plane wave front becomes partially redirected as it tion or other energy loss mechanisms. These
passes through the material. processes occur in nonelastic materials such as
The relative impact of the presence of scattering plastics, rubber, lead and nonrigid coupling materi-
sources depends upon their size in comparison to the als. As the mechanical wave attempts to propagate
wavelength of the ultrasonic wave. Scatterers much through such materials, part of its energy is given
smaller than a wavelength are of little consequence. up in the form of heat and is not recoverable.
As the scatterer size approaches that of a wavelength, Absorption is usually the reason that testing of
scattering within the material becomes increasingly soft and pliable materials is limited to relatively
troublesome. The effects on such signal attenuation thin sections.
can be partially compensated by using longer wave- Attenuation is measured in terms of the energy
length (lower frequency) sound sources, usually at loss ratio per unit length, e.g., decibels per inch or
the cost of decreased sensitivity to discontinuities decibels per meter. Values range from less than
and resolution. 10 dB/m for aluminum to over 100 dB/m or more
Some scatters, such as columnar grains in for some castings, plastics and concrete.
stainless steels and laminated composites, exhibit Table 3 shows some typical values of attenuation
highly anisotropic elastic behavior. In these cases, for common NDT applications. Be aware that atten-
uation is highly dependent upon operating frequen-
cy and thus any stated values must be used with
Table 3: Attenuation values for common materials. caution.
Because many factors affect the signals returned
Attenuation* in pulse-echo testing, direct measurement of mate-
Nature of Material Principal Cause
(dB/m) rial attenuation can be quite difficult. Detected sig-
nals depend heavily upon operating frequency,
Normalized steel 70 Scatter boundary conditions, and waveform geometry
(plane or other), as well as the precise nature of the
90 Scatter
materials being evaluated. Materials are highly vari-
6061-T6511 able due to their thermal history, balance of alloying
or other integral constituents (aggregate, fibers,
Stainless steel, 3XX 110 Scatter/Redirection matrix uniformity and water/void content, to name
a few), as well as mechanical processing (forging,
rolling, extruding and the preferential directional
380 Absorption
(clear acrylic)
nature of these processes).

* Frequency of 2.25 MHz, longitudinal wave mode

Physical Properties

Review Questions

1. Sound waves continue to travel until: 6. The equations that show VL and VT being dependent
on elastic properties suggest that:
a. they are redirected by material surfaces.
b. they are completely dissipated by the effects of beam a. materials with higher densities will usually have
divergence. higher acoustic velocities.
c. they are transformed into another waveform. b. materials with higher moduli will usually have
d. all of the energy is converted into positive and higher velocities.
negative ions. c. wave velocities rely mostly upon the ratios of elastic
moduli to material density.
2. Wavelength may be defined as: d. VT will always be one-half of VL in the same material.

a. frequency divided by velocity. 7. Velocity measurements in a material revealed that the

b. the distance along a wavetrain from peak to trough. velocity decreased as frequency increased. This material
c. the distance from one point to the next identical is called:
point along the waveform.
d. the distance along a wavetrain from an area of high a. dissipated.
particle motion to one of low particle motion. b. discontinuous.
c. dispersive.
3. To determine wavelength: d. degenerative.

a. multiply velocity by frequency. 8. Plate thickness = 25.4 mm (1 in.), pulse-echo straight

b. divide velocity by frequency. beam measured elapsed time = 8 µs. What is the most
c. divide frequency by velocity. likely material?
d. multiply frequency by wavelength.
a. carbon steel.
4. The wavelength of a 5 MHz sound wave in water is b. lead.
[VL = 1.483(10)5 cm/s]: c. titanium.
d. aluminum.
a. 0.297 mm (0.012 in.).
b. 2.54 mm (0.10 in.). 9. It can be deduced from Table 2 that the densities of:
c. 296 mm (11.65 in.).
d. 3.00 mm (0.12 in.). a. plastic glass and water are in the ratio of 1.17:1.
b. steel and aluminum are in the ratio of 2.31:1.
5. Thickness resonance occurs when transducers c. quartz and aluminum are in the ratio of 1.05:1.
and test parts are excited at a frequency equal to d. water and quartz are in the ratio of 10.13:1.
(where V = sound velocity and T = item thickness):
10. The acoustic energy reflected at a plastic glass-quartz
a. 2T/V. interface is equal to:
b. T/2V.
c. V/2T. a. 64%.
d. 2V/T. b. 41%.
c. 22%.
d. 52%.

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 1

11. The acoustic energy transmitted through a plastic 17. The principal attenuation modes are:
glass-water interface is equal to:
a. absorption, scatter, beam spread.
a. 87%. b. beam spread, collimation, scatter.
b. 36%. c. scatter, absorption, focusing.
c. 13%. d. scatter, beam spread, adhesion.
d. 64%.
18. Attenuation caused by scattering:
12. The first critical angle at a water-steel interface will be:
a. increases with increased frequency and grain size.
a. 18°. b. decreases with increased frequency and grain size.
b. 14.5°. c. increases with higher frequency and decreases with
c. 22°. larger grain size.
d. 35°. d. decreases with higher frequency and decreases with
larger grain size.
13. The second critical angle at a water-aluminum interface
will be: 19. In very fine-grain, isotropic crystalline material, the
principal loss mechanism at 2 MHz is:
a. 28°.
b. 33°. a. scatter.
c. 67°. b. mechanical hysteresis.
d. 90°. c. beam spread.
d. absorption.
14. The incident angle needed in immersion testing to
develop a 70° shear wave in plastic glass using the 20. Two plates yield different backwall reflections in
information in Table 2 equals: pulse-echo testing (18 dB) with their only apparent
difference being in the second material’s void content.
a. 83°. The plates are both 75 mm (3 in.) thick. What is the
b. 77°. effective change in acoustic attenuation between the
c. 74°. first and second plate based on actual metal path
d. 65°. distance?

15. Figure 2 shows the partition of incident and a. 0.118 dB/mm (3 dB/in.)
transmitted waves at a water-aluminum interface. At an b. 0.236 dB/mm (6 dB/in.)
incident angle of 20°, the reflected wave and c. 0.709 dB/mm (18 dB/in.)
transmitted waves are respectively: d. 0.039 dB/mm (1 dB/in.)

a. 60% and 40%. 21. The equation, sin ϕ = 0.7 λ/D, describes:
b. 40% and 60%.
c. 1/3 and 2/3. a. beam spread angle at 50% decrease in signal from
d. 80% and 20%. the centerline value.
b. one-half the beam spread angle at 50% decrease in
16. From Figure 2 it is evident that the sum of the incident signal from the centerline value.
wave’s partitions (transmitted and reflected) is: c. one-half the beam spread angle at 20% decrease in
signal from the centerline value.
a. highly irregular at low angles, but constant above 30°. d. one-half the beam spread angle at 100% decrease in
b. lower at angles between 16° and 26°. signal from the centerline value.
c. rarely more than 0.8.
d. always equal to unity.

Physical Properties

22. The beam spread half-angle in the far field of a 25.4 mm 24. The depth of penetration of the sound beam into a
(1 in.) diameter transducer sending 5 MHz longitudinal material can be increased by:
waves into a plastic glass block is:
a. using a higher frequency.
a. 0.5°. b. using a longer wavelength.
b. 1.5°. c. using a smaller transducer.
c. 3.1°. d. using a lower frequency and a larger transducer.
d. 6.2°.

23. The near field of a round 12.7 mm (0.5 in.) diameter

contact L-wave transducer being used on a steel test
part operating at 3 MHz is:

a. 12.7 mm (0.5 in.).

b. 25.4 mm (1 in.).
c. 9.9 mm (0.39 in.).
d. 20 mm (0.79 in.).

1a 2c 3b 4a 5c 6c 7c 8d 9a 10b 11a 12b 13a
14b 15a 16d 17a 18a 19c 20a 21b 22b 23d 24d

Chapter 2

Basic Instrumentation across the screen in response to the sweep genera-

tor. The received signals are often processed to
The basic electronic instrument used in pulsed enhance interpretation through the use of filters
ultrasonic testing contains a source of voltage spikes (that limit spurious background noise and smooth
(to activate the sound source, i.e., the pulser) and a the appearance of the pulses), rectifiers (that change
display mechanism that permits interpretation of the oscillatory radio-frequency [RF] signals to uni-
received ultrasonic acoustic impulses, i.e., the sweep directional “video” spikes) and clipping circuits
generator, receiver and display. A block diagram of (that reject low-level background signals). The final
the basic unit is shown in Figure 1. signals are passed on to the vertical deflection plates
Several operations are synchronized by the clock of the display unit and produce the time-delayed
(timer) circuitry, which triggers appropriate compo-
nents to initiate actions including the pulser (that
activates the transducer), the sweep generator and
other special circuits as needed including markers, 3. The term pulse is used in two contexts in ultrasonic NDT sys-
tems. The electronic system sends an exciting electrical “pulse”
sweep delays, gates, electronic distance amplitude to the transducer being used to emit the ultrasonic wave. This
correction (DAC) units and other support circuits. electrical pulse is usually a unidirectional spike with a fast rise-
Pulse signals from the receiver search unit3 are time. The resulting acoustic “wave packet” emitted by the
transducer is the ultrasonic pulse, characterized by a predomi-
amplified to a level compatible with the display and nant central frequency at the transducer’s natural thickness
appear as vertical excursions of the signal sweeping resonance.





Figure 1: Block diagram of a basic pulse-echo ultrasonic instrument.

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 2

echo signals interpreted by the UT operator, com- The initial pulse may range from several hun-
monly referred to as an A-scan (signal amplitude dred to over 1000 V and have a very short rise-time.
displayed as a function of time). In other systems, the initial pulse may represent a
All of these functions are within the control of portion of a sinusoidal oscillation that is tuned to
the operator and their collective settings represent correspond to the natural frequency of the transducer.
the setup of the instrument. Table 1 lists the vari- The sinusoidal excitation is often used where longer
ables under the control of the operator and the duration pulses are needed to penetrate highly attenu-
impact they have on the validity of an ultrasonic ative materials such as rubber and concrete.
test. If desired, a particular portion of the trace may Signals from the receiving transducer (usually in
be gated and the signal within the gate sent to some the millivolt range) are too small to be directly sent
external device, i.e., an alarm or recording device, to the display unit. Both linear and logarithmic
which registers the presence or absence of echo sig- amplifiers are used to raise signal levels needed to
nals that are being sought. drive the display. These amplifiers, located in the
Characteristics of the initial pulse (shape and receiver sections of the A-scan units, must be able
frequency content) are carried forward throughout to produce output signals that are linearly related to
the system, to the transducer, the test item, back to the input signals and which supply signal process-
the transducer, the receiver, the gate and the display. ing intended to assist the operator in interpreting
In essence, the information content of the initial the displayed signals.
pulse is modified by each of these items and it is the
result of this collective signal processing that
appears on the screen.

Table 1: Instrumentation control effects.

Instrument Control Signal Response

If short, improves depth resolution.

Pulse length (damping)
If long, improves penetration.
If high, brightens images – but may cause wrap-around “ghost” signals.
Repetition rate
Higher pulse repetition rates allow for higher scanning speeds.

Frequency response Wide band – faithful reproduction of signal, higher background noise.
Narrow band – higher sensitivity, smoothed signals, requires matched
Receiver (tuned) system

Gain If high, improves sensitivity, higher background noise.

Material Adjust Calibration critical for depth information.
Delay Permits spreading of echo pulses for detailed analysis
Reject Suppresses low-level noise, alters opponent vertical linearity.

Smoothing Suppresses detailed pulse structure.

Time window Selects portion of display for analysis; gate may distort pulses.
Output (delay, width)
(alarm, Sets automatic output sensitivity.
record) Threshold
Polarity Permits positive and negative images, allows triggering on both
increasing and decreasing pulses.


Amplifiers may raise incoming signals to a max- Linear systems, such as the ultrasonic instru-
imum level, followed by precision attenuators that ment’s receiver section (as well as each of the ele-
decrease the signal strength to usable levels, i.e., ments of the overall system), are characterized by
capable of being positioned on the screen face or the manner in which they affect incoming signals.
capable of changing amplification ratios in direct A common approach is to start with the frequency
response to the gain control. content of the incoming signal (from the receiving
Discrete attenuators (which have a logarithmic transducer) and to describe how that spectrum of
response) are currently used due to their ease of frequencies is altered as a result of passing through
precise construction and simple means for altering the system element.
signal levels which extend beyond the viewing When both useful target information (which
range of the screen. Their extensive use has made may be predominantly contained in a narrow band
“decibel notation” a part of the standard terminolo- of frequencies generated by the sending transducer)
gy used in describing changes in signal levels, e.g., and background noise (which may be distributed
receiver gain and material attenuation. randomly over a broad spectrum of frequencies) are
Equation 1 (ratios to decibels) shows the rela- present in the signal entering the receiver, selective
tionship between the ratio of two pulse amplitudes passing of the frequencies of interest emphasizes the
(A2 and A1) and their equivalence expressed in signals of interest while suppressing the others that
decibel notation (Ndb). interfere with interpretation of the display.

N db = 20 log10 ( A2 /A1 )
When an ultrasonic instrument is described as
(Eq. 1) being broadband, that means a very wide array of
frequencies can be processed through the instru-
ment with a minimum of alteration, i.e., the signal
Inversion of this equation results in the useful observed on the screen is a close, but amplified,
expression: representation of the electrical signal measured at

( A2 /A1 ) = 10 N /20
the receiving transducer. Thus both useful signals
and background noise are present and the signal-to-
noise ratio (S/N) may not be very good. The shape
and amplitudes of the signals, however, tend to be
where a change of 20 dB, i.e., N = 20, makes: an accurate representation of the received response

10 N /20 = 101 = 10
from the transducer.
A narrow-band instrument, on the other hand,
suppresses that portion of the frequency content of
the incoming signal that is outside (above or below)
Thus 20 dB is equivalent to a ratio of 10:1. the “pass” frequency band. With the high-frequency
noise suppressed, the gain of the instrument can be
Signals may be displayed as RF waveforms, rep- increased, leading to an improved sensitivity.
resenting a close replica of the acoustic wave as it However, the shape and relative amplitudes of pulse
was detected by the receiving transducer, or as frequency components are often altered. Figure 2
video waveforms (half- or full-wave rectified) used graphically shows these effects for a typical ultra-
to double the effective viewing range of the screen sonic signal.
(bottom to top rather than centerline to top/bot-
tom), but suppressing the phase information found Transducers and Coupling
only in RF presentations.
To enhance the ability to accurately identify and A transducer, as applied to ultrasonic testing, is the
assess the nature of the received ultrasonic pulses, means by which electrical energy is converted into
particularly when there exists an excessive amount acoustic energy and back again. The device, adapted
of background signals, various means of signal pro- for UT, has been called a probe, a search unit, a
cessing are used. Both tuned receivers (narrow- crystal and a transducer.4 A probe or search unit
band instruments) and low pass filters are used to may contain one or more transducers, plus
selectively suppress portions of the received spec-
trum of signal frequencies which do not contain
useful information from the test material. 4. The term transducer is generic in that it applies to any device
that converts one form of energy into another, e.g., light bulbs,
electric heaters and solar collectors.

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 2


time time

Input Output

Band pass
Frequency domain A Frequency response



f0 frequency frequency

Figure 2: Comparison of time domain and frequency domain representations of typical signals found in ultrasonic

Table 2: Piezoelectric material characteristics.

Efficiency Impedance Displacement Electrical Density Note
Material Temp.

T R T/R (Z) (°C) (d33) (g33) 

1 1 1 15.2 576 2.3 57 2.65 (1)


70 0.21 14.6 33 193-365 374-593 20-25 7.5 (2)

Lead Zirconate


8.4 — — 31.2 115-150 125-190 14-21 5.4 (2)

Barium Titanate

32 — — 20.5 550 80-85 32-42 6.2 (2)



6.9 ~2.0 — 11.2 75 15-16 156-175 2.06 (3)

Lithium Sulfate


2.8 0.54 1.51 34 — 6 23 4.64

Lithium Niobate

6.9 1.35 9.3 4.1 165-180 14 140-210 1.76 (4)



(1) Mechanically and chemically stable; X-cut yields longitudinal wave motion while Y-cut yields distortional transverse waves.
(2) Ferroelectric ceramic requiring poling and subject to extensive cross-mode coupling.
(3) Soluble in water, R estimated at ~2.
(4) Flexible polymer.


Time domain Frequency domain


(a) 0.7
f 2 –f 1
f1 f0 f2 Frequency
(b) Amplitude

f1 f0 f2 Frequency

Figure 3: Quality factor or “Q” of a transducer: (a) high Q and (b) low Q.

facing/backing materials and connectors in order to receiver are made of different materials in order to
meet a specific UT design need. take advantage of their respective strengths and to
A critical element of each search unit is the minimize their weaknesses.
transducer’s active material. Commonly used mate- As a result of diffraction effects, the sound beam
rials generate stress waves when they are subjected emitted from search units tends to spread with
to electrical stimuli, i.e., piezoelectrics. These materi- increasing distance away from the sound source.
als are characterized by their conversion factors The sound beam exiting from a transducer can be
(electrical to/from mechanical), thermal/mechanical separated into two zones or areas. The near (fres-
stability, and other physical/chemical features. nel) field and the far (fraunhofer) field are shown in
Table 2 lists many of the materials used and some of Figure 4 with the shaded areas representing regions
their salient features. The critical temperature is the of relatively high pressure.
temperature above which the material loses its The near field is the region directly adjacent to
piezoelectric characteristic. It may be the depoling the transducer and characterized as a collection of
temperature of the ferroelectrics, the decomposition symmetrical high and low pressure regions caused
temperature for the lithium sulfate or the curie tem-
perature for the quartz.
The quality factor, or “Q,” of tuned circuits,
search units or individual transducer elements is a
performance measure of their frequency selectivity.
It is the ratio of the search unit’s fundamental (reso-
nance) frequency (fo) to its bandwidth (f2 – f1) at
the 3 dB down point (0.707) as shown in Figure 3.
The ratio of the acoustic impedance of the
transducer and its facing materials governs how λ
well the sound from the transducer can be coupled
into the material and/or the backing material. From Near Far
the table of piezoelectric material characteristics, it (fresnel) (fraunhofer)
is apparent that none of the materials is an ideal
match for NDT. Thus dual transducer search units Figure 4: Conceptual representation of the sound field emitted
are sometimes made such that the transmitter and by a circular plane-wave piezoelectric transducer.

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 2

Y0+ =
by interfering wavefronts emanating from a contin-

uous, or near continuous, sound source. Huygen’s (Eq. 3)
principle treats the transducer face as a series of
point sources of sound, which interfere with each
other’s wavelets throughout the near field. Each This point defines the end of the near field and
point source emits spherical wavefronts, which start is the same expression as given in Equation 9 in
out in phase at the transducer surface. At observa- Chapter 1.
tion points somewhat removed from the plane wave At distances well removed from the sound
source (the transducer face), wavefronts from vari- source (the far field), the waves no longer interfere
ous point sources (separated laterally from each with each other (since the difference in travel path
other) interfere as a result of the differing distances to the center and edge of the source is much less
the waves had to travel in order to reach the obser- than a wavelength) and the sound field is reduced
vation point. Both high and low pressure zones in strength in a monotonic manner. In the far field,
result, depending on whether the superimposed the beam is diverging and has a spherically shaped
aggregate of interfering waves is constructive (in wave front as if radiating from a point source. The
phase) or destructive (180° out of phase). far field sound field intensity decreases due to both
As a special case, the variation in beam pressure the distance from the source and the diffraction-
as a function of distance from a circular transducer based directivity (beam shape) factor. Maximum
face and along its major axis is given by Equation 2. pressure amplitudes exist along the beam centerline.
Figure 5 shows a graphical representation of a typi-
D 2 − λ 2 ( 2 m + 1)

(Eq. 2) Ym+ = ; m = 0, ± 1, ± 2 ... ± m

cal distance-amplitude variation for a straight beam

4 λ ( 2 m + 1)
The penetration, depth resolution and sensitivi-
ty of an ultrasonic system are strongly dependent
where upon the nature of the pulse emitted by the trans-
ducer. High-frequency, short-duration pulses exhib-
Y+ is the position of maxima along the central it better depth resolution but have less energy and
axis, allow less penetration into common engineering
D is the diameter of a circular radiator, and materials. A short time-duration pulse of only a few
λ is the wavelength of sound in the medium. cycles is known as a broadband pulse because its
frequency-domain equivalent bandwidth is large.
Since λ2 is insignificant compared to D2 for Such pulses exhibit good depth resolution.
most ultrasonic testing frequencies, particularly in Most search units are constructed with a back-
water, at the last maximum (m = 0), Equation 2 ing material bonded to the rear face of the trans-
becomes: ducer that provides strength and damping for the
transducer element. This backing material is usually
an epoxy, preferentially filled with tungsten or some
other high-density powder that increases the effec-
Near field Far field tive density of the epoxy to something approaching
that of the transducer element. Thus, the tungsten
assists in matching the acoustic impedance of the
Y0 transducer (which is usually relatively high) to the
backing material. When the backing is in intimate
contact with the transducer, the pulse duration is

shortened to a few oscillations and decreased in peak

– signal amplitude. The pulse energy is therefore divid-
– ed between the item being tested and the backing
material (which removes the rearward-directed waves
and absorbs them in the coarse-surfaced epoxy).
Search units come in many types and styles
Metal Travel Distance depending upon their purpose. Most search units
use an L-wave-generating sound source. Normal or
Figure 5: Typical straight beam DAC curve.


straight beam search units, the colloquial names

given to longitudinal wave transducers when used d
in contact testing, are so named because the sound
beam is directed into the material in a perpendicu- Search unit

lar (normal) direction. These units generate longi- Incident beam

tudinal waves in the material and are used for thick-

ness gaging and flaw detection of laminar-type
r 45¡
flaws. Both contact and immersion search units are Refracted beam

readily available. To improve near-surface resolu-

tion and to decrease noise, standoff devices and
dual crystal units may be used.
Transverse (shear) waves are introduced into
test materials by inclining the incident L-wave
beyond the first critical angle, yet short of the sec-
ond critical angle. In immersion testing, this is
done by changing the angle of the search unit Figure 6: Introduction of shear waves through mode conversion
manipulator. In the case of cylindrical products, for an immersion system.
shear waves can be generated by offsetting the
transducer from the centerline of the pipe or round
bar being inspected. Figure 6 shows a typical testing
configuration for solid round materials. For the case Angle beam wedge
of a 45° refracted beam, a rule of thumb for the dis-
placement d is 1/6 the rod diameter.
In contact testing, the so-called angle-beam
search units cause the beam to proceed through the
material in a plane that is normal to the surface and L
typically at angles of 45, 60, and 70°. Transverse
waves are introduced by pre-cut wedges which,
when in contact with metals, generate shear waves
through mode conversion at the wedge-metal inter- S
face. (See Figure 7).
High-frequency (ultrasonic) sound waves travel Figure 7: Contact shear wave transducer design. “L” is the
poorly in air and not at all in a vacuum. In order for reflected (in the wedge) longitudinal wave and “S” is the
the mechanical energy generated by a transducer to refracted shear wave in the material.
be transmitted into the medium to be examined, a
liquid that bridges the gap between the transducer
and the test piece is used to couple the acoustic that might become entrapped in the gap(s) between
wave to the item being tested. This liquid is the the transducer and the test piece. Couplants must be
“couplant” often mentioned in UT. When immer- inert to both the test material and the search unit.
sion testing is being conducted, the part is Contact couplants must have many desirable
immersed in water which serves as the couplant. properties including: wetability (crystal, shoe and
When contact testing is being conducted, liquids test materials), proper viscosity, low cost, remov-
with varying viscosities are used in order to avoid ability, noncorrosive and nontoxic properties, low
unnecessary runoff, particularly with materials with attenuation and an acoustic impedance that match-
very rough contact surfaces or when testing over- es well with the other materials. In selecting the
head or vertically. couplant, the operator must consider all or most of
Liquids transmit longitudinal sound waves
rather well, but because of their lack of any signifi-
cant shear moduli (except for highly viscous materi- 5. Because the acoustic impedance of air is so different from
als), they do not transmit shear waves.5 Couplants that of the commonly used transducers and test materials, its
presence reflects an objectionable amount of acoustic energy
should wet the surfaces of both the search unit and at coupling interfaces, but is the main reason ultrasonic
the material under test in order to exclude any air testing is effective with air-filled cracks and similar critical dis-

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 2

( n − 1)
these factors depending on the surface finish, type

of material, temperature, surface orientation and (Eq. 4)
availability. The couplant should be spread in a thin,
uniform film between the transducer and the mate-
rial under test. Rough surfaces and vertical or over- where
head surfaces require a higher viscosity couplant R is the lens radius of curvature,
than smooth, horizontal surfaces. Materials used in F is the focal length in water,
this application include various grades and viscosi- n is the ratio of the acoustic L-wave velocities,
ties of oil, glycerin, paste couplants using cellulose n = V1/V2 where
gum (which tend to evaporate, leaving little or no V1 is the longitudinal velocity in epoxy,
residue) and various miscible mixtures of these V2 is the velocity in water.
materials using water as a thinner.
Because stainless steels and other high-nickel For example, to get a focal length of 63.5 mm
alloys are susceptible to stress-related corrosion crack- (2.5 in.) using a plastic glass lens and water, the
ing in the presence of sulphur and chlorine, the use of radius of curvature equation uses a velocity
couplants containing even trace amounts of these ratio of n = 1.84 and the equation becomes
materials is prohibited. Most commercial couplant
manufacturers provide certificates of conformance R = 2.5 (0.84/1.84) = 1.14 in.
regarding absence of these elements, upon request.
In a few highly specialized applications, dry Focusing has three principal advantages. First, the
couplants, such as a sheet of elastomer, have been energy at the focal point is increased, which increases
used. Bonding the transducer to the test item, usu- the sensitivity or signal amplitude. Second, sensitivity
ally in distributed materials characterization studies, to reflectors above and below the focal point is
is an accepted practice. High pressure and intermit- decreased, which reduces the noise. Third, the lateral
tent contact without a coupling medium, has also resolution is increased because the focal point is nor-
been used on high-temperature steel ingots. mally quite small, permitting increased definition of
Although these approaches have been reported in the size and shape of the reflector.
the literature, they are not commonly used in pro- Focusing is useful in applications such as the
duction applications. examination of a bondline between two materials,
Water is the most widely used couplant for e.g., a composite material bonded to an aluminum
immersion testing. It is inexpensive, plentiful and frame. When examined from the composite side,
relatively inert to the materials involved. It is some- there are many echoes from within the composite
times necessary to add wetting agents, antirust that interfere with the desired interface signal; how-
additives and antifouling agents to the water to pre- ever, focusing at the bondline reduces the interfer-
vent corrosion, ensure absence of air bubbles on test ence and increases system sensitivity and resolution
part surfaces and avoid the growth of bacteria and at the bond line depth.
algae. Bubbles are removed from both the transduc- Where a shape other than a simple round or
er face and the material under examination by regu- square transducer is needed, particularly for larger-
lar wiping of these surfaces or by water jet. area sound field sources, transducer elements can
In immersion testing, the sound beam can be be assembled into mosaics and excited either as a
focused using plano-concave lenses, producing a single unit or in special timing sequences. Mosaic
higher, more concentrated beam that results in bet- assemblies may be linear, circular or any combina-
ter lateral (spatial) resolution in the vicinity of the tion of these geometries. With properly timed
focal zone. This focusing moves the last peak of the sequences of exciting pulses, these units can func-
near field closer to the transducer than that found tion as a linear array (with steerable beam angles)
with a flat transducer. Lenses may be formed from or as transducers with a variable focus capability.
epoxy or other plastic materials, e.g., polystyrene. Paintbrush transducers are mosaics that are
The radius of curvature is determined using excited as a single element search-unit with a
Equation 4. large length-to-width ratio and are used to sweep
across large segments of material in a single pass.
The sound beam is broad and the lateral resolution
and discontinuity sensitivity is not as good as small-
er transducers.


Special Equipment Features for flat materials including honeycomb panels,

The basic electronic pulser/receiver display units rolled products, and adhesively bonded or laminat-
are augmented with special features intended to ed composites. The C-scan is developed using a
assist operators in easing the burden of maintaining raster scan pattern (X versus Y) over the test part
a high level of alertness during routine inspections, surface. The presence of questionable conditions is
particularly of regular shapes during original manu- detected by gating signals falling within the thick-
facture, as well as obtaining some type of perma- ness of the part (or monitoring loss of transmission)
nent record of the results of the inspection. as a function of location. C-scan systems use either
A-scan information represents the material con- storage oscilloscopes or other recording devices,
dition through which the sound beam is passing. The coupled to automatic scanning systems which rep-
fundamental A-scan display, although highly inform- resent a plan, i.e., map, view of the part, similar to
ative regarding material homogeneity, does not yield the view produced in radiography. Figure 8 shows
information regarding the spatial distribution of examples of these display options.
ultrasonic wave reflectors until it is connected with Accumulation of data for display in the form
scanning mechanisms that can supply the physical of B- or C-scans is extracted using electronic
location of the transducer in conjunction with the gates. Gates are circuits that extract time and
reflector data obtained with the A-scan unit. amplitude information of selected signals on the
When cross-sectional information is recorded A-scan presentation and feed the data to other
using a rectilinear B-scan system, it is the time of signal processing or display circuits or devices.
arrival of a pulse (vertical direction) plotted as a The start time and duration of the gate are opera-
function of the transducer position (horizontal tor selectable. Display representations of the gate
direction) that is displayed. Circular objects are are raised or depressed baselines, a horizontal bar
often displayed using a curvilinear coordinate sys- or two vertical lines. Available with adjustable
tem which displays time of pulse arrival in the radi- thresholds, gates can be set to record signals that
al direction (measured from the transducer) and either exceed or drop below specified threshold
with transducer location following the surface con- settings.
tour of the test object. Details of received signals can be seen and/or
When plan views of objects are needed, the disregarded through use of the RF display and the
C-scan system is used and is particularly effective reject controls, respectively. The RF display shown

Front surface
A-scan Back surface

B-scan Top of plate

Bo om of plate


Figure 8: Comparison of common display modes. A-scan is the normal instrument display, B-scan
provides a side view and C-scan provides a top view of the material.

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 2

in Figure 9 is representative of the actual ultrasonic

stress pulses received. In this mode, the first oscilla-
tion (downward at 17 μs) shows the nature of the
pulse (compression or rarefaction) when received.
Note the inversion of the shape of the pulse at 19,
21, …, microseconds due to phase inversion caused

by reflection from a free boundary. This phase


reversal can be used to discriminate between hard

boundaries (high impedance) and soft boundaries
(low impedance such as air).
The reject control, on the other hand, tends to
discriminate against low-level signals, through use
of a threshold, below which no information is
16 18 20 22 24 26
made available to the operator. Early versions of
the reject circuitry tended to alter the vertical lin-
Time earity of UT systems; however, this condition has
(Microseconds) been corrected in several of the newer digital dis-
continuity detector instruments.
Figure 9: RF display showing phase reversal upon reflection.


Review Questions

1. Barium titanate is a piezoelectric material which: 5. A 5 MHz, 12.7 mm (0.5 in.) diameter, flat search unit
in water has a near field length of approximately:
a. occurs naturally.
b. is piezoelectric at temperatures above the critical a. 177.8 mm (7 in.).
temperature. b. 50.8 mm (2 in.).
c. has a high acoustic impedance. c. 84.6 mm (3-1/3 in.).
d. is highly soluble in water. d. 139.7 mm (5-1/2 in.).

2. During an immersion test, numerous bubbles are 6. A concave lens on a transducer will result in the near
noted in the water attached to the test item. These field in water being:
bubbles are small relative to the part size. What steps
should the operator take? a. twice as long as with a flat lens.
b. three times as long as with a flat lens.
a. Remove the bubbles by blowing them off with an c. the same length as with a flat lens.
air hose. d. shorter than with a flat lens.
b. Ignore the bubbles because they are small and
will not interfere with the test. 7. A 10 MHz, 12.7 mm (0.5 in.) diameter search unit is
c. Remove the bubbles, with a brush or other placed on steel and acrylic plastic in succession. The
mechanical means such as rubbing with the hand beam spread in these two materials is approximately:
while the test is stopped.
d. Count the bubbles and mark their echoes on the a. 3° and 1.5°, respectively.
test record. b. 1.5° and 3°, respectively.
c. equal in the two materials.
3. A couplant is needed for a test on a hot steel plate d. less than the beam spread of a 15 MHz search
(121 °C, 250 °F). Which of the following materials unit of the same diameter.
can be used?
8. Focused transducers are useful because the:
a. water.
b. mercury. a. smaller beam diameter increases the number of
c. tractor oil. scans required to examine an object.
d. high-temperature grease. b. lateral resolution is improved.
c. lateral resolution is unimportant.
4. A couplant is needed for a test on stainless steel d. focal point is located beyond the end of the near
welds. Numerous couplants are available. Which field length of a similar, unfocused transducer.
should be chosen and why?

a. a couplant free of chlorine because this element

corrodes stainless steel.
b. glycerin because it is nonflammable.
c. oil because it is easily removed.
d. water because stainless steel does not corrode in

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 2

9. Which of the following is a true statement about a 14. In Figure 6 and using the conditions of question 13,
sound beam with a longer wavelength. what is the offset distance needed for a 45° refracted
longitudinal wave to be generated?
a. A longer wavelength has better penetration than a
shorter wavelength. a. 10.03 mm (0.395 in.)
b. A longer wavelength provides a greater sensitivity b. 4.5 mm (0.177 in.)
and resolution. c. 12.82 mm (0.505 in.)
c. A longer wavelength has less energy than a d. 10.26 mm (0.404 in.)
shorter wavelength.
d. Wavelength does not affect penetration, 15. It is desired to detect discontinuities 6.35 mm
resolution or sensitivity. (0.25 in.) or less from the entry surface using angle
beam shear waves. The search unit must be selected
10. Backing material on a transducer is used to: with the choice between a narrow band and a
broadband unit. Which should be chosen and why?
a. damp the pulse and absorb the sound from the
back of the transducer. a. The narrow band unit because it examines only a
b. decrease the thickness oscillations. narrow band of the material.
c. increase the radial mode oscillations. b. The broadband unit because the entire volume is
d. increase the power of the transmitted pulse. examined with a long pulse.
c. The broadband unit because the near surface
11. Angle beam search units are used to: resolution is better.
d. The broadband unit because the lateral resolution
a. inspect butt joint welds in thick-wall steel piping. is excellent.
b. inspect pipe walls for internal corrosion.
c. examine material for acoustic velocity changes. 16. In a longitudinal-wave immersion test of
d. determine acoustic diffraction. commercially pure titanium plate
[VL = 6.1 (10)6 mm/s, VT = 3.12 (10)6 mm/s], an echo
12. An angle beam transducer produces a 45° shear wave pulse from an internal discontinuity is observed
in steel. What is the approximate incident angle? 6.56 µs following the front surface echo. How deep is
(velocity in steel = 0.125 in./µs, velocity in plastic = the reflector below the front surface?
0.105 in./µs; velocity in steel = 3.175 mm/µs,
velocity in plastic = 2.667 mm/µs) a. 20 mm (0.79 in.)
b. 40 mm (1.57 in.)
a. 54.9° c. 10 mm (0.39 in.)
b. 19° d. 50.8 mm (2 in.)
c. 36.4°
d. 45° 17. A change in echo amplitude from 20% of full screen
height (FSH) to 40% FSH is a change of:
13. In Figure 6, the aluminum rod being examined is
152.4 mm (6 in.) in diameter. What is the offset a. 20 dB.
distance needed for a 45° refracted shear wave to be b. 6 dB.
generated? c. 14 dB.
d. 50% in signal amplitude.
[L-wave velocity in aluminum = 6.3 (10)6 mm/s,
T-wave velocity in aluminum = 3.1 (10)6 mm/s,
velocity in water = 1.5 (10)6 mm/s]

a. 5.13 mm (0.2 in.)

b. 26.06 mm (1.026 in.)
c. 52.12 mm (2.052 in.)
d. 15.05 mm (0.59 in.)


18. What lens radius of curvature is needed in order to 21. When checked against a previous calibration level,
have a 20 mm diameter, 5 MHz transducer focus in a search unit which is classified as highly damped is
water at a distance of 40 mm from the lens face? considerably more sensitive. A check of the RF
[VH2O =1.49 (10)6 mm/s, VLens = 2.67 (10)6 mm/s] waveform shows that the unit rings for at least three
times the number of cycles previously achieved. What
a. 17.7 mm (0.7 in.) condition might explain this phenomena?
b. 35.0 mm (1.38 in.)
c. 80.5 mm (3.17 in.) a. The search unit has been dropped and the facing
d. 56.6 mm (2.23 in.) material has been cracked.
b. The backing material has separated from the
19. Two signals were compared in amplitude to each crystal, thus decreasing the mechanical damping.
other. The second was found to be 14 dB less than c. The housing has separated from the transducer
the first. This change could have represented a and thinks it is a bell.
change of: d. The coax connector is filled with water.

a. 70% FSH to 14% FSH. 22. The sound beam emanating from a continuous wave
b. 100% FSH to 50% FSH. sound source has two zones. These are called the:
c. 20% FSH to 100% FSH.
d. 100% FSH to 25% FSH. a. fresnel and fraunhofer zones.
b. fresnel and near fields.
20. A change of 16 dB on the attenuator corresponds to c. fraunhofer and far fields.
an amplitude ratio of: d. focused and unfocused zones.

a. 6.3:1.
b. 5.2:1.
c. 7.4:1.
d. 9.5:1.

1c 2c 3d 4a 5d 6d 7a 8b 9a 10a 11a 12c 13b
14c 15c 16a 17b 18a 19a 20a 21b 22a

Chapter 3
Common Practices

Approaches to Testing location is determined using triangulation tech-

Most ultrasonic inspection is done using the pulse- niques. When the receiver is positioned along the
echo technique wherein an acoustic pulse, reflected propagation axis and across from the transmitter,
from a local change in acoustic impedance, is the technique is called the through-transmission
detected by the original sending sound source. approach to ultrasonic testing. Figure 1 shows these
Received signals indicate the presence of disconti- three modes of pulse-echo testing with typical
nuities (internal or external) and their distances inspection applications.
from the pulse-echo transducer, which are directly In the through-transmission technique, the
proportional to the time of echo-pulse arrival. For sound beam travels through the test item and is
this situation, access to only one side of the test received on the side opposite from the transmitter.
item is needed, which is a tremendous advantage Two transducers, a transmitter and a receiver, are
over through-transmission in many applications. necessary. The time represented on the screen is
For maximum detection reliability, the sound wave indicative of a single traverse through the material,
should encounter a reflector at normal incidence to with coupling and alignment being critical to the
its major surface. technique’s successful application.
If the receiving transducer is separated from the In some two-transducer pitch-catch techniques,
sending transducer, the configuration is called a both transducers are located on the same side of the
pitch-catch. The interpretation of discontinuity material. The time between pulses corresponds to a

Pulse-echo Pitch-catch


(Plate) (Weld root)

Through-transmission Delta


(Weld porosity)

Figure 1: Pulse-echo inspection with ultrasonic transducer.

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 3

single traverse of the sound from the transmitter to extend from the surface to a depth of about one
the reflector and then to the receiver. One approach wavelength into the material and thus are only sen-
uses a “tandem” pitch-catch arrangement, usually sitive to surface or very near-surface flaws. They are
for the central region of thick materials. In this tech- very sensitive to surface conditions including the
nique, the transmitter sends an angle beam to the presence of residual coupling compounds as well as
midwall area of the material (often a double V weld finger damping. Rayleigh waves are usually generat-
root) and deflections from vertical planar surfaces are ed by mode conversion using angle beam search
received by one or more transducers located behind units designed to produce shear waves just beyond
the transmitter. Another pitch-catch technique, found the second critical angle.
in immersion testing, uses a focused receiver and a Two major modes of coupling ultrasound into
broad-beam transmitter, arranged in the shape of a test parts are used in UT: contact and immersion.
triangle (delta technique). This technique relies on The manual contact technique is the most common
reradiated sound waves (mode conversion of shear for large items that are difficult to handle, e.g., plate
energy to longitudinal energy) from internal reflec- materials, structures and pressure vessels. Both
tors, with background noise reduction through use of straight and angle beams are used. Coupling for the
the focused receiver. manual contact technique requires a medium with a
When sound is introduced into the material at higher viscosity than that of water and less than that
an angle to the surface, angle beam testing is being of heavy greases. In mechanized (automated) test-
done. When this angle is reduced to 0°, it is called ing, the couplant is often water that is made to flow
“straight” or “normal” beam examination and is between the transducer and the test piece. During
used extensively on plate or other flat material. manual tests, the operator provides the couplant
Laminations in plate are readily detected and sized repetitively during the examination.
with the straight beam technique. Although it is Manual contact testing is very versatile since
possible to transmit shear waves “straight” into search units are easily exchanged as the needs arise
materials, longitudinal waves are by far the most and a high degree of flexibility exists for angulation
common wave mode used in these applications. and changes in directions of inspection. Test items
Sound beams can be refracted at the interfaces of many different configurations can be examined
of two dissimilar media. The angles can range from with little difficulty. One of the prime advantages of
just greater than 0° to 90° (corresponding to their contact testing is its portability. UT instruments
limiting critical incident angle condition) if the sec- weighing less than 4.5 kg (10 lbs) are readily available.
ond medium has the higher acoustic wave velocity. With this type of instrument and contact techniques,
Shear wave angle beams are usually greater than 20° UT is performed almost anywhere the inspector can
(in order to avoid the presence of more than one go. Skilled operators can make evaluations on the
mode within the material at the same time) and less spot and with a high degree of reliability.
than 80° (in order to avoid the false generation of Immersion testing uses a column of liquid as an
surface waves). intermediate medium for conducting sound waves
Angle beams (both shear and longitudinal) are to and from test parts. Immersion testing can be
often used in the examination of welds since critical performed with the test item immersed in water (or
flaws such as cracks, lack of fusion, inadequate pen- some other appropriate liquid) or through use of
etration and slag have dimensions in the through- various devices (bubblers and squirters) that main-
wall direction. Angle beams are used because they tain a continuous water path between the transduc-
can achieve close-to-normal incidence for these er(s) and the test item. Most examinations are con-
reflectors with generally vertical surfaces. Other ducted using automatic scanning systems. The
types of structures and configurations are examined immersion technique has many advantages. Many
using angle beams, particularly where access by sizes, shapes and styles of search units are available
straight beams is unsatisfactory, e.g., irregularly including flat, focused, round, rectangular, paint-
shaped forgings, castings and assemblies. brush and arrays. Automated examination is easily
Surface (rayleigh) waves are not as commonly accommodated. Surface finish is less troublesome
used for testing as the longitudinal and shear waves, since transducer wear does not take place. Objects
but are used to great advantage in a limited number of various sizes and shapes may be tested. Scanning
of applications that require an ability of the wave to can be faster and more thorough than manual scan-
follow the contours of irregularly shaped surfaces ning. Recording of position and discontinuity data
such as jet engine blades and vanes. Rayleigh waves is straight-forward. Data precision is higher since

Common Practices

higher frequency (and more fragile) transducers complex operations. Most scans are prepro-
can be used. grammed and thus are not changed readily.
Disadvantages include long setup time, mainte- It is imperative that the search unit be in the
nance of coupling liquids, preset scan/articulation desired position at all times so that the sound beam
plans that reduce use of spontaneous positioning, is interrogating the intended test area. This is
high signal loss at test part-water interface, highly accomplished by a positioner attached to the end of
critical positioning/angulation problems and system the search tube used to point the search unit in the
alignment in general. desired direction. Thus the search unit has several
Of all the advantages, perhaps the most impor- degrees of positional freedom (X, Y, Z, θ, φ).
tant is the ability to use different search unit sizes It is not always feasible to immerse a test object
and shapes in an automatic inspection mode. Beam in a tank for UT testing. Limits are imposed by the
focusing is commonly used to improve spatial reso- size and shape of the test object as well as by the
lution and increase sensitivity; however, scan times capacity of the tank. To circumvent these problems,
increase dramatically. Automated testing has many scanning systems are often provided with squirters
advantages, including increased scanning speed, or water columns. While differing slightly in design,
reduced operator dependence and adaptability to each of these serves the same purpose: to establish a
imaging and signal processing equipment. column of water between the search unit and the
Immersion tanks may be long and narrow (for test item through which the sound beam will pass.
pipe and tubing inspection) or short and deep (for Squirters employ a nozzle which squirts a stream of
bulky forgings). In general, tanks are equipped with water at the test piece. The search unit, located
a means for filling, draining and filtering the water. inside and coaxially with the nozzle, emits a sound
The tank may contain test item manipulators (for beam axially through the stream. Figure 2 is a con-
spinning pipe and rotating samples) and a scanning ceptual drawing of an ultrasonic water jet (squirter).
bridge system (for translating search units along If the nozzle is designed properly and the water
rectilinear and/or polar coordinates). Tank capaci- flow parameters are set correctly, there are no bub-
ties range from one or two cubic feet to a few thou- bles at the interface of the water and the test piece,
sand cubic feet. Most tanks are equipped with one and sound can be transmitted into the piece. The
or more scanning bridges which travel on tracks the sound beam impinging on a test part is restricted in
length of the tank and are under the control of the cross-sectional size by the stream of water, which acts
operator or an automatic test system. The bridge as a waveguide and collimator. Both the squirter and
across the tank contains rails on which the search the bubbler (up-welling vertical water column) can be
unit manipulator rides. Other equipment carried on used with pulse-echo or through-transmission tech-
the bridge may include the ultrasonic instrument, a
C-scan or other recorder and signal processing
equipment needed to extract information from the
To ultrasonic instrument
ultrasonic signals.
In scanning flat test objects with a longitudinal
beam, the search unit manipulator traverses the test Water couplant
item in a raster-like pattern (traverse-index-tra-
verse-index-...-...). The recorder, enabled using the
gating circuits, records the data in synchronization
with the position of the search unit manipulator.
There are several types of manipulators used for
handling test parts. These manipulators shift or
rotate the test item under the bridge in such a man-
ner that the search unit may scan the required spec-
imen surface. Rotational axes may be horizontal,
vertical or other desired angles. Manipulator
motion may be under the control of the operator or
the automatic system. Control centers may be pro- Transducer
grammed to perform very basic scan patterns or,
in the case of some computer-based systems, very
Figure 2: Diagram of a water jet coupling for ultrasonic tests.

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 3

niques and can take advantage of beam focusing. If have been developed, sound beam modes, angles,
the free stream of the squirter is long, the deflection beam spread, and attenuation must all be consid-
due to gravity may have to be considered in the scan- ered to ensure all of the material is interrogated in
ning plan. the desired direction(s). This information is used to
It is often desirable to keep a test item relatively establish scan lengths, direction, overlap, index
dry while performing ultrasonic examinations. One increments and electronic gate settings.
way of doing this and yet maintain many of the
advantages of immersion testing is to use wheel Measuring System Performance
transducers. The wheels used for UT testing are
similar to automotive tires in that they are largely UT calibration is the practice of adjusting the gain,
hollow and there is a flexible tread in contact with sweep and range, and of assessing the impact that
the test item. In the UT wheel, the search unit is other parameters of the instrument and the test
mounted on a gimbal manipulator inside the tire configuration may have on the reliable interpreta-
and the tire is filled with a liquid — usually water. tion of ultrasonic signal echoes. Gain settings are
The search unit is aimed through the tread (a thin normally established by adjusting the vertical height
elastomeric membrane such as polyurethane). The of an echo signal, as seen on the display, to a prede-
gimbal mounting permits the incident sound beam termined level. The level may be required by speci-
to be oriented so that it produces either shear or fication and based on echo responses from specific
longitudinal waves (or other modes) in the test part standard reflectors in material similar to that which
as if immersion testing were taking place. will be tested. Sweep distance of the display is estab-
Because the tire is flexible and conforms to the lished in terms of equivalent sound path, where the
surface, little external couplant is needed. At times, sound path is the distance in the material to be test-
however, a small spray of water or alcohol is intro- ed from the sound entry point to the reflector.
duced just ahead of the wheel to exclude the possibili- It is important to establish these parameters. Gain
ty of small amounts of air becoming trapped at the is established so that comparisons of the reference
wheel’s contact surface. This thin layer of liquid evap- level can be made to an echo of interest in order to
orates rapidly without damage to the test item. decide whether the echo is of any consequence and, if
Although wheels are somewhat limited as to the so, then to aid in the determination of the size of the
shapes of materials they can examine, they are useful reflector.6 Sweep distance is established so that the
on large, reasonably flat surfaces. More than one location of the reflector can be determined.
wheel can be used at the same time, for example, tan- Horizontal linearity is a measure of the unifor-
dem configurations are possible. Wheels are also use- mity of the sweep display of the instrument. It
ful in high temperature applications (where the liquid may be checked using multiple back-echoes from a
is continuously cooled) and sets of transducers can be flat plate of a convenient thickness, for example,
placed within a single wheel. A major problem is the 25.4 mm (1 in.). With the sweep set to display mul-
elimination of internal echoes from structural mem- tiple back-echoes, the spacing between pulses
bers within the liquid chamber. These echoes are usu- should be equal. The instrument should be recali-
ally eliminated by careful design incorporating the brated if the sweep linearity is not within the speci-
empirical placement of baffles and absorbers. fied tolerance. Vertical linearity implies that the
In both manual and automatic scanning, the height of the pulse displayed on the A-scan is
pattern of scanning is important. If too many scan directly proportional to the acoustic pulse received
traverses are made, the part will be overtested, with by the transducer. For example, if the echo increases
time and money being lost. On the other hand, if by 50%, the indicated amplitude on the display
the coverage of the scans is insufficient, sections of should also increase by 50%. This variable may be
the part will not be examined and discontinuities checked by establishing an echo signal on the
may be missed. Therefore, time dedicated to devel- screen, changing the vertical amplifier gain in set
oping a scanning plan is seldom wasted. In develop- increments and measuring the corresponding
ing the plan, which lays out the patterns of search changes in A-scan response. An alternate check uses
unit manipulation, it is necessary to consider appli- a pair of echoes with amplitudes in the ratio of 2:1.
cable codes, standards and specifications as well as
making an engineering evaluation of the potential
6. It is important to recognize that the use of amplitude to size a
locations, orientations, sizes and types of disconti- reflector is subject to large, uncontrolled errors and must be
nuities expected in the part. After these criteria approached with caution.

Common Practices

Changes in gain should not affect the 2:1 ratio, Table 1: Reference reflectors used in ultrasonic testing.
regardless of the amplifier’s settings.
It is of note that when electronic distance ampli- Type Characteristics Uses

Transducer sound field

tude correction (DAC) units are used in an ultra-
Solid sphere Omnidirectional
sonic system, the vertical amplifier’s displayed out-
put is purposefully made to be nonlinear. The
Simulates near-surface
Notches Flat, corner
nature of the nonlinearity is adjusted to compensate
for the estimated (or measured) variation in the test cracks

material/inspection system’s aggregate decay in sig-
Disc reflector Reference gain
hole (FBH)
nal strength as a function of distance (time) from
the sending transducer.
Side-drilled Distance and DAC
Cylindrical symmetry
hole (SDH) calibration
Reference Reflectors
Simulate natural flaw
Special Custom reflectivity
There are several reflector types commonly used as a conditions
basis for establishing system performance and sensi-
tivity. Included among them are spheres and flat-bot-
tom holes (FBH), notches, side-drilled holes (SDH),
and other special purpose or designs. Table 1 summa-
rizes these reflectors characteristics and uses. 3
Spherical reflectors are used most often in 4
immersion testing for assessing transducer sound
fields as shown in Figure 3. Spheres provide excel- 4
lent repeatability because of their omnidirectional
sound wave response. The effective reflectance from 1
a sphere is much smaller than that received from a 3 Ball reflector
flat reflector of the same diameter due to its spheri- 2
cal directivity pattern. Most of the reflected energy 1
does not return to the search unit. Spheres of any Focal point
material can be used; however, steel ball bearings
are the most common since these are reasonably Focused search unit
priced, extremely precise as to size and surface fin-
ish, and available in many sizes.
Flat reflectors are used as calibration standards Figure 3: Spherical reflector measuring sound field showing
in both immersion and contact testing. They are increased amplitude near the focal point.
usually flat-bottom drilled holes of the desired
diameters and depths. All flat reflectors have the
inherent weakness that they require careful sound 100
beam-reflector axis alignment. Deviations of little 90
more than a few degrees will lead to significantly #8
Signal height (%)

reduced echoes and become unacceptable for cali- 70

bration. However, for discontinuities with a cross- 60
section less than the beam width and with a per- #6
pendicular alignment, the signal amplitude is 40
proportional to the area of the reflector as shown in 30
Figure 4. Generally, if a discontinuity echo ampli- 20 Point of
tude is equal to the amplitude of the calibration 10 standardization
#1 #2
reflector, it is assumed that the discontinuity is at
least as large as the calibration reflector. 0 5 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80
Notches are frequently used to assess the Area units
detectability of surface-breaking discontinuities
such as cracks, as well as for instrument calibration.
Notches of several shapes are used and can either be Figure 4: Area-amplitude relationship for FBHs.

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 3

of a rectangular or V cross-section. Notches may be sweep distance is set, signals from each reflector are
made with milling cutters (end mills), circular saws maximized (by maneuvering the search unit) and
or straight saws. End-mill or electronic discharge the results are recorded on the screen using erasable
machining (EDM) notches may be made with high- markers or stored in a digital format. The peak sig-
ly variable length and depth dimensions. Circular nals from each reflector are then connected by a
saw cuts are limited in length and depth by the saw smooth line and it is this line that is called the dis-
diameter and the configuration of the device hold- tance-amplitude correction (DAC) curve.
ing the saw. Even though it is somewhat more diffi-
cult to achieve a desired length to depth ratio with Calibration
the circular saw, these notches are used frequently
because of their resemblance to fatigue cracks, e.g., The setting of basic instrument controls is expedit-
shape and surface finish. Notches may be produced ed by the use of several standard sets of blocks con-
perpendicular to the surface or at other angles as taining precision reflectors arranged to feature a
dictated by the test configuration. On piping, they specific characteristic of the inspection systems. For
may be located on the inside diameter and/or the example, area-amplitude blocks contain flat-bottom
outside diameter and aligned either in the longitu- holes of differing diameters, all at the same distance
dinal or transverse directions. from the sound entry surface. The block material is
Side-drilled holes are placed in calibration normally similar to that of the test material. In the
blocks so that the axis of the hole is parallel to the distance- and area-amplitude blocks, a hole is
entry surface. The sound beam impinges on the placed in a separate cylinder, 50.8 mm (2 in.) in
hole, normal to its major axis. Such a reflector pro- diameter. Other blocks, intended for the same pur-
vides very repeatable calibrations, may be placed at pose of establishing the correlation of signal ampli-
any desired distance from the entry surface and tude with the area of the reflector, may contain a
may be used for both longitudinal waves and a mul- number of holes in the same block, usually a plate.
titude of shear wave angles. It is essential that the Hole sizes increase in 1/64 of an inch and are desig-
hole surface be smooth: thus, reaming to the final nated by that value. For example, a 1.5 mm (1/16 in.
diameter is often the final step in preparing such or 4/64 in.) hole is a #4 hole. Area-amplitude blocks
holes. are used to establish the area/amplitude response
Used in sets with differing distances from the curve and the sensitivity of the UT system.
surface and different diameters, side-drilled holes Maximum signals are obtained from each of the
are frequently used for developing distance-ampli- holes of interest and the signal amplitude is record-
tude correction curves and for setting overall ed. These values may be compared to echoes from
sensitivity of shear wave testing schemes. After the the same metal path and reflector sizes estimated
for the test item. Figure 5 shows a cross-sectional
diagram of a block composed of 4340 steel, with an
FBH size of 2 mm (5/64 in.) (#5 hole) and a travel
Entry surface distance of 38 mm (1.5 in.).
Distance-amplitude blocks differ from area-
amplitude blocks in that a single diameter, flat-bot-
tom hole is placed at incrementally increasing
depths from very near the entry surface to a desired
maximum depth. Sets of blocks are available in dif-
Material alloy 43 40- 5-01 50 Metal ferent materials and with diameters ranging from
travel Number 1 to Number 16 and larger. Distance-
Hole size (diameter × 1/64 in.)
(diameter × 0.4 mm) amplitude blocks are used to establish the
Metal distance (1.5 in.) distance/amplitude response characteristic of the
(38.1 mm) UT system in the test material; the measured
Flat bottom test hole
response includes the effects of attenuation due to
beam spread, scattering and/or absorption. With
this curve established, the operator can compensate
for the effects of attenuation with distance.
Distance-amplitude blocks are useful in setting
Figure 5: Schematic diagram of FBH calibration block. instrument sensitivity (gain) and, if present, the

Common Practices

electronic distance-amplitude correction circuits.
3.25 mm hole
Figure 6 shows a composite set of DAC and area-
X 2 mm hole

Instrument response
1 mm hole
amplitude calibration curves taken from a block
containing three different hole sizes (1 mm, 2 mm 2.2
and 3.25 mm), measured at distances ranging from X X
2.5 mm to 32 mm.
There are numerous blocks commercially avail-
able that are used in calibrating UT instruments,
both for sweep distance (sound path) and for sensi- 0.6
tivity (gain) as well as depth resolution. Included in
this group are the IIW (International Institute of

1.3 (
2.5 (
5.0 (
7.5 (
10 (0

13 (0

19 (0

25 (1

32 (1
Welding), DSC (distance and sensitivity calibra-
tion), DC (distance calibration), SC (sensitivity cali-






bration), and the AWS RC (Resolution Calibration)
blocks. Distance from block face to hole
Other special blocks are often required in millimeters (inches)
response to specification and code requirements
Figure 6: Combined distance and area-amplitude response.
based on the construction of the blocks, using
materials of the same nature as those to be inspect-
ed. Included are the ASME weld inspection blocks
such as the SDH for angle beam calibration, curved both normal and angle beam testing for either lon-
blocks for piping/nozzles simulation and nozzle gitudinal, shear or surface waves. For straight beam
dropouts (circular blanks cut from vessel plates) for calibration, the search unit is placed on the
custom nuclear inservice inspection applications. 25.4 mm or 12.7 mm (1 in. or 0.5 in.) thick portion
Finally, attempts are ongoing to develop reflectors and the sweep distance adjusted. For angle beam
that directly behave as cracks and to generate actual calibration, the search unit is placed on the flat sur-
cracks, particularly intergranular stress corrosion face at the center of the cylindrical surfaces. Beam
cracks. Table 2 summarizes several of these blocks direction is in a plane normal to the cylinder axis.
and their intended uses. When the beam is directed in such a manner,
One of the best known calibration blocks is the
IIW block shown in Figure 7. This block is used
primarily for measuring the refracted angle of angle Table 2: Reference reflectors used in ultrasonic testing.
beam search units, setting the metal path and estab-
lishing the sensitivity for weld inspection. To meas- Block Designation
ure the refracted angle, the sound beam exit point is Type
determined on the 101.6 mm (4 in.) radius. The IIW DSC DC SC B A
(SDH) (RC)
angle is then determined by maximizing the signal
from the large side-drilled hole and reading the Sweep range X/O X/O X/O X/O -- O O --
exit-point position on the engraved scale.
Various reflectors are provided in modified IIW Sensitivity X/O X/O X/O -- X O O --
blocks to provide the capability to set the sweep dis-
tance. These include grooves and notches at various Exit point X X -- X -- -- -- --
locations which yield echoes at precisely known dis-
tances. The block may also be used for setting dis- Exit angle X X -- -- X -- -- --
tances for normal (straight beam) search units
using the 25.4 mm (1 in.) thickness of the block. DAC -- -- X/O -- -- O -- --
Distance resolution may also be checked on the
O -- -- -- -- O2 -- X
notches adjacent to the 101.6 mm (4 in.) radius sur-
face. Because different manufacturers provide varia-
-- -- X1 -- -- -- -- --
tions in the configuration of the block, other specif-
ic uses may be devised.
The distance calibration (DC) block is specifi-
X = shear wave; O = longitudinal wave; 1 = set of curved blocks used; 2 = near surface only
cally designed for setting up the sweep distance for

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 3

60° 50° 40°

(a) (e)

60° 70° 75°

31 2
(b) (f)
High resoluon Low resoluon

1 2 3 123

Main pulse Main pulse


(d) (g)

Figure 7: IIW block for transducer and system calibration: (a) shear wave distance calibration, (b)
shear wave transducer angle, (c) sound entry, index point, (d) shear wave sensitivity calibration,
(e) longitudinal distance calibration, (f) longitudinal resolution, (g) longitudinal sensitivity

echoes should occur at 25.4 mm, 50.8 mm or surface with the beam directed toward either of the
75 mm (1 in., 2 in. or 3 in.) intervals. With a surface curved surfaces. If toward the 25.4 mm (1 in.)
wave search unit at the centerline, a surface wave radius, echoes will be received at 25.4 mm,
may be calibrated for distance by observing the 101.6 mm and 177.8 mm (1 in., 4 in. and 7 in.)
echoes from the 25.4 mm (1 in.) and 50.8 mm intervals. If toward the 50.8 mm (2 in.) radius, the
(2 in.) radii and adjusting the controls accordingly. intervals will be 50.8 mm, 127 mm and 203.2 mm
A miniature multipurpose block is shown in (2 in., 5 in. and 8 in.). Refracted angles are measured
Figure 8. The block is 25.4 mm (1 in.) thick and has by locating the exit point using either of the curved
a 1.5 mm (1/16 in.) diameter side-drilled hole for surfaces. The response from the side-drilled hole is
sensitivity settings and angle determinations. For maximized and the angle read from the engraved
straight beam calibration, the block provides back scales. Single point (zone) sensitivity can be estab-
reflection and multipliers of 25.4 mm (1 in.). For lished by maximizing the signal from the SDH.
angle beams, the search unit is placed on the flat

Common Practices

P-1 P-2 P- 1

6.25 mm
(0.25 in.)
25 mm 30° 45° 60°
(1 in.)


P-1 P-2
R- 1 R- 2 R-1 R-2

0 30° 45° 60° in. 0 35° 45° 60°
mm 50
25 mm
i n.
° °
60 60 )
70° 70°

Figure 8: Miniature angle beam calibration block.

152.4 mm (6 in.) min.

Notches (optional)
Amplitude, % FSH
3t min.

t/2 Side-drilled t/2

hole (typ)

38.1 mm (1.5 in.) min

t/2 t/4
Notches 3t/4 t

Sound path

Figure 9: Calibration block for DAC development using angle beams.

Distance-amplitude correction curves can be play screen in the form of a DAC curve over the
developed for any number of test part thicknesses range of distances of interest to inspection.
using the SDH block shown in Figure 9. By placing An example of a special block designed to com-
the angle beam transducer on surfaces which pensate for convex surface effects is shown in
change the sound path distance, a series of peaked Figure 10. Included are the geometrical features
responses can be recorded and plotted on the dis with tolerances needed in the construction of typi-
cal calibration blocks.

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 3


Grain flow A ③
B ③
C ③

25 mm (1 in.)
25 mm (1 in.)
25 mm (1 in.)
F ➁

25 mm (1 in.)
25 mm (1 in.)

0.13 mm (0.5 in.)

E F ①
25 mm (1 in.)

25 mm (1 in.)

±0.025 mm (0.001 in.)

Figure 10: Convex surface reference block. (Reference AMS-STD-2154A for typical usage.)

A more suitable, but expensive, approach to the

testing of complex parts involves the use of sacrificial
samples into which are placed wave reflectors such as
Search unit FBHs, SDHs and notches. (See Figure 11.)
Rotor spider Test surface
Reference blocks based upon embedded natu-
ral reflectors such as cracks by diffusion bonding,
although useful, are very difficult to duplicate and
suffer from an inability of developing an exact cor-
relation with naturally occurring discontinuities.
Of concern is the inability to duplicate test samples
on a widespread production basis; once destructive
correlations are carried out, remaking the same
Reference notch configuration is questionable. Even when such
0.75 mm (0.03 in.) deep reflectors can be duplicated to some extent, the
natural variability of flaws still tends to make this
approach to reference standards highly question-
able. In all cases, the block materials used for cali-
bration purposes must be similar to the test mate-
rials to which the techniques will be applied. The
concept of transfer functions has been used with
limited success in most critical calibration settings.

Figure 11: Use of reflectors in sacrificial (simulated) test parts.

Common Practices

Review Questions

1. Calibration is the term used to: 4. A calibrated display screen is necessary for
measurement of:
a. describe the means to measure the
diameter of a shaft. a. signal amplitudes to determine distances
b. set up the test item for examination in to the reflectors.
accordance with rules established by the b. electric currents generated by the
NIST (formerly the NBS). piezoelectric crystal.
c. describe the means to establish the c. distances from the beginning to the end
working characteristics of a search unit. of the scan path.
d. describe the process of establishing the d. distance along the sound path to establish
gain level and the sweep distance of the thickness or reflector location.
UT instrument.
5. A reflector signal was found to be 6 dB less
2. An area-amplitude block has the designation than that from the calibration reflector at the
4340-4-0500. This indicates that it is: same sound path. The calibration reflector
was a No. 8 FBH. What can be said about the
a. an aluminum block with a #3 hole at a unknown reflector? It is:
depth of 125 mm (5 in.).
b. a steel block with a 1.5 mm (1/16 in.) a. 1.6 mm (4/64 in.) diameter.
hole at a depth of 125 mm (5 in.). b. 3.2 mm (8/64 in.) diameter.
c. a steel block with a #5 hole at a depth of c. probably 3.2 mm (8/64 in.) diameter or
101.6 mm (4 in.). larger.
d. a titanium block with a #4 hole at a depth d. an unknown size.
of 125 mm (5 in.).
6. In Figure 6, the response from the 3.25 mm
3. The term sweep distance is used to describe: FBH at a depth of 25.4 mm is above that
detected from the 1 mm FBH by:
a. how fast the sound is able pass through
the material. a. 24.0 dB.
b. the equivalent sound beam path b. 18.2 dB.
displayed on the display in terms of unit c. 12.0 dB.
distances in the test material. d. 10.8 dB.
c. the velocity with which the search unit is
moved across the material. 7. The half-angle beam spread of the reflected
d. how electrical energy passes from the wave front from a #8 FBH in an aluminum
transducer to material being tested. “A” block being immersion tested using a
25 MHz transducer is:

[VL = 1.5 (water); VL-Al = 6.3; VT-Al = 3.1; ...

all velocities (10)6 mm/s].

a. 1.30°.
b. 5.47°.
c. 22.77°.
d. 48.50°.

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 3

8. A DAC curve is to be established using the 12. A search unit with a focal length in water of
SDHs in the block as shown in Figure 9. 101.6 mm (4 in.) is used. A steel plate,
Three points have been established: 1/8, 2/8 203 mm (8 in.) thick, velocity = 0.230 in./ms,
and 3/8 nodes from 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 T SDHs. is placed at a water path of 50.8 mm (2 in.)
What would be the next point? from the search unit. At what depth is the
focal point in the steel?
a. 4/8 node.
b. 5/8 node. a. 25.4 mm (1 in.).
c. 6/8 node. b. 50.8 mm (2 in.).
d. 8/8 node. c. 12.7 mm (0.5 in.).
d. 20.3 mm (0.8 in.).
9. Which of the following is an advantage of
side-drilled hole reflectors for calibration? 13. During an examination, an indication of 25%
FSH is detected and maximized. For better
a. They can be placed at essentially any analysis, the gain is increased by 12 dB and
distance from the entry surface. the indication increases to 88% FSH. What
b. The surface of the hole is rough, value should have been reached and what is
providing a strong, specular reflection. the apparent problem?
c. The hole depth is limited to 3 times the
diameter. a. 50% FSH and the screen is nonlinear.
d. The hole diameter can be used directly b. 75% FSH and there is no problem.
and easily to measure the size of an c. 100% FSH and the sweep speed is
unknown reflector. nonlinear.
d. 100% FSH and the screen is nonlinear.
10. When measuring the angle on an angle beam
search unit using an IIW block, two signals 14. The difference between through-transmission
are noted. The first measures at an angle of and pitch-catch techniques is that:
49° and the second peaks at an angle that is
estimated to be 25°. Using the information a. the transducers in through-transmission
below, identify the signals. face each other, while in pitch-catch the
transducers are often side by side in the
Longitudinal wave velocity in plastic = same housing.
2.76 mm/µs; b. the transducers in through-transmission
Longitudinal wave velocity in steel = are side by side, while in pitch-catch the
5.85 mm/µs; transducers are facing each other.
Shear wave velocity in steel = 3.2 mm/µs. c. the transducers in
through-transmission are always angle
a. First is shear, second is longitudinal. beam.
b. First is longitudinal, second is surface. d. in through-transmission the depth of the
c. First is longitudinal, second is love wave. discontinuity is easily determined.
d. First is longitudinal, second is shear.

11. When using a focused, straight beam search

unit for lamination scanning in an
immersion test of a steel plate, a change in
water path of 5 mm (0.2 in.) will result in the
focal point moving in the steel a distance of:

a. 5 mm (0.2 in.).
b. 0.2 mm. (0.008 in.).
c. 1.27 mm (0.05 in.).
d. 20.3 mm (0.8 in.).

Common Practices

15. In the tandem technique, a signal is received 19. While performing a straight-beam,
from the test material. The reflector may be immersion test, an indication is noted lying
located: midwall. What immediate action should the
operator take?
a. near the front surface.
b. at the back surface. a. Report it to his/her supervisor.
c. somewhere near midwall. b. Check to ensure that the search unit to
d. by any of the above, depending on the part distance is correct.
material thickness, the refracted angle, c. Replace the component within another
the distance between search units and the identical one to see if the same indication
distance between the transducer and the exists in the second unit.
reflector. d. Check to ensure the refracted angle is 45°.

16. In a tandem 70° pitch-catch shear wave 20. The reflected pulse reaching the immersion
arrangement, the plate being inspected is transducer from the back surface of a
50.8 mm (2 in.) thick and the region of 114.3 mm (4.5 in.) aluminum plate standing
interest is midway between top and bottom in a tank of water is equal to ______ of the
surfaces. How far behind the transmitter energy pulse which was transmitted from the
should the receiving transducer be located? transducer. (Zal = 17, ZH2O = 1.5)

a. 17.3 mm (0.68 in.). a. 6.22%

b. 47.8 mm (1.88 in.). b. 70.2%
c. 101.6 mm (4.00 in.). c. 50.7%
d. 139.7 mm (5.50 in.). d. 14.7%

17. Angle beam search units are frequently used 21. A pair of squirters each with a 228.6 mm (9 in.)
in weld testing. One reason for this is that water stream are used in the examination of
the angle beam: a large panel in the through-transmission
mode. The search units are arranged in a
a. is more sensitive to slag and porosity. horizontal position. It is desired to locate
b. is more sensitive to inadequate discontinuities within 0.254 mm (0.010 in.)
penetration and cracks. of their true position. The analyst should
c. does not attenuate as it traverses the take which of the following actions?
d. provides multiple back-surface echoes for a. Assume that the coordinates given by the
thickness testing. scanning system are correct and use
those values for the coordinates.
18. An automated examination of a large b. Determine the curve of the water stream
cylinder is to be performed using a focused due to the influence of gravity and adjust
search unit [focal point = 1.27 mm the coordinate values to compensate for
(0.050 in.) diameter, focal length = 50.8 mm the deflection.
(2 in.), and crystal diameter = 12.7 mm c. Overlay the test record on the part and
(0.500 in.)]. To ensure 10% overlap between mark the reflector locations.
scans, of the following, what increment d. Precisely measure from the index point
should be used? on the panel to the indicated location and
mark the part.
a. 0.127 mm (0.005 in.).
b. 12.573 mm (0.495 in.).
c. 1.016 mm (0.040 in.).
d. 1.257 mm (0.0495 in.).

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 3

22. In preparing a scanning plan (the set of 25. A scanning plan is a document which:
directions describing the performance of an
ultrasonic examination), which of the a. outlines the various steps in preparing a
following parameters should be considered, procedure.
as a minimum? b. defines the most efficient way to analyze
the data.
a. Sound beam diameter, refracted angle, c. gives the detailed steps entailed in
beam direction, gate settings, starting examining the test item.
point for the first scan, number of scans. d. gives the complete history of previous
b. Sound beam diameter, refracted angle, examinations.
operator’s name, gate settings, starting
point, number of scans. 26. In contact testing, the back surface signal
c. Sound beam diameter, refracted angle, from a 50.8 mm (2 in.) plate was set at full
beam direction, expected flaws, screen height. Passing over a coarse grained
instrument serial number. area, the back surface signal dropped to 10%
d. Sound beam far field length, refracted of the full scale signal. What would be your
angle, beam direction, gate settings, estimate of the change in attenuation in this
starting point, number of scans. local area based on actual metal path
23. A 76.2 mm (3 in.) thick flat plate of
polystyrene during immersion testing a. 0.787 dB/mm (20 dB/in.).
exhibits an echo from the back surface of the b. 0.393 dB/mm (10 dB/in.).
plate that is ______ of that received from the c. 0.196 dB/mm (5 dB/in.).
front surface. (Both sides immersed in water, d. 10%/in.
ZPoly = 2.7, ZH2O = 1.5.)

a. 8.4%
b. 84.00%
c. 8.16%
d. 6.88%

24. A major problem in the use of search unit

wheels is:

a. insufficient traction leading to skidding

and bad wrecks.
b. elimination of undesireable internal
c. installing adequate brakes.
d. selecting a rigid tire material.

1d 2b 3b 4d 5d 6d 7b 8b 9a 10d 11c 12c 13d
14a 15c 16d 17b 18c 19b 20a 21b 22a 23b 24b 25c 26c

Chapter 4
Practical Considerations

Many issues of a practical nature arise during both Signal amplitudes are generally reliable for the
routine and specialized ultrasonic inspection activi- resetting of instrumentation, based upon controlled
ties. Issues of concern include interpretation of echo calibration blocks and their reference reflectors. But
signals (as viewed on the A-scan), equipment the amplitude of the pulses received from naturally
adjustment to expedite interpretations and setup occurring reflectors has a high level of variability
conditions for production inspections. depending on the reflector’s orientation and mor-
phology, neither of which is known in most circum-
Signal Interpretation stances.
Correlations of signal amplitudes with specific
The interpretation of ultrasonic pulses received reflectors are generally recognized as a valid means
from test part reflective surfaces can be very com- of establishing the level of sensitivity of an ultrason-
plex, depending upon the geometry of the test piece ic system. Thus flat-bottom holes, with cross-sec-
and the wave mode/scan approach being used. The tions smaller than the sound beams incident upon
most reliable measure available from an A-scan sys- them and oriented at normal incidence, do exhibit
tem is the time of arrival of acoustic pulses, due to signal responses that are proportional to the area of
its lack of ambiguity when testing fine-grained, the reflector. But correlation with naturally occur-
homogeneous materials. In contact testing of mate- ring discontinuities of irregular shape and orienta-
rials with known and constant sound wave veloci- tion has proven to be less than accurate, largely due
ties, the time of arrival is directly proportional to to an inability to satisfy the normal incidence
the distance between the contact surface and the requirement and to the fact that the reflecting sur-
reflector. The precise time of arrival is usually faces are rarely flat and smooth. Where natural dis-
determined by when the pulse initially departs from continuities exhibit these conditions, as with small
the screen baseline. Systems using threshold devices laminations in plate materials, the area relationship
to trigger delay time monitors can be in error, has validity. Although the degree of signal-flaw cor-
depending upon the slope of the pulses’ rise time relation at a single transducer location is less than
and the level to which the threshold device is set. desired, observing changes in signal response as the
The signal peak is less reliable for this time transducer is moved along, across, over and around
measurement because pulses may spread following a suspect area can suggest if the reflector is round
passage through dispersive media. Estimating the or flat (linear), rough or smooth, parallel or vertical,
actual time the envelope of the RF signal reaches a and filled with materials which have a higher or
maximum is also a somewhat uncertain approach. lower density than that of the surrounding material.
Depending upon which portion of the pulse is used Table 1 lists the techniques used in making these
for travel time measurements, the estimates of determinations.
thickness and distance to reflective surfaces can Finger damping is a technique whereby a mois-
vary by one or more wavelengths. tened finger, placed on the surface of a test piece at

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 4

Table 1: Signal interpretation schemes.

Characteristic Action A-Scan Response

Rotate, approach Maximize signal
(front surface)

Vertical Translate, across "Walking signal"

Flatness Rotate Unidirectional

Spherical Rotate Omnidirectional

Thin if one side predominates

Thickness Both (many) sides
Graphical plot

Length (large) Translate in major direction Drop-off at ends

Depth/width (large) Translate in minor direction Drop-off at edges

Graphical plot
Tip diffraction

Surface texture
Crisp, fast rise
Smooth --
Jagged, wide pulse
Rough --

Multireflector -- Multi-echoes

Inclusion matter -- RF phase reversal

a location where sound waves are present, will affect reflector or for reestablishing settings from one
the wave propagation and will often be detectable as inspection to the next.
slight changes in signal amplitudes on the display. Ideally, an ultrasonic system should be capable
This technique is very effective in separating collec- of detecting reflectors throughout the region from
tions of signals, particularly when some of them are the sound entry surface throughout the test item’s
caused by false reflections from corners, weld entire volume. However, the length of the incident
crowns or other surfaces which are readily accessi- sound pulse (due in part to transducer element
ble to the inspector. ringing) represents a distance within which echoes,
particularly weak ones, cannot be distinguished
Causes of Variability from the reflection caused by the entry surface
itself. If short duration pulses are used, i.e., if high-
There are many instrument variables that can have frequency, well-damped transducers are used, the
a significant bearing on the outcome of a test and near surface resolution is significantly improved
the interpretation of data. Horizontal sweep extent over systems using long duration pulses.
and accuracy affect estimates of time duration from In contact testing, the ability to detect reflectors
initial pulse to significant echoes. These are used as just under the near surface is further aggravated by
measures of thickness (straight beam testing) and the dead zone that exists immediately after the ini-
slant distance (angle beam testing) and should tial electrical pulse. The dead zone is caused by an
extend over the entire range of interest. inability of saturated electrical components to
Although amplitude is not a reliable indicator of respond linearly to incoming signals as a result of
a natural discontinuity’s actual size, due to varia- their having been overdriven by the initial pulse.
tions in shape, aspect angles, transmission proper- The near-surface resolution/dead zone problem can
ties of base materials and other factors, it is often be solved by testing parts from opposite surfaces
indicative of the relative size of many common rather than from only one side.
reflectors and is vital for being able to establish an Some codes and specifications have reject crite-
instrument’s settings with respect to a calibration ria based on the size of the discontinuity. Where

Practical Considerations

two reflectors exist in approximately the same plane conjunction with the electrical exciting pulse and
and are in close proximity to each other, it is impor- the instrument load imposed on the crystal.
tant to be able to differentiate one from the other. Because of these factors, it is important that the
Systems with very narrow beams are capable of sat- proper search unit be chosen, and each search unit
isfying this requirement and are said to have good characteristic be checked against the desired values
lateral resolution. Lateral resolution is principally a on the UT instrument to be used in the examina-
function of the search unit’s beam width. This fac- tion. Manufacturers often provide certificates with
tor is very important in imaging systems where the measured values deemed important. These
clear delineation of small and individual disconti- include, but are not limited to, photographs of the
nuities is desired. RF waveform, the frequency spectrum content and
Sensitivity is a measure of the ability to detect a distance/amplitude characteristic curve measured
small reflectors. Systems with high levels of amplifi- on a test block. Usually, a value for the damping fac-
cation (high gain) are usually systems with a high tor is calculated. Since this factor is not defined the
sensitivity. However, when the ultrasonic system is same universally, it may be desirable to determine
considered in its entirety, several factors can alter the definitions used in the calculation. For example,
the sensitivity that might be expected for a given definitions may be based on the number of cycles
combination of instrument, transducer, test material or half cycles meeting a certain parameter, e.g., the
or discontinuity of interest. The important factors number of negative half cycles in a pulse greater
affecting sensitivity are listed in Table 2. than the amplitude of the first negative cycle. Each
The search unit is the most important compo- of these definitions serves the same purpose in dif-
nent in the UT system. This device determines, to a ferent ways, i.e., to describe the pulse length and
high degree, the characteristics of the sound beam shape.
including shape, near-field length, focal point (if Test item surface condition is an important vari-
appropriate) and refracted angle. The transducer able, especially when performing contact tests. A
(with its mounting and backing members) also rough surface affects the examination in many
determines the pulse shape, frequency and length in ways, including causing difficulty in moving the

Table 2: System factors affecting detection sensitivity.

Factor Effect Comment

Coupling Coef
Transducer Conversion efficiency
Lenses, beam pattern
Field concentrators
High linear gain = high sensitivity
Amplifier Electronic amplification

Pulse Length Masks nearby reflectors Depth resolution, better penetration

Smaller λ = better sensitivity, resolution,

Reflectance, directivity
higher noise

Gain × bandwidth = constant Smoothing, filtering, reject reduce sen-

Signal processing

Random Electrical (outside, inside) Lights, welders, cranes plus circuit

Noise sources

cross-talk, instability

Coherent Transducer construction Cross-coupling, damping

Material surface Coupling
Material homogeneity, isotropy and Uncertainty of velocity, scatter
geometry Geometrical reference surfaces

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 4

search unit across the part; causing local variations from plate material (where multiple echoes are fre-
in the entry angle resulting in scattering the beam; quently present). Fortunately, these are easily recog-
causing reverberations of the sound in the pockets nized. In other cases, however, nonrelevant echoes
on the surface, resulting in a wide front surface such as from the root of a weld, may not be easily
echo with a resulting increase in the dead zone; differentiated from actual discontinuity indications.
using excess couplant and making coupling diffi- In these cases, careful analysis is required incorpo-
cult; possibly causing portions of the examination rating consideration of beam spread and mode con-
volume to be missed; and causing rapid wear of version as well as the normal issues of transit time.
contact search units. Changes in beam direction and velocity due to
In some cases, it may be necessary to sand or material conditions must be factored into these
grind the scanning surface prior to the examination analyses. Reflections from internal structural fea-
in order to accomplish the test. Rough sand cast- tures must also be recognized and considered.
ings, some forgings and welded surfaces typically
require rework prior to the UT test. Special Issues
Extremely smooth surfaces may be difficult to
test using the contact technique because the cou- The largest application of UT is for discontinuity
plant may not wet the surface. This can lead to air detection. It is used in receiving inspection of raw
being trapped between the search unit and the part. materials, for in-process inspection of items under
This phenomenon is readily observed when using construction and for inservice inspections (as part
transparent angle beam wedges. of ongoing maintenance programs). Although most
Part configuration (geometry) plays an impor- applications involve metallic materials, UT is also
tant role in defining each examination’s operational found in the inspection of plastics, composites, con-
parameters and practices. Geometry and access crete, lumber products and affiliated specialty
often decide the choice between contact and materials.
immersion testing; however, there are no rules
Weld Inspection
which relate the complexity of shape to making the
choice. Technique selection is governed by many Ultrasonics is a primary method of weld inspection,
factors such as equipment availability, part criticali- particularly when major construction projects are
ty, configuration and operator experience and involved. Welds, including their heat affected zones,
knowledge. A number of highly symmetrical parts, are examined because the probability of failure is
e.g., plates, pipe, cones, spheres and cylinders, lend higher in these areas than in most base materials.
themselves to both immersion and contact automat- Although weld metal is normally stronger than the
ed testing. Irregularly shaped parts are often beyond base metal, stress risers may occur due to weld con-
the capability of conventional automated scanning tour, processing or the presence of discontinuities.
systems and are better left to manual examinations. The weld process itself creates residual stresses
With the advent of computerized scanners with which, when added to applied stresses, may cause
learning modes, the operator leads the system cracking due to fatigue or stress corrosion.
through one examination and the computer then Examination of butt welds in materials from
automatically repeats the examination. about 6.4 mm to 381 mm (1/4 in. to 15 in.) thick
The presence of irrelevant signals from geomet- are normally performed using an angle-beam, shear
ric features is a major inspection consideration. The wave technique because the sound can be oriented
most common of these is the back surface echoes at near-normal incidence to the critical flaws, i.e.,
cracking, inadequate penetration and fusion. The
bodies of the welds can be inspected without
removing the weld crown. When part geometry

} Sp cos β
allows, the exam should be conducted from each
β side of the weld. Refracted angles are chosen
T Sp
according to the fusion line angle, material thick-
ness, or other expected discontinuity orientations.
Skip distance = 2T tan β
Figure 1 shows the basic geometry used for
defining the angles and paths followed by sound
beams when doing shear wave (angle beam) testing.
Figure 1: Angle beam geometry used in weld inspection. As shown, the sound, introduced at an angle which

Practical Considerations

complements the geometry being examined, follows beyond the root area of the weld on the opposite
a sound path that often reflects from the opposite side of the weld.
surface, particularly for platelike product forms. The Another troublesome welding configuration is
V-shaped path permits inspection looking down into introduced by the presence of a counter-bore ledge,
the weld in the first leg of the V while the second leg machined or ground into the inner radius of a pair of
is the region used to look up into the weld. By scan- fitted pipes, so placed in order that the initial fit-up
ning the transducer toward and away from the weld, (gap and alignment) is generally uniform. Such a
the sound can be made to interrogate the entire vol- geometry can give rise to strong geometrical reflector
ume from two or more sets of angles. signals in the immediate vicinity of the weld root, an
Analysis of signals observed on the A-scan display area well known for the initiation of stress corrosion
requires converting the information found along the cracks in stainless steel piping systems. If the angles of
sound path (along the V path) into positional data inspection and counter-bore are such that the reflect-
related to the base material and weld centerline. This ed wave is below the first critical angle, internal mode
is done using conventional trigonometry to solve for conversion can take place with a longitudinal wave
equivalent surface distances, e.g., skip distance, or traveling in a direction other than that of the reflected
depths below or above the base material surface. For shear wave.
example, for the 25.4 mm (1 in.) plate shown in the Figure 2 shows the use of notches introduced
figure and using a 70° angle, the skip distance (dis- into a separate sample of the welded structural steel
tance from transducer exit point to the location at to serve as a mock-up for the weld inspector to
which center of sound beam reaches the top surface accurately locate where on the display echo signals
after reflection) is given by: can be expected to appear.
Welds such as fillet welds and dissimilar metal
2T tan β = 2 tan 70° = 144 mm (5.5 in.) welds may require the application of different tech-
niques in order to examine all portions of these
For this same case, the sound path is given by: welds and their heat-affected zones. Due to the
geometry of many fillet welds, particularly those in
2T/cos β = 2/cos 70° = 148.6 mm (5.85 in.) which incomplete penetration is permitted, ultra-
sonic testing is usually not recommended. In other
Common problems found during weld exami- cases, such as stainless steel piping, ultrasonic
nation involve rough surfaces (including weld spat- inspection may be successful in the base material (a
ter), irregular part geometry (including hidden con- wrought product) but not in the weld zone (a cast
ditions such as counter-bores in piping systems) product).
and physical inaccessibility (due to insulation and
Immersion Testing
the weld being embedded in reinforcing structures).
During production and under some inservice The immersion technique of coupling ultrasound to
inspections, examinations may be done at elevated test parts permits a wide variety of test conditions
temperatures, which can alter the effective sound to be used without the need for custom-designed
velocity of the material, transducer performance transducer assemblies. With consistent coupling
(particularly refracted angles or critical temperature characteristics, this technique allows for imaging of
limits) and operators’ performance. All of these fac- test parts with regular shapes, e.g., plate, rod, cylin-
tors must be addressed and considered in the proce- der, pipe and simple forgings, and assemblies such
dure. Where irregular inner surface conditions as honeycomb panels.
exist, interpretation of reflector signals is often very The flexibility of immersion testing permits the
difficult. For example, the presence of a backing bar use of a single set of test equipment (mostly trans-
(placed at the root of the weld in order to ensure ducers) to be used for a large variety of inspection
adequate penetration and fusion) tends to entrap protocols (inspection angles, modified beam pat-
the incident sound waves which reverberate around terns, regulated scanning patterns, and high sensi-
the bar and eventually exit along the same path by tivity transducers). However, it involves relatively
which they entered the backing strip. Thus, strong expensive systems and significantly extends the
echo signals are returned to the sending transducer setup time for each inspection.
at an apparent depth of slightly more than the Alignment of sound beams to test part surfaces
thickness of the base material. The interpretation is expedited by the use of the multiple reflections
might be that a large discontinuity exists just that occur as a result of sound being reflected from

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 4

the water-test part interface back to the transducer

1 face and re-reflected back and forth between the
t transducer and the test part. By monitoring these
multiple reverberations while angulating the trans-
ducer manipulator, the presence of the largest array
4 × minimum 4 × minimum of multiples ensures that the sound beam is aligned
perpendicular to the test part’s front surface. In
immersion testing, because of the large difference
2 between the velocities of sound in water and metal-
lic parts, this alignment is critical because slightly
7 off-axis beams are refracted by a leverage factor of
4 approximately 4:1. Figure 3 shows the presence of
3 water multiples as well as the multiple echoes devel-
oped within the flat steel plate.
The gain used in immersion testing is rather
high, due to the large amount of sound energy lost
3 5 at the water-test part interfaces, which are often
8 very different in acoustic impedance. When the
transducer is relatively close to an item with parallel
surfaces, the display often shows an array of multi-
6 ple reverberations from within the item, as well as
from the water multiples. In this case, the water
multiples are readily identified by displacing the
1. Angled notch
transducer along its longitudinal axis toward the
2. Undercut notch length per welding specification
3. Separation two times transducer width or 50.8 mm (2 in.)
test item. As the transducer moves, the water multi-
ples will tend to gather closer together as the trans-
4. Crack, LF and LP notch length two times transducer ducer approaches the test part, tending to walk
width or 50.8 mm (2 in.) maximum through the test part multiples and eventually piling
5. Hole size maximum allowable up at the first interface signal.
6. Hole size minimum allowable
7. Notch depth t/10 maximum
Immersion testing is used in the pulse-echo
8. Hole depth t/2 maximum
mode as well as through-transmission. A variation
on the through-transmission approach uses a fixed
beam reflector placed beyond the test panel and
Figure 2: Reference standard for weld inspection using adjusted so that its echo can be detected by the

Inial pulse
Interface echo
1 Backwall
Transducer echoes

Mulple Water standoff

echoes 3


Figure 3: Multiple echoes found in immersion testing.

Practical Considerations

ε d = [ R × VLW/VM ] × sin θ
ε ε
φ Water d

Focused longitudinal
source beam

= Angle of incident sound beam


θ = Angle of refracted sound
θ VLW = Longitudinal velocity in water
θ + VSM = Shear velocity in metal
R VLM = Longitudinal velocity in metal
T d = distance of transducer center-
line offset from normal to
cylinder outside diameter
BW = Beam width
sin = (VLW/VM) sinθ

Figure 4: Shear waves induced in tubular materials. (Reference AMS-STD-2154A for typical usage.)

sending transducer in the pulse-echo manner. This correction being used. By matching the curvature of
delayed reflector-plate signal is indicative of the the sound beam to the curvature of the tube, a set
strength of the sound beam after passing through of well spaced multiple reverberations from within
the panel two times. A weak reflector-plate signal (if the tube wall is clearly evident.
properly aligned) usually signifies a material with a When using transducers equipped with focusing
high level of attenuation due to its composition, or lenses for the purpose of increasing discontinuity
the presence of highly attenuating voids or scatter-
ers, which may not result in a discrete back scat-
tered echo of their own.
Angle-beam, shear wave testing is often
achieved by rotating (swiveling or angulating) the
transducer with respect to the sound entry surface. Flat transducer Contoured
For cylindrical items, it can also be done by offset- transducer
ting the transducer to the point where the curva-
ture of the test part yields a refracted shear wave as
shown in Figure 4. The curvature of the test sur-
face results in the refraction of the sound beam in
a manner that tends to spread the sound with the Tubing
water-item interface functioning as a cylindrical
lens, diverging the beam. Areas with concave sur-
faces, such as inner radiused forgings, are some-
times difficult to inspect because they focus the
sound beam into a narrow region, making com-
plete, uniform coverage quite difficult.
It is possible to compensate for some of these
contoured surfaces through the use of specially
designed transducers or the introduction of
contour-correcting lenses applied to flat transduc-
ers. Figure 5 shows the effect of contour correction
on the A-scan display obtained with and without Figure 5: Contour correction through focused transducers.

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 4

sensitivity or lateral resolution, the introduction of test part surfaces. The reliable triggering of
flat surfaces associated with test parts also distorts recorders and alarm systems relieves the operator of
the beam pattern, tending to foreshorten the focal continual monitoring and permits other activities to
length due to the refraction of the wavefronts enter- take place while immersion testing is progressing.
ing the higher velocity metal parts. The focal dis- Problems found in automatic immersion testing
tance is usually reduced in length equivalent to one- include the continual maintenance of the condition
fourth of what it would have been in the water of the water (corrosion inhibitors, antifoulants, wet-
without the presence of the metallic test part. The ting agents) and the outgassing of test parts during
factor of one-fourth arises from the ratio of the lon- testing. The outgassing is most troublesome due to
gitudinal wave acoustic velocities within the water the formation of bubbles on the surfaces of materi-
and metallic, respectively. Figure 6 conceptually als upon their introduction in the water tanks.
shows this effect. Although wiping them off removes much of the
problem, the bubbles tend to continue forming even
after being submerged for relatively long periods of
F ocused time. Upon test part removal, care must be taken to
transducer thoroughly dry and protect the items since they will
be prone to corrosive attack. As with any heavy-
duty mechanical positioning system, wear and
backlash in drive trains tend to introduce a
mechanical hysteresis, which can affect the results
Beam expected from C-scan recorders and other image
generating devices.
Beam refracted with Production Testing
Water greater convergence
Immersion testing is the preferred approach to
automated testing due to the absence of contact
Divergence coupling problems, minimum deterioration of per-
New point of beyond focus
focus in metal formance due to use and ability to use high fre-
quency systems without concern for fragile trans-
F ocal distance ducer fracture.
if in water As with many industrial processes, UT testing is
realizing the benefits of computer integration in test
applications and the interpretation of results. This
Figure 6: Second lens effect of metallic test phenomenon has opened many previously inacces-
parts when using focused transducers in sible areas of testing. Computer integration is pro-
immersion testing.
viding examination of complex shapes, real-time
analysis of data with accept/reject decisions, differ-
The automation of immersion inspections relies ent data displays, signal analysis and pattern recog-
on the use of special circuits (gates) that send con- nition, a high degree of operator independence and
trol signals to recorders, alarms, transporters and high speed calibration. Computer integration is an
marking devices in response to the presence (or expensive and time-consuming activity requiring
absence) of special ultrasonic echo response pulses. considerable engineering and development effort.
By using time delay circuits, initiated either by the Computer integration into imaging processes
initial excitation pulse of the pulser/receiver units offers advanced data analysis capabilities because of
or by reflections from the front surface of the test its ability to display the size, shape and location of
part, the time of arrival of ultrasonic echoes with reflectors. Images can be rotated and otherwise
respect to benchmark echoes (received from front manipulated to maximize the information available to
surfaces, back surfaces or other strategic reflecting the analyst. Through color or grayscale coding,
surfaces) indicates when discontinuities are present amplitude and depth information can be integrated
within the test part. The use of front surface gating into the displays to enhance the qualitative interpreta-
is a very effective way of having the gate follow a tion of the data. Quantitative information is also
slightly curving surface, reducing the need for iden- available, but as in the case of virtually all nondestruc-
tical tracking of mechanical positioners and rigid tive inspection methods, it is correlated to material

Practical Considerations

performance only through inference and not through variety of reasons. Numerous testing laboratories
direct measurement. The prime advantage to the ana- provide field testing services and can provide quick
lyst is the simultaneous display of large amounts of response with qualified personnel. Ultrasonic field
both signal responses and positional data. testing is used on pipelines, building construction,
maintenance and failure analysis. Field testing tech-
Inservice Inspection
niques are many and varied, and change from day
Inservice inspection and maintenance discontinuity to day, depending upon the particular job at hand—
detection are used primarily to locate service- hence the requirement for qualified personnel.
induced discontinuities, such as fatigue and other Field techniques include straight (normal to the
load-induced cracks. Inservice inspection is per- surface) beam, angle beam, and surface waves. In
formed on equipment used to produce the product construction, these are used to detect fabrication
rather than on the product itself and is used exten- discontinuities in maintenance; service induced dis-
sively in the nuclear power and petrochemical continuities and corrosion are the usual culprits.
industries. This service is often performed under Most of this work is manual because the applica-
poor working conditions, requiring highly qualified tions are so varied and job site inspection is
personnel and appropriate techniques. required.
Field testing is a conglomerate of applications
and techniques used in a variety of industries for a

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 4

Review Questions

1 In a through-transmission, immersion examination 4 An immersion, pulse-echo test is performed on a

of an adhesively bonded lap joint, the signal is noted thin adhesively bonded joint between a composite
to decrease in amplitude in a small area of less than material and an aluminum substrate. The sound
1.59 mm (1/16 in.) diameter as recorded on a C-scan. beam enters the joint normally and from the
What condition might cause this indication? composite side. The amplitude gate is set on the
interface between the composite and the aluminum.
a. A bubble on the surface of the joint or a spot in If the joint is not bonded, the signal should:
the joint that is not bonded.
b. The joint is tightly bonded in this area. a. decrease, because water has a lower velocity than
c. There is nothing that could cause this the aluminum.
condition—it is an anomaly. b. decrease, because water in the area that is not
d. The adhesive has melted in this area causing an bonded will conduct sound better than air.
increase in sound transmission. c. increase, because air in the area that is not
bonded will reflect more sound energy than the
2 Advantages of computer controlled ultrasonic testing aluminum.
include: d. increase, because the composite will resonate.

a. lower capital equipment costs. 5 Three major sources of noise which interfere with the
b. high dependence of the test results on the signals on the display are:
capability of the operator.
c. real-time analysis of test results. a. front surface roughness, hydraulic motors and
d. no need for instrument calibration even though enlarged grain structure.
such action is required by the specification. b. back surface roughness, electric motors and
decreased grain structure.
3 During the test of a fiberglass-epoxy composite, c. depth, size and location of a discontinuitiy.
numerous echoes are recorded in the pulse-echo d. front surface roughness, arc welding operations
mode. What action should be taken? and enlarged grain structure.

a. The part should be rejected because all echoes are 6 A single V butt weld in a 76.2 mm (3 in.) plate is
from discontinuities. being examined using a 60° shear wave. An
b. The part should be rejected because the indication on the display appears at a sound path
supervisor was not there to give advice. distance of 228.6 mm (9 in.). At the same time, the
c. The part should be accepted because all exit point of the transducer is 198.12 mm (7.8 in.)
composites will have numerous echoes. from the centerline of the weld. This suggests the
d. The procedure should be consulted to determine reflector could be:
the analysis technique and the accept/reject
criteria. a. a crack in the near side HAZ.
b. lack of fusion at the weld/base material interface.
c. a slag inclusion in the center of the weld.
d. an undercut condition on the far side of the weld.

Practical Considerations

7 Under the conditions in question 6, but with the 11 Under the above conditions, an L-wave is internally
indication at a 152.4 mm (6 in.) sound path distance mode converted at an angle with the sin β given by:
and with the exit point 132.08 mm (5.2 in.) from the
weld centerline, another strong indication is received a. sin β = (VL/VS) sin (incident angle).
indicating a probable reflector in the: b. sin β = (VL/VS) sin 45°.
c. sin β = (VS/VL) sin 90°.
a. root area of the weld. d. sin β = 4 sin (incident angle).
b. crown area of the weld.
c. midsection of the weld.
d. base metal adjacent to the weld. 12 A pipe being examined automatically using
immersion techniques (with mode conversion to a
8 Under the conditions in question 6, but with the 45° shear wave at the pipe wall-water interface) is
indication at a sound path distance of 228.6 mm experiencing a wobbling displacement (transverse to
(9 in.) and with the exit point 205.74 mm (8.1 in.) the pipe axis) of ±10% of its nominal offset value.
from the weld centerline, the reflector lies in a plane The corresponding change in inspection angle would
that is ______ from the center of the weld. be:

a. 2.54 mm (0.1 in.) on the far side a. +11, –14%.

b. 7.62 mm (0.3 in.) on the near side b. +13, –12%.
c. 7.62 mm (0.3 in.) on the far side c. +10, –10%.
d. 12.7 mm (0.5 in.) on the near side d. +14, –10%.

9 Under the conditions in question 6, the reflector is at 13 During production testing, a rod is passing under a
a depth of ______ (measured from the transducer transducer in a stuffing box (immersion testing).
side). What is the expression that relates pulse repetition
rates (PRR) of the UT instrument with the surface
a. 38 mm (1.5 in.) speed (Vp) of the test part, given a transducer of
b. 25.4 mm (1.0 in.) width D?
c. 50.8 mm (2.0 in.)
d. 57.1 mm (2.25 in.) a. D = Vp/PRR
b. PRR = D × Vp
10 In a thick-walled piping weld inspection, the c. Vp = D/PRR
counter-bore on the ID reflects the incident 45° shear d. Vp = D × PRR
wave so that it strikes the top surface (outer
diameter) at normal incidence. In order for this to 14 An inspection specification calls for three hits of an
happen, the taper on the counter bore must be: echo in order for a discontinuity to be considered
(See Figure 7.) valid and for the alarm to sound. The maximum axial
speed of test part movement is therefore _______ for
a. 30°. a 1 in. (25.4 mm) diameter transducer (assume no
b. 45°. beam spread) and a PRR of 600 pulses per second
c. 11.25°. (PPS).
d. 22.5°.
a. 45 720 mm/s (1800 in./s)
b. 15 240 mm/s (600 in./s)
c. 7 620 mm/s (300 in./s)
A d. 5 080 mm/s (200 in./s)


Figure 7

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 4

15 A butt weld in a 38 mm (1.5 in.) thick plate is to be 18 A 0° axial test is being performed on a steel railroad
examined from both sides using a 70° shear wave. axle 2.4 m (8 ft) long and 152.4 mm (6 in.) in
The scan program calls for being able to inspect three diameter. A strong but unsteady signal is seen near
legs (1.5 V-paths). Weld access for completing this the center of the display screen. A similar signal is
pattern will require how much surface distance, plus seen from the other end of the axle. The following
the physical dimensions of the transducer assembly? conditions are given:

a. 114.3 mm (4.50 in.). Screen distance: 3 048 mm (304.8 mm/div.)

b. 209.3 mm (8.24 in.). [10 ft (12 in./div.)]
c. 313.94 mm (12.36 in.). Damping: minimum
d. 628.14 mm (24.73 in.). Gain: 85 dB
Pulse repetition rate: 2000 pulses per second
16 The discontinuity detector’s sound path sweep setting Frequency: 2 MHz, range: 1270 mm (50 in.)
on a 10-division graticle display for the above case Reject: off, Filter: off
should be: Sweep speed: as required
Sweep delay: as required
a. 33.53 mm/div. (1.32 in./div.).
b. 25.4 mm/div. (1.00 in./div.). What action should the operator take?
c. 31.75 mm/div. (1.25 in./div.).
d. 12.7 mm/div. (0.50 in./div.). a. Record the indication and notify the supervisor.
b. Change the PRR to 1000 pulses per second and
17 A 3.05 m (10 ft) long turbine shaft is to be inspected observe the effect.
from one end with 0°, longitudinal wave for radial, c. Compare the signal to the reference standard and
circumferential fatigue cracks in an area between reject the axle if the reference level is exceeded.
2286 mm (90 in.) and 2794 mm (110 in.) from the d. Determine if the signal responds to finger
inspection end. The available instrument screen can damping by touching the opposite end.
display a maximum of 2032 mm (80 in.). How should
the operator proceed?

a. Inspect using a 2032 mm (80 in.) screen and file

an exception report.
b. Set up 508 mm (20 in.) screen and delay the start
to 2286 mm (90 in.).
c. Set up a 2032 mm (80 in.) screen and delay the
start to 762 mm (30 in.).
d. Assume there are no cracks and turn in a report.

1a 2c 3d 4c 5d 6c 7a 8b 9a 10d 11a 12b 13a
14d 15c 16a 17b 18b

Recommended References

Chapter 5
Codes and Standards

Ultrasonic examinations are usually performed in Standards are documents that establish engi-
accordance with one or more procedures that are neering or technical requirements for products,
structured to comply with the rules and criteria of practices, methods or operations. Of particular
the applicable codes, specifications, standards and interest to NDT personnel are those standards that
regulatory requirements (if applicable) and depend- provide requirements for performing NDT tasks. An
ing on the level of qualification of the inspector, inspection standard may include information on
written work instructions. The general hierarchy for how to apply multiple testing techniques, but usually
these documents is as follows: does not include acceptance and rejection criteria,
which is either specified by the governing code or
● Codes. the inspection purchaser's requirements.
● Regulatory requirements (if applicable). Specifications provide specific additional
● Standards. requirements for materials, components or services.
● Specifications. They are often generated by private companies to
● Inspection procedures. address additional requirements applicable to a spe-
● Written work instructions. cific product or application. Specifications are often
listed in procurement agreements or contract docu-
For a better understanding of what these docu- ments as additional requirements above and beyond
ments cover, below is a brief general description of code or standard requirements.
each type of document. It should be noted that some Inspection procedures are usually developed by
industries do not use codes, making standards the the inspection company to provide details on how
highest-level document. An example of this is the the inspection method or technique is to be applied
petroleum industry, whose top tier documents are (Table 1). These are generally based on the applica-
American Petroleum Industry (API) standards. ble performance standard but focus on one specific
Codes are generally the governing documents, application, such as angle-beam UT, immersion UT,
providing a set of rules that specify the minimum phased array, etc. Ultrasonic procedures typically
acceptable level of safety for manufactured, fabricat- address the following items at a minimum:
ed or constructed objects. These may incorporate
regulatory requirements and often refer to standards ● Instrument (selection, operating ranges).
or specifications for specific details on how to per- ● Calibration standard (tie-in to test materials).
form the actual inspections (performance stan- ● Search unit type, size, frequency (wave
dards). Most codes will provide acceptance and geometry).
rejection criteria for the required inspections, but ● Screen settings (metal path).
often refer to the ASTM performance standards for ● Area to be scanned (coverage intensity).
the methodology used in applying the best nonde- ● Scanning technique (manual, coupling,
structive testing (NDT) method and technique. automatic).
Regulatory requirements are generally incorpo- ● Indications to be recorded (minimum
rated into the top tier document when the potential sensitivity).
threat to the public safety is high. Examples of regu- ● Data record format (forms to be followed).
latory agencies are the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory ● Accept/reject criteria (basis or specification
Commission (USNRC) and the Federal Aviation reference).
Administration (FAA). USNRC has jurisdiction and ● Personnel qualifications (certifications).
regulatory control over all nuclear work involving
radioactive materials and the FAA has a similar posi- The degree to which these and other items are
tion in the aviation industry. controlled is usually dependent upon the criticality
of the application.


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Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 5

Written work instructions provide step-by-step documents. For a code or standard to be classified as
specific inspection instructions to be followed by an American National Standard (ANS), precise steps
Level I inspectors who cannot work on their own. must be taken in the development and maintenance
These may be as explicit as describing the exact process and those processes are reviewed and
brand of inspection equipment; the length of coaxial approved by the American National Standards
cable to be used; the make, model and specifications Institute (ANSI), another independent organization.
of the transducer; a specific gain setting; where to In many other countries this function is performed
place the transducer; and so on. by various government agencies.
The United States uses what is known as a free
market system of standards development where Code Bodies and Their UT Standards
industry codes and standards are developed and
maintained by independent, nongovernmental There is an interesting relationship between codes
organizations (standards bodies) that develop codes and standards and their developers. Most NDT per-
and standards using a consensus process whereby formance standards are developed by ASTM
industry subject-matter experts develop those International (formerly the American Society for

Table 1: Typical code and standard requirements.

Issue Approaches Examples

Ranges (size and angle) ... transducers between 40° and 80°
Prescribed angles ... transducers of 45°, 60°, 70°
Angles for each case ... 45° in mid-section, 70° near surface
Transducer selection

General coverage
... use 9 in. centers for grid
... overlap each pass by 10% of active area
... scan sensitivity to be 6 db above ref.
Scanning levels
Scan techniques
... maximum scan rate of 6 in. per sec.

Instrument ... vertical, horizontal linearity

Transducers ... beam location (IIW), depth resolution,
response from SDH, FBH, notch
Distance correction ... set DAC at 80% FSH, electronic settings

Schedule ... recalibrate at start, shift, changes

Component curvature Use Figure XX to correct for curved items

Transfer Use dual transducers to set transfer
Special problems

Formats/forms Form XYZ to be used in recording data

Analysis Classification of reflector found by ..
Authorizations All reports signed by Level II & III

General types Reject all cracks and lack of fusion

Dimensions Reject slag over 3/4 in. in 2 in. plate
Collections Reject pore spacing of 3 within 2 in.
Acceptance criteria

Per undefined procedure

Supplier to have certification program
Written practice to SNT-TC-1A
Per NAS-410 or NAVSEA 250-1500
Procedure per ....
Personnel certification

List of documentation Final documentation shall include ....

Retention period Supplier to retain records for 5 years
Records of examination

Codes and Standards

Testing and Materials). Most other U.S. codes and ● A guide is a compendium of information, or a
standards reference the applicable ASTM testing series of options, that does not recommend a
standards rather than duplicate that effort.They may specific course of action. A guide increases the
incorporate additional requirements above and awareness of information and approaches in a
beyond the ASTM documents if it is felt those core given subject area.
documents do not sufficiently address the specific ● A practice is a definitive set of instructions for
needs of the referencing code. performing one or more specific operations or
In the case of the American Society of functions that does not produce a test result.
Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Boiler and Pressure Examples of practices include, but are not limited
Vessel Code, many ASTM standards are incorporated to: application, assessment, cleaning, collection,
into the code in their entirety. In the code, the decontamination, inspection, installation,
ASTM E designation is changed to SE. For example, preparation, sampling, screening and training.
ASTM E 164 becomes SE 164 and the notation that ● A test method is a definitive procedure that
the SE document is identical to the ASTM docu- produces a test result. Examples of test methods
ment is added. include, but are not limited to: identification,
Another difference between various codes and measurement and evaluation of one or more
standards is how they address the details of the qualities, characteristics or properties.
inspection process. For example, the AWS D1.1
Structural Welding Code — Steel has very specific A partial list of some of the more commonly
requirements for wedge angle selection based on used ASTM UT standards follow. Additional stan-
material thickness. It specifies strict transducer size dards can be found in the ASTM Annual Book of
and frequency, uses an International Institute of Standards, Volume 03.03, Metals Test Methods and
Welding (IIW) calibration and uses an amplitude- Analytical Procedures/Nondestructive Testing.
based formula for determining a defect rating. That
rating is then compared to a table that determines ● ASTM E 114: Strandard Practice for Ultrasonic
whether the indication is acceptable or not. A sam- Pulse-Echo Straight-Beam Examination by the
ple NDT procedure using this type of calibration Contact Method
and defect determination is shown in Appendix A. ● ASTM E 164: Standard Practice for Contact
On the other hand, the ASME Code in Section V, Ultrasonic Testing of Weldments
Nondestructive Examination, provides specific ● ASTM E 213: Standard Practice for Ultrasonic
instructions for calibrating a UT scope for weld Testing of Metal Pipe and Tubing
inspections using a distance amplitude correction ● ASTM E 273: Standard Practice for Ultrasonic
(DAC) curve and specifies a frequency range, but Testing of the Weld Zone of Welded Pipe and
leaves the choice of transducer size and frequency Tubing
within that range up to the inspector. A sample ● ASTM E 587: Standard Practice for Ultrasonic
NDT procedure using the ASME basic calibration Angle-Beam Contact Testing
block and a DAC curve is shown in Appendix B. ● ASTM E 797/E 797M: Standard Practice for
Below are some of the most commonly used U.S. Measuring Thickness by Manual Ultrasonic
code or standards bodies and some of the commonly Pulse-Echo Contact Method
used UT standards. ● ASTM E 1962: Standard Practice for Ultrasonic
Surface Testing Using Electromagnetic Acoustic
ASTM International Transducer (EMAT) Techniques
ASTM International is one of the largest voluntary ● ASTM E 2373: Standard Practice for Use of the
standards development organizations in the world, Ultrasonic Time of Flight Diffraction (TOFD)
providing technical standards for materials, prod- Technique
ucts, systems and services. Over 180 ASTM NDT ● ASTM E 2375: Standard Practice for Ultrasonic
standards are published in the ASTM Annual Book Testing of Wrought Products
of Standards, Volume 03.03, Nondestructive Testing. ● ASTM E 2580: Standard Practice for Ultrasonic
Many of these standards provide guidance on how Testing of Flat Panel Composites and Sandwich
NDT test methods are applied, but they do not pro- Core Materials Used in Aerospace Applications
vide acceptance/rejection criteria. ASTM defines ● ASTM E 2700: Standard Practice for Contact
three of their document categories as follows: Ultrasonic Testing of Welds Using Phased Arrays


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Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 5

American Society of Mechanical Engineers programs for welding inspectors, supervisors, educa-
(ASME) tors, etc., and publishes multiple standards, many of
ASME is a not-for-profit professional organization which contain procedures for the application of non-
that enables collaboration, knowledge sharing and destructive testing methods and techniques above
skill development across all engineering disciplines, and beyond visual inspection. A few of their stan-
while promoting the vital role of the engineer in dards are listed here:
society. ASME codes and standards, publications,
conferences, continuing education and professional ● AWS D1.1: Structural Welding Code – Steel
development programs provide a foundation for ● AWS D1.2: Structural Welding Code – Aluminum
advancing technical knowledge and a safer world. ● AWS D1.3: Structural Welding Code – Sheet Steel
ASME publishes multiple codes and standards ● AWS D1.5: Bridge Welding Code
including, but not limited to, the following ● AWS D1.6: Structural Welding Code – Stainless
documents. Steel
The ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code (BPV)
is made up of twelve numbered sections, or “books”, American Petroleum Institute (API)
covering the following subjects: The American Petroleum Institute (API) is a nation-
al trade association that represents all aspects of
I. Power Boilers America’s oil and natural gas industry, including
II. Materials producers, refiners, suppliers, pipeline operators,
III. Rules for Construction of Nuclear Facility marine transporters, and service and supply compa-
Components nies. Among the standards that API publishes are
IV. Heating Boilers the following:
V. Nondestructive Examination
VI. Recommended Rules for the Care and ● API 510: Pressure Vessel Inspection Code: In-
Operation of Heating Boilers Service Inspection, Rating, Repair and Alteration
VII. Recommended Guidelines for the Care of ● API 570: Piping Inspection Codes: In-Service
Power Boilers Inspection, Rating, Repair, and Alteration of Piping
VIII. Pressure Vessels Systems
IX. Welding and Brazing Qualifications ● API 650: Welded Tanks for Oil Storage
X. Fiber-Reinforced Plastic Pressure Vessels ● API 653: Tank Inspection, Repair, Alteration, and
XI. Rules for In-service Inspection of Nuclear Reconstruction
Power Plant Components ● API 1104: Welding of Pipelines and Related
XII. Rules for Construction and Continued Facilities
Service of Transport Tanks
Aerospace Industries Association (AIA)
The BPV is published biennially in odd-num- The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) is a
bered years without addenda in the intervening year. trade association with more than 100 major aero-
ASME B31.1, Power Piping. This code contains space and defense member companies. These com-
requirements for piping systems typically found in panies embody every high-technology manufactur-
electric power-generating stations, industrial institu- ing segment of the U.S. aerospace and defense
tional plants, geothermal heating systems, and heat- industry from commercial aviation and avionics, to
ing and cooling systems. manned and unmanned defense systems, to space
ASME B31.3, Process Piping. This code contains technologies and satellite communications.
requirements for piping typically found in petrole- The AIA publishes multiple aviation and aero-
um refineries; chemical, pharmaceutical, textile, space-related standards, two of which are:
paper, semiconductor and cryogenic plants; and
related processing-plant terminals. ● NAS 410, NAS Certification and Qualification of
Nondestructive Test Personnel. This employer-
American Welding Society (AWS) based certification standard establishes the
The American Welding Society (AWS) is a nonprofit minimum requirements for the qualification and
organization with the goal of advancing the science, certification of personnel performing
technology and application of welding and related nondestructive testing (NDT), nondestructive
joining disciplines. AWS provides certification inspection (NDI), or nondestructive evaluation


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reselling and networking prohibited.
Codes and Standards

(NDE) in the aerospace manufacturing, service, NBBI publishes the National Boiler Inspection
maintenance and overhaul industries. In 2002, Code (NBIC), which provides standards for the
NAS 410 was harmonized with European Norm installation, inspection and repair and/or alteration
4179 (listed in the CEN section), so that the of boilers, pressure vessels and pressure-relief
requirements in both documents are identical. devices.
● NAS 999, Nondestructive Inspection of Advanced
Composite Structures. This specification esta- Military Standards
blishes the requirements for nondestructive For years the U.S. Department of Defense main-
inspection (NDI), NDI standards, NDI methods, tained its own military standards, usually using the
and NDI acceptance criteria. designator MIL-STD-###. Many of these standards,
because of their highly restricted applications to cer-
National Board of Boiler and Pressure tain components and configurations, tended to
Vessel Inspectors (NBBI) establish more structured approaches to specific
The National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel configurations of test parts and required inspection
Inspectors (NBBI) is a nonprofit organization that personnel to use these customized approaches when
promotes greater safety to life and property through conducting ultrasonic inspections. However, in the
uniformity in the construction, installation, repair, interest of reducing costs and duplication of effort,
maintenance and inspection of pressure equipment. over the past 10 to 15 years the DOD has been can-
The National Board membership oversees adherence celling many military standards and specifying
to laws, rules and regulations relating to boilers and industry standards such as AMS, NAS or ASTM
pressure vessels. NBBI provides training, and it specifications as the superseding documents. For
issues in-service and new construction commissions example, MIL-STD-2154 has been replaced by
for Authorized Inspectors (AIs), Authorized Nuclear AMS-STD-2154 and MIL-STD-1949 has been
Inspectors (ANIs) and Authorized Nuclear In-serv- replaced by ASTM E 1444.
ice Inspectors (ANIIs).


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Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 5

Review Questions

1. Additional company requirements would most likely 5. Inspection procedures are usually based on which of
be found in which of the following documents? the following documents?

a. A code. a. A work instruction.

b. A standard. b. A standard.
c. A specification. c. A specification.
d. An inspection procedure. d. A regulatory requirement.

2. Which type of document would contain specific 6. What system of development is used in the U.S. to
information on equipment selection and scanning develop standards?
a. Free market.
a. A code. b. Government oversight.
b. A standard. c. For-profit industry.
c. A specification. d. Regulatory agencies.
d. An inspection procedure.
7. Which of the following organizations is responsible
3. Which of the following personnel are required to for issuing commissions to Authorized Inspectors,
work to specific written instructions? Authorized Nuclear Inspectors and Authorized
Nuclear In-service Inspectors?
a. Trainees.
b. Level I. a. ASTM International.
c. Level II. b. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
d. Both Level I and Level II. c. The National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel
4. Which of the following organizations writes the d. The American National Standards Institute.
majority of NDT performance standards?
8. Which document would a person use to learn about
a. ASTM. the requirements for a pressurized heat exchanger?
b. ASME.
c. AWS. a. The AWS D1.2 Welding Code.
d. ANSI. b. API 650.
c. ASTM E-2375.
d. The ASME BPV, Section VIII.

1c 2d 3b 4a 5b 6a 7c 8d

Chapter 6
Special Topics

This section discusses a few items which represent Small flaws may be classified into two cate-
new technologies that are of importance in that gories: flaws smaller than the wavelength and flaws
they represent former application areas of interest larger than the wavelength. A circular disk flaw
and/or emerging issues which will become part of much smaller than the wavelength will reflect a
the way UT is performed in the future. spherical wave with pressure proportional to the
third power of the flaw diameter and inversely pro-
Flaw Sizing Techniques portional to the wavelength. Very small flaws reflect
very little energy and are difficult to detect.
Flaw detection with ultrasonics is at an advanced Flaws larger than the wavelength and less than
state of the art. Significant flaws in most structures the beam diameter reflect sound proportionally and
can be detected. When a UT indication is identified monotonically with flaw size. That is, as the flaws
as a flaw, normally some estimate of its size is get larger, the amplitude increases, although not in a
required. Variables that affect these measurements linear fashion. Two approaches commonly used
include, but are not limited to, flaw type, flaw shape, include area-amplitude blocks and the Krautkramer
location, multiple flaws in same location, geometric DGS (distance-gain-size) diagram. In the first, spec-
reflectors in same location, grain size and orienta- imens are prepared with different size reflectors.
tion, flaw orientation, part configuration, search The amplitude from the flaw is compared directly
unit characteristics and sound beam characteristics. with the amplitude from a known reflector. When a
Each of these variables can affect the measurement match is achieved, the flaw is assigned the reflector
to a degree which is not the same from flaw to flaw. size.
In general, there are two flaw size categories In the DGS diagram, a series of curves with flaw
which are usually treated differently, those with size as the parameter are plotted on an amplitude-
flaws larger than the beam diameter and those versus-sound-path diagram. Backsurface echo
smaller than the beam diameter. As a result of these amplitude is plotted on the same diagram. Flaw
factors, no one technique provides accurate flaw amplitudes are then used to assign a flaw size where
sizing on all flaws; however, numerous techniques the equivalent flaw size is a circular disk.
have been devised for flaw sizing. Most of these are Large flaws are measured by scanning or by time-
based on some consideration of signal amplitude. difference measurements, and, of course, these may
Flaws can generally be described by three be combined. In laminar flaw measurement, the
dimensions, length, width, and height, where the search unit is moved back and forth until the ampli-
length and height are in a plane normal to the tude of the flaw signal drops to a predetermined
direction of maximum stress and the width is in the level. Using this technique, the flaw perimeter can
direction of the stress. In most situations little be determined. This technique is usually quite
emphasis is placed on the determination of width satisfactory.
since it has little effect on the stress pattern. This method is not the same for angle beam
Length is measured normal to the stress and par- measurements, which are usually used in weld
allel to the test item surface, while height is meas- examination. Measurement of the throughwall
ured normal to both the stress and the surface. Of dimension (height) is much more difficult. Several
these two, length can ordinarily be measured suc- techniques have been developed in relationship to
cessfully with the desired accuracy. Height, on the thick-wall weld examination and a few of these
other hand, is much more difficult to measure. will be discussed.
For laminar-type flaws, the length and width One of the most common techniques is the so-
refer to the dimensions in a plane parallel to the called dB drop technique. In this technique, the max-
entry surface. Orientations of these dimensions is a imum amplitude signal is located and the sound path
matter of procedure or choice. and location recorded. The search unit is then moved

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 6

toward the reflector until the signal drops by a prese- Advantages of TOFD
lected amount, usually 6 dB. At this point, the sound ● Has the potential to have an accuracy of
path and location are recorded. This step is repeated +/– 1 mm. When monitoring discontinuity
with movement away from the reflector. Plots of the growth it becomes more accurate with
data using the known refracted angle provide a meas- repeatability within 0.3 mm.
ure of the height of the reflector. ● Less sensitive to discontinuity orientation.
A similar but slightly different technique is the ● Greater penetrating ability.
leading-lagging ray approach. In this, the search ● B-scan imaging.
unit is maneuvered across a side-drilled hole reflec- ● Accurate sizing capability.
tor in a calibration block as in the dB drop tech- ● Fast.
nique on a reflector. These data are used to establish ● Easy interpretations of mid-wall indications.
the leading and lagging beam edge angles. In the
examination, the locations of the search unit are Disadvantages of TOFD
established as in the dB drop technique but the ● Poor detection/sizing near the entry and
plots are made on the basis of the pre-established backwall surfaces.
beam edge angles. ● Requires an additional scan to approximate on
which side of the weld the discontinuity is
Time of Flight Diffraction located.
● Optimum probe center spacing may result in
Time of flight diffraction (TOFD) was developed in probe interference with weld cap.
1971 as a sizing technique. It was originally used as ● Mismatch (high-low) conditions may mask root
a measurement tool and consists of stacked A-scans discontinuities in the backwall signal of welds.
and grayscale images. ● Weak signals.
The first practical examination was developed ● Sensitive to material grain noise.
during the 70s. A number of successful trials were ● Inspection surface curvature can increase
developed in the 80s making TOFD an acceptable existing dead zones.
ultrasonic testing technique.
Advancements in computer software led to the Basic Principles of Phased Array
development of the use of parabolic cursors, the
removal and straightening of the lateral wave, and Ultrasonic phased arrays use multiple ultrasonic
the use of Synthetic Aperture Focusing (SAFT). elements and electronic time delays to create beams
When evaluating a TOFD inspection, a refer- by constructive and destructive interference. As
ence is made using the lateral wave response. The such, phased arrays offer significant technical
depth to the indications is calculated from the dif- advantages over conventional single-probe ultrason-
ference in the time of flight between the lateral ics; the phased array beams can be steered, scanned,
wave and the diffracted pulse. swept and focused electronically.
The assumption that the discontinuities are ● Electronic scanning permits very rapid coverage
positioned symmetrically between the probes intro- of the components, typically an order of
duces an error, but this usually has little effect on magnitude faster than a single probe mechanical
the accuracy of the estimated discontinuity depth. system.
For critical flaw sizing, the probes must be repo- ● Beam forming permits the selected beam angles
sitioned or additional probes added so that the dis- to be optimized ultrasonically by orienting them
continuities are situated directly between the two perpendicular to the predicted discontinuities,
probes. for example, lack of fusion in welds.
Other techniques, such as using different angles ● Beam steering (usually called sectorial scanning)
(example one 45° and one 70°) in the same TOFD can be used for mapping components at
pair of probes or tandem probes, may also be used appropriate angles to optimize probability of
to help locate discontinuities when using TOFD. detection. Sectorial scanning is also useful for
Because TOFD is based on the diffracted ultra- inspections where only a minimal footprint is
sonic wave instead of a reflected ultrasonic wave, possible.
the angular position of the discontinuity has very ● Electronic focusing permits optimizing the beam
little effect on the detection of the discontinuity. shape and size at the expected discontinuity
location, as well as optimizing probability of


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reselling and networking prohibited.
Special Topics

detection. Focusing improves the signal-to-noise Each element generates a beam when pulsed;
ratio significantly, which also permits operating these beams constructively and destructively inter-
at lower pulser voltages. fere to form a wave front. The phased array instru-
mentation pulses the individual channels with time
Overall, the use of phased arrays permits opti- delays as specified to form a pre-calculated wave
mizing discontinuity detection while minimizing front. For receiving, the instrumentation effectively
inspection time. performs the reverse — it receives with pre-calcu-
lated time delays, then sums the time-shifted signal
How Phased Arrays Work and displays it.
Phased arrays use an array of elements, all individu- The summed waveform is effectively identical to
ally wired, pulsed and time-shifted. These elements a single-channel flaw detector using a probe with
can form a linear array, a 2D matrix array, a circular the same angle, frequency, focusing, aperture, etc.
array or some more complex form. Most applica-
tions use linear arrays since these are the easiest to Practical Application of Phased Arrays
program and are significantly cheaper than more From a practical viewpoint, ultrasonic phased array
complex arrays due to fewer elements. is merely a method of generating and receiving
The elements are ultrasonically isolated from ultrasound; once the ultrasound is in the material, it
each other and packaged in normal probe housings. is independent of the generation method, whether
The cabling usually consists of a bundle of well- generated by piezoelectric, electromagnetic, laser or
shielded micro-coaxial cables. Commercial multi- phased arrays. Consequently, many of the details of
channel connectors are used with the instrument ultrasonic inspection remain unchanged; for exam-
cabling. ple, if 5 MHz is the optimum inspection frequency
Elements are pulsed in groups of 4 to 32; typi- with conventional ultrasonics, then phased arrays
cally 16 elements are used for welds. With a user- would typically start by using the same frequency,
friendly system, the computer and software calcu- aperture size, focal length and incident angle.
late the time delays for a setup from operator-input While phased arrays require well-developed
on inspection angle, focal distance, scan pattern, instrumentation, one of the key requirements is
etc., or use a predefined file. The time delays are good, user-friendly software. Besides calculating the
back-calculated using time of flight from the focal focal laws, the software saves and displays the
spot and the scan assembled from individual focal results, and the ability to manipulate data is essen-
laws. Time delay circuits must be accurate to tial. As phased arrays offer considerable application
around 2 ns to provide the phasing accuracy flexibility, software versatility is highly desirable.

Chapter 7
Guided Waves

Guided wave is a general term used to describe One interesting major difference associated with
wave propagation where the guidance of boundary guided waves (compared to bulk waves), is that
plays a very important role. The structure in which
a guided wave may propagate is called a waveguide.
Natural waveguides include: plates (aircraft skin),
rods (cylinders, square rods, rails, etc.), hollow
cylinder (pipes, tubing), multilayer structures, inter-
face, multiple layer surface on a half-space.
Since the early 2000s, there has been an increase
in the industrial use of ultrasonic guided waves for
examination of large areas of components. The
main application has been for the detection of cor-
rosion in pipes and pipelines, but because guided
waves may exist in a variety of component shapes,
there are many possibilities for their use. There are,
however, some significant differences in the proper-
ties of guided waves compared with the bulk wave
modes, compression and shear, used for conven-
tional ultrasonic testing. This chapter introduces
some of these concepts.

Some guided wave possibilities are rayleigh surface
waves, stonely waves and lamb waves (Figure 1). (c)
There are many other guided wave possibilities as
long as a boundary on either one or two sides of the
wave is considered. Figure 1: Ultrasonic guided wave possibilities:
A surface wave is a special type of guided wave (a) rayleigh (surface) wave; (b) lamb wave;
that is guided with a single surface. They are often (c) stonely waves.
called rayleigh waves.
A stonely wave travels at an interface between
two materials.
Guided waves in plate structures can be classi-
fied as lamb waves. Lamb waves can be further clas- (a)
sified as symmetric or asymmetric based on their
displacement fields (Figure 2). For symmetric
modes, the deformation of the plate is symmetric to
the center plane. For asymmetric waves the defor-
mation is asymmetric to the center plane. (b)
Waves in more complex structures, such as mul-
tiple layers or curved plates, can be referred to as
lamb-type guided wave modes. Figure 2: Lamb wave propagating in plate:
(a) symmetric; (b) asymmetric.

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 7

Traditional UT thickness measurement

Insonified area


Guided wave inspection

Insonified area


Comb excitation

Figure 3: Comparison of bulk wave and guided wave inspection methods.

many different wave velocity values can be obtained means that they are suitable for large-area examina-
as a function of frequency, whereas for most practi- tion from a single source.
cal bulk wave propagation purposes the wave veloc- The principal benefits of ultrasonic guided
ity is independent of frequency. In fact, tables of waves can be summarized as follows.
wave velocities applicable to bulk wave propagation 1. Inspection over long distances from a single
in materials are available from most manufacturers probe position is possible.
of ultrasonic equipment. These tables often show 2. There’s no need for scanning; all of the data is
just a single wave velocity value for longitudinal acquired from the single probe position. Quite
waves and one additional value for shear waves. often, greater sensitivity than that obtained in
A comparison of bulk wave and guided wave standard normal beam ultrasonic inspection or
ultrasonic inspection is illustrated in Figure 3. The other NDT techniques can be obtained, even
guided waves propagate some distance away from with low-frequency ultrasonic guided wave
the transducer, whereas for bulk waves only the area inspection techniques. Propagation behavior of
underneath the transducer is insonified. To generate guided waves is governed by the product of
guided waves the ultrasonic wavelength generally frequency and material thickness so that they are
has to be large in relation to the thickness of the highly sensitive to thickness changes.
material, so that test frequencies are low, typically in 3. There is also an ability to inspect hidden
the kilohertz range. This, and the inherently low structures, structures under water, coatings,
attenuation properties of guided waves in metals, insulations and concrete because of the

Guided Waves

inspection capability from a single probe

position via wave structure change and
controlled mode sensitivity along with an ability
to propagate over long distances.
4. Because of the inspection simplicity and speed,
there is also a tremendous cost-effectiveness
associated with guided wave propagation and

Dispersion and the propagation of either dispersive
or nondispersive modes is important to understand
when dealing with ultrasonic guided waves.
Figures 4 and 5 show nondispersive and dispersive
guided wave propagation respectively. For nondis-
persive wave propagation, the pulse duration
remains constant as the wave travels through the
structure. On the other hand, for dispersive wave
propagation, because wave velocity is a function of
frequency, the pulse duration changes from point-
to-point inside the structure. This change is because
each harmonic of the particular input pulse packet
travels at a different wave velocity and the summa-
tion of the harmonics at later times creates the dis-
persive effect. There’s a decrease in amplitude of the
waveform and an increase in pulse duration, but
energy is still conserved with the assumption that
energy absorption by the material is insignificant.

Dispersion Curves
Consider the general development of a phase veloc-
Figure 4: Nondispersive wave propagation as it travels along a
ity computation in a waveguide, such as a plate or
pipe, having boundary conditions for a traction-free

tan(qh ) 4 k 2 pq
for symmetric modes
upper and lower surface, for example. [Rose 1999]

tan( ph ) (q − k 2 )2
If we now consider some form of a governing (Eq. 1) =− 2
Navier’s wave equation in rectangular coordinates
and an assumed harmonic solution for displace-
ment, we can through elasticity theory derive the for symmetric modes
equations to satisfy the boundary conditions of the

tan(qh ) q2 − k 2

for asymmetric modes

problem being studied. This leads to a transcenden-
( )
tan( ph ) 4 k 2 pq
tal equation, or a characteristic equation that most
often requires a numerical solution. In extracting
(Eq. 2) =−
the roots from the characteristic equation, usually
associated with a system of homogeneous equa- for asymmetric modes
tions, the determinant of the coefficient matrix
must be set equal to zero. The roots are the eigen
h = 1/2 the plate thickness (d/2)
values associated with the solution to the set of
k = the wave number (2π/λ)
homogeneous equations and the eigen vectors leads
p and q are defined by Eq. 3.
to the wave structures by employing elasticity theo-
ry. The resulting characteristic equations for a plate
are as follows:

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 7

cplate = plate velocity
E = modulus of elasticity
ρ = material density
ν = Poison’s ratio

The A0 mode at high frequency approaches the

rayleigh surface wave velocity. All other modes at
new high frequency converge to the shear wave
velocity for the plate. Notice the cut-off frequencies
at high phase velocities Cρ. The group velocity
curves are derived from the phase velocity curves
and represent the velocity of a packet of waves of
similar frequency. (See Figure 7.) The group veloci-
ty formula is as follows.

dc p 

cg = c  c p − ( fd )

d ( fd ) 

(Eq. 5) p

cg = group velocity
cρ = phase velocity (fλ)
Figure 5: Dispersive wave propagation as it travels along a d = thickness
All guided wave applications have associated
with them the development of appropriate disper-
2 2

p 2 =   − k 2 and q 2 =   − k 2
sion curves and corresponding wave structures. Of

 cL   cT 
ω ω thousands of points on a dispersion curve, only cer-
(Eq. 3)
tain ones lead to a successful inspection — for
example, those with greatest penetration power;
maximum displacement on the outer, center, or
where inner surface; with only in-plane vibration on the
ω = circular frequency (2πf) surface to avoid leakage into a fluid; or with mini-
f = frequency mum power at an interface between a pipe and a
cL = longitudinal bulk wave velocity coating.
cT = shear bulk wave velocity Note that wave structure across the thickness of
a waveguide changes moving along frequencies for
In this case, the roots extracted determine the a particular mode. Sample results are shown in
phase velocity versus frequency values that can be Figure 8. Note that for an fd (frequency, f, times
plotted, as illustrated in Figure 6. In the figure, the thickness, d) value of 0.15 MHz · 6.22 mm
phase velocity dispersion curves for a particular (0.245 in.) the in-plane displacement on the outer
traction-free steel plate are shown. The modes are surface of the plate is a maximum, whereas for an fd
labeled as asymmetric A0, A1, A2, A3, etc., or sym- value of 1 MHz · 6.22 mm (0.245 in.), the in-plane
metric as S0, S1, S2, S3, etc. The S0 mode intersects displacement is maximum on the outer surface.
the zero frequency axis at the plate velocity value Wave structure considerations and mode and fre-
for the plate. The plate velocity formula is as follows: quency choice have serious consequences in defect


c plate
detection sensitivity, penetration power, and influ-

 ρ (1 − υ ) 
  ence to water-loading situations as an example.
2 
(Eq. 4) =

Guided Waves

If a steel plate is under water, there will be ener- liquid media since this would be like shear loading
gy leakage as the wave travels along the plate on the fluid. If you solve this wave propagation
because of an out-of-plane displacement compo- problem, or as another example the wave propaga-
nent that would load the liquid. The in-plane dis- tion associated with bitumen coating on a plate,
placement components would not travel into the there would also be leakage of ultrasonic energy as

A4 S4 S8 A8
A1 S1 A5 A6 S7
10 A2 A3 S5 A7
S2 S3

CΡ (mm/µsec)


2 A0

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
f·d (MHz·mm)

Figure 6: Phase velocity dispersion curve for a carbon steel plate.

S4 S5
S1 S2 S3
5 S0

A5 A6
4 A1 A2
Cg (mm/µsec)

3 A0

2 S8
S6 S7
A7 A8

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
f·d (MHz·mm)

Figure 7: Group velocity dispersion curves for a carbon steel plate.

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 7

4 4
3 3
2 In 2 Out
1 1
0 0
-0.4 -0.2 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 -1.5 -1 -0.5 0 0.5 1 1.5
-1 -1
-2 -2
-3 -3
-4 -4

150 kHz S0 mode 1 MHz S0 mode

[f·d = 0.15 MHz·6.22 mm (0.245 in.)] [f·d = 1 MHz·6.22 mm (0.245 in.)]

Figure 8: Sample normalized wave structures of the S0 mode in a 6.22 mm (0.245 in.) thick steel
plate. Solid line: out-of-plane displacement; dotted line: in-plane displacement.

the wave propagates along the plate. Following the waveguide. Because of a bounded transducer prob-
phase and group velocity dispersion curves, the lem, though, we must study a source influence
complex roots from the characteristic equation problem for a particular size sensor. The finite size
would then lead to a set of attenuation dispersion of a transducer and various vibration characteristics
curves. Propagation distance is reduced. gives rise to a phase velocity spectrum. Therefore,
Note that dispersion curve examples for other in addition to the ordinary frequency spectrum
waveguides can be found in Rose [1999]. Of partic- there is a phase velocity spectrum, and because of
ular interest might be the closed-form solution pos- these two spectral bandwidths of frequency and
sibility for shear horizontal waves in a plate. phase velocity, it makes it difficult to excite a specif-
ic point on a dispersion curve. Mode separation in
Bulk vs. Guided Waves the dispersion curve space then becomes useful for
single mode excitation potential.
A general comparison of bulk and guided waves can Guided wave energy can be induced into a
be seen in Table 1. Key elements of the differences waveguide by a variety of different techniques
between isotropic and anisotropic media are listed including piezoelectric, magnetostrictive, electro-
in Table 2. magnetic acoustic transducer (EMAT), laser, or
Note that not all metals are isotropic. For exam- physically controlled impact. The challenge is to
ple, columnar dendritic centrifugally cast stainless excite a particular mode at a specific frequency.
steel is anisotropic. This must be considered in any Normal piezoelectric beam probes can be used.
wave propagation studies. Angle beam piezoelectric sensors can also be used to
A further practical comparison of the use of impart beams that lead to desired kinds of guided
bulk and guided waves is presented in Table 3, in waves in a pipe or plate. Commercial systems also
particular for plate and pipe inspections. use in-plane motion from shear-polarized piezoelec-
tric transducers. A comb transducer can also be
Source Influence used, either piezoelectric, magnetostrictive, EMAT,
considering a number of different elements at a spe-
The ability to generate a specific mode and frequen- cific spacing, that together pump ultrasonic energy
cy is often quite challenging. Theory and experi- into the plate, hence causing wave propagation of a
ment are not always perfect or sure, so practical certain wavelength in the waveguide. The excitation
aspects of an inspection must be considered. The zones in the phase velocity dispersion curve can be
development of the dispersion curves discussed so evaluated by the source being considered in the
far employs a harmonic plane wave excitation in the problem. (Rose [1999] and Rose, et al. [1994])

Guided Waves

Table 1: Ultrasonic bulk vs. guided wave propagation considerations.

Bulk Guided

Phase velocities Constant Function of frequency

Group velocities Same as phase velocities Generally not equal to phase velocity

Pulse shape Nondispersive Generally dispersives

Table 2: Ultrasonic wave considerations for isotropic vs. anisotropic media.

Isotropic Anisotropic

Wave velocities Not function of launch direction Function of launch direction

Skew Angles No Yes

Table 3: A comparison of the currently used ultrasonic bulk wave technique and the proposed
ultrasonic guided wave procedure for plate and pipe inspection.

Bulk Wave Guided Wave

Point by point scan

Global in nature (approximate line scan)
(accurate rectangular grid scan)

Part coverage (can miss points) Full (volumetric coverage)

High level training required for inspection Minimal training for data gathering
Interpretation can be complex
Any reasonable distance from reflector
Fixed distance from reflector required

Reflector must be accessible and seen Reflector can be hidden

A comb transducer, as an example, could be Applications

wrapped completely around a pipe or laid out as
fingers or an inter-digital transducer design on a Pipe
Because of a phase velocity spectrum and a fre- There has been a considerable uptake in the use of
quency spectrum, the excitation zone is not a single guided wave examination for pipes and pipelines to
point in the phase velocity dispersion curve; it is a exploit the ability to inspect long lengths, up to
region as generally illustrated in Figure 9. Note that 30.5 m (100 ft) or more, from a small number of
θ = sin–1 cw/cp, where cw is the longitudinal bulk test points and to inspect hidden areas, for example
wave velocity in the wedge. [Rose 1999] under road crossings and other inaccessible lengths.
Phased array systems have improved perform- Frequencies used in this work are generally from
ance in the NDT field for ultrasonic bulk waves 20 kHz to 100 kHz.
because of electronic beam scanning with one All current commercial systems are designed to
transducer array compared to manual scanning control the wave modes excited to enable well con-
with many different angle beam probes. trolled test conditions and ensure interpretable
results. Wave mode control is achieved by using a

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 7

bracelet or encircling tool around the pipe to gener- analysis process. Testing is usually carried out at a
ate axisymmetric waves. Figure 10 shows an exam- number of excitation frequencies in order to exploit
ple of such a tool. Wave propagation characteristics, the frequency dependence of responses from dis-
notably dispersion, are further controlled by careful continuities and pipe features such as girth welds
selection of excitation frequency, excitation pulse and supports.
shape (usually a tone-burst excitation is used) and As different wave modes have differing vibra-
transducer orientation. Multi-ring tools are used to tional shapes and velocities, one available technique
enable the ultrasound to be directed in a specific is the selective staggered transmission of a set of
direction along the pipe. Pulse-echo testing is nor- wave modes to achieve a spot of focused acoustic
mally used. energy at a particular axial and circumferential
Specialized, multi-channel discontinuity detec- position to interrogate localized regions for the
tors have been developed to achieve the necessary presence of defects. A similar technique uses the
control over the excitation sequence and also to combined analysis of the reception of a range of
enable incoming signals to be detected and ana- wave modes to quickly produce feature maps of
lyzed. Figure 11 shows an example of such a discon- pipes that make interpretation of the location and
tinuity detector. Detection of mode conversions significance of features more straightforward.
resulting from the excited wave interacting with dis- Static shot finite elements method simulations,
continuities is an essential part of the detection and at different times of an axisymmetric guided wave

Acvaon line
Phase velocity spectrum



0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20


θ = sin–1 cw /cp
Frequency spectrum

Figure 9: Source for a typical angle beam excitation or an ability to generate a specific mode and

Guided Waves

propagation in a pipe are shown in Figure 10. To be moved anywhere axially and circumferentially
go beyond the axisymmetric wave to focusing in the pipe.
considerations, the methods of focusing include Wave propagation into a pipe elbow and beyond
frequency tuning for axisymmetric excitation and can create blind spots at a specific frequency due to
receiving, and phased array focusing for multi- mode conversion. Pipe coating and buried pipes
element array excitation and receiving with time can also seriously reduce penetration distances.
delay and amplitude tuning. A static shot example
of a real-time phased array result is illustrated in Conclusion
Figure 11. Notice the development of the focal
spot in the fifth frame. The focal spot can be Great breakthroughs on the use of ultrasonic guid-
changed in size by changing the probe and instru- ed waves in NDT and structural health monitoring
ment design parameters. The focal spot can then are underway. Advances are possible because of

• Transducer array located at

pipe end
• Axisymmetric loading, no
time delay applied

Figure 10: Axisymmetric guided wave propagation along a pipe.

• Transducer array located at pipe end

• Array can be segmented into 4 or 8 channels
• Time delays are applied

Focused guided
wave beam

Focus beam forming

Figure 11: Guided wave active focusing in pipe FE simulation.

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 7

increased understanding and significant advances challenges remain. Many of the challenges are
in computational power. Very few investigators focused on technology transfer work tasks to a real-
were involved from 1985 to 2000, but since 2000 the istic practical environment. New and sophisticated
work and interest has exploded. work efforts in both guided wave NDT and struc-
Ultrasonic guided waves for aircraft and com- tural health monitoring (SHM) are underway with
posite material inspections have come a long way in hopes of a great future. Guided wave instrumenta-
the past decade or so. Many successes have come tion will eventually emerge with energy harvesting
about, but many challenges remain. The same is and wireless technology to simplify its implementa-
true for pipeline inspection. tion and use.
Finally, although many promising methods are
evolving into promising inspection tools, numerous

Guided Waves

Review Questions

1. Guided wave propagation is possible because of: 5. A phase velocity spectrum is primarily a function of:

a. the use of low frequency ultrasound. a. frequency.

b. the presence of structural boundaries to create b. frequency bandwidth.
wave interference. c. transducer material.
c. an application on thin structures. d. transducer size.
d. isotropic homogenous structures.
6. Generation of ultrasonic guided wave in a thicker
2. Dispersive wave propagation refers to: structure cannot take place with:

a. absorption of high frequency components. a. piezoelectric devices.

b. overall attenuation of the wave form as it b. magnetostrictive devices.
propagates. c. mechanical loading devices.
c. pulse spreading because of individual frequency d. a laser source.
harmonics in the wave form travelling at different
phase velocities. 7. A disadvantage of guided waves can be associated
d. constant pulse duration as the wave propagates in with:
a structure.
a. axial resolution for multiple defects.
3. Penetration power would be poorest for which b. ability to inspect large volumes of material from a
structure? single sensor position.
c. ability to inspect hidden structures.
a. Soft, thick, viscous bitumen coated pipe. d. an ability to inspect coated structures.
b. Hard, thin coated pipe.
c. Calcium silicate insulation on a pipe. 8. Which process cannot be used to focus ultrasonic
d. An uncoated pipe. guided wave energy?

4. An angle beam transducer can produce a guided a. Phased array from a series of activators.
wave in a plate under the following conditions: b. Synthetic focusing using an array of sensors.
c. Frequency tuning to search for a wave resonance
a. longitudinal velocity in the test specimen is less of a reflector.
than that in the wedge used in the angle beam d. Material selection for transducer design.
b. longitudinal velocity in the test specimen is 9. Which wave is not a classically known guided wave?
greater than that in the wedge and the wavelength
induced is 1/4 the thickness of the plate. a. Guitar wave.
c. longitudinal velocity in the test specimen is b. Raleigh surface wave.
greater than that in the wedge and the wavelength c. Lamb wave.
induced is 2× the thickness of the plate. d. Stonely wave.
d. use of high frequency.

Ultrasonic Testing Method l Chapter 7

10. Which frequency range is most common for 11. When would the use of guided waves for volumetric
long-range pipe inspection? defect detection ordinarily not be used?

a. Less than 20 KHz. a. Very thin structures.

b. 20 KHz to 200 KHz. b. Very thick structures.
c. 200 KHz to 1 MHz. c. Composite materials.
d. 1 MHz to 10 MHz. d. Coated structures.

1b 2c 3a 4c 5d 6d 7a 8d 9a 10b 11b

Appendix A
A Representative Procedure for Ultrasonic Weld
Inspection: Weld Inspection Using an IIW
Calibration Block


1.1 This procedure is to be used for detecting, locat- 5.1 Inspection Requirements
ing and evaluating indications within full penetra- Prior to performing any inspection the inspector
tion welds and the heat-affected zones of carbon should review the governing code, standard or
steel and statically loaded low alloy welds using specification and the contract documents to
the contact ultrasonic inspection technique with ensure that this procedure meets the inspection
an International Institute of Welding (IIW) cali- requirements for the job at hand.
bration block.
5.2 Transducer Selection
Straight beam (longitudinal wave) transducers
2.0 PERSONNEL may be round or square and must have an active
search area of at least 0.5 in.2 but not more
2.1 Personnel performing this examination shall be
than 1 in2.
qualified in accordance with Recommended
Practice No. SNT-TC-1A. Only Level II or III per- Angle beam (shear wave) transducers may be
sonnel shall evaluate and report test results. square or rectangular and may vary from 5/8 in.
to 1 in. in width and from 5/8 in. to 13/16 in. in
3.0 REFERENCES height and the frequency shall be between 2 MHz
and 2.25 MHz. Wedge angles shall be based on
3.1 Recommended Practice No. SNT-TC-1A (2011). the material thickness as shown in Table A.
3.2 AWS D1.1/D1.1M:2008, Structural Welding 5.3 Sound Path and Surface Distance
Code – Steel. Based on the material thickness, calculate the full
3.3 ASTM E317-11, Standard Practice for Evaluating skip distance for the largest inspection angle to be
Performance Characteristics of Ultrasonic Pulse- used; then calculate the surface distance for that
Echo Testing Instruments and Systems without the skip distance. Add 2 in. to the surface distance to
Use of Electronic Measurement Instruments. account for the transducer size and this number
becomes the length of the scanning surface back
from the toe of the weld.
5.4 Scanning Gain Levels
4.1 Pulse-echo instruments shall be selected which The scanning level in decibels will vary based on
have been qualified and calibrated in accordance the inspection angle and resulting sound path.
with ASTM E317. Table B should be used for each inspection angle
4.2 Transducers shall comply with the requirements of to set the scanning gain level.
the AWS D1.1 standard paragraph 6.22, UT 5.5 Surface Preparation
Equipment. The scanning surface shall be free of weld spatter,
4.3 The calibration block to be used for production dirt, rust, grease and any roughness that would
inspection shall be the International Institute of prevent the transmission of the sound beam into
the part.
Welding (IIW) calibration block.
5.6 Weld surfaces shall merge smoothly into the sur-
4.4 Couplants may include cellulose gel (water-based)
faces of the adjacent base metal.
or glycerin.

Ultrasonic Testing Method l APPENDIX A

Table A: Testing angle selection.

Angles of Inspection
Material Thickness
Top Quarter Middle Half Bottom Quarter

0.30–1.50 70 70 70
>1.50–1.75 70 70 70
>1.75–2.50 60 70 70
>2.50–3.50 45 70 70
>3.50–4.50 60 70 60
>4.50–5.00 60 60 60
>5.00–6.50 45 70 45
>6.50–7.00 45 45 45
>7.00-8.00 70 45 70

1. Inspections should be made in first leg of beam path.

General Notes:

2. Legs II and III can be used when access is limited and leg I cannot be used.
3. All fusion-line indications shall be further evaluated with transducers that exhibit beam paths nearest to being perpendicular to the suspected fusion surface.

6.0 CALIBRATION Table B: Ultrasonic scanning levels.

6.1 Straight Beam Calibration

For material thicknesses less than 2 in., the Sound Path Above Zero Reference
(inches) (dB)
straight beam transducer shall be placed on the
side of the IIW block and the first backwall signal Through 2-1/2 14
shall be placed at the fourth major graticule on
the baseline. The second backwall signal shall be >2-1/2 to 5 19

>5 to 10 29
set at the eighth major graticule, creating a 2.5 in.
screen width.
For material thicknesses greater than 2 in., the >10 to 15 39
transducer shall be placed on the 1 in. wide sur-
face with the sound beam passing through the 4 in.
height of the IIW block. The first backwall signal block will provide a reflector at 4 in., the
shall be placed at the fourth major graticule and notch will provide a reflector at 1 in., and
the second backwall signal shall be set at the the screen width is set to represent a 5 in.
eighth major graticule, creating a 10 in. screen or 10 in. width as appropriate.
width. In both setups, the amplitude of the first 6.2.2 Sensitivity Calibration
backwall signal shall be set to 80% full screen To set sensitivity, invert the IIW block and
height (FSH). maximize the signal from the 0.060 in.
side-drilled hole (SDH) as shown in Figure
6.2 Angle Beam Calibration 1, position B, and adjust the signal to 80%
6.2.1 Distance Calibration FSH. This becomes the Reference Level for
On the IIW block, scan back and forth this inspection and should be recorded on
between the curved end of the block and the Inspection Report Form. The “Reject”
the curved notch to adjust the screen to a mode shall be turned off and corner reflec-
width that will show the full skip dis- tors may not be used for any calibration.
tance for the transducer being used
(Figure 1, position A). The end of the


distance locations are measured from this point to

the nearest point of the indication. For tubular
parts, a point on the circumference shall be marked
as Y = 0. This point shall be shown on the sketch on
the inspection report.
To locate an indication with respect to the width of
the weld, the centerline of the weld shall be X = 0.
Indications on the side of the weld away from the
scanning surface shall be referred to as X+ and indi-
cations located on the near (transducer) side of the
weld shall be referred to as X–.
Figure 1: Distance and sensitivity calibration.
When determining indication length, the 6 dB drop
method shall be used to determine the ends of the
indication and its length. The length shall be
7.1 Using an appropriate straight beam transducer, recorded on the inspection report form under the
inspect all scanning surfaces to determine that Length column. The distance from Y = 0 to the
there are no laminations or inclusions in those nearest end of the indication shall be recorded on
areas. The scan should have a 20% overlapping the inspection report form under the From Y
pattern and a scanning speed that does not column.
exceed 6 in. per second. The location of the indication with respect to the
7.2 If any area of the inspected base metal exhibits centerline of the weld (X+ or X-) shall be deter-
total loss of back reflection or any indication equal mined based on the sound path and surface dis-
to or greater than the original back-reflection tance and recorded on the inspection report form
height, its size, location and depth shall be report- under the From X column.
ed to the engineer. Mark locations of all indications on or near the
discontinuity, noting the depth and class of each
8.0 ANGLE BEAM EXAMINATION discontinuity on the nearby base metal.
8.1 Set the scanning level to the correct level as shown 9.2 Evaluation of Indications
in Table B. Using the appropriate angle beam When a signal from a discontinuity appears on the
transducer, scan so that the entire weld volume screen, maximize the signal and adjust the gain
and heat-affected zone (HAZ) is interrogated by control so that the maximized signal is at 80%
the sound beam. Each scan shall overlap the pre- FSH. Record this gain setting (in dB) on the
vious scan by a minimum of 10% at a speed not to inspection report form under column A, Defect
exceed 6 in. per second. The transducer shall be Level. The indication shall be given a number that
oscillated sideways by 10° to 15° while the scans is to be marked on the part and in the Defect No.
are performed. If both sides of the weld are column on the inspection report form.
accessible, the weld and HAZ shall be inspected
Read the sound path from the screen and record
from both sides.
that distance in the Sound Path column on the
8.2 When another wedge angle is required, the new inspection report form.
wedge shall be calibrated as described in Section 6
Measure or calculate the distance from the exit
and the inspection process described in 8.1 shall
point on the transducer to the indication and
be repeated using the new angle.
record that distance on the inspection report form
in the Surface Distance column.
Calculate the Attenuation Factor C by subtracting
9.1 Location of Indications 1 in. from the sound path (SP) and multiplying
When locating an indication, the report form must that number by two, so that C = (SP – 1)  2.
accurately identify the location. On plate welds the Next use the formula A – B – C = D to determine
left end of the weld is designated as Y = 0 and all the Defect Rating, where

Ultrasonic Testing Method l APPENDIX A

A = Defect Level (dB) 10.0 DOCUMENTATION

B = Reference Level (dB) 10.1 A sample Inspection Report Form is appended as
C = (SP – 1)  2, and Form A.
D = Defect Rating
10.2 All portions of the inspection report shall be filled
Record the Defect Rating under column D on the out and a sketch of the weld showing the scanning
inspection report form. surfaces, Y = 0, X+ and X– shall be drawn in the
appropriate space. Legible hand sketches are
9.3 Defect Severity Classification
Each indication shall be classified in accordance
with the criteria listed in Table C to determine the 10.3 The Inspected By signature block shall show the sig-
defect severity class based on the Defect Rating and nature of the person performing the inspection,
that Class (I, II, III or IV) shall be recorded in the their level of qualification and the date the inspec-
Severity column on the inspection report form. tion was performed. If the inspection was wit-
nessed, the witness shall complete the Witnessed
9.4 Acceptance/Rejection Determination
By block; otherwise it is to be left blank.
As stated in the notes under Table C, Class I indica-
tions shall be rejected regardless of length. If Class
II or III indications exceed the requirements shown 11.0 REPAIRS
in the notes, they shall be rejected. Class IV indica-
11.1 All weld repairs plus 2 in. on either end of the
tions shall be recorded but marked as being accept-
repair area shall be reexamined in accordance
with this procedure. If the same inspection report
form is used to document repair inspections, that
information shall be clearly labeled as repair

Table C: Ultrasonic accept-reject criteria.

Weld Size* in inches and Search Unit Angle

Severity 5/16 >3/4
Class through through >1-1/2 through 2-1/2 >2-1/2 through 4 >4 through 8
3/4 1-1/2

70° 70° 70° 60° 45° 70° 60° 45° 70° 60° 45°

+5 & +2 & -2 & +1 & +3 & -5 & -2 & 0& -7 & -4 & -1 &
Lower Lower Lower Lower Lower Lower Lower Lower Lower Lower Lower

-1 +2 +4 -4 -1 +1 -6 -3 0
+6 +3
0 +3 +5 -3 0 +2 -5 -2 +1

+1 +4 +6 -2 to +1 +3 -4 to -1 to +2
+7 +4
+2 +5 +7 +2 +2 +4 +2 +2 +3

+8 +5 +3 +6 +8 +3 +3 +5 +3 +3 +4
& up & up & up & up & up & up & up & up & up & up & up

* Weld size in butt joints shall be the nominal thickness of the thinner of the two parts being joined.

Class I indications shall be rejected regardless of length. Class II and III indications shall be rejected in welds carrying primary tensile stress

Class II indications having a length greater than 3/4 in. shall be rejected. if the indication is within 2L of the weld end, where L is the length of the longer
Class III indications having a length greater than 2 in. shall be rejected. indication.
Class IV indications shall be accepted regardless of length or location in the weld, Class II and III indications that are not separated by 2L shall be considered as a
but shall be recorded on the inspection report form. single indication.


Form A: Ultrasonic inspection results form.

Ultrasonic Testing Method l APPENDIX A

Review Questions

1. With scanning being done from the top surface of a 4. An indication in the top quarter of a 3 in. thick
1.25 in. thick weld, the scanning level for inspection weld has been examined using three different angle
of the root area would be, with respect to the beam transducers (45°, 60° and 70°), each of which
reference level: has resulted in a rating equal to 0 dB. The indication
should be identified as:
a. 12 dB.
b. 14 dB. a. Class I.
c. 19 dB. b. Class II.
d. 29 dB. c. Class III.
d. Class IV.
2. One of two Class II indications in a 0.75 in. weld
that is carrying primary tensile stress is 0.45 in. 5. A transition butt weld is to be examined in
from the end of the weld and 0.15 in. long. The other accordance with the procedure. The weld is to be a
is 0.25 in. long and they are within 0.35 in. of each smooth transition from a 3.75 in. thick base
other. The status of the weld should be identified as: material to a 3.25 in. thick material. The procedure
calls for the bottom quarter of the weld to be
a. acceptable, based on proximity to the next nearest examined using:
b. acceptable, based on indication-length-to-weld- a. a 45° transducer from both sides.
thickness ratio. b. a 60° transducer from both sides.
c. rejectable, based on proximity to the end of the c. a 70° transducer from both sides.
weld. d. both 60° and 70° transducers.
d. rejectable, based on proximity to the next nearest
indication. 6. The scanning level for use with a 60° transducer is set
for 29 dB above the reference level established during
3. A 0.5 in. long Class III indication in a weld the system calibration. This scanning level is thus
carrying a primary tensile stress is l in. from the applicable to sound paths in the range from:
end of the 0.75 in. thick weld and within 0.5 in. of
another Class II indication that has been determined a. up to and through 2.5 in.
to be 0.2 in. long. The status of the weld should be b. > 2.5 in. to 5.00 in.
identified as: c. >5.00 in. to 10 in.
d. > 4 in. through 8.00 in.
a. acceptable, based on proximity to the next nearest
b. acceptable, based on the indication being at a
fusion interface but less than 1.25 in.
c. rejectable, based on proximity to the next nearest
d. rejectable, based on proximity to the end of the

2261_UT_LIII_SG_2013_ASNT Level III Study Guide Ultrasonic Testing Method 5/2/14 3:18 PM Page 79


7. In preparing for the angle beam inspection of a 1 in. 8. Longitudinal wave testing conducted for the purpose
thick plate weld, a longitudinal wave scan of the base of screening base materials prior to angle beam testing
metal should be conducted throughout the scanning for weld discontinuities, requires an overlap scan
surface extending from either side of the weld toe out pattern of at least:
a distance of:
a. 10%.
a. 2 in. b. 15%.
b. 4 in. c. 20%.
c. 6 in. d. 50%.
d. 8 in.

1c 2c 3d 4a 5c 6c 7d 8c

Appendix B
A Representative Procedure for Ultrasonic Weld
Inspection Using a Distance-Amplitude Correction
(DAC) Curve
1.0 SCOPE 4.3 Couplants may include cellulose gel (water-based)
or glycerin provided the couplant is not detrimen-
1.1 This procedure is to be used for detecting, locat-
tal to the material being tested.
ing and evaluating indications within full penetra-
tion welds and the heat-affected zones of carbon 4.4 The calibration block to be used for production
steel and low alloy welds on non-clad, flat materi- inspection shall be the Basic calibration block as
als, or girth welds on round materials with an out- shown in Figure 1.
side diameter greater than 20 in. The contact
152.4 mm (6 in.) min.
ultrasonic inspection technique and a distance-
amplitude correction (DAC) curve shall be used.

Notches (optional)
2.1 Personnel performing this examination shall be

3t min.
qualified in accordance with Recommended
Practice No. SNT-TC-1A. Only Level II or III per- t/2 Side-drilled t/2
sonnel shall evaluate and report test results. hole (typ)

38.1 mm (1.5 in.) min

3.1 Recommended Practice No. SNT-TC-1A, (2011). t/2 t/4
Notches 3t/4 t
3.2 ASME Boiler & Pressure Vessel Code, Section V,
Nondestructive Examination, 2010 edition.

1) Side-drilled holes (SDHs) shall be drilled and reamed


with a minimum depth of 1-1/2 in. and essentially

parallel to the scanning surface.
2) Block thicknesses and hole diameters shall be as
4.1 Pulse-echo ultrasonic instruments used shall be
shown below:
qualified and calibrated in accordance with ASTM
E317 and have a frequency range from 1 MHz to
5 MHz. Weld Block
Hole Diameter
Thickness Thickness (t)
4.2 Search units (transducers) shall have frequencies (inches)
(inches) (inches)
Up to 1 ¾ or t 3/32
between 1 MHz and 5 MHz. Frequency selection
shall take into account variables such as grain
structure and additional frequencies may be used >1 through 2 1-1/2 or t 1/8
to ensure adequate penetration and resolution.
>2 through 4 3 or t 3/16
Angle beam transducers may have fixed or remov-
able wedges with 45°, 60° or 70° entry angles. If Over 4 t+1 Note 3
removable wedges are used, heavy gear oil such as
80-85-90 shall be used to couple the transducer to 3) Hole diameter shall increase by 1/16 in. for every 2 in.
the wedge to ensure full sound transmittal. (or fraction thereof) of weld thickness over 4 in.

Figure 1: Basic calibration block.

Ultrasonic Testing Method l APPENDIX B

5.0 PROCEDURE curve similar to that shown in Figure 2(c) will

have been constructed.
5.1 Inspection Requirements
Prior to performing any inspection, the inspector When a wedge angle is changed, the equipment
should review the governing code, standard or shall be recalibrated.
specification and the contract documents to
ensure that this procedure meets the inspection 7.0 BASE MATERIAL EXAMINATION
requirements for the job at hand.
7.1 Using an appropriate straight beam transducer,
5.2 Surface Preparation inspect all scanning surfaces to determine that
The scanning surface shall be free of weld spatter, there are no laminations or inclusions in those
dirt, rust, grease and any roughness that would areas. The scan should have a 20% overlapping
prevent the transmission of the sound beam into pattern and a scanning speed that does not exceed
the part.
6 in. per second.

6.1 Straight Beam Calibration
The straight beam transducer shall be placed on
the Basic calibration block and the first backwall
signal shall be placed at the fourth major graticule
on the baseline and the second backwall signal
shall be set at the eighth major graticule. The
amplitude of the first backwall signal shall be set
to 80% full screen height (FSH). (a)

6.2 Angle Beam Calibration

Using the appropriate transducer and wedge
angle, place the transducer on the calibration
block as shown in Figure 2(a), position 1.
Maximize the signal from the t/4 side-drilled hole
(SDH), adjust the gain control so the signal
amplitude is 80% FSH, and adjust the Delay con-
trol so that the signal is directly over the first
major graticule on the screen [Figure 2(c)].
Record this gain setting as the Reference Level on
the inspection report form.
Without changing the gain setting, move the
transducer away from the t/4 SDH until the sec-
Amplitude, % FSH

ond leg signal from that hole is maximized. Using

the Delay and Range controls, adjust the screen
presentation so that the second leg reflector is
over the seventh major graticule and the first leg
is over the first major graticule. Then mark the
peak of the second leg signal on the screen.
Repeat this process for the t/2 hole, setting the
first and second leg signals (transducer positions
2 and 6) at the second and sixth major graticules,
respectively, and mark the signal peaks on the (c) Sound path
screen. Repeat the process a third time for the
3t/4 hole, setting the signals at the third and fifth
major graticules. When the signal peaks are con-
nected, a distance-amplitude correction (DAC) Figure 2: Angle beam transducer positions and DAC
curve: (a) first leg transducer positions; (b) second leg
transducer positions; (c) sound path.


7.2 If any area of the inspected base metal exhibits The location of the indication with respect to the
total loss of back reflection or any indication centerline of the weld (X+ or X–) shall be deter-
equal to or greater than the original back-reflec- mined based on the sound path and surface dis-
tion height, its size, location and depth shall be tance and recorded on the inspection report form
reported to the engineer. under the From X column.
The location of all indications shall be perma-
8.0 ANGLE BEAM EXAMINATION nently marked on or near the discontinuity, not-
8.1 Using the appropriate angle beam transducer, ing the depth and type of each discontinuity on
scan so that the entire weld volume and heat- the nearby base metal.
affected zone (HAZ) are interrogated by the 9.2 Evaluation of Indications
sound beam. Each scan shall overlap the previous When a signal from a discontinuity appears on
scan by a minimum of 10% at a speed not to the screen, maximize the signal and reset the gain
exceed 6 in. per second. The transducer shall be control to the Reference Level. If the amplitude of
oscillated sideways by 10° to 15° while the scans the maximized signal exceeds the DAC curve at
are being performed. If both sides of the weld are Reference Level the indication is rejectable.
accessible the weld and HAZ shall be inspected
from both sides of the weld. The gain level for Each indication shall be given a discrete identifi-
scanning shall be a minimum of 6 dB above cation number that is to be marked on the part
Reference Level. and recorded on the inspection report form.
When an indication is determined to be a crack,
9.0 EVALUATION OF DISCONTINUITIES lack of fusion or incomplete penetration, it shall
be rejected regardless of signal amplitude.
9.1 Location of Indications
When locating an indication, the inspection report All indications with amplitudes greater than 20%
form must accurately identify the weld and the of DAC height shall be investigated to determine
location of the indication. On plate welds the left the type of discontinuity. These indications shall
end of the weld is designated as Y = 0 and all dis- be recorded on the report form and marked as
tance locations are measured from this point to being acceptable.
the nearest point of the indication. For tubular Indications that are determined to be the result of
parts, a point on the circumference shall be part geometry shall be recorded as acceptable
marked as Y = 0. This point shall be shown on indications on the inspection report form with a
the sketch on the inspection report. note in the Comments column that the indica-
To locate an indication with respect to the width tion is due to part geometry.
of the weld, the centerline of the weld shall be
X = 0. Indications on the side of the weld away 10.0 DOCUMENTATION
from the scanning surface shall be referred to
as X+ and indications located on the near 10.1 The sample Inspection Report Form shown in
(transducer) side of the weld shall be referred Appendix A may be used for inspections per-
to as X–. formed in accordance with this procedure.

When determining indication length, the 6 dB 10.2 Those columns that are specific to calibration
drop method shall be used to determine the ends using an IIW block may be left blank, marked
of the indication and its length. The length shall N/A or have a vertical line drawn down through
be recorded on the inspection report form under them to indicate that these columns are not
the Length column. The distance from Y = 0 to applicable to these inspections. All other data is
the nearest end of the indication shall be recorded to be completed and the sketch shall indicate the
on the inspection report form under the From Y scanning surface.

Ultrasonic Testing Method l APPENDIX B

10.3 The Inspected By signature block shall show the 11.0 REPAIRS
signature of the person performing the inspec-
11.1 All weld repairs plus 2 in. on either end of the
tion, their level of qualification and the date the
repair area shall be reexamined in accordance
inspection was performed. If the inspection was
with this procedure. If the same inspection report
witnessed, the witness shall complete the
form is used to document repair inspections, that
Witnessed By block; otherwise it is to be left
information shall be clearly labeled as a repair
10.4 The Time block is provided for administrative
purposes and may be used to indicate the time
spent performing the inspections.


Review Questions

1. This procedure may be used to inspect: 6. After setting the signal amplitude from the t/4 to 80%
FSH, what increase in dB is used to set the amplitudes
a. flat materials only. of the remaining signals?
b. both flat plate and pipe.
c. flat materials and curved surfaces with an outside a. 6 dB.
diameter greater than 20 in. b. 12 dB.
d. curved surfaces only. c. 6 dB for the first leg and 12 dB for the second leg.
d. None.
2. Personnel evaluating and reporting test results in
accordance with this procedure must be: 7. An indication is determined to be lack of fusion.
What must the signal amplitude be for this indication
a. Level I, II or III. to be rejectable?
b. Level II or Level III.
c. Level II. a. The signal must exceed 20% of DAC.
d. Level III. b. Lack of fusion is rejectable regardless of amplitude.
c. The signal must exceed the DAC curve.
3. The frequency range for ultrasonic equipment and d. The signal must exceed 80% of DAC.
search units must be:
8. Which of the following scanning practices is
a. 1.0 to 2.25 MHz. acceptable?
b. 2.25 to 5.0 MHz.
c. 1.0 to 5.0 MHz. a. A scan speed of no more than 6 in. per second
d. 2.25 to 10.0 MHz. with 10% overlap and 10° to 15° of transducer
4. Angle beam sensitivity calibration must be done using: b. A scan speed of no more than 6 in. per minute
with 10% overlap and 10° to 15° of transducer
a. The side-drilled holes in a Basic calibration block. oscillation.
b. The 0.060 in. diameter side-drilled hole in an IIW c. A scan speed of no more than 6 in. per second
block. with 20% overlap and 10° to 15° of transducer
c. The 1/32 in. slot in a distance-sensitivity oscillation.
calibration (DSC) block. d. A scan speed of no more than 6 in. per second
d. ASTM distance/area-amplitude blocks. with 10% overlap and 25° of transducer oscillation.

5. The hole diameter for a basic calibration block to be

used when calibrating for a 1-1/4 in. thick weld is:

a. 1/16 in.
b. 3/32 in.
c. 1/8 in.
d. 3/16 in.

1c 2b 3c 4a 5c 6d 7b 8a