In a complete nondestructive test solution, phased array ultrasonic testing (PAUT) and time-of-flight diffraction (TOFD)  play mutually exclusive roles. For defects detection, PAUT and TOFD  employ different techniques even though the instrument consist same equipment. Still, it is not about differences but combined use that delivers an optimum and accurate result. Together, these two techniques increase the probability of detection without significantly increasing the amount of time required per inspection. 

PAUT (Phased Array Ultrasonic Testing) 

Performing PAUT on the component

Traditional pulse-echo ultrasonic testing has evolved into phased array ultrasonic testing. Both the tests involve generating Echoes by transmitting high-frequency ultrasonic waves into a physical object, such as a weld. The ultrasonic testing records, analyses, and reports on the echoes found through the equipment. NDT professionals can identify discontinuities in echo patterns that indicate the existence of fractures, defects, or corrosion in metallic structures.

Compared with traditional ultrasonic, a phased array uses several transducers that help scan at different angles. A computer controller allows technicians to fire timed pulses from the instrument’s transducers simultaneously or in succession based on dynamic angles. These pulses combine to generate self-reinforcing interference patterns, resulting in a coherent sound beam that may “sweep” across the component.

To create a viewable image with previous ultrasonic technology, technicians must move their transducer across the entire component. Instead, in PAUT, a technician can simply shift the beam electronically. 

TOFD (Time-of-Flight-Diffraction) 

Performing TOFD on the component

TOFD is an ultrasonic image creation technique. It employs diffraction instead of reflection. The transducer generates pulsed ultrasonic waves, which are diffracted to varying degrees by imperfections in the scanned material before being captured by a receiver on the material’s far side. The device can identify and visualize the ‘size and position’ of ‘faults and imperfections’ by assessing changes in beam travel time from the transducer to the receiver.

TOFD can detect flaws regardless of their direction, making it an excellent complement to PAUT. However, TOFD, like PAUT, has some imaging flaws. Technicians may experience a lateral wave dead zone, off-axis problems, timing issues, and resolution faults with a single scan. Technicians must employ phased array methods to alter beam width, angle, and point-of-entry to obtain a comprehensive view of flaws. The most accurate location of even minor defects can be found when TOFD imaging is combined with phased array technology.

It is suggested that NDT personnel should employ a mix of PAUT and TOFD scanning methods to accomplish quick, precise scans of welds, pipelines, and other essential metallic components. Modern ultrasonic test software, contained in portable equipment, is capable of producing composite pictures from these two technologies, providing a complete depiction of components’ interior. With a combined scanning regimen, the risk of overlooking defects and subsequent equipment breakdowns reduces.

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