November 6, 2015
Perhaps it's because potentially dangerous gases and liquids are being stored under high pressure, or because engineers naturally pride themselves on manufacturing consistently superior products, but, whatever the reason, pressure vessel design is considered a practice of the highest order. Metallurgical integrity combines with systematic engineering precision at this lofty altitude to guarantee weld seams and complex geometries assemble in accordance with design specifications, which is why the human eye has surrendered to electronic measuring technology.
In the context of international regulation obeisance, pressure equipment must be tested to ensure no invisible flaws have been introduced into the container and to ascertain whether the product is uniformly engineered to meet exacting manufacturing parameters. A non-destructive ultrasonic material thickness test is an integral part of this code-mandated inspection routine. It combines with other tests, examination routines that use the entirety of the electromagnetic spectrum to examine the metallurgical quality of the source fabrication medium, ferrous or non-ferrous, in order to detect invisible defects on the micro-crystalline level. But, today at least, it's ultrasonic, sometimes abbreviated to UT, testing that concerns us. Ultrasonics refers to acoustic frequencies that exist above the range of human hearing, thus an inaudible 20 kHz (kilohertz) signal would technically be considered ultrasonic
A modern ultrasonic examination covers a range far above that of human hearing. The devices start somewhere around the 500 kHz point and extend into the 1 GHz domain. The process, since it uses harmless sound, is non-destructive and, better yet, capable of analysing surface pressure equipment thickness from one side. Simple to conduct, the technique thus delivers a fast turnaround time and can precisely gauge thickness without ever having to resort to outdated mechanical methods. That means no more time-consuming drudgery in the form of a pair of calipers or a micrometer. Instead, mechanical vibrations are generated by ultrasonic transducers and the reflectance of the materials acoustic characteristics are rendered as thickness values. The engineering mathematics behind the technology are complex. The variables include the velocity of the sound waves, the type of material the sound is propagating through, and a host of other terms and figures, but all of this is taken care of by the circuitry embedded inside the tester.
Ultrasonic testing is as much a part of the pressure equipment and pipeline fabrication industry as visual inspections. The devices look a little like a handheld medical instrument or an electrical tester, although the digital readout contained within the LCD panel is recording thickness values in inches or millimetres. Finally, the device is highly versatile. Calibrate a high-end model and expect to be able to measure the thickness of different alloys and plastics with ease.
Fusion - Weld Engineering Pty Ltd
ABN 98 068 987619
1865 Frankston Flinders Road,
Hastings, VIC 3915
Ph: (03) 5909 8218
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