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Proceedings of CREEP8

Eighth International Conference on Creep and Fatigue at Elevated Temperatures

July 22-26, 2007, San Antonio, Texas

Proceedings of PV&P 2007:

Pressure Vessel & Piping 2007
July 22-26, 2007, San Antonio, Texas USA

A Complete Solution for Weld Inspections –

Phased Arrays and Diffraction Sizing

Simon Labbé
Michael Moles
Olympus NDT
Olympus NDT
505 boul. du Parc Technologique
73 Superior Avenue
Québec, PQ, Canada
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
G1P 4S9
M8V 2M7
Tel : 418 872 1155
Tel: 416 831 4428
E-mail :

ABSTRACT Forward diffraction (TOFD or Time-Of-Flight Diffraction)
Welds have been inspected by radiography for years, but is now well established, and has been demonstrated for many
this technology has major drawbacks: low detection rates for applications. For most weld inspections, TOFD just requires a
critical planar defects (i.e. cracks and lack of fusion), subjective single linear pass, with two transducers (or arrays) on either
interpretation, no vertical sizing capability, significant safety side of the weld. TOFD provides good sizing and defect
hazards, licensing issues, plant closures, and is generally slow. detection in the midwall, though it has dead zones at the two
For decades, the main alternative was manual ultrasonics, surfaces. Generally, sizing with TOFD is significantly better
which is also slow, subjective and normally has little hardcopy than with amplitude techniques, but is limited to defects ~3 mm
record. and up. TOFD also has the great advantage that it is highly
independent of defect orientation, unlike pulse echo techniques.
New technology and techniques are now available for Even better, phased arrays can perform both pulse echo and
improved weld inspections, specifically phased array TOFD simultaneously during a single linear scan, so giving
technology and diffraction techniques. Phased arrays are essentially a “complete” weld inspection.
essentially the industrial version of medical ultrasound, but
require a very different approach. In contrast to medical Another diffraction sizing technique which has received
activities, industrial applications typically require a correctly relatively little attention until recently is “tip back diffraction”.
angled beam, with large quantities of data, on variable This approach uses the low amplitude signals reflected back
component geometry, and the ability to save and image defects. from crack tips to size defects. Back diffraction has the great
All this capability is now packaged in a portable unit, which advantages that it is intuitive, and can size defects as small as
can be used for rapid and reliable weld inspections. ~1 mm, which is generally better than TOFD. However, tip
Specifically, the OmniScan MX can now perform a single back diffraction has the major disadvantage that it is sometimes
linear scan of the weld, while the instrumentation performs difficult to correctly distinguish the crack tips from other
multiple scans at different angles simultaneously. signals, and signal-to-noise ratio is usually poor. These two
limitations are largely overcome by phased arrays; first, the
In addition, phased arrays can perform unique scans, like imaging allows correct determination of the crack tip, and
S-scans (sectorial scans), record and display all data in “top, second, new piezo-composite arrays with focusing and filtering
side, end” views or similar, and perform multi-mode scans. give significantly improved signal amplitudes. S-scan imaging
Phased arrays permit electronic rastering in many different can be performed with off-the-shelf phased array equipment.
modes, which saves considerable inspection time; for example,
some estimates show that phased arrays are five or more times Some of the more advanced phased array techniques
quicker than manual scanning. Besides being portable and include: 2D and 1.5D arrays for improved beam shaping and
requiring just a single operator, portable phased arrays are now focusing; curved arrays, also for better sizing; special TRL-PA
economically competitive with other weld inspection (Transmit-Receive Longitudinal Wave – Phased Array) probes
techniques – and generally provide a much better inspection. for austenitic steels; additional beams for special inspections.

The “new” techniques consist of forward and backward Examples of these inspections on welds will be given.
diffraction for sizing defects. In reality, both these techniques Overall, a combination of phased arrays with TOFD or back
have been around for years, but new technology has made them diffraction allows the operator to perform cost-effective
more practical.

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inspections with high reliability, repeatability, good defect
sizing and full data storage.

Ultrasonic phased arrays are a novel method of generating
and receiving ultrasound. They use multiple ultrasonic elements
and electronic time delays to create beams by constructive and
destructive interference. As such, phased arrays offer
significant technical advantages over conventional single-probe
ultrasonics; the phased array beams can be steered, scanned,
swept and focused electronically.
• Electronic scanning permits very rapid coverage of the
components, typically an order of magnitude faster
than a single probe mechanical system.
• Beam forming permits the selected beam angles to be
optimized ultrasonically by orienting them
perpendicular to the predicted defects, for example
Lack of Fusion in welds. Figure 1: Top. Schematic of TOFD set-up. Bottom. typical
• Beam steering (usually called sectorial scanning) can TOFD display with defects.
be used for mapping components at appropriate angles
to optimize Probability of Detection. Sectorial The TOFD configuration needs a transmitter and a receiver
scanning is also useful for inspections where only a using a wide-angle beam as shown in Figure 1 (left). Normally
minimal footprint is possible. longitudinal waves are used, and these cover the full volume
• Electronic focusing permits optimizing the beam from a single probe pair. TOFD detects and records signals
shape and size at the expected defect location, as well diffracted from defect tips for both detection and sizing. Four
as optimizing Probability of Detection. Focusing types of wave are used in TOFD as in Figure 1 (right):
improves signal-to-noise ratio significantly, which
also permits operating at lower pulser voltages. The Lateral wave: A sub-near-surface longitudinal wave
Overall, the use of phased arrays permits optimizing defect generated from the wide beam of the probe.
detection while minimizing inspection time. Phased arrays have The Back wall reflection: A longitudinal wave reflected
been extensively described elsewhere1. from the back wall
The Reflected wave: A longitudinal wave reflected by a
lamellar planar defect
TOFD – TIME-OF-FLIGHT DIFFRACTION The Tip Diffracted wave: A circular L-wave diffracted by
the edge of a defect.
TOFD detects diffracted signals from the tips of defects (2,
3). These are low amplitude, and phase-sensitive, so unrectified TOFD is a very powerful technique, and allows accurate
signals are used. The normal TOFD set-up uses separate pulser sizing of defects. The coverage of this technique can be around
and receiver probes on either side of the weld, then scans 90 % of the through-wall thickness. About 10 % is lost in the
linearly along the weld. two dead zones (ID and OD), but the actual dead zone figure
depends on the TOFD configuration, wall thickness, frequency
and damping. These two dead zones are located near the Lateral
Wave and near the Backwall reflection.

To get full 100 % coverage, TOFD should be combined

with the Pulse Echo technique. Conveniently, TOFD and PE
are complementary; the strong features of pulse-echo (e.g.
surface defect detection) are the weak points of TOFD, and vice
versa. Again, TOFD is well described elsewhere (2,3)


TOFD techniques use forward scatter signal analysis.

Limitations of TOFD as a result of flaw proximity to the test
surfaces and ring time have been discussed elsewhere (4).
TOFD requires probe access from two sides of the flaw to
facilitate the receiver probe optimising on the transmitted
forward scattered pressures. In contrast, back scatter techniques
use a single probe, and results to date show that they have
smaller dead zones than TOFD. Back scatter equipment is
minimal; a standard phased array unit and suitable array.

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Figure 4 shows a typical phased array S-scan with corner
Backscatter techniques have been most successful for reflector and crack tip visible. This is an outside (OD) crack,
sizing a flaw that is known to be surface breaking, i.e. many in- and the tip signal can be clearly seen.
service applications. This provides a ready reference signal
from the corner reflection. Various authors have described
techniques for this surface connecting condition and, except for
the difficulties of flaws not being oriented exactly
perpendicular to the connected surface, these techniques can
provide reasonably accurate size assessments for flaws having
vertical extents more than about 2-3 wavelengths.

The back scatter principle is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 4: S-scan with OD crack and tip reflector visible.

Previous work with multiprobes showed that one of the

biggest problems was correctly identifying the crack tip signal.
Phased arrays offer major improvements here, and elsewhere
Figure 2: Typical back scatter sizing technique. • True depth S-scan imaging is a major asset in
identifying tips of known cracks
Analyzing the signals from a flaw has shown that each low • The aperture and focusing can be tailored to the depth.
amplitude tip signal and the defect reflection can be used to • New piezo-composite arrays significantly improve
determine location, defect height and surface breaking or not. SNR (by ~20 dB)
Figure 3 shows a typical assessment. • Newer software has improved filtering.


More advanced arrays, such as 2D and 1.5D matrix arrays,

are used for specific applications, such as austenitic weld
inspections and to compensate for pipeline curvature. Figure 5
shows a TRL-PA (Transmit-Receive Longitudinal wave-
Phased Array) probe, which can sweep L-waves through the
weld for defect detection (6).

Figure 5: Typical TRL-PA probe for austenitic weld

Figure 3: Typical back scatter analysis on sub-surface
flaws (4). Developing TRL-PA is complicated, and relies extensively
on modeling. Figure 6 shows a PASS model of a beam profile,
showing both L- and S-waves.

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Figure 6: Phased Array Simulation Software (PASS)
model of TRL-PA beam profiles.

Other areas of improvement consist of weld overlays,

automated scanning and imaging. Figure 7 shows a weld Figure 8: Automated scanning system for pressure vessel
overlay on a double V-bevel, with a defect clearly marked on weld.
the ID corner root.

Almost all the phased array code activity at the time of

writing is being driven by Olympus NDT and/or associated
companies. The following gives a summary of activities.

ASME is the most active, and arguably the most important
code for phased arrays, as it covers pressure vessels worldwide.
An initial Code Case for single beam raster scanning has been
published (ASME CC 2541). Code cases for manual phased
array S-scans and E-scans have been balloted and approved.
Code cases for linear encoded phased array E-scans and S-
scans are being submitted and should be balloted soon.

Figure 7: Multiple scan weld overlay example. Mandatory phased array appendix is being drafted
concurrently. Phased arrays have been approved through
Figure 8 shows an example of an automated scan on a specific Performance Demonstration approaches, e.g. Article 14
rotating pressure vessel. There is a wide variety of automated and ASME Code Case 2235-8 (8). A generic ASME phased
scanning systems available, ranging from simple encoders and array procedure is available.
handscanners (semi-automated scanning) through fully ASME B31.3 for process piping is working on a code case
automated and magnetic scanners to robotics (7). The choice equivalent to CC 2235.
depends on application, budget, codes, skill level etc.
The ASTM Standard Practice for setting up phased arrays
has been approved and published (9). This SP will require both
Angle Corrected Gain (ACG) and Time Corrected Gain (TCG)
for calibration. The ASTM RP should be reference-able by
ASME, as usual.

Recent trial using API QUTE (10) was very successful, but
results have not been officially announced by the API
committee. No changes were required to API procedure UT2
for OmniScan. A generic API procedure is being developed
with Davis NDE.

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In 2005 an AWS D1:1 Annex K special approval for
phased arrays was obtained by Smith-Emery in Los Angeles
through Performance Demonstration with the AWS
“Engineer’s Approval”. This should be published soon

New technologies applications are codified in AWS D1:1

in the 2006 version (11); now a more global approach can be
used. Olympus NDT is working on a generic AWS procedure
with Davis NDE.

Other codes
There is little phased array code activity in other countries,
e.g. ISO, EN, Japan, UK, Russia; there are some PA procedures
in Japan, and qualification requirements in UK. The intent is to Figure 10: Porosity detected by radiography (top left),
“introduce” the US codes to other organizations when possible phased array pulse echo (right) and TOFD (bottom left).
and appropriate.
As expected, radiography easily detects the porosity in
RESULTS Figure 10. However, it is also readily detected in the pulse echo
C-scan, S-scan and A-scan with good signal-to-noise ratio. It is
The following examples in Figures 9-12 compare the also detected and characterized by the TOFD. Volumetric
quality of inspection between traditional radiography, and the defects are typically more difficult to detect using pulse-echo.
phased array-diffraction ultrasonic combination. In each case,
the advantages of phased arrays are pointed out. Inclusions

Angled Root Crack Figure 11 shows an inclusion. As with porosity, this is

readily detected by RT.

Figure 9: RT (top left) of angled root crack (schematic in

middle left), comparing phased array inspection (right) and Figure 11. Midwall inclusion (see schematic at middle
TOFD (bottom left). left). RT (top left); phased array pulse echo (right); TOFD
(bottom left).
Not surprisingly, the RT completely misses the angled root
crack in Figure 9. However, it is clearly seen on the pulse echo The phased array pulse echo clearly detects the inclusion,
C-scan and B-scan (bottom right). It is also detected by the and locates it. However, neither the TOFD nor the S-scan back
TOFD (which requires some interpretation) and the tip and diffraction easily sizes it, which indicates that it is small. Of
corner signal are seen in the S-scan (middle top). The pulse course, radiography cannot vertical dimension the inclusion
echo/TOFD/S-scan combination easily detects this important either.
defect, and sizes it by two different methods.

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• TOFD and/or back diffraction, confirmed by phased
Lack of Root Fusion array pulse echo, will reliably size to high accuracy.
• Many different phased array and AUT approaches can
Figure 12 shows a lack of root fusion defect. be used to fulfill weld inspection codes
• There are many possibilities for delivery systems,
from handscanners to fully automated systems.
• Ultimately, the choice of system is controlled by
codes, component requirements, budget and


1. R/D Tech, “Introduction to Phased Array Ultrasonic

Technology Applications – R/D Tech Guideline”, published by
R/D Tech, August 2004,

2. J.P. Charlesworth and J.A.G Temple, “Engineering

Applications of Ultrasonic Time-Of-Flight Diffraction”,
Figure 12: Lack of fusion defect in the weld root. RT (top Second Edition, Research Studies Press Ltd. Baldock, UK.
left); schematic (middle left); phased array pulse echo (right); 2001.
and TOFD (bottom left).
2. ASME Section V, Appendix N, “Time of Flight
Note from the schematic at middle left that the defect is Diffraction (TOFD) Interpretation”, American Society of
nominally vertical, and is seen in the radiograph reasonably Mechanical Engineers, 2006.
well as expected. However, it is clearly detected by phased
array in all scans, as well as the TOFD. For sizing, TOFD is 4. F. Jacques, F. Moreau and E.A. Ginzel, “Ultrasonic
very clear, and the defect can also be sized in a half-plus skip backscatter sizing using phased array – developments in tip
mode in the S-scan. diffraction flaw sizing”, Insight, vol. 45, no. 11, November
2003, P. 724.
There are other defects with comparative scans from RT,
PA, TOFD and back diffraction available. In all the above 5. J. M. Davis and M. Moles, “Resolving Capabilities of
examples, the many phased array/diffraction scans give a Phased Array Sectorial Scans (S-Scans) on Diffracted Tip
significant redundancy to the inspection which is not obtained Signals”, Insight, Vol. 48, No 4, April 2006, P 1.
from conventional radiography. Furthermore, the ultrasonics
offers at least three different methods of sizing: TOFD, back 6. M. Delaide, G. Maes and Ph. Dumas, “Application Of
diffraction, and standard amplitude methods. While the few Piezocomposite Twin, Side By Side, Phased Array Ut Probes
examples above show that not all techniques work well all of For The Inspection Of Stainless Steel”, WCNDT 2004 and
the time, the several independent approaches almost guarantee,
good sizing.

There are other standard advantages of using ultrasonics, in 7. M. Moles and S. Labbé, “Automated Ultrasonic
particular phased arrays. Inspection of Pressure Vessel Welds”, WCNDT, Montreal,
• Rapid inspections Canada, Aug 30-Sept 3, 2004.
• Flexibility
• Full data storage 8. R.K. Ginzel, E.A. Ginzel, J.M. Davis, S. Labbé and
• Reporting M.D.C. Moles, “Qualification of Portable Phased Arrays to
• No safety issues ASME Section V”, Proceedings of ASME Pressure Vessel and
• No licensing issues Piping Conference 2006, July 23-27, 2006; Vancouver, B.C.,
• No waste materials Canada, ASME paper number PVP2006-ICPVT11-93566.
• Real time reporting
• And defect sizing to reduce false calls. 9. ASTM E-2491-06, “Standard Guide for Evaluating
Performance Characteristics of Phased Array Ultrasonic
CONCLUSIONS Examination Instruments and Systems”, American Society for
Testing and Materials, June 2006.
• A combination of phased array and TOFD can
effectively find all relevant defects. 10. API QUTE, “QUTE - Qualification of UT Examiners
• AUT can readily replace RT, and will have better Certification Program”, American Petroleum Institute, 2005.
detection capabilities, as well as no radiation, licensing
or waste material. 11. AWS D1:1 2006, “Structural Welding Code – Steel”,
American Welding Society, 2006.

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