NDT.net October 2006, Vol. 11 No.10

GE Inspection Technologies launches Mapstar UT, a Multi-Channel Weld Inspection Tool

Lewistown, PA – September, 2006 – GE Inspection Technologies announces the launch of Mapstar UT, GE’s alternative to radiography for the inspection of welds in pressure vessels and other critical structures during construction and in-service integrity assessment.

Mapstar UT is a multi-channel non-destructive testing system employing ultrasonics as the inspection modality. Mapstar UT provides value in manufacturing productivity, employee safety, and data management. Significant productivity gains are achieved by conducting inspections in-line with the manufacturing process – no more batch inspecting in segregated X-Ray bays. The multi-channel performance of the GE Mapstar UT system allows welds to be fully inspected in a single pass and by removing the radiation exposure hazard; ultrasonic inspection eliminates the radiation threat to employee safety

By regulation, manufacturers of vessels and similar products are required to inspect welded joints prior to placing the product into service. Traditionally radiography has been the method of choice for such inspection, but although technically sufficient it is very costly in terms of capital investment and lost productivity. Production processes employing radiography often require the tested part to be removed from the production flow and placed in a segregated area to protect workers from resultant radiation exposure.

Data integrity is paramount in establishing the quality of an inspection. Regulations, such as ASME Case 2235, require three specific criteria:

  • the area inspected includes the entire volume of the weld
  • the inspection is performed with a device employing automated computer enhanced data acquisition
  • data is recorded in unprocessed form

GE Inspection Technologies’ Mapstar UT’s proprietary ultrasonic imaging and analysis software uses TOFD (Time of Flight Diffraction) to ensure that the entire weld volume is inspected. The graphic TOFD image allows the operator to quickly assess the inspected area to identify defects and provides the required tools for in depth flaw evaluation. The A-scan for each ultrasonic shot is captured and stored in unprocessed form by the software and can be saved with the corresponding graphical image for archiving and further off-line analysis.

GE’s Mapstar UT hardware is designed around three primary goals: reliability, productivity, and flexibility. Reliability is evident in the robustness of the instrument package. The housing is machined out of solid aluminum and contains gaskets and o-rings at every interface making it weatherproof to IP 65. Productivity is achieved by the ability to concurrently scan a weld with multiple ultrasonic channels. The battery-powered instrument also minimizes deployment time allowing full shift operation on a single charge. Mapstar UT interfaces with a variety of weld inspection scanners utilizing digital encoders (quadrature or pulse/direction) with up to three degrees of freedom. Flexibility is further enhanced with the addition of an Ethernet link to connect the Mapstar UT to a standard laptop computer.

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