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NDT.net Issue - 2011-06 - NEWS
NDT.net Issue: 2011-06
Publication: e-Journal of Nondestructive Testing (NDT) ISSN 1435-4934 (NDT.net Journal)

Twenty two tonnes to China

Ultrasonic Sciences Ltd.11, Aldershot, Hants, United Kingdom

After a record number of deliveries in 2010 the latest inspection system from Ultrasonic Sciences Ltd (USL) is now on its way to China following successful acceptance testing. This is the largest system ever built and shipped as a single item by USL, with an overall size of 15 metres long, 6 metres wide and over 5 metres high, weighing more than 22 tonnes. Naturally it is not possible to ship something this size in one piece so it has been dismantled and packed into three cases for reassembly at the customer site in Xi'an, the home of the Terracotta Warriors. The first of these is shown being loaded for delivery at one of the USL factories in Aldershot.

A USL complex geometry scanning system in Malaysia

The system will be used for ultrasonic squirter inspection of aerospace composite components destined for use in Boeing, Airbus and indigenous Chinese aircraft. Similar smaller systems were installed in 2010 at composite manufacturers in UK, Denmark and Malaysia, bringing the total number of installed units of this type to 9. One of these is shown in the photograph. In recent months USL have won bids for a further 3 machines like this, also for Chinese customers. Many composite parts for aerospace applications have complex shapes, so the two squirter probes in these systems have to automatically follow the surface contours, maintaining the correct angle to the surface and also proper alignment between the probes on each side. Two independent 5 axis scanners are incorporated to achieve this.

In addition to the normal squirter probes used for testing complex shapes, the new systems can incorporate alternative manipulators. One is designed for access into parts with a small internal radius, such as "C nose" components which form part of wing leading edges. Another incorporates two separate probes at different frequencies in each squirter housing. This means that the frequency can be optimised for both through transmission and pulse echo tests, which can be carried out simultaneously during the same scan. A third option offers two different squirter housings on each side of the tested part, so that the scanning time can be halved in comparison with a single squirter.

All this activity represents a significant increase in business for USL. However it is only part of the picture because during late 2010 and early 2011 six immersion systems have been delivered to a new Rolls-Royce factory in Singapore. These are 5 axis machines for high frequency ultrasonic inspection of diffusion bonded joints in titanium alloy products. They have the capability for non contact following of surface contours which may have an unpredictable shape. This requires that the scanning system itself first measures the shape of the surface, then automatically turns this into a scan plan to control the precise position of the manipulators.

Finally an existing third party squirter inspection system at a factory in USA has recently been upgraded with USL electronics and software, in partnership with Arcadia Aerospace, based in Florida. All these mechanical and electronics systems have been designed and manufactured from scratch at the USL factories in Aldershot.

For more information contact USL at info@ultrasonic-sciences.co.uk

Ultrasonic Sciences Ltd.,
Unit 4 Springlakes Industrial Estate,
Deadbrook Lane,
GU12 4UH
+ 44 (0)1252 350550

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