Rapid Inspection of Composites Using Laser-Based Ultrasound

  • Andrew D. W. McKie
  • Robert C. AddisonJr.


Current techniques for automated ultrasonic inspection of airframe structures can only be used to examine limited areas which have large radii of curvature. Manual inspection techniques are required in areas having small radii. Laser-based ultrasound (LBU) offers the potential to rapidly inspect large-area composite structures having contoured geometries, without restriction to large radii of curvature [1–4]. The key components that comprise an LBU rapid inspection system are the generation and detection lasers, a 2D scanner and a suitably fast data acquisition system. These must be integrated to provide an areal scan rate of at least 100 ft2/hr based on a 0.5″ × 0.5″ pixel size. In this paper results are presented of an investigation of the relative merits of using a CO2 laser versus a Nd:YAG laser for thermo-elastic ultrasonic generation in composite materials. In our previous studies, ultrasonic C-scan images of components were acquired with the LBU system by mechanically translating the test specimen in front of the stationary generation and detection laser beams [2–4]. If the scan is to be done rapidly, this technique becomes increasingly difficult and more expensive as the mass of the part increases. To fully realize the high speed scanning potential of a same side laser-in/laser-out inspection system, it is necessary to deflect the laser beams across the part surface. An implementation of angular scanning of the generation and probe laser beams across the part surface is described. A data acquisition scheme that has been used to demonstrate data acquisition rates of 33 waveforms/sec (for 200 point waveforms) is also described.


Ultrasonic Generation Resin Layer Probe Laser Beam Angular Scanning Contour Part 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew D. W. McKie
    • 1
  • Robert C. AddisonJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Rockwell International Science CenterThousand OaksUSA

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