Flexible transducer set to revolutionise composite inspection

A NEW flexible ultrasonic transducer which can squeeze into corners and conform to curved surfaces is set to revolutionise the inspection of composites and components with complex geometries.

The Flex transducer series, available from Phoenix Inspection Systems, has already proved a success during trials within the aerospace sector, where composite materials are commonplace. However Phoenix believes it will have much wider appeal, in other sectors that use composites and for the inspection of metals with complex geometry.

The Flex transducer is made of a thin but durable piezo-electric material that is soft enough to bend and can be shaped to suit curved geometry. By using a soft backing layer, the flexibility of the crystal is retained. At around 3mm high, Flex transducers are low profile.

The Flex transducer series include single element (FFSC), dual element (FFTC), composite single element (CFFSC), and composite dual element (CFFTC) variations. Standard Flex transducers are 5MHz or 10MHz at sizes of 6mm, 10mm, 15mm and 20mm diameter. They can be used with any standard ultrasonic instrument.

Neil Hankinson, Project Manager with Phoenix Inspection Systems, said: “Flex transducers are low profile and extremely versatile, making them ideal for inspecting difficult to access areas and complex geometries, typically found on composite components such as radii areas. They have a broadband response providing exceptional signal quality, especially at low frequencies.

“Flex transducers are an example of the way in which innovation can overcome day to day inspection challenges such as testing complex shapes. They have proved a major success with our aerospace clients, and we can also see widespread potential uses within the marine and wind energy sectors, where composites are also commonly used. There are also a wide range of applications for testing complex geometries in metals, for example in weld cap areas or on castings.”