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Pulsed eddy current thermography: system development and evaluation

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There is a need for fast and efficient techniques to inspect engineering structures and complex components such as aircraft turbine blades to identify potential sites of failure. Pulsed eddy current (PEC) thermography is a new inspection technique which allows the user to capture the eddy current distribution in a component or structure using infrared imaging and detect defects over a relatively wide area. The technique is applicable to materials with a reasonable level of electrical conductivity and has the ability to detect defects under coatings. However, PEC thermography has received relatively little attention compared to other thermographic inspection techniques. In this paper, the design, development and optimisation of a PEC thermography inspection system is detailed, including coil design for global and local heating of samples, optimisation of excitation parameters (frequency, power, pulse duration etc) and camera selection. The system is used to inspect several real-world samples, using different coil designs, and the results are assessed using newly developed feature extraction techniques. The work shows that with judicious coil design and selection of excitation parameters, PEC thermography can be used to obtain quantitative information for defect characterisation through analysis of the surface heating pattern and the transient temperature change.

Keywords: Pulsed eddy current thermography; crack detection; induction thermography; turbine blade

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1 School of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering, Newcastle University, Newcastle NE1 7RU, UK.

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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