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Optimising sensor pitch for magnetic flux leakage imaging systems

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Sensor arrays can significantly increase the speed at which inspections and subsequent imaging of flaws is performed[1]. This work focuses on developing a software approach for optimising the spacing between quantum well Hall-effect (QWHE) magnetic sensors used for magnetic flux leakage (MFL) imaging, where this approach could be adapted for any non-destructive evaluation (NDE) technique in which imaging is obtained. A ground mild steel weld sample containing two surface-breaking flaws prepared by Sonaspection was scanned using an XYZ MFL imaging system developed at the University of Manchester[2,3,13,14]. The scan was taken with an autonomously controlled lift-off height of 0.75 mm, with an x-y measurement step of 100 μm and an applied magnetic field of 30 mT root mean square (RMS) at a frequency of 400 Hz. This data (ie magnetic image) was then processed to simulate different measurement step sizes, to determine any relationship between step size and flaw detectability (flaw signal to weld background response). This work effectively simulates different sensor pitches (separation between sensors) of integrated QWHE sensor arrays from 100 μm to 5 mm, with the goal of determining both the minimum number of sensors required in the array and the optimal spacing to maximise scan speeds and help determine optimum inspection parameters to develop the technology of low-power MFL imaging. This optimisation process could be applied to any NDE imaging system (electromagnetic or other) currently used, with results dependent on the inspection parameters.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2021

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