Direction of Ultrasonic Inspection
Looking to the future, those in the field of NDE see an exciting
new set of opportunities. The defense and nuclear power industries
have played a major role in the emergence of NDE. Increasing global
competition has led to dramatic changes in product development
and business cycles. At the same time, aging infrastructure, from
roads to buildings and aircraft, present a new set of measurement
and monitoring challenges for engineers as well as technicians.
the new applications of NDE spawned by these changes is the increased
emphasis on the use of NDE to improve the productivity of manufacturing
processes. Quantitative nondestructive evaluation (QNDE) both
increases the amount of information about failure modes and the
speed with which information can be obtained and facilitates the
development of in-line measurements for process control.
The phrase, "you cannot inspect in quality, you must build
it in," exemplifies the industry's focus on avoiding the
formation of flaws. Nevertheless, manufacturing flaws will never be completely eliminated
and material damage will continue to occur in-service so continual development of flaw detection and characterization
techniques is necessary.
Advanced simulation tools that are designed for inspectability
and their integration into quantitative strategies for life management
will contribute to increase the number and types of engineering
applications of NDE. With growth in engineering applications for
NDE, there will be a need to expand the knowledge base of technicians
performing the evaluations. Advanced simulation tools used in
the design for inspectability may be used to provide technical
students with a greater understanding of sound behavior in materials.
UTSIM, developed at Iowa State University, provides a glimpse into
what may be used in the technical classroom as an interactive
As globalization continues, companies will seek to develop, with
ever increasing frequency, uniform international practices. In
the area of NDE, this trend will drive the emphasis on standards,
enhanced educational offerings, and simulations that can be communicated
electronically. The coming years will be exciting as NDE will continue to emerge
as a full-fledged engineering discipline.