Ultrasounds not only revolutionized medicine, but they’ve also been very beneficial to manufacturing. This technology, which relies on bouncing sound waves off of a surface to build an image as the sound echoes back, has its drawbacks however. While medical personnel have the ability to see the images they’re working on with a screen, in the manufacturing world, ultrasound techs have to literally build the image in their heads as they work, which is time consuming.
Thanks to researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Nondestructive Testing IZFP, this may soon be a thing of the past. These researchers are working on a technique that will build a 3D image as the ultrasound waves bounce back, making the entire process not only quicker, but more accurate as well.
“These pictures reveal any material defects, giving us their size and exact location,” says Professor Hans-Georg Herrmann from Fraunhofer IZFP. “The spatial resolution of these images is significantly better than in conventional methods. What’s more, our reconstruction algorithm is real-time capable, which allows us to significantly speed up the testing process.”
Being able to view the inner-workings of something in real time, instead of the old laborious method, will have a big impact on manufacturing. For example, robots could be programmed with this new type of ultrasound technology to quickly scan an object, providing the examiner with an instant, 3D view of the object and any existing flaws that may be present in an easy to see 3D image.
“Our technology is suitable for use over the entire product life cycle — from material characterization to component parts evaluation, from repair services to recycling,” says Professor Bernd Valeske of Fraunhofer IZFP.
This is great news for engineers who work in these difficult positions and will make their jobs easier and allow them the benefit of greater accuracy. It’s also good news for those interesting in manufacturing engineering. Developing and further fine tuning this technology has the potential to completely change many processes in manufacturing. By focusing on making this process more accurate and less time consuming, companies are sure to embrace these advances. For engineers interested in playing a role in changing how the world works, this is an amazing opportunity to continue the work begun at Fraunhofer IZFP.
Incoming engineering students may soon have the ability to train on this new technology and continue to improve the processes.
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