Materials testing and NDT conference 2017-09-21

Materials World magazine
1 Oct 2017

Ellis Davies reports on the British Institute for Non-Destructive Testing's (BINDT) Materials Testing exhibition and NDT conference 2017. 

The 56th annual non-destructive testing (NDT) conference and the Materials Testing 2017 exhibition took place at Telford’s International Conference Centre, UK, on 5–7th October. The event combines the interaction of over 80 exhibiting companies with the large knowledge base of a conference, featuring a programme of presentations from a range of companies, institutions and research centres on the topic of NDT. 

Curated by the BINDT, the event draws interest from NDT, condition monitoring, diagnostic engineering and quality testing industries. It provides networking, purchase and knowledge gathering opportunities, as well as exposing exhibitors to the relevant delegates. This year's event saw an increase in visitor numbers over the last in the series (with both the NDT conference and Materials Testing exhibition), which took place two years ago. 

Materials Testing 2017

The exhibition was held parallel to the NDT conference, offering the opportunity for attendants to browse products and services. 

Running over three days and featuring state-of-the-art equipment, the event provided opportunity for discovery for those looking for new or improved NDT solutions. Also featured at this year’s event were free tuition sessions, commercial presentations and practical demonstrations, which proved popular. 

Paul Fidgeon, Chair of BINDT's Trade and Industry Committee, said of the exhibition, ‘This year’s Materials Testing exhibition was the biggest ever, with 82 exhibitors promoting their wares and interfacing with their markets. On top of that, there were two parallel informative sessions running on the exhibition floor and a practical workshop area. Exhibitors report that they were satisfied with the quality and quantity of the many enquiries received. I look forward to planning for Materials Testing 2019.’ 

One prominent product was the GEKKO 2.0 from M2M, France, (see Materials World, Sep 2017). The portable phased-array system, used for field inspection, appeared to be causing a buzz around the exhibition, with business development manager Frédéric Reverdy commenting to Materials World, ‘The new GEKKO 2.0 was well received. We had a lot of people stopping by our booth, most of them being new contacts. We have already made several offers and are planning to go and see several people in the next couple of weeks.’

NDT conference

NDT 2017 – the annual UK conference on NDT – ran alongside the exhibition, and attracted excellent numbers, according to the BINDT. The combined event presented visitors with an opportunity to see, hear and learn about innovations from around the world.

This year’s conference was focused on three challenges – finding better ways to test composites, how to inspect 3D-printed components that are increasingly used in manufacturing and how best to inspect wind turbines in line with the growth of the alternative energy sector.

The event opened with the Roy Sharpe Prize Lecture – presented by the technical committee of the BINDT in recognition of a significant contribution through research and development in NDT to the benefit of industry or society, sponsored each year by a different corporate member. This year’s lecture was delivered by Professor Paul Wilcox of the University of Bristol, UK, and titled (Even further) beyond the B-scan – ultrasonic arrays for NDT now and in the future. Wilcox covered current applications of full matric capture-based array usage and future directions for the technology, as well as considering the barriers to more widespread usage.

Beginning with an historical introduction to the B-scan, Wilcox went on to talk about a range of current research, including non-contact full matrix capture with lasers, using arrays to image nonlinearity and multi-view TFM imaging and data fusion. 'Ultra sonic arrays provide a lot of data, but full matrix capture gets all the possible data, providing an almost never-ending series of things you can do with it,' Wilcox concluded.

The remainder of the conference was split into three topics, with separate spaces covering digital radiography, composites and NDT in the wind energy industry, offering a total of 33 topic specific presentations over the day. With wind energy becoming more and more prevalent in the UK and Europe, the third strain of the conference was of particular interest. 

Eleri Williams, of the TWI Technology Centre Wales, presented her recent research, titled X-ray computer tomography for in-situ inspection of CMC material under load. While tougher than conventional ceramics, CMCs are affected by variation in the fibre matrix composition that can cause the onset of damage and its evolution through the part. ‘Any further application relies on accurate characterisation and analysis of damage,’ Williams explained, going on to describe the use of X-ray computer tomography (XCT) in uncovering composition variation in a dog bone shaped tensile test sample cut from a CMC plate measuring 5mm in thickness. ‘The system is capable of detecting individual cracks, which increase in size and prevalence as the load increases. The benefits of in-situ XCT can be seen by comparing images from optical microscopy imaging (OMI) – with OMI we can only see the surface crack, not how the crack interacts with the layers of the material,’ said Williams. 

Olympus’ Gary Luckett presented the company’s range of phased-array instruments for wind blade inspection, in a presentation titled Improved inspection of composite wind turbine blades with accessible advanced ultra sonic phased array technology. Luckett covered the uses of the OmniScan SX and MX2, as well as the FOXUS PX, which are all manual-to-fully automated inspection devices. The latter two devices are capable of carrying out ultrasonic phased-array inspection completely autonomously at a rate of 2m2 per second – with live mapping showing bonded zones and flanges clearly. Luckett claimed that using these devices enable fast inspection, while maintaining 100% coverage of the part, in an attempt to ensure minimal maintenance is needed once construction is complete. 

The NDT conference will return in 2018, whereas Materials Testing will feature again in the 2019 programme.