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NDT Solutions for Elbow and Offset Pipe Inspection

offset pipe inspection

Nearly every manufacturing operation relies on the use of tubes and pipes to facilitate production. The non-destructive testing (NDT) of these major components is crucial for efficient production and operator safety. Manufacturers understand the role of NDT in quality control, that’s why they rely on various probes for pipe inspection, especially to detect any metallurgical flaws or anomalies. However, not every probe is suited to accurately and efficiently inspect the complex geometric surfaces of elbow pipes or other curved pipes. 

For elbow and offset pipe inspection, technicians need flexible products capable of inspecting complex geometrical surfaces with precision, allowing manufacturers to ensure complete accuracy within inspection results and maintain their quality and safety standards.

The Challenges of Inspecting Complex Geometry

Non-destructive technology such as eddy current (EC) and ultrasonic testing (UT) have played an important role in the inspection of pipelines and tubes used in aerospace, automotive, oil and gas, power generation, as well as various other manufacturing industries. When assessing pipelines, the NDT process generally aims to detect flaws such as cracks, corrosion, porosity, or inclusions in the material. However, the challenge arises when the inspection results need to be gathered from the pipe offsets, elbows, or curved pipe joints.

Technicians inspecting these geometrically complex surfaces with inadequate probes could result in the following:

  • Unidentified flaws: It is possible that the bent or angled area of the pipe has flaws such as wall thinning or other surface flaws. The convex outer-arc shape can make it difficult for the inspection solution to make smooth contact with the surface, hindering the inspection ability for such flaws. The inability to clearly identify the flaws can pose serious quality and safety threats.
  • Compromised structural integrity: If there is a weld joint along these bends, it can be difficult to inspect the quality of the weld along the angle of the curved surface. This can cause serious misjudgment in the presence of weld flaws or lack of fusion, making it the weak point in the pipeline.   

To mitigate these challenges, technicians must leverage advanced NDT technology. 

NDT for Elbow and Offset Pipe Inspection

Ultrasonic technology—specifically phased array ultrasonic testing (PAUT)—and eddy current inspection technology have been used by industries for the inspection of wall thickness, pitting corrosion, inclusions, mid-wall laminations, and other flaw detection in curved surfaces within a pipe system. However, conventional rigid solutions are not always able to conform to the change in surface angle along the elbows and offsets, decreasing the chances of accurate flaw detection. Technicians have to rely on the time-consuming process of analyzing results from spot checks which may not yield precise results.

With advanced flexible probes and scanners, manufacturers are able to rely on the results from elbow and offset pipe inspection. Such tools as Zetec’s ElbowFlex scanner provide an ideal testing solution along the curved section of the pipe. Industries can leverage the tool to achieve:

  • Flexibility of scanning on straight as well as elbow part of the pipe
  • Easy corrosion detection through wall thickness testing
  • Accurate inspection for metallurgical flaws such as cracks, inclusion, or porosity
  • High-resolution c-scan imaging for enhanced analysis
  • Faster, complete, and precise inspection coverage

An Effective Solution for Complex, Offset Pipe Inspection

There can be critical risks associated with undetected flaws within complex curved joints or elbow pipes. Zetec’s advanced technology provides a reliable and effective inspection solution for ultrasonic offset pipe inspection. The flexibility within the ElbowFlex scanner can easily adapt to the changing surface geometry, providing complete inspection coverage with high-resolution imaging for accuracy in flaw detection. For further precision when inspecting for surface flaws, industries can use portable surface array probes for eddy current array (ECA) inspections that are capable of conforming to the curvature of the surface of a pipe or tube.

With flexible, easy-to-use probes and scanners, technicians can accurately inspect flaws along curvatures during elbow and offset pipe inspection. For a wide range of industries, such reliable tools will assist in extending the service life of the pipe system and improving safety and quality standards.

Zetec is a leading provider of high-performance NDT solutions for the inspection of industry pipelines using advanced eddy current and ultrasonic inspection technologies. Our flexible probes and scanners allow precision scanning along the curved surfaces for elbow and offset pipe inspection. Contact us today to learn more about our NDT solutions.