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Inspired By Nature: The Solution to Tight Space Crack Inspection

Inaccessible spaces have long presented a challenge for effective inspection. An example of tight, inaccessible areas would be that of Control Rod Drive Mechanisms (CRDM) in nuclear reactors, Not only does access taper to as little as 2mm, but the surrounding components are constructed from materials with magnetic properties, and as such are a potential for interference to the accepted inspection medium of eddy current testing (ECT).

Such an inhospitable location also calls for remote/robotic inspection, so any solution has to be flexible enough to overcome these multiple problems.

However, such a resolution has been found – a unique, shielded, adaptable and ultra-thin ECT probe.

A solution inspired by nature

This revolutionary ECT probe takes much of its design from the wings of a flying squirrel. In the same way in which the animal’s body works, the head of this probe can collapse and expand in a manner that allows it to be inserted into a space as small as 2mm, yet maintain the required amount of pressure necessary for effective contact with the structure to be tested.

It was clear that such a probe needed to be able to adapt to the changing geometry of any housing, materials and moving parts. Thus the material would be required to be flexible enough to mould and reshape as necessary. However, it also needed to be durable and be able to protect the ECT coils from any interference, so ensuring the readings are accurate and only from the materials being measured.

By utilising a unique set up and the ultimate in technology it’s been possible to create superior probe that addresses all of these issues:

  • Thermoplastic probe head: Using finely machined technical thermoplastic as the material for the head of the probe allows it to adjust, flex and re-shape to fit into gaps as small as 2mm
  • Coil protection: The ECT coils within the head of the probe are protected from any interference by a highly conductive alloy, removing the issue of external reading interference.
  • Five topologies: Thanks to an ingenious setup, four transmit-receive and one absolute channels achieve five topologies without the need for a bulky external multiplexer. The probe combines an axial long single drive, axial short dual driver, circumferential long single driver, circumferential short single driver and an absolute channel to monitor liftoff, leading to superior test results that effectively rebuff any external interference

The benefits of such a probe are multiple and provide the ability to test structures within tight spaces that, up until now, have been impossible to inspect.

  • Unique design: Being able to adapt to the tightest of spaces allows monitoring of cracks in such areas to a degree more advanced than has ever been available
  • Higher quality of readouts: Thanks to the number of topologies, testing results are more detailed and intricate. This allows for the diagnosis of smaller cracks and defects and the resulting advantages of more detailed inspection
  • Better signal quality: Protecting the ECT coils from all interference indications allows for higher-quality results

In addition, testing results are all returned as C-scans and Lissajous allowing for a wider range of technicians to be able to effectively analyse the results.

Being aware and taking advantage of the latest technological advancements make a very real difference to a company’s competitive edge. The ability to inspect previously inaccessible structures, such as those in the tightest of spaces, allows for pro-active steps to be taken to eliminate unscheduled down time and/or the cost of unnecessary repairs.

Market leading equipment provider, Nexxis, is at the forefront of such technology, and are the vital link between innovation and the end-user that brings effective cost-cutting solutions to the front line.

Our professional team has a long history of industry-specific knowledge, meaning we offer a unique approach to the many challenges faced by industries when sourcing their technical equipment. This intricate attention to detail has led to Nexxis fast-becoming the go-to provider for those looking to hire or buy the most efficient, technologically advanced and cost-effective apparatus for industries such as nuclear, oil and gas, mining, utilities, subsea and more.

To find out more get in touch today.

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