Electromagnetic tensor imaging for in-process welding inspection

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Welding is one of the most commonly practiced fabrication techniques within manufacturing today. In particular, the manufacture of heavy 5 vessels such as in the nuclear industry from ferritic and austenitic steels is dependent on high quality welding of seams and joints to ensure component integrity and safety.

The development of in-process welding Non-Destructive Testing and Evaluation (NDT/E) technologies is vital to underpin the safety of such components, but also provide a significant improvement in nuclear manufacturing productivity. Currently, in order to minimise the need for rework of the welded seams and joints, costly, time-consuming, and potentially hazardous mid-manufacture radiography in a dedicated NDT/E bay is used for NDT/E. Mid-manufacture inspection suffers from the need to allow the welded components to cool down, typically up to 4 hours, before transferring to a dedicated NDT/E bay.
In-process weld inspection would be able to provide real time indication of defects or abnormalities with the weld permitting immediate further investigation and if necessary corrective actions to be taken. This would have positive impact on facility operation efficiency, avoid costly remedy actions at a later stage, and consequently deliver a reduction in overall testing & rework costs and increased productivity. Currently, there are no such commercial techniques available.
The instrument proposed in this project if successful would make a step change in this area andwould have significant impact on the UK manufacturers' productivity for heavy nuclear vessels and their competiveness in the global market.

Planned Impact

The main impact will be in the area of nuclear manufacturing capabilities and other welding related manufacturing processes.
The UK has a strong track record in nuclear engineering. With a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK and worldwide, there are significant opportunities for UK companies to take advantage of this new market. A new nuclear power plant requires a wide range of equipment and components. Many of the manufacturing processes involve welding.
In the broadest sense, the industrial benefits will stem from an ability to provide reliable and more efficient manufacturing processes and components requiring welding techniques, which enhance the competitive edge of UK manufacturers across the world wide nuclear industry. On line in process welding monitoring technology would help UK suppliers reduce cost, improve quality, reduce lead time and cycle time, and reduce risk in manufacturing.
Component reliability and the ability to minimise the need for rework of the welded seams and joints in high value components is also of environmental and societal benefit in terms of contributing to increased efficiency in nuclear manufacturing (lower fuel consumption) and reductions in CO2 emissions.
The instrument developed would be capable of supporting research work into developing novel welding processes and materials. Demonstrations through nuclear manufacturing research centres such as the NAMRC and the Manchester Dalton Research Institute - Manufacturing Technology Research Laboratory will be arranged. There is further opportunity to develop the instruments into standard machines for NDT communities, which can be used in aerospace, automotive, power, civil and railway industries.
Although this project focuses on nuclear welding processes, the instrument and technology developed would be readily transferred to other welding processes such as those in the automotive and aerospace manufacturing industries, where reliability and efficiency is crucial for global competitiveness and success.
This research is also highly inter-disciplinary, and involves a variety of scientific and technical areas such as: metallurgy, electromagnetic engineering, modelling and simulation, electronics, digital signal processing, inverse algorithms, process and mechanical engineering and non-destructive testing (NDT). Results from the project will be beneficial to a cross-section of scientific workers in these areas.


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Description 1. Imaging weld cross-sections off-line using the instrument we developed. 2. Real time monitoring of welding process for potential defects. 3. extension of this method for additive manufacturing.
Exploitation Route There are potentially opportunities to take this technique to the manufacturing process of nuclear vessel to improve productivity and safety. Consultation have been made to take the developed technology for metal 3D printing.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy

Description The instrument has been used for imaging welding micro-structure. Work has been carried out to test this within the NAMRC welding facilities.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Economic

Title A steel microstructure imaging tool 
Description A steel micro structure imaging tool is developed during the project which allow the micro structure to be visualised quickly using EM methods 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This would allow the steel micro structure of a weld to be identified as quickly and non contact. 
URL https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0963869518300811
Description Rolls-Royce Civil Nuclear 
Organisation Rolls Royce Group Plc
Department Rolls-Royce Civil Nuclear
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have established regular contact through emails and telephone and we are actively seeking their perspective on how the project can potentially impact their productivity.
Collaborator Contribution Has contributed to know-how in welding technology and will attend project meetings.
Impact multi-disciplinary sensing & detection welding and advanced manufacturing
Start Year 2015
Title fast magnetic induction imaging instrument 
Description an instrument capable of producing 150 frame of images per second 
Type Of Technology Physical Model/Kit 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact Have been used to support the project on how to image welds