Welding Inspection Technology: The Latest in the Non-Destructive Testing of Welds

Welding is inspected using many different non-destructive testing methods. However, some of these inspection methods are more accurate and comprehensive than others. Thanks to advancements in technology, welding inspection technology has come a long way in recent years. New technology allows welding inspectors to provide results faster and more economically with greater accuracy and detail.

Let’s take a look at some of the advanced welding inspection technology that makes this possible.

Latest welding inspection technology

Choosing a non-destructive testing company for weld inspections

The Latest in Welding Inspection Technology

There are four key technologies that have helped to improve welding inspection.

These advancements in welding inspection technology offer many benefits. Therefore, when working with a non-destructive testing company that employs these advanced techniques and tools, organizations will benefit from:

  • Increased productivity
  • Cost savings
  • Higher quality inspections

Phased Array Ultrasonic Technology (PAUT)

What is PAUT?

Phased array ultrasonic testing, or PAUT, is a form of ultrasonic weld inspection. PAUT uses a single array of transducers to employ various ultrasonic beams at different angles and focal lengths. Multiple elements are pulsed in a patterned sequence. This allows specialized software to control the angle and focus of each beam, resulting in a more detailed scan.

Phased array ultrasonic testing capabilities

PAUT accurately detects various flaws and defects. As a result of its ability to evaluate materials and equipment from various angles, it is extremely effective for testing assets with complex structures.

Phased array ultrasonic testing is particularly well-suited for weld inspection. This welding inspection technology can detect flaws such as:

  • Lack of sidewall fusion, root penetration and root fusion
  • Porosity, etc.

What are the benefits of phased array ultrasonic technology?

Phased array ultrasonic testing offers several benefits for welding inspection. This is due to its ability to use multiple elements to direct and focus beams from a single piece of equipment.

The benefits of PAUT include:

  • Ability to inspect complex assets with greater ease and in less time
  • Increased probability of flaw detection in welds
  • Improved ability to determine the size of a defect
  • Enhanced accuracy and ability to specify the exact location of a flaw
  • Higher resolution and more detailed results
  • Ability to record data and images for review in the future

Time of Flight Diffraction (TOFD)

What is TOFD?

Similar to PAUT, TOFD is an ultrasonic testing technique. Time of flight diffraction uses high and low amplitude sound waves to detect flaws. When they come in contact with a flaw, these sound waves are diffracted. Some waves scatter, while others return to the receiving probe. TOFD technology measures the time it takes for these sound waves to be emitted and returned. The characteristics of the flaw are determined using this information.

TOFD capabilities

Time of flight diffraction is best for detecting and determining the size of flaws that are below the surface of a material. TOFD can also detect small flaws near the surface. However, this is a much more difficult task.

TOFD is effective for welding and corrosion inspection. This advanced welding inspection technology is highly reliable. It can also be used for pre-service and in-service testing.

What are the benefits of TOFD for welding inspection?

There are several benefits of TOFD:

  • Reliable detection and sizing of welding flaws
  • Fast
  • Economical
  • Provides recorded data for future review and reference

Total Focus Method (TFM) Technology

What is TFM?

The total focus method (TFM) is used in conjunction with phased array ultrasonic testing. Essentially, the TFM evaluates ultrasonic testing results in a more sophisticated fashion.

TFM requires the use of a full matrix capture (FMC). With FMC, each probe emits just one signal but receives every returning signal. This data is recorded in a matrix. The TFM algorithm then uses this matrix to create high-resolution images.

Total focus method capabilities

TFM is ideal for locating small flaws in various types of materials. This method is also useful for inspecting extremely thick components, welds, and detecting corrosion.

TFM and the M2M Gekko

The M2M Gekko is a portable flaw detector that combines PAUT and TOFD with advanced TFM technology. As a result, this advanced welding inspection technology is versatile and offers high-quality imaging and extreme accuracy. Moreover, it allows non-destructive testing companies, like Buffalo Inspections, to conduct TFM inspections in the field.

What are the benefits of the TFM?

The total focus method has many benefits, including:

  • Offers the ability to thoroughly inspect various types of equipment and materials
  • Ability to detect tiny flaws, even in materials that are hard to inspect
  • Detailed results
  • Comprehensive 3D imaging
  • A single probe position can capture results from a large area

Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS)

How does LIBS work?

This welding inspection technology employs a handheld LIBS analyzer, like the Z-300, to capture information about the atomic makeup of a material. The laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy analyzer uses highly focused laser pulses to create plasma on the surface of a material. As the atoms in the plasma return to their initial state, they discharge characteristic wavelengths of light. Subsequently, a built-in processor evaluates these wavelengths to effectively determine the elemental chemistry of the material.

Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy capabilities

This technique can accurately identify materials used in piping, pressure vessels, finished welds and more. As a result, the oil and gas industry commonly employs LIBS technology.

What are the advantages of Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy?

LIBS offers several advantages including:

  • Versatility – LIBS can characterize solids, gases and liquids
  • Simplicity – a handheld analyzer is easy to use and carries out the process in a single step
  • Offers the ability to identify multiple elements through a single analysis
  • Fast and convenient

In addition to the many benefits of laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, the Z-300 handheld analyzer offers benefits of its own. Most notably, is the only handheld in the world that is capable of providing in-field analysis of elements like Li, Be, C, F, B, etc. As a result, it can provide more accurate and detailed inspection results.

Non-Destructive Testing Companies & Welding Inspection Technology

When working with a non-destructive testing company to evaluate welds, ensure that they use the latest welding inspection technology and methods. This will guarantee that you receive the most accurate inspection.

Buffalo Inspections employs the most advanced welding inspection technology available. This ensures the best possible results at the lowest possible price. As well, our NDT technicians are highly trained and experienced. Most importantly, they are well-versed in the latest NDT technologies. As a result, Buffalo provides the most detailed and reliable inspections possible.

Contact Buffalo Inspections today to learn more about our welding inspection technology and the value we can provide your organization.

NDT Inspection Technology: What’s New and Leading-Edge in 2020

NDT inspection technology, including training and tools, is continuously evolving.

With changes in government regulations, innovations in technology and the ever-changing needs of industries requiring surface and subsurface analysis, non-destructive testing continues to evolve to ensure the safety, productivity, and integrity of materials, products, and structures.

Interested in knowing more about what’s new and leading-edge in non-destructive testing (NDT)? This article will cover:

Why NDT is important
The advantages of NDT
What’s new in NDT training
What’s new in NDT technology
Pipeline inspection improvements

Why NDT is important

Non-destructive testing is vital for the timely detection of faults in products, materials, and equipment. If left undetected, defects and flaws can result in expensive and premature repairs or replacements. Unplanned shutdowns and failures can also result and have devastating health, safety, and economic impacts.

For pipelines, oil and gas, mining, lifting and industrial construction equipment, and tubing, NDT functions as quality assurance, ensuring the reliability and expected lifetime of equipment and materials is upheld.

Regular testing allows engineers to determine the current lifecycle stage of an asset and to proactively plan maintenance, repairs, or replacements. Regular inspections also ensure that catastrophic failures of your business/operational assets do not occur, potentially resulting in lengthy and costly downtime. Besides, routine testing ensures adherence to government regulations and standards, as well as the health and safety of your workforce and the environment.

Overall, NDT:

  • Prevents accidents
  • Reduces repair and replacement costs
  • Improves reliability of assets
  • Ensures adherence to regulations and policies

What are the advantages of NDT?

Non-destructive testing is ideal because it allows for the inspection of equipment, materials, and structures without the need to worry about downtime or damage.

NDT can save time and money by identifying problems early – before expensive repairs or replacements are needed.

What’s new in non-destructive testing

Advancements in technology and changes to government regulations and policies are continuously driving innovation in non-destructive testing. These changes affect all aspects of NDT, including training, inspection, and technology. The result – new and innovative methods and strategies.

NDT has come a long way since its origins. Simple VT has now evolved with the digital world, resulting in digital outputs, including 3D imaging and cloud connectivity that allows for remote testing and analysis.

NDT Training

NDT inspection technology and its applications are continuously improving and evolving. Inspection technology, equipment, and the services offered by inspection providers are ever-changing, including advancements in training and techniques.

Buffalo Inspection Services, for instance, recently implemented a Personal Certification in Non-Destructive Testing (PCN) course using Gekko and Mantis technology. This training is revolutionary, making Buffalo the first NDT company in North America to host PCN Certification on Gekko PAUT technology and the only non-union NDT inspection services provider in Western Canada with qualified PCN technicians.

NDT Inspection Technology

Advancements in technology drive change in non-destructive testing. As a result, hardware and software enhancements are continuously developed to improve testing and analysis.

Below are some of the most recent advancements that have been made in NDT technology:


Buffalo NDT Inspectors uses the M2M Gekko for PAUT inspections.

The M2M Gekko is one of the most advanced and reliable options for Total Focusing Method (TFM) testing. The only unit that supports a 3-axis encoder for TFM, the Gekko is also the first system able to produce matrix arrays and perform TFM in real-time.

As the most versatile and advanced PAUT field unit, the Gekko can cover a wide range of inspections, and, recently, a new generation of the Gekko was released, with various ground-breaking advancements introduced.

Improvements to the new generation of the Gekko include:

  • Hardware – increased speed and channel sensitivity, longer battery life (up to 6 hours), improved touchscreen functionality (e.g. touchscreen can be used with gloves)
  • Data management – new USB 3.0 connector for rapid file transfer and wireless data or screen sharing, IP68 LEMO encoder connector for compatibility with most scanners
  • Software – the release of new Capture 3.1 software

Capture 3.1 software

The release of Capture 3.1 has brought many improvements to ergonomy, analysis, and TFM tools and options. The new advanced analysis tools offered by Capture 3.1 improve productivity and increase the quality of research and reporting, resulting in more efficient and reliable testing.

The new tools added to Capture 3.1 include:

  • Auto-sizing – for a quick analysis of whether an indication is critical
  • C-scan stitching – for inspections that require more than one file
  • Full 3D exporting
  • Improved indicators


The Total Focusing Method has come a long way since its inception. In 2013, portable TMF revolutionized non-destructive testing. Since then, TMF has seen significant changes to scan speed, the number of TFM options available on the market, and to code. These advancements have allowed TMF to remain one of the best and most reliable techniques for NDT.

  • TMF options on the market
    2013 – 1 TFM option
    2020 – more than 10 TFM options
  • Scan speed
    2013 – ¼ inch per second
    2020 – more than 4 inches per second
  • Code
    2013 – No TFM code
    2020 – Code-compliant

Along with the recent release of Capture 3.1 software, a new TFM method called Plane Wave Imaging (PWI) has also been introduced.

Plane Wave Imaging

PWI, introduced by Eddyfi Technologies, is a new data acquisition technique for TFM. This technique is conducted by first firing all the elements of the array concurrently on several different angles, with elementary signals received on all of the elements. After this initial process, a typical TFM is performed. The final result is a matrix containing M x N (number of angles x number of elements) elementary A-scans.

PWI - Plane Wave Imaging demonstration for NDT Inspections

The advantages of this new method include:

  • Improved productivity – PWI is able to maintain the spatial resolution offered by other TFM methods (e.g. FMC) while increasing scanning speed.
  • Increased sensitivity – depending on the number of angles used, PWI can offer an increase in sensitivity, resulting in the detection of smaller indications.

Pipeline inspection improvements

These new and leading-edge advancements in NDT allow for regular, comprehensive, accurate, and economical testing. The efficient and effective testing provided by a combination of this state-of-the-art technology ensures the safety and utility of large pipelines like the Transmountain.

Combining PAUT / TOFD and conventional UT with advancements like TFM, the Gekko is particularly useful for pipeline inspection in Alberta.

Radiography (x-ray inspection) and UT are commonly used; however, Phased Array Ultrasonic Testing (PAUT) offers several advantages for pipeline inspection. These advantages include NO:

  • Radiation
  • Risk
  • Additional licensing necessary

With the ability to detect manufacturing flaws, corrosion, cracking, erosion, parent metal flaws, and more in pipelines, all while in-service, regular non-destructive testing ensures cost efficiency, environmental and public safety, and reliable, long-term performance.

Want to discuss NDT pipeline inspection for your company? Contact Buffalo today.