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Ultrasonic Sciences Ltd

From our original formation in 1987, USL has grown to become the UK’s only manufacturer of ultrasonic testing systems and instruments,

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United Kingdom

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Overview

From our original formation in 1987, USL has grown to become the UK’s only manufacturer of ultrasonic testing systems and instruments, in the process becoming one of the world’s major suppliers to industry of automated and semi-automated systems.

In the late 1980’s we were one of the first companies to introduce PC expansion boards for practical applications. Initially these were used to develop and supply laboratory based ultrasonic “C-Scan” systems, particularly scanning acoustic microscopes for high resolution imaging of small parts such as integrated circuits.

The potential of our equipment was recognised by industrial customers and we were tasked with designing larger and more complex machines. One of the first such applications in 1990 was the inspection of double curved jet engine parts made by the new process of SPFDB (superplastic forming and diffusion bonding). An immersion system was developed for non-contact scanning using high frequency ultrasound, a very early example where a complex surface profile was followed by programmed manipulation of a probe using a 5 axis mechanical system. This machine was used continuously in a production factory for more than 15 years. We also manufactured mobile systems for inspection of the external surface of hollow railway axles using a “pig” which was propelled down the bore. 

At that time the mechanical scanners were designed and manufactured by sub-contractors, with USL designing and making the electronic modules and integrating these with custom designed software to produce a complete machine. 

During the 1990’s companies such as Rolls-Royce plc and British Aerospace encouraged USL to produce larger ultrasonic scanning systems for industrial use. In 1990 we supplied a machine in UK for inspection of carbon fibre composite parts produced for the manufacture of aircraft. This was followed in 1999 by a more sophisticated machine for use in testing parts for the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft. The machines were designed to inspect complex shaped parts without physical contact, using water jets to transmit the ultrasonic signals – so called “squirter” systems. Machines had been manufactured previously for similar applications by competitors, but never for complex shaped parts. By this time we were designing and manufacturing all parts of a complete system, including the mechanisms, and this has continued to the present day.

Products & Services
Robotic Systems

An excellent balance of capability and value, robotic based systems offer good versatility for a range of component geometries and applications. Reduced design work makes robotic systems more economical. A range of robot sizes, mounting orientations, combinations with linear axes and twin tower systems adds to robotic system versatility by combining the benefits of both system types.

Benefits of our system

  • single or dual robots, floor or ceiling mounted robot configurations or a combination
  • systems up to 30 metres long
  • automatic tool changers available
  • exceptional resolution and repeatability
  • contour following systems for complex curves with cad input for scan path generation
  • true simultaneous multi-axis motion control for complex shapes
  • highly programmable

Typical Applications

Single robots can be used for pulse-echo squirter or bubbler inspections or through-transmission inspections using a yoke. Twin robots can be used for pulse-echo from both sides and through-transmission simultaneously.

Features of our robotic systems

Dimensions

The scanning volume of robotic systems can be extended by the addition of linear axes. A range of mounting orientations and additional linear axes can offer additional scan volume for large and complex components.

Versatility

As well as the addition of linear axes, immersion tanks, turntables and a range of additional tooling adds to the versatility of robotic based systems. Robotic systems can be fitted with conventional ultrasonics, simultaneous dual-frequency, phased-array or a combination.

Motion Control

USL have developed unique motion control and software systems which enables superior positional feedback rates. The result is linear scanning speeds as fast as cartesian systems and highly accurate image generation and defect sizing.

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