(19)
(11)EP 3 236 254 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
25.10.2017 Bulletin 2017/43

(21)Application number: 17000944.3

(22)Date of filing:  04.10.2010
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
G01N 29/06(2006.01)
G01N 29/11(2006.01)
G01N 29/44(2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 05.10.2009 JP 2009231655

(62)Application number of the earlier application in accordance with Art. 76 EPC:
10821727.4 / 2487487

(71)Applicant: KAWASAKI JUKOGYO KABUSHIKI KAISHA
Hyogo 650-8670 (JP)

(72)Inventors:
  • Tsubaki, Kenji
    Kakamigahara-shi, Gifu 504-8710 (JP)
  • Nagata, Katsumi
    Kakamigahara-shi, Gifu 504-8710 (JP)
  • Yamaoka, Toshihiro
    Kakamigahara-shi, Gifu 504-8710 (JP)
  • Hirasawa, Hideyuki
    Hyogo 673-8666 (JP)
  • Okauchi, Hironori
    Kobe-shi, Hyogo 650-8670 (JP)

(74)Representative: Leinweber & Zimmermann 
Rosental 7, II. Aufgang
80331 München
80331 München (DE)

 
Remarks:
This application was filed on 01-06-2017 as a divisional application to the application mentioned under INID code 62.
 


(54)ULTRASONIC SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR DETERMINING POROSITY IN COMPOSITE MATERIALS.


(57) A determination assist system (20) of the present invention comprises a first image generating section (21) for generating a first planar image based on data of a first test index; a second image generating section (22) for generating a second planar image based on data of a second test index; a differentiation section (23) which differentiates the first planar image and the second planar image to generate a first differential image and a second differential image, respectively; a binarization section (24) which binarizes the first differential image to generate a first binary image including a first region which is not less than a first threshold and a second region which is less than the first threshold, and binarizes the second differential image to generate a second binary image including a third region which is not less than a second threshold and a fourth region which is less than the second threshold; and a determination image generating section (25) which generates the determination image based on the first binary image and the second binary image.


Description

Technical Field



[0001] The present invention relates to a determination assist system and a determination assist method of ultrasonic testing, which generate a determination image used to determine whether or not a composite material component is healthy, based on data relating to plural kinds of test indices obtained in an ultrasonic testing device. The present invention also relates to a determination assist program for causing a computer to perform the determination assist method, and a computer-readable storage medium for storing the determination assist program.

Background Art



[0002] As an example of materials of components constituting aircraft, composite materials such as FRP are widely used. Also, an ultrasonic testing device is widely used to non-destructively test (inspect) internal flaws (cracks or defects) present in composite material components and to determine whether or not the components are healthy (flawless) (e.g., see Patent Literature 1).

[0003] In testing of flaws using the ultrasonic testing device, a probe generates an ultrasonic sound wave while the probe is moved along a surface of a composite material component to scan the composite material component. The generated ultrasonic sound wave travels through the interior of the composite material component and reaches a bottom surface of the composite material component or a flaw portion in the interior of the composite material component. The ultrasonic sound wave is reflected there and returns to the probe. The ultrasonic testing device obtains data relating to plural kinds of test indices such as intensity of the reflected sound wave and a time of flight (hereinafter referred to as "TOF") which passes from when the ultrasonic sound wave is generated until the reflected sound wave is received by the probe, based on the reception of the reflected sound wave in the probe.

[0004] The determination assist system generates determination images which visualize the interior of the composite material component based on these data. The determination images include, for example, a planar image (hereinafter referred to as "C-AMP image") which is a planar gradational image displayed according to the intensity of the reflected sound wave, a planar image (hereinafter referred to as "C-TOF image") which is a planar gradational image displayed according to a depth of a reflection source obtained based on TOF and a sound velocity, etc.. An inspector identifies what kind of internal flaws are present and to what degree the internal flaws are present, in the composite material component, with reference to these plural images, and thereby determines whether or not the composite material component is healthy.

[0005] Non-patent Literature 1 discloses that a C-AMP image represented as a gray scale image and a C-TOF image represented as a color image are superposed together, to generate a determination image which is a color and gray-scale image.

Citation Lists


Patent Literature



[0006] Patent Literature 1: Japanese Laid-Open Patent Application Publication No. 2005-031061

Non-patent Literature



[0007] Non-patent literature 1: D. Lines J. Skramstad, and R. Smith: "RAPID LOW-COST, FULL-WAVEFROM MAPPING AND ANALYSIS WITH ULTRASONIC ARRAYS", 16th WCN DT-World Conference on NDT (2004)

Summary of the Invention


Technical Problem



[0008] However, the C-AMP image and the C-TOF image are gradational images. Therefore, if a flaw-like portion present in the composite material component is displayed by a predetermined gray scale, it is difficult to determine whether the flaw-like portion displayed by the predetermined gray scale (tone) is a flaw portion or a healthy portion.

[0009] It is considered that it is difficult to correctly identify the presence of internal flaws for composite material components based on the data obtained in the ultrasonic testing device, as compared to metal-made components. The internal flaws present in the composite material components include, for example, delamination, void, porosity, inclusion, etc.. In general, regarding the porosity, a reflected signal from the flaw does not appear clearly, but the porosity is identified based on an amount of generation of the intensity of the reflected sound wave from the bottom surface of the composite material component. Therefore, it is difficult to identify the porosity with reference to the C-TOF image. The intensity of the reflected sound wave is differed depending on the kind of foreign matter included in the composite material component. Therefore, if a foreign matter which is low in intensity of the reflected sound wave is included in the composite material component, it is difficult to identify this foreign matter with reference to the C-AMP image. The delamination and the void tend to appear in both of the C-AMP image and the C-TOF image. Therefore, it can be estimated that based on the fact that a flaw-like portion appears in the same location of the two images that the delamination or the void is present in that location.

[0010] Under the circumstances, in the conventional method of determining whether or not the composite material component is healthy, the inspector is forced to visually check the C-AMP image and the C-TOF image which are gradational images, by checking them individually. To avert misdetection such as overlook of the internal flaws, the inspector is required to have high skill and sufficient experience.

[0011] It is difficult to classify the kind of the flaws or evaluate the flaws quantitatively, with reference to the determination image generated by the method disclosed in Non-patent Literature 1. The inspector is required to be experienced to correctly determine whether or not the composite material component is healthy. Even when the C-AMP image and the C-TOF image are binarized by setting thresholds, and the resulting binary images are combined to form a determination image, many false (fake) flaws are displayed due to the shape of the composite material component or for other reasons. Thus, it is not easy to find out genuine flaws.

[0012] Accordingly, an object of the present invention is to lessen an inspection burden required for ultrasonic testing of a composite material component and to make it possible to determine whether or not the composite material component is healthy, without depending on an inspector's skill.

Solution to Problem



[0013] The present invention has been made under the above mentioned circumstances, and a determination assist system for use in ultrasonic testing of the present invention, which generates a determination image used to determine whether or not a composite material component is healthy, based on data of plural kinds of test indices obtained in an ultrasonic testing device, comprises a first image generating section for generating a first planar image which is a gradational image, based on data of a first test index; a second image generating section for generating a second planar image which is a gradational image, based on data of a second test index; a differentiation section which differentiates the first planar image to generate a first differential image which is expressed as different tones corresponding to differential values, respectively, and differentiates the second planar image to generate a second differential image which is expressed as different tones corresponding to differential values, respectively; a binarization section which binarizes the first differential image to generate a first binary image including a first region which is not less than a first threshold and a second region which is less than the first threshold, and binarizes the second differential image to generate a second binary image including a third region which is not less than a second threshold and a fourth region which is less than the second threshold; and a determination image generating section which generates the determination image based on the first binary image and the second binary image.

[0014] A determination assist method for use in ultrasonic testing of the present invention, which generates a determination image used to determine whether or not a composite material component is healthy, based on data of plural kinds of test indices obtained in an ultrasonic testing device, comprises the steps of: generating a first planar image which is a gradational image, based on data of a first test index; generating a second planar image which is a gradational image, based on data of a second test index; differentiating the first planar image to generate a first differential image which is expressed as different tones corresponding to differential values, respectively, and differentiating the second planar image to generate a second differential image which is expressed as different tones corresponding to differential values, respectively; binarizing the first differential image to generate a first binary image including a first region which is not less than a first threshold and a second region which is less than the first threshold, and binarizing the second differential image to generate a second binary image including a third region which is not less than a second threshold and a fourth region which is less than the second threshold; and generating the determination image based on the first binary image and the second binary image.

[0015] A determination assist program for use in ultrasonic testing of the present invention is executed to cause a computer to perform the above method. A computer-readable storage medium of the present invention is configured to store the determination assist program.

[0016] In accordance with the above system, the above method, and the above program, an edge of an internal flaw which can be detected with reference to the first planar image appears as the first region in the first binary image, while other portion appears as the second region in the first binary image. In the same manner, the edge of the internal flaw appears as the third region in the second binary image, while other portion appears as the fourth region in the second binary image. Therefore, by setting the thresholds for binarization appropriately, an inspector can easily identify a flaw portion and a healthy portion in the composite material component.

[0017] Preferably, the determination image is generated in such a manner that the first binary image and the second binary image are superposed together, and in the determination image, a region where the first region and the third region overlap with each other, a region where the first region and the fourth region overlap with each other, a region where the second region and the third region overlap with each other, and a region where the second region and the fourth region overlap with each other can be identified such that the regions are distinguished from each other. Thus, in the determination image generated by superposing the first binary image and the second binary image together, it is possible to identify how the first region overlaps with the third and four regions and how the second region overlaps with the third and four regions. As a result, an edge of an internal flaw appearing in both of the first planar image and the second planar image, an edge of an internal flaw appearing only in the first planar image, an edge of an internal flaw appearing only in the second planar image, and a region of a healthy portion can be identified such that these regions are distinguished from each other, in one determination image.

[0018] For a component having a simple shape, for example, a shape in which its thickness is constant, a useful determination image can be obtained by combining an image generated by differentiating one of the first and second planar images and then binarizing the resulting differential image with an image generated by binarizing the other of the first and second planar images without differentiating it.

[0019] To generate a determination image used to determine whether or not porosity is present in a composite material component, among internal flaws of the composite material component, a method is advantageously used, which comprises the steps of: generating a first planar image which is a gradational image, based on data of signal intensity of a reflected sound wave; interpolating data of a thickness of a region of the composite material component for which a reflected sound wave from a bottom surface of the composite material component is not displayed in the first planar image, based on data of a thickness of a surrounding region of said region in the composite material component; and deriving a degree of the porosity based on the interpolated data of the thickness of said region, and a difference between signal intensity of a reflected sound wave from the bottom surface of the composite material component and signal intensity of a reflected sound wave from a portion where the porosity is present.

Advantageous Effects of the Invention



[0020] As described above, in accordance with the present invention, it is possible to lessen an inspection burden required for ultrasonic testing of a composite material component and to make it possible to determine whether or not the composite material component is healthy, without depending on an inspector's skill. The above object, other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will be apparent by the following detailed description of preferred embodiments of the inventions, with reference to the accompanying drawings.

Brief Description of the Drawings



[0021] 

[Fig. 1] Fig. 1 is a view showing a configuration of an ultrasonic testing device according to an embodiment of the present invention.

[Fig. 2] Fig. 2 is a conceptual view of ultrasonic testing using the ultrasonic testing device of Fig. 1.

[Fig. 3] Fig. 3 is a block diagram showing a configuration of a computer of Fig. 1.

[Fig. 4] Fig. 4 is a functional block diagram showing a configuration of the computer of Fig. 3.

[Fig. 5] Fig. 5 is a flowchart showing a procedure of a determination assist program executed by the computer of Fig. 3.

[Fig. 6] Fig. 6A is a view showing a C-AMP image generated by a first image generating section of Fig. 4, and Fig. 6B is a C-TOF image generated by a second image generating section of Fig. 4.

[Fig. 7] Fig. 7A is a view showing a differential C-AMP image generated by a differentiation section of Fig. 4, and Fig. 7B is a view showing a differential C-TOF image generated by the differentiation section of Fig. 4.

[Fig. 8] Fig. 8A is a view showing a binary C-AMP image generated by a binarization section of Fig. 4, and Fig. 8B is a view showing a binary C-TOF image generated by the binarization section of Fig. 4.

[Fig. 9] Fig. 9 is a view showing a determination image generated by a determination image generating section of Fig. 4.

[Fig. 10] Fig. 10 is a view showing the relation between display formats of the determination image of Fig. 9 and kinds of internal flaws.

[Fig. 11] Fig. 11 is a conceptual view of a process for making compensation for data in the vicinity of an end which is performed by the first image generating section of Fig. 4.

[Fig. 12] Fig. 12 is a porosity rate conversion graph stored in a memory area of Fig. 3.

[Fig. 13] Fig. 13 is a testing condition application map stored in a memory area of Fig. 3.

[Fig. 14] Fig. 14 is an example of a contour representation showing a magnitude of the porosity rate.


Embodiments of the Invention



[0022] Hereinafter, an embodiment of the present invention will be described with reference to the accompanying drawings. As shown in Fig. 1, an ultrasonic testing device 1 includes a probe 2 which generates an ultrasonic sound wave and receives a reflected sound wave, a processing section 3 which generates data for testing (inspection) based on the reflected sound wave received in the probe 2, and a display 4 which displays an image. The probe 2 may be an integrated one for generating the ultrasonic sound wave and receiving the reflected sound wave, or may be separately provided for generating the ultrasonic sound wave and receiving the reflected sound wave. The processing section 3 is one of functional blocks constituting a computer 5 as described later.

[0023] When ultrasonic testing of a composite material component 50 is conducted using the ultrasonic testing device 1, the probe 2 is moved along an upper surface 51 of the composite material component 50 to scan the composite material component 50. The probe 2 is moved within, for example, a plane parallel to the upper surface 51. During scanning, the probe 2 generates an ultrasonic sound wave in a direction from the upper surface 51 of the composite material component 50 toward a bottom surface 52 of the composite component 50 (see arrow UW). The generated ultrasonic sound wave travels through an interior of the composite material component 50 in a thickness direction thereof.

[0024] As shown in Fig. 2, in general, if there are no flaws (defects) on a path through which the ultrasonic sound wave travels, the ultrasonic sound wave is reflected by the bottom surface 52 of the composite material component 50 (see arrow UW1). If a flaw 53 is present on the path, the ultrasonic sound wave is reflected by a portion where that flaw is present (see arrow UW2). The reflected sound wave travels through the interior of the composite material component 50 again toward the upper surface 51 in the thickness direction thereof, and is received in the probe 2 (see Fig. 1).

[0025] As shown in Fig. 1, the processing section 3 generates data relating to plural kinds of indices based on the reflected sound wave received in the probe 2. For example, the processing section 3 generates data of signal intensity (amplitude) of the reflected sound wave and data of TOF that passes from when the ultrasonic sound wave is generated until the reflected sound wave is received, for each scan position of the probe 2.

[0026] In some cases, there is a difference between signal intensity of the reflected sound wave from the flaw portion, and signal intensity of the reflected sound wave from the bottom surface 52. Therefore, with reference to data of the signal intensity for each scan position, it can be detected in which location an internal flaw is present within a scanned region. Since the ultrasonic sound wave is reflected by the flaw portion before it reaches the bottom surface, the TOF corresponding to the flaw portion is shorter than that corresponding to a healthy portion. Therefore, with reference to data of TOF for each scan position, it can be detected in which location the flaw portion is present within the scanned region. A travel distance of the ultrasonic sound wave can be derived from the TOF and a sound velocity. Therefore, it can be detected in which location the internal flaw is present in the thickness direction of the composite material component 50.

[0027] FRP which is a typical example of a composite material includes plate-shaped fibrous layers laminated together and bonded together. Examples of the internal flaws which may be present in the FRP are delamination, void, porosity, inclusion, etc.. As described in the solution to problem, it is difficult to find out the porosity with reference to the data of the TOF, and it is difficult to find out the inclusion which is low in intensity of the reflected sound wave, with reference to the data of the signal intensity. It is difficult to accurately identify the internal flaws in the FRP. Therefore, in the embodiment of the present embodiment, the computer 5 including the processing section 3 is configured to incorporate a determination assist system 20 which generates a determination image used for identifying the kind and degree of the internal flaws.

[0028] As shown in Fig. 3, the computer 5 includes a CPU 7, a ROM 8, RAM9, an input interface 10, an output interface 11, and a driver 12, which are interconnected via a bus 6. The probe 2 is coupled to the input interface 10. Information based on the reflected sound wave received in the probe 2 is input to the computer 5, and is stored in the RAM 9 as necessary. The display 4 is coupled to the output interface 11. Image information generated in the CPU 7 can be output from the computer 5 to the display 4. The display 4 is capable of displaying the image information from the computer 5.

[0029] The ROM 8 and the RAM 9 are configured to store programs to be executed by the CPU 7. Examples of such programs are a data generating program executed to appropriately process the input information from the probe 2 to acquire data of the signal intensity of the reflected sound wave and data of the TOF, for each scan position, a determination assist program executed to generate the above the determination image based on these data, etc..

[0030] A method of providing the determination assist program to the computer 5 is not particularly limited. The determination assist program may be provided to the computer 5 via an electric communication line (not shown) such as Internet, or the program provided in this way may be stored in a memory area according to a predetermined installation procedure. The computer 5 allows the driver 12 to read the programs stored in storage media 15 such as CD or DVD. Therefore, the determination assist program stored in the storage medium 15 can be stored in the memory area according to a predetermined installation procedure.

[0031] As shown in Fig. 4, the computer 5 includes the processing section 3 and the determination assist system 20 as the functional blocks which are able to execute the data generating program and the determination assist program. The determination assist system 20 includes a first image generating section 21, a second image generating section 22, a differentiation section 23, a binarization section 24, and a determination image processing section 25 as functional blocks based on a procedure content of the determination assist program. That is, the operation of each of the functional blocks 21 to 25 is equivalent to the content of each procedure commanded by the determination assist program.

[0032] Hereinafter, the procedure (i.e., determination assist method of the present invention) commanded by the determination assist program shown in Fig. 5 will be described. Initially, in step S1, the first image generating section 21 in the computer 5 generates "C-AMP image" based on the data of the signal intensity of the reflected sound wave for each scan position which is generated by the processing section 3. In step S2, the second image generating section 22 generates "C-TOF image" based on the data of the TOF for each scan position which is generated by the processing section 3. The order of step S1 and step S2 is not particularly limited.

[0033] As illustrated in Figs. 6A and 6B, the C-AMP image and the C-TOF image are planar images corresponding to a scan range of the probe, respectively. The C-AMP image and the C-TOF image are gradational images. Although white-black gradation is applied to the images in Fig. 6 as a form of gradation, another form (e.g., gradation of spectrum, etc.) may be applied to the image. In addition, the number of gray scales (tones) is not particularly limited.

[0034] The C-AMP image is generated in such a manner that a darker color is assigned to a pixel corresponding to each scan position, when the signal intensity of the corresponding reflected sound wave has a smaller value. This results in a planar gradational image as a whole. Typically, the signal intensity of the reflected sound wave is higher when the sound wave is reflected by the flaw portion than when the sound wave is reflected by the bottom surface, although it may depend on parameters used in inspection. With reference to the C-AMP image, it may be estimated that some internal flaw is present in a scan position corresponding to a pixel assigned with a lighter color. By comparison, the C-TOF image is generated in such a manner that a darker color is assigned to a pixel corresponding to each scan position, when the corresponding TOF has a smaller value. This results in a planar gradational image as a whole. Typically, the TOF is shorter when the sound wave is reflected by the flaw portion than when the sound wave is reflected by the bottom surface. With reference to the C-TOF image, it may be estimated that some internal flaw is generated in a scan position corresponding to a pixel assigned with a darker color.

[0035] Then, in step S3, the differentiation section 23 differentiates the C-AMP image to generate "differential C-AMP image," and differentiates the C-TOF image to generate "differential C-TOF image."

[0036] As shown in Fig. 7A and 7B, the differential C-AMP image and the differential C-TOF image are gradational images. The C-AMP differentiation image and the C-TOF differentiation image are each generated in such a manner that a darker color is assigned when a gradational change between adjacent pixels is greater. This results in planar gradational images as a whole. Therefore, roughly, in each of the differential C-AMP image and the differential C-TOF image, an edge of a region displayed as a lighter color in the corresponding original image, i.e., an edge of a region for which it is estimated that the internal flaw is present is displayed as a darker color.

[0037] Then, in step S4, the binarization section 24 binarizes the "differential C-AMP image" to generate "binary C-AMP image," and binarizes the differential C-TOF image to generate "binary C-TOF image."

[0038] As shown in Figs. 8A and 8B, each of the binary C-AMP image and the binary C-TOF image are generated in such a manner that it is determined whether or not a gray scale (tone) of each pixel in the corresponding differential image is not less than a threshold, and a pixel which is not less than the threshold and a pixel which is less than the threshold can be identified such that they are distinguished from each other. This results in planar images each of which is composed of two colors. Therefore, roughly, in the binary C-AMP image and the binary C-TOF image, clearer edges are displayed than in the corresponding differential images.

[0039] Then, in step S5, the determination image generating section 25 superposes the binary C-AMP image and the binary C-TOF image together, to generate the determination image. It is now assumed that a pixel which is determined as a pixel which is not less than a threshold, among pixels constituting the binary C-AMP image, is "first pixel," a pixel which is determined as a pixel which is less than the threshold, among pixels constituting the binary C-AMP image, is "second pixel," a pixel which is determined as a pixel which is not less than a threshold, among pixels constituting the binary C-TOF image, is "third pixel," and a pixel which is determined as a pixel which is less than the threshold, among pixels constituting the binary C-TOF image, is "fourth pixel."

[0040] As shown in Fig. 9, the determination image generating section 25 superposes the binary C-AMP image and the binary C-TOF image together, to generate the determination image in such a manner that a region where the first pixel of the binary C-AMP image and the third pixel of the binary C-TOF image overlap with each other, a region where the first pixel of the binary C-AMP image and the fourth pixel of the binary C-TOF image overlap with each other, a region where the second pixel of the binary C-AMP image and the third pixel of the binary C-TOF image overlap with each other, and a region where the second pixel of the binary C-AMP image and the fourth pixel of the binary C-TOF image overlap with each other, can be identified such that they are distinguished from each other.

[0041] The wordings "identified such that they are distinguished from each other" means that the above stated four regions are displayed by different colors, by different patterns, or in another way so that the inspector can easily visually distinguish these four regions when the determination image is displayed on the display 4.

[0042] Fig. 10 shows a correspondence among the four regions displayed to be identified such that they are distinguished from each other, and the kinds of the internal flaws of the composite material component 50.

[0043] In the region where the first and third pixels overlap with each other, the regions indicating the edges of the internal flaws in the two binary images overlap with each other. By identifying the region where the first and third pixels overlap with each other, the inspector can easily identify within this identified region, the delamination, the void, or the inclusion which is the presence of a foreign matter which is high in signal intensity of the reflected sound wave, among the internal flaws.

[0044] In the region where the first and fourth pixels overlap with each other, the region indicating the edge of the flaw portion in the binary C-AMP image and the region indicating the healthy portion in the binary C-TOF image overlap with each other. By identifying the region where the first and fourth pixels overlap with each other, the inspector can easily identify the porosity among the internal flaws, within this identified region.

[0045] In the region where the second and third pixels overlap with each other, the region indicating the healthy portion in the binary C-AMP image and the region indicating the edge of the flaw portion in the binary C-TOF image overlap with each other. By identifying the region where the second and third pixels overlap with each other, the inspector can easily identify within this identified region, the inclusion which is the presence of a foreign matter which is low in signal intensity of the reflected sound wave, among the internal flaws.

[0046] In the region where the second and fourth pixels overlap with each other, the regions indicating the healthy portions in the two binary images overlap with each other. By identifying the region where the second and fourth pixels overlap with each other, the inspector can easily identify this region as being healthy so long as this region is not a region located inward relative to any of the above stated three regions.

[0047] Thus, in accordance with the present embodiment, the kind of the internal flaws can be identified easily using one piece of determination image. Because of this, time required to identify the internal flaw can be reduced significantly, and an inspection burden of the ultrasonic testing can be lessened significantly. The determination image displays the edge of the internal flaw. Therefore, a planar area of the internal flaw can be derived easily, and how severe the internal flaw is can be identified easily for each kind of the internal flaws. This makes it possible to significantly lessen the inspection burden of the ultrasonic testing of the composite material structure, and determine whether or not the composite material component is healthy, without depending on the inspector's skill.

[0048] In the case of using the composite material such as FRP as a component of aircraft, the composite material component frequently has a non-uniform thickness. To change the thickness smoothly in such a composite material component, its upper surface and its bottom surface are not parallel in some cases. Because of this, when the probe is moved within a plane parallel to the upper surface to scan the composite material component, and generates the ultrasonic sound wave in a normal line direction of the upper surface, then the signal intensity of the reflected sound wave is low in a portion whose thickness changes, because the bottom surface is inclined with respect to the upper surface even though that portion is healthy. When the thickness is smaller, the TOF of even the healthy portion is shorter. In a case where the internal flaw is identified with reference to the binary C-AMP image and the binary C-TOF image, in a conventional method, the inspector must correctly determine whether gray scale (tone) display performed according to the signal intensity of the reflected sound wave or the TOF is due to a change in the thickness or presence of the internal flaw.

[0049] In the present embodiment, the determination image is generated after the C-AMP image and the C-TOF image have been subjected to the differentiation process and the binarization process. In a portion whose thickness changes smoothly, the corresponding signal intensity or TOF increases or decreases gradually, and therefore, a lighter color is assigned to this portion in the differential image. In the binarization process, proper thresholds are set to prevent the increase or decrease in the signal intensity or TOF due to such a thickness change from being extracted as the first pixel and the third pixel indicating the presence of the internal flaw. In this way, in the binary images, only the edge of the internal flaw can be extracted as the first and third pixels. Therefore, in the present embodiment, even when a composite material component whose thickness changes is tested, the internal flaw can be identified correctly.

[0050] For a component having a specific shape, for example, a shape in which its thickness change is small, a useful determination image can be generated by combining an image generated by binarizing the C-TOF image or the C-AMP image before differentiation, with the binary C-AMP image or the binary C-TOF image generated by binarizing the differential C-AMP image or the differential C-TOF image.

[0051] The probe 2 is moved in a range slightly wider than a range defined by an end of the upper surface 51 of the composite material component 50 in a state where the probe 2 faces the upper surface 51 of the composite material component 50, and transmits and receives the ultrasonic sound wave in a region outside the end of the composite material component 50. There is a difference in a value of the signal intensity of the reflected sound wave and a value of the TOF, between the outside region of the composite material component 50 and an inside region thereof. Therefore, if the C-AMP image and the C-TOF image are merely differentiated, a region in the vicinity of the end of the composite material component 50 is expressed as a darker color. As described above, the differential image of the present embodiment is generated to display the edge of the internal flaw clearly. But, if the internal flaw exists in the vicinity of the end, it is difficult to identify this. In the original planar images (i.e., C-AMP image and C-TOF image), a boundary line (i.e., end of the composite material component) between the inside region of the composite material component 50 and the outside region of the composite material component 50 appears according to a change in the value of the signal intensity of the reflected sound wave and a change in the value of the TOF.

[0052] Accordingly, preferably, in step S3, the differentiation section 23 generates each differential image in such a manner that the image generated by differentiating the original planar image is combined with a planar image newly created by setting a gate which captures only a signal of the reflected sound wave from the upper surface to determine presence/absence of a component in step S1, to make compensation so that a pixel expressed as the end of the composite material component in the original planar image is displayed as a lighter color. In this way, a pixel expressed as a darker color as corresponding to the end of the composite material component 50 is displayed as a lighter color, and only an internal flaw present in the vicinity of the end is displayed as a darker color. Therefore, by generating the determination image by using the compensated differential C-AMP image and the compensated differential C-TOF image, the internal flaw in the vicinity of the end can be identified correctly, with reference to the determination image.

[0053] As described above, a boundary line between the inside region of the composite material component 50 and the outside region of the composite material component 50 appears in the C-AMP image. In actuality, however, as shown in Fig. 11, the signal intensity of the reflected sound wave does not change sensitively, in the vicinity of the end. For this reason, in some cases, it is difficult to correctly identify the location of the end of the composite material component 50 with reference to the C-AMP image.

[0054] Accordingly, preferably, prior to step S2, the differentiation section 23 differentiates the C-AMP image in such a manner that compensation is made for the value of the signal intensity in the vicinity of the end so that the value of the signal intensity of the reflected sound wave changes sensitively at the boundary line which is the end of the composite material component 50, i.e., between the inside region of the composite material component 50 and the outside region of the composite material component 50. This compensation method is not particularly limited. An intermediate point M between a point A in the inside region at which a value A' of the signal intensity starts to change and a point B in the outside region at which a value B' of the signal intensity starts to change may be derived, and compensation may be made so that a value of signal intensity in a range from the point A to the intermediate point M becomes equal to the value A' of the signal intensity in the region inward relative to the point A. The C-AMP image generated after compensation is made in this way makes it possible to reduce a portion displayed as a darker color in a differential image, due to the end (in the present example, intermediate point M) of the composite material component, and improve a compensation accuracy of the differentiation image.

[0055] When the first image generating section 21 generates the C-AMP image in step S1, a gate may be set immediately below the upper surface to improve a resolution in the vicinity of the upper surface 51, in addition to the gate which captures the whole signal including the signal intensity of the sound wave reflected by the bottom surface 52. A planar image generated based on the gate added newly may be subjected to only the binarization process without the differentiation process, and the resulting image may be used to derive the determination image.

[0056] By performing the differentiation process or the binarization process on the planar image generated for each of the gates set in various ways, and considering each image, the location of the end can be identified correctly, and the determination image from which the internal flaw in the upper surface and in the vicinity of the bottom surface are extracted accurately can be generated.

[0057] Next, a procedure for accurately identifying the degree of the porosity will be described. As described above, the porosity might appear in the binary C-AMP image. Therefore, with reference to the determination image generated based on the binary C-AMP image, the porosity can be identified.

[0058] Typically, the degree of porosity (hereinafter referred to as "porosity rate") is derived in such a manner that a difference between the signal intensity of the reflected sound wave from the bottom surface and the signal intensity of the reflected sound wave from a portion in which the porosity is present is calculated. Then, thickness information is obtained from the C-TOF image. Then, with reference to a porosity rate conversion graph shown in Fig. 12, the porosity rate is derived based on the difference in signal intensity and the thickness (or the number of layers) of the composite material component.

[0059] However, if the porosity rate is not lower than a certain level, the reflected sound wave from the bottom surface cannot be acquired as a clear one, and thickness information of this portion cannot be acquired surely. Hereinafter, the portion from which the reflected sound wave from the bottom surface cannot be acquired as a clear one is referred to as "portion from which no reflected signal is obtained from the bottom surface."

[0060] Based on the thickness information obtained from the healthy portion in the vicinity of the portion from which no reflected signal is obtained from the bottom surface, the thickness of the portion from which no reflected signal is obtained from the bottom surface is derived by interpolation. Based on the thickness information derived by the interpolation and the difference in the signal intensity, and with reference to the porosity rate conversion graph, the porosity rate is derived. The interpolation process allows the porosity rate to be identified correctly even when a level of the porosity rate is high. Thus, it can be determined whether or not the composite material component is healthy.

[0061] As described above, the composite material component for use in aircraft often has a portion whose thickness changes. If the portion from which no reflected signal is obtained from the bottom surface is formed in the portion whose thickness changes, an interpolated portion of the bottom surface is preferably inclined with respect to the upper surface like the surrounding portion of the bottom surface. Thus, even when the portion from which no reflected signal is obtained from the bottom surface is formed in the portion whose thicknesses changes, the porosity rate can be identified correctly.

[0062] In the portion whose thickness changes, the bottom surface is not parallel to the upper surface. In this portion, the intensity of the reflected signal is lower than that of a portion in which the bottom surface is parallel to the upper surface even if these portions are equal in thickness. In order to address such a case where the bottom surface is inclined with respect to the upper surface, different porosity rate conversion graphs are preferably utilized depending on the inclination angle of the bottom surface of the composite material component with respect to its upper surface. This makes it possible to derive the porosity rate correctly even in cases where a certain composite material component includes different structures or shapes. Note that the porosity rate conversion graph set for each portion may include a graph used for deriving zero as the porosity rate irrespective of a thickness difference and a signal difference. This graph applied to a predetermined portion can serve as a mask which prevents the porosity rate from being evaluated for the predetermined portion. To automatically select a conversion graph from among these plural conversion graphs, a test condition application map is used (see Fig. 13).

[0063] In order to address a case where evaluation based on a particular thickness is necessary, a thickness map may be pre-stored in a memory area, instead of thickness information derived from the C-TOF image. Alternatively, the thickness map may be contained in the test condition application map. In a further alternative, a planar image may be generated in such a manner that the planar image is displayed by gray scales (tones) according to the porosity rate. In this planar image, a magnitude of the porosity rate can be displayed as a contour representation shown in Fig. 14. In a further alternative, the planar image displayed as the contour representation and the C-AMP image may be superposed together.

[0064] Although the embodiment of the present invention has been described, the embodiment of the present invention can be suitably changed within the scope of the present invention.

Industrial Applicability



[0065] In accordance with the present invention, it is possible to achieve advantages that a burden of a work for determining whether or not an internal flaw is present in a composite material component can be lessened and determination can be made substantially without depending on an inspector's skill. Therefore, the present invention is advantageously applied to ultrasonic testing of large-sized components such as composite material components for use in aircraft.

Reference Signs Lists



[0066] 
1
ultrasonic testing device
5
computer
7
CPU
8
ROM
9
RAM
12
driver
15
storage medium
20
determination assist system
21
first image generating section
22
second image generating section
23
differentiation section
24
binarization section
25
determination image generating section



Claims

1. A determination assist system for use in ultrasonic testing, which generates a determination image used to determine whether or not porosity is present in a composite material component, based on data of plural kinds of test indices obtained in an ultrasonic testing device, the determination assist system comprising:

a first image generating section for generating a first planar image which is a gradational image, based on data of signal intensity of a reflected sound wave;

an interpolation section which interpolates data of a thickness of a region of the composite material component for which a reflected sound wave from a bottom surface of the composite material component is not displayed clearly in the first planar image, based on data of a thickness of a surrounding region of the said region in the composite material component; and

a deriving section for deriving a degree of the porosity based on the interpolated data of the thickness of said region, and a difference between signal intensity of a reflected sound wave from the bottom surface of the composite material component and signal intensity of a reflected sound wave from a portion where the porosity is present.


 
2. The determination assist system for use in ultrasonic testing according to Claim 1,
wherein the deriving section calculates correct porosity value according to a shape and other condition, by using a porosity rate conversion graph with reference to a test condition application map.
 
3. The determination assist system for use in ultrasonic testing according to Claim 2, which performs display in such a manner that the first planar image and a planar image generated as a contour representation based on a calculated correct porosity value are superposed together.
 
4. A determination assist method for use in ultrasonic testing, which generates a determination image used to determine whether or not porosity is present in a composite material component, based on data of plural kinds of test indices obtained in an ultrasonic testing device, the determination assist method comprising the steps of:

generating a first planar image which is a gradational image, based on data of signal intensity of a reflected sound wave;

interpolating data of a thickness of a region of the composite material component for which a reflected sound wave from a bottom surface of the composite material component is not displayed clearly in the first planar image, based on data of a thickness of a surrounding region of the said region in the composite material component; and

deriving a degree of the porosity based on the interpolated data of the thickness of said region, and a difference between signal intensity of a reflected sound wave from the bottom surface of the composite material component and signal intensity of a reflected sound wave from a portion where the porosity is present.


 
5. The determination assist method for use in ultrasonic testing according to Claim 4,
wherein in the step of deriving the degree of the porosity, a correct porosity_value is calculated according to a shape and other condition, by using a porosity rate conversion graph with reference to a test condition application map.
 
6. The determination assist method for use in ultrasonic testing according to Claim 5, further comprising the step of:

performing display in such a manner that the first planar image and a planar image generated as a contour representation based on a value of the calculated correct porosity are superposed together.


 
7. A determination assist program for use in ultrasonic testing, which is executed to cause a computer to perform the method as recited in any one of Claims 4 to 6.
 
8. A computer-readable storage medium which contains the determination assist program as recited in Claim 7.
 




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Cited references

REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description




Non-patent literature cited in the description