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Non Destructive Testing 2017: 60 Seconds With Bruce Drinkwater, University of Bristol

Institution News Team

Non Destructive Testing 2017
Non Destructive Testing 2017

Non Destructive Testing 2017 will be taking place on 21-22 March in Sheffield.


Ahead of Non Destructive Testing 2017, we spoke to Bruce Drinkwater, Professor of Ultrasonics at the University of Bristol. Bruce explains his role and involvement in non-destructive testing and examination, the number one challenge for NDT and what developments in methods and techniques he is most interested in for the future.

Bruce Drinkwater: Professor of Ultrasonics, University of Bristol

In 1996, after obtaining B.Eng. and Ph.D. degrees from Imperial College, Bruce Drinkwater joined the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Bristol. He was promoted to Professor of Ultrasonics in 2007 and now leads the Ultrasonics and NDT research group. His current research interests include ultrasonic array imaging for NDT, defect characterisation as well as acoustic tweezers and tractor beams. Bruce’s NDT research has led to the successful commercialisation of an array wheel probe, and the imaging techniques he helped develop are now widely used in industry. In 2015, Bruce co-invented the world’s first stable ultrasonic tractor beam.

Q:Could you briefly explain your role, involvement and experience in non-destructive testing and evaluation?

Bruce Drinkwater: I am Professor of Ultrasonics at the University of Bristol. There I lead a group of 30 researchers, all working on various aspects of ultrasonics, particularly non-destructive testing applications. Our mission is to come up with the next generation of non-destructive testing technology. And, as non-destructive testing is a measurement science, it’s really important to understand the physics behind any new technology. This means we spend a lot of time developing mathematical models of new inspections to help us explore where a new technique will succeed and where it might be less reliable.

Q: What are you most looking forward to by attending and presenting at Non Destructive Testing 2017?

BD: I’m presenting on ultrasonic array imaging. This technology has come a long way in the last 10 years and is now widely used. I’m going to explore the basics of array imaging as well as some for the latest developments.

Q: What is the number one challenged being faced by non-destructive testing and evaluation?

BD: The big problem I’m working on is improving defect characterisation. The challenge is to turn the ultrasonic data into reliable information on the nature and size of the defect. Here I’m trying to understand the fundamental limits of the information contained in these signals and how it can be accessed. A key part of this challenge is to understand exactly how statistically significant this information is.

Q: What developments in NDT methods and techniques are you most interested in for the future and why?

BD: I think the next decade will see dramatic improvements in permanently installed monitoring systems. These have been much discussed, but they are still quite unsophisticated compared with deployable systems such as ultrasonic arrays. Miniaturisation of the sensors, the electronics and the communications will enable sophisticated monitoring systems to be installed much more widely. In the future, the component will tell the operator when it needs replacing.

Find out more

Bruce Drinkwater will be speaking at Non Destructive Testing 2017 on 21-22 March in Sheffield. The event will provide an understanding of how to get the most out of NDT, the new techniques available and their reliability. Attendees will also understand the developments being made with real time monitoring solutions and testing of composites.

Key programme highlights:

  • RWE and Network Rail discuss how to enhance the effectiveness of NDT
  • Assess advanced NDT techniques and their ability to replace traditional methods with Plant Integrity, University of Southampton and University of Bristol
  • Gain technique insights on Phased Array Ultrasonics, Guided Wave Testing and Thermography
  • Review the reliability and probability of detection with NDT techniques
  • Understand the impact Human Factors can have on NDT and how Amec Foster Wheeler consider and overcome errors as a result
  • Hear how Dstl (Ministry of Defence) use NDE to support remnant life prediction of military platforms and its use in assessing structural integrity

For further information, visit the Non Destructive Testing 2017 event page.

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