Nondestructive Evaluation of Adhesively-Joined Aluminum Alloy Sheets Using an Ultrasonic Array 2015-01-0702
Adhesive bonding technology has gained ever-increasing significance in automotive industry, especially with the growing use of aluminum (Al) alloy body structures. The variability in thicknesses of the metal and adhesive layers, as well as in joint geometry, of automotive components has presented challenges in nondestructive evaluation of adhesive joints. Though these challenges were recently overcome for steel-adhesive joints using an ultrasonic pulse-echo technique, the difference in acoustic impedances of steel and Al leads to a lack of robustness in utilizing the same algorithm for Al-adhesive joints. Here, we present the results from using a modified version of this technique to inspect Al-adhesive joints in both laboratory and production environments. A 15-MHz, 52-pixel, 10 mm × 10 mm matrix array of ultrasonic transducers was used to obtain ultrasonic pulse echoes from joint interfaces, analysis of which produced C-scan images of the adhesive bead. The instrument and technique were extensively tested in an automotive plant on the hem adhesive around an Al hood, a very challenging joint geometry. The adhesive bead width obtained ultrasonically matched the width measured after teardown within 1 mm with an accuracy of 94%.