A series of ultrasonic elements arranged in a phased array transducer can provide the capability to activate each element separately but in a programmed sequence. This will help the acoustic signal to be generated at desired focusing distances and anticipated angles for specific materials and structures. In case of composite material inspection, this characteristic of the phased array method can improve the undesirable effects of the high attenuation and anisotropic structure of composite materials on response signals. In this study different phased array probes and wedges which are commercially available were evaluated for their response signals’ characteristics. First, the capability and resolution of bulk wave generation were studied for each set of probe and wedge, and the response signals were compared to that of the conventional single element ultrasonic transducers for different thicknesses composite plates. Then the resolution of the response signals and their sensitivity to defect size were evaluated and compared to the single element transducers as well. Next, each phased array probe and wedge set was used to generate plate waves in aluminum plates based on plate wave propagation theory, probe and wedge physical properties and the definition of delay law. Results show a general improvement in response signals’ strength and resolution for phased array method in comparison to the single element transducers. Also some plate wave modes could be generated with optimized signal generation parameters in phased array system.

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