Ultrasonics is a widely used nondestructive testing technique, which is often applied off-line for weld quality inspection. Laser ultrasonic (LU) inspection systems have the potential for on-line application, providing the means to identify unacceptable welds as they are formed. Because LU systems are non-contacting, they can be used for testing moving specimens or for operation in hazardous and/or high temperature environments. A highly versatile system can be created when an optical fiber delivery system is incorporated into the design. Introduction of a focusing objective increases the allowable working distance and permits stronger generation using material ablation as the generating mechanism. This paper describes the development of a laser ultrasonic probe using an optical fiber delivery system with a distal end, focusing objective. The optical fiber delivery system can be configured as a single fiber source, a linear array (fiber bundle) or a phased array. Results include experimentally obtained directivity patterns demonstrating ultrasonic generation using ablation sources. Thermoelastic source results are also included. This paper demonstrates the potential of the fiber tool and presents an overview of the weld control scheme.

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