July 24, 2009
The Acoustocam is the world’s only portable ultrasound imaging camera. Imperium, Inc., the manufacturer of the Acoustocam, is developing two alternate configurations of the camera under the DOD’s SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) Program to meet NAVAIR’s current requirements for quickly and easily inspecting composite structures for non-visible damage. The SBIR Program provides funding for small business R&D projects with a primary focus on serving the needs of the defense community.
Imperium is developing two different products to address the Navy’s requirements to perform recurring inspections of large sandwich (honeycomb) structures and to detect and quantify impact or battle damage in composite laminates. A through-transmission ultrasonic camera system is being designed to detect skin-to-core disbonds in thin honeycomb structures such as helicopter rotor blades; and a simpler, pulse-echo version of the Acoustocam is being developed to detect defects (delaminations, disbonds, corrosion, etc.) in composite laminate and metallic sheet- or plate-like structures when only one side of the structure is accessible.
The Acoustocam has several significant advantages over traditional pulse-echo or through-transmission beyond its speed and simplicity of use. The fact that it is a digital imaging technology allows the user to archive all data recorded and utilized image processing techniques to enhance defect detectability. The archived images can be compared to track damage progression over time. Future upgrades are planned to add encoders to provide location data that could be used to “stitch” the individual frames together to create seamless images of larger structures and wireless data transfer to remote viewing locations so the data can be collected by maintenance personnel and interpreted by nondestructive inspection personnel.