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TrainNDT: A Novel NDT Training System

TrainNDT is a novel non-destructive testing (NDT) training system that simulates real ultrasonic testing, using dummy probes, mock samples, a wireless tracking device and a tablet imitating an ultrasonic testing kit.

TrainNDT replicates the experience of scanning a probe over a real-life sample that contains genuine flaws – the advanced tracking technology allows the live display of the interaction between the sound beam and flaws in fine detail, while the streamlined software allows for a smooth upload of the master waveforms to the device screen.

Demonstration of TrainNDT

Lifelike Mock Samples and Probes

Mock samples have been re-created from real samples from TWI’s Training School, including calibration blocks, delamination plates and butt weld samples. They were ultrasonically re-created in fine detail with 1mm and 1° resolution. Each mock sample was either machined or injection-moulded and can be projected with an unlimited number of real ones. Replica calibration blocks are used to teach the measurement of probe index points and setting sensitivity; while weld samples are used to train students on learning the echo dynamics of the flaws.

Two mock probes have been 3D printed, based on straight and angled probes and they can be projected with different frequencies and angles. Customised circuits are fitted at the bottom of the dummy probes, so that the presence of couplant can be detected. The tracking markers are fitted on top, to maximise their visibility to the cameras.

Figure 1. TrainNDT's mock samples and probes.
Figure 1. TrainNDT's mock samples and probes.
Figure 2. Conventional ultrasonic testing training.
Figure 2. Conventional ultrasonic testing training.

Advanced User Interface and Tracking System

A user interface has been developed to reflect a typical ultrasonic flaw detector screen. The display shows the appropriate, pre-mastered ultrasonic A-scan based the position and orientation of the dummy probe. Typical functions like gates, gain, ranges, probe delays etc. can be accessed via touch screen.

The tracking system consists of four infrared cameras to independently track the probes and samples. Their relative position is used to extract the right signal. So, it does not matter if the sample has been moved during a live scan, as is the case with a real-life scan.

Applications and Benefits

TrainNDT can be used for NDT training, as well as to check the competency of an NDT inspector.

It offers many benefits, including:

  • Flexibility in location and class sizes
  • Reduction in the cost of manufacturing metallic samples with flaws
  • Access to a wider range of flaws, including in-service flaws
  • Sharing of live scan data
  • Tracking and recording of trainee’s scanning behaviour, for example probe position and orientation
  • Simple to set up and dismantle
  • Ability to be permanently fixed to structures, like ceilings, in a training class room


TrainNDT is a collaboration between Applied Inspection Ltd, InnoTec UK, Eastpoint Software Ltd and TWI Ltd. TrainNDT is a result of a research project funded by Innovate UK. Reference no. 103614.

Figure 3. Advanced tracking system and user interface.
Figure 3. Advanced tracking system and user interface.
Avatar Lu Zhao Principal Project Leader - Non-destructive Testing

Lu is a Chartered Engineer and Member of The Welding Institute, with a BA and MEng in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cambridge prior to embarking on her professional career. She joined TWI in November 2009 as a Project Leader. Her main interests are in developing advanced inspection techniques for industrial applications and prototypes for automation and advanced inspection solutions. Lu has worked on a range of development projects including laser ultrasonic testing (UT) inspection techniques, high precision immersion measurements, prototypes for an underwater ship inspection vehicle, a UT simulator and an automated railway track inspection device.

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