BreakThrough Interview

“The World’s Smallest Nondestructive Inspection Device Born from Our President’s Smile” (Volume 1)Tsukuba Technology Co., Ltd.

2017.02.20

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  • 1. The world’s smallest class laser ultrasonic visualizing inspector
    -Complete non-contact inspection of internal defects in metal, ceramic, and resin objects of complex shapes-

Headquartered in Tsukuba city, Tsukuba Technology, commercialized the world’s smallest class nondestructive inspection device. The company was established in 2005 as a technology transfer venture company of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), and the president is a man from China wearing a gentle smile, Bo Wang. He came to Japan after researching radars in China, and researched the software and hardware of 3D image processing at Tsukuba University, Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), etc. He established the current company together with his colleagues from AIST, including Mr. Takatsubo (CTO of Tsukuba Technology). The company’s main products are the world’s smallest class Laser Ultrasonic Visualizing Inspector (LUVI) and X-Ray Inspector. The company is currently striving towards global expansion.

Generates ultrasonic waves inside objects by irradiating laser for complete non-contact detection of fine defects

Figure 1 shows the overall image of LUVI. A YAG pulse laser (max 2mj, pulse width up to 2ns, beam diameter φ0.5mm) is irradiated on the inspected object from a distance of 10cm to 2m at a speed of 4000 pulse/second. The irradiation point is scanned in the x and y directions with a galvanometer mirror (several tens of thousands of points to several hundred thousand points). An ultrasonic wave is generated inside the object by repeatedly creating thermal distortion on the surface. The ultrasonic wave that reflects off of the internal defect and returns to the surface is received again by the laser receiver. Applying the image processing technology that President Wang specializes in, the data is converted to an image to visualize the propagation status of the ultrasonic waves inside the inspected object (Figure 2). The greatest feature of this inspector is that the laser transmitter and receiver parts are completely free of contact with the object being inspected. Due to this feature, it can inspect internal defects even for objects with complex surface shapes. “Unlike similar conventional products, we improved overall operability and control level by scanning the laser transmitting side,” explains a company representative.

Figure 1: Laser Ultrasonic Visualizing Inspector (LUVI)
Figure 2: Monitor screen (The propagation status of ultrasonic waves and the presence/absence of defects can be checked simultaneously on the spot)

Great effectiveness in the nondestructive testing of a wide variety of materials. The smallest defect that can be detected is 20μm!

LUVI is able to inspect a wide range of objects, including metal, ceramic, and resin objects. It can also check for peeling between CFRP reinforced fiber and resin, among other features, attracting attention from automakers, aircraft manufacturers, etc. For metal materials, it can check for fine internal defects of a minimum size of 0.1mm. However, there are great demands for defect inspection of parts that are just few μm in size from the market, and the company is currently making efforts to heighten inspection detectability. So far, the smallest defect detected by LUVI has been 20μm.

Great effectiveness in the inspection of infrastructures such as tunnels and bridges, as well as aviation, aerospace, and automotive parts

We are beginning to see LUVI being used for the inspection of aviation, aerospace, and automotive parts, as well as various plants, and for material development. While securing the reliability of infrastructures such as tunnels and bridges have recently become a high priority issue, our compact and lightweight, complete non-contact inspection device is expected to perform well in these areas of securing reliability of infrastructures. Its performance has been verified in an inspection of a large-sized bridge in the Kanto region, and CTO Takatsubo states, “Precisely because the device is compact, we were able to bring the device inside the narrow structures of the bridge” (the hole in the cardboard shown in Figure 3 indicates the entry size to the inside of the structure). Furthermore, by leveraging the advantage of being able to conduct inspection as far as 2m away from the object (maximum of 5m when using a lens), LUVI is expected to be used in inspection of defects in tunnels, which has recently become a problem.

Figure 3: Entry size connecting to the inside of the bridge structure
In order to inspect inside the structure, it is necessary to pass the inspection device through an entry the size of the hole in the cardboard. The person holding the cardboard is CTO Takatsubo.

President Wang’s creed is “Where there is a will, there is a way.” Once he sets a goal, he never gives up!

When returning to China, President Wang was inspired by many of his friends who had started their own companies, and decided on launching his own business, roused to action, thinking “If they can do it, so can I!” The creed of President Wang, who never gives up on his goals once they are set, is “Where there is a will, there is a way.” He has struggled many times in the past in raising funds, but each time he has overcome his problems with a strong will and vitality. President Wang is always thinking about technological development and products, while always willing to make effort, says he had no time for worry or gloom. Thinking that he must be strict toward others too, we secretly asked his employees about him, but they responded that they had never seen the president angry. Although President Wang is strict toward technology, he is kind toward his employees.


President Wang brimming with vitality, always wearing a gentle smile

company information

We are venture company of National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, developing, manufacturing and selling the non-destructive inspection device. Our developing theme is "from touching inspection to non-contact inspection/ from hearing technology to seeing technology".

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