Section of a 3D illustration of the internal structure of a city car during operation


A major task of the business field "automotive" is to support car manufacturers as well as supplier industry in testing new materials and products fast and reliably by means of nondestructive methods. Early inclusion of NDT design into the development process provides high potential of cost efficiency at  concurrently enhanced product quality by adequate inspection scheduling. Thematic work is concerned, amongst others, with the inspection and process control of hardness and mechanical-technological properties, defect inspection of ultra-high-strength steels or NDT for bonding technologies of metals and platics as well as hybride materials.

Also, in later phases of the product life cycle or in case of damage and subsequent repairing solutions for testing and assessing assemblies and structures are highly needed, especially in case of new materials.

The diversity of materials used in automotive industry steadily rises. However, specific material properties can only be exploited in an optimal way if eligible joint technologies are on hand, e.g. glueing methods, thermal methods such as friction stir welding, laser welding and laser soldering, or mechanical procedures such as hemming and clinching. Covering all these methods Fraunhofer IZFP has long-term experience in developing inspection technologies for reliable, nondestructive joint quality assurance.




Air-Coupled Ultrasound Inspection: Contactless and Contamination-Free Materials Characterization

© Fraunhofer IZFP

Air-coupled ultrasound inspection of advanced materials

The structural components used in modern automobiles and aircraft manufacturing are subject to stringent requirements, such as having a lightweight, yet mechanically robust design. Among other things, this ensures structures with improved crash behavior and excellent vibration and sound damping properties. Adhering to such demanding specifications requires the use of innovative materials like carbon or glass fiber reinforced polymer, high-strength steel and lightweight metals, which are often combined into hybrid components.

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High-Frequency Ultrasonic Technology: Optimizing the Quality of Laser Welding Seams (Presshardened Steels)

© Fraunhofer IZFP

Integration of the HF-ultrasonic inspection technology for a fast, efficient monitoring, documentation and optimization of the laser welding quality

Validation for determining all of the relevant quality characteristics (welding seam profile, existence and position of defects, etc.)

Detection of typical defects such as “false friends“, “seam collapse“ and “blow out“ as well as pores with a minimum diameter of approx. 0.2 millimeters

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Clinching: Offline and Online Measurement of the Wall Thickness in Clinched Joints

© Fraunhofer IZFP

Prototype system for offline determination of base thickness in clinched joints

For a fast quality monitoring of clinched joints, the eddy current method was refined

Combination of several eddy current frequencies

Disturbances such as sensor lifting from the surface or changes in conductivity and permeability can be distinguished from the objective criterion “base thickness“

Calibration needed

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Surface Hardening Depth (SHD): Nondestructive Inspection of Inductively Hardened Parts and Components Using Ultrasonic Backscattering

© Fraunhofer IZFP

Crank shaft inspection using SHD sensor

Long-term experience with customized ultrasonic hardware and software

Fraunhofer IZFP designs and manufactures optimized ultrasonic electronics

Systems for automated and manual testing are available

No calibration of reference parts with defined hardness

Impartial, user-independent measurement technique

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3MA-Based Valve Spring Scanner: Nondestructive Evaluation of Hardness and Residual Stress Depth Profiles

© Fraunhofer IZFP / Uwe Bellhäuser

Valve Spring Scanner

Concurrent determination of various relevant quality characteristics of a material (e.g. hardness, residual stresses in different measuring depths)

No destruction of the specimen

Integration in fully automated testing systems

Calibration needed

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EMUS: Defect Inspection using Electromagnetic Ultrasound Technology

© Fraunhofer IZFP

Detection of a constriction

Contactless ultrasound inspection without couplants

Real-time capable; can be automated for in-line inspections.

Industrial-scale, robust design leads to long service life without visible wear and tear

Cold and warm sheet metal forming (i.e. auto body parts)

Induction Thermography: Automated Robot-Assisted Inspection of Ferromagnetic Components for Surface Cracks

© Fraunhofer IZFP

Surface crack testing without surface treatment

Suitable for components with complex geometry

Objective and reliable testing results

Determination of the defect size (crack length and crack depth)

Transformation of the inspection results (proven defects)  to the real geometry

Quantitative defect size determination

Suitable for fully automated testing facilities with 100% quality inspection of components in the production line