Ultrasonic thickness gauges or testers are used to measure the metal thickness of structural steel, piping, ship hulls, and other metals to monitor damage, corrosion, and erosion. They offer a fast and reliable way to inspect various materials and substrates using ultrasonic waves. When buying an ultrasonic thickness gauge, you must know what the instrument can and cannot do beforehand, among other factors you need to evaluate.
Your budget is the first consideration you ought to make when selecting an ultrasonic thickness tester. Depending on the manufacturer or vendor, a handheld ultrasonic thickness gauge ranges from a few hundred dollars to more than four thousand dollars.
The price of the ultrasonic gauge revolves more around its application. That is why it is important to enquire what the instrument can and cannot do beforehand so that you don't have a misconception of its capabilities. Click here to see more about the applications of an ultrasonic thickness gauge.
Battery type and environmental concerns
Some ultrasonic thickness gauges utilize the reliability of AA alkaline batteries. In contrast, others provide the convenience of 24hours battery life with lithium-ion rechargeable batteries but at the sacrifice of a larger size. You also need to consider the environmental concerns of the unit, such as explosion-proof, sunlight readability, and IP rating.
Examine the environment in which the unit is used, whether indoor or outdoor, IP rating for moisture and dust, and the size of viewability, including in direct sunlight. Some of these factors narrow down to the reputation of the vendor. Ensure you are buying the unit from a reputable manufacturer.
Size and weight of the unit
The physical size of the device matters a lot, especially if you need convenience during work. Some ultrasonic thickness gauges are small-sized so that they can fit in your shirt pocket for portability, while others are handheld.
Serviceability of the unit
You should also consider the unit's serviceability since you want it to serve you for many years. Research the manufacturer, their reputation, and track record to ensure you are making an informed decision. For instance, do you want a unit with an upgrade path? Some ultrasonic thickness gauges have unlocked software options, so you don't have to return the unit to the manufacturer for field upgradability.
Materials you want to measure
You cannot buy an ultrasonic thickness gauge without considering the materials you want to measure. Any engineering material is usually measured within a specific range. Essentially, you can list all the materials and thickness range to be measured and the desired accuracy, surface finish (rough or smooth), and temperature at the time of readings. Enquire of a fluid can be applied to the material.
Typically the fluid is a water-soluble ultrasonic couplant essential for the high-frequency sound to enter the material. This is because ultrasonic frequencies do not travel in the air and are in millions of cycles per second.
The other factors to examine have more to do with individual preferences and options, such as the use of different diameters, frequencies, and types of probes like pencil vs. dual probe.