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NDT&E International 33 (2000) 423428 www.elsevier.


Application of a novel type Barkhausen noise sensor to continuous fatigue monitoring

M. Lindgren*, T. Lepisto
Tampere University of Technology, Institute of the Materials Science, P.O. Box 589, 33101 Tampere, Finland Received 24 November 1999; received in revised form 18 February 2000; accepted 21 February 2000

Abstract A novel Barkhausen noise (BN) sensor with no need for external magnetization was tested and applied to continuous fatigue monitoring of mild steel and high strength steel specimens. This new type of sensor indicated an increase in the BN rms value under maximum tensile stress during one cycle in cyclic bending tests with increasing stress amplitude. The BN rms value under maximum compressive stress stayed, however, approximately constant. The reason for this behaviour was the stress-induced anisotropy of the BN. Bending fatigue experiments with constant stress amplitude and R 1 were conducted at different stress levels. In addition to the BN also the acoustic emission of the specimen was measured. In the mild steel specimens the BN amplitude stayed constant after the initial saturation period, but just prior to the failure of the specimen the amplitude increased meaningfully. This increase occurred at the same time as the increase in the acoustic emission signal indicating the beginning of crack initiation and growth. In the high strength steel specimens the BN amplitude decreased after the initial saturation period. The increase of the BN signal started well before the failure of the specimen and even before the increase in the acoustic emission signal. 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Barkhausen noise; Acoustic emission; Fatigue; Non-destructive inspection

1. Introduction Non-destructive evaluation of the possibility for fatigue fracture occurrence would be very valuable for components subjected to cyclic stressing. So far, no NDT method has shown up to be good enough for that. In a component under fatigue loading well-dened micro and macroscale changes will occur in the microstructure. In the beginning of the fatigue the dislocation structure of the material will change and later on fatigue cracks may initiate in specic locations and some of them will propagate if the stress at the crack tip is high enough. In addition to the general fatigue properties of the material, the fatigue crack initiation and propagation will depend on the stress state. On the other hand, magnetic properties of a material depend on the microstructure and the internal and external stress level of the material. Thus, the evaluation of these features offers an excellent possibility for a non-destructive fatigue damage monitoring [1]. In a ferromagnetic material Barkhausen noise (BN) signal is generated because of the irreversible movement of magnetic domain walls. This movement can be induced
* Corresponding author. Tel.: 358-3-365-2111; fax: 2330. E-mail address: maril@cc.tut. (M. Lindgren). 0963-8695/00/$ - see front matter PII: S0963-869 5(00)00011-6 358-3-365-

by applying a time varying magnetic eld into the material or by introducing dimensional changes into it. Both will force domain walls to search for new equilibrium positions and this in turn will generate BN. The motion of domain walls is hindered by grain boundaries, other interfaces like phase boundaries [2] and dislocation pile-ups [3]. Pinning of the domain walls slows down their velocity and reduces the amplitude of the BN. The amplitude of the BN depends on the stress. In steels with positive magnetostriction there is a BN vs. stress region where elastic tensile stresses in the direction of magnetization increase the BN amplitude and compressive stresses decrease it [4,5]. Plastic deformation is found to decrease the BN amplitude [6] due to the pinning of Bloch walls by dislocations. Kettunen and Ruuskanen [7] studied the behaviour of the BN amplitude in two low carbon structural steels in annealed condition as a function of stress cycles in tensioncompression fatigue under constant stress amplitudes. One stress amplitude level was below the fatigue limit of the material and the other levels corresponded, both to the low and high cycle regimes of the material. BN measurements were carried out under zero load. Kettunen and Ruuskanen found out that in the beginning of fatigue cycling the signal level increased. The amount of the

2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.


M. Lindgren, T. Lepisto / NDT&E International 33 (2000) 423428

Table 1 The nominal chemical compositions of the steels studied Material High strength steel Mild steel C 0.14 0.08 Si 0.34 0.1 Mn 0.75 0.45 P 0.012 0.012 S 0.001 0.013 Cu 0.23 0.12 Ni 0.1 0.04 Cr 0.57 0.02 Mo 0.2 0.002 Al V N




increase depended on the stress amplitude. Just before the failure of the specimen there appeared either an increase or a decrease of the signal level. Karjalainen and Moilanen [6] studied the BN in a mild steel as a function of the number of cycles in constant deection bending fatigue. High cycle fatigue tests were performed with strain amplitudes ranging from 0.00085 to 0.00250 under zero mean strain and BN measurements were made in the unloaded condition. The material hardened cyclically at the highest strain amplitude otherwise no hardening or softening was observed. They observed that the overall signal amplitude decreased during the fatigue tests even with strain amplitudes where no hardening was detected. In some cases, there appeared a sudden increase in the signal level prior to the failure. Furuya et al. [8] studied the BN during low cycle fatigue experiments in mild steels. The experiments were carried out with constant stress amplitude (ranging from 326 to 424 MPa, the yield stress of the material was 339 MPa) and R 0: They found out that the rms value of the BN amplitude decreased continuously during the cyclic loading and no particular changes in the amplitude was noticed before the failure. According to their observations, the decrease of the amplitude was proportional to the applied stress level. Chen et al. [9] measured BN and several magnetic hysteresis parameters such as coersivity, remanence, initial permeability and maximum differential permeability at predetermined intervals throughout the fatigue life in the medium strength structural alloy A533B. Fatigue tests were performed with strain control at a strain amplitude of 0.003. The material softened cyclically during the rst 1020% of the fatigue life. In their measurements the BN amplitude increased in the beginning of the tests but a continuous decrease started when approximately 5% of the fatigue life was reached, even though the material was still softening cyclically. They concluded that due to the surface sensitivity of the BN it is a potential method for fatigue damage monitoring. In most of the studies reported in the literature the cycling is stopped at predetermined intervals and the BN measurements are made. Especially during the high-cycle fatigue,
Table 2 The mechanical properties of the steels studied Material Yield strength (N/mm 2) 300 540 Tensile strength (N/mm 2) 420 670 Hardness (HV0.2) Grain size (mm)

this means that it is difcult to make measurements just before the failure due to the inevitable scatter in the fatigue life. This problem can be avoided by a continuous BN signal monitoring as was done in this study.

2. Materials and methods Two steel grades were studied in the present work. One was a mild steel and the other one a high strength steel. The nominal chemical compositions of the steels are given in Table 1. The mechanical properties of the tested materials are presented in Table 2. Special specimen geometry, enabling simultaneous BN and acoustic emission measurements was used. The specimen geometry and the location of the Barkhausen and acoustic emission sensors are depicted in Fig. 1. Specimens were cut from a 3 mm thick sheet so that the long edge of the specimen was parallel to the transverse direction (TD) of the sheet. The rms value of the BN burst was measured with commercial equipment Rollscan 200-1 manufactured by Stresstech Inc. In the present study, a completely new sensor type was used. Normal Barkhausen sensors include both magnetizing and analysing coils. In this study, the dimensional changes of the specimen took care of the necessary magnetization and therefore the new sensor did not contain any magnetizing coil. A normal commercial sensor containing both magnetizing and analysing coils was used as a reference when studying the behaviour of the new sensor. Several preliminary tests were carried out before the fatigue tests to study the behaviour of the new sensor. Mild steel and high strength steel specimens were subjected to cyclic bending loading under constant deection with R 1: BN measurements were carried out simultaneously. Testing frequency was 0.25 Hz and BN recording interval was 50 ms. BN rms value at maximum tensile load and maximum compression load was monitored as a function of nominal stress amplitude. The nominal stress amplitude was calculated from the strain values measured by a strain gauge on the specimen surface. Fatigue tests were carried out by a constant deection bending fatigue machine, i.e. using constant stress and R 1: The test frequency was 2.5 Hz. During fatigue tests, the BN and acoustic emission were monitored continuously. In the fatigue experiments, BN values were recorded with 0.5 s intervals. This means that the measurements took place under zero and maximum tensile loading. The acoustic emission measurements were conducted by commercial equipment ACM-Optimatic provided by Acutest

Mild steel High strength steel

120 200

30 3

M. Lindgren, T. Lepisto / NDT&E International 33 (2000) 423428


Fig. 1. The specimen geometry and the location of sensors used.

Inc. The measuring system consisted of piezoceramic R15 sensors, a preamplier and computer system. One sensor was placed on the specimen, location indicated in Fig. 1, and the other one was fastened to the fatigue testing machine as close to the specimen as possible. Plastic plates and doublesided adhesive tape were placed under the specimen and between the specimen and the tightening screws to eliminate the noise coming from the fatigue testing machine. The band width of the acoustic emission measurements was 10 kHz. X-ray diffraction stress analysis was used to determine whether signicant residual stresses existed or not on the specimen surface. The measurements were carried out by Xstress 3000 equipment manufactured by Stresstech Inc. using CrKa radiation and the standard d vs. sin 2 c-technique [10]. Mechanical tests were performed with servohydraulic testing machine MTS 810 Material Test System. Strain gauges were used for strain measurements during the fatigue tests. The location of strain gauge is shown in Fig. 1.

3. Results and discussion 3.1. Properties of the new sensor Measurements with the new sensor showed that the BN

rms at the maximum tensile load during one cycle increased with increasing stress amplitude until the plastic deformation, detected by the strain gauges, started at specimen surface. The yield stress of the studied mild steel, measured by tensile tests was 300 MPa. Strain gauge measurements indicated, however, that plastic deformation occurred already at cyclic stress amplitudes of 250 MPa. Therefore, the drop of the BN rms at the maximum tensile load of 250 MPa is believed to be caused by the beginning of plastic deformation on the specimen surface. The BN rms at maximum compressive load stayed, however, almost constant as shown in Fig. 2 for the mild steel. The behaviour of the mild steel and the high strength steel was very similar. Many results reported in the literature [4,5,11] indicate that the BN amplitude decreases, with increasing compressive stress amplitude until saturation takes place. It is also observed, that sometimes the absolute value of the saturation compressive stress, is less than the saturation tensile stress [4,12]. These studies with the new sensor do not indicate clearly whether the constant BN rms value at maximum compressive load is caused by the saturation or due to the characteristics of the sensor. Therefore, the same experiments were performed with a conventional BN sensor. The results of these measurements for the mild steel are presented in Fig. 2. It was found that BN rms at maximum tensile load

Fig. 2. BN rms for mild steel at maximum tensile and compressive loads during one load cycle for the new sensor and a conventional sensor. Marker size includes the error bars.


M. Lindgren, T. Lepisto / NDT&E International 33 (2000) 423428

Table 3 Measured Barkhausen noise and X-ray diffraction values residual stress in mild steel and high strength steel in unloaded condition Angle in respect to the rolling direction Mild steel Rms of the Barkhausen noise in arbitrary units 0 30 45 60 90 137 ^ 7 119 ^ 6 112 ^ 6 116 ^ 6 137 ^ 7 Residual stress measured by X-ray diffraction (MPa) 52 ^ 24 83 ^ 21 60 ^ 14 54 ^ 22 56 ^ 14 High strength steel Rms of the Barkhausen noise in arbitrary units 145 ^ 7 134 ^ 7 123 ^ 6 116 ^ 6 70 ^ 4 Residual stress measured by X-ray diffraction (MPa) 8 ^ 18 24 ^ 20 53 ^ 16 59 ^ 15 68 ^ 14

increased and BN rms at maximum compressive load decreased with increasing stress amplitude. This means that the characteristic properties of the new sensor cause the constant BN value under compressive stresses. When no stress is applied to the material, the BN amplitude is almost isotropic in all measuring directions. The slight angular variations of the BN in the mild steel can be explained by differences in the residual stresses observed in X-ray diffraction measurements. The measured BN and X-ray diffraction values are presented in Table 3. This isotropic behaviour of the BN without applied stress is illustrated by area A1 in Fig. 3 representing the relative magnitudes of BN in the directions shown. When tensile or compressive stress was applied the BN amplitude of the mild steel became anisotropic, i.e. its value depended on the measuring direction. When tensile stress was applied in the rolling direction (RD) the BN amplitude in that direction increased (by area A2 in Fig. 3) but in TD, it decreased due to the Poisson effect (area A3). Under compressive stress, the behaviour was opposite. The BN amplitude decreased in the RD (area A4 in Fig. 3) and increased in the TD (area A5 in Fig. 3). Experimentally, it was observed in uniaxial tension and compression tests that the anisotropy was more pronounced under tension than under compression and the degree of anisotropy increased as a function of stress level. In case of a normal sensor with a specic magnetizing direction the BN amplitudes corresponding to different stress levels (no applied stress, tensile and compressive stress) and certain measuring directions

(RD, TD and at 45 angle to the RD) can be illustrated by the crosses presented in Fig. 3. The new sensor has no denitive magnetizing direction and thus the measured signal under certain stress level cannot be presented by any specic point in the RDTD plane but it can be characterized by a specic area in this plane. The BN signal under tensile stress in the RD can be presented by the area A1 A2 A3 and under compressive stress by the area A1 A4 A5. Due to the stress-induced anisotropy of the BN the area A2 A3 is larger than the area A4 A5. This means that an increasing tensile stress inuences the observed BN more than an increasing compressive stress (see Fig. 2). In the high strength steel the difference in the BN amplitude between the RD and the TD without applied stress was considerably bigger than what was expected based on measured residual stresses. The measured BN and X-ray diffraction values are presented in Table 3. One reason for this may be the microstructure. In a high strength steel pearlite phase tends to form more or less continuous, parallel lamels which in turn will affect the BN. BN in the high strength steel specimens in different directions under uniaxial tension and compression was not studied. Based on Kwuns studies [13] it is believed that the presented explanation for the constant value of the BN under compressive stress measured with the new sensor is also valid for the high strength steel. 3.2. Fatigue experiments The rms value of the BN amplitude can be characterized by the formula [14]: rms N H k v t 1

Fig. 3. Schematic presentation of the stress-induced anisotropy of the BN.

where N H is the number of events per unit time, k is a scaling factor, v is the average speed of moving domain walls and t is the duration of the wall movement. In the beginning of the cyclic stressing the specimen surface may deform plastically especially when the stress amplitude is high. This means that the number of dislocations and hence the number of domain wall pinning sites will increase. This in turn hinders the domain wall movement and the average velocity

M. Lindgren, T. Lepisto / NDT&E International 33 (2000) 423428


Fig. 4. The BN and the acoustic emission as a function of stress cycles for the mild steel.

Fig. 5. The BN and the acoustic emission as a function of stress cycles for the high strength steel.

of the moving domain wall decreases leading to the decrease in the BN amplitude. The measured values of BN amplitude and the acoustic emission as a function of fatigue cycles for the mild steel are shown in Fig. 4. The effect of plastic deformation is seen both in the BN signal and in the acoustic emission. In the beginning of cyclic stressing increase in acoustic emission and decrease in BN amplitude is detected. Due to the plastic deformation, the material starts to harden and after some time the BN level reaches a saturation value and the acoustic emission decreases below the threshold value. Strain gauge measurements during bending fatigue experiments showed that a slight cyclical hardening of the mild steel occurred during the whole fatigue life. Prior to the failure, the BN starts to increase after the start of the increase in the acoustic emission. The increase of the BN continues until the specimen is broken. The BN and the acoustic emission data as a function of fatigue cycles for the high strength steel is shown in Fig. 5. In this case, the maximum stress on the specimen surface is below the yield strength and thus no large-scale plastic deformation is expected. At the beginning of the fatigue, cycling a sudden valley-like drop occurs in the BN signal. This drop is due to an external disturbance in the measuring system detected also with acoustic emission sensor connected directly to the fatigue testing machine. After some time, the BN starts to decrease as a function of fatigue cycles until approximately 70% of the fatigue life is reached. Then the BN signal increased until the failure occurs. The increase in the acoustic emission signal indicating the start of nucleation and crack growth started much later than the increase of the BN signal. In the high strength steel the initial increase in the BN level is caused by the relaxation of the initial compressive residual stresses of the specimen surface. The reason for the further decrease of the BN amplitude is not evident. Strain gauge measurements carried out during the fatigue experiments indicated a slight cyclical softening of the high strength steel. Based on this observation the BN signal level should have increased later on as a function of fatigue cycles. One possible reason for the decrease in the BN amplitude is that cyclic loading causes plastic deformation on a microscopic scale and this in turn increases the number

of dislocations and reduces the BN. The drastic drop of the BN amplitude observed in the present measurements is believed to be due to crack formation under the sensor. 4. Conclusions Continuous monitoring of fatigue damage evolution by the BN is possible with a new type of sensor having no magnetization coils. The maximum rms value of the BN was found to increase with increasing stress amplitude while the minimum rms value stayed approximately constant. The change of BN amplitude as a function of fatigue cycles was different in the mild steel and high strength steel specimens. In mild steel specimens, the BN value reached a constant value after surface plastication. Deviation from this constant value occurred when crack nucleation and growth started. In the high strength steel, the BN value decreased continuously after the initial increase period. After approximately 70% of the fatigue life, an increase in the BN signal was detected. In the beginning of the crack growth, identied by the increase in the acoustic emission signal, a drastic drop in the BN signal was detected. Acknowledgements Stresstech Inc. is thanked for providing the BN measurement equipment and manufacturing the sensor. We are grateful to Dr Lasse Suominen for valuable discussions and comments. Acutest Inc. is acknowledged for providing the acoustic emission measurement system. Quality Tubing Inc. is thanked for providing the high-strength steel. The aid of Ms S. Bolotin in performing some of the experiments and data processing is also acknowledged. The nancial support of Tekes and several industrial companies is gratefully acknowledged. References
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