Experiment and simulation study of 3D magnetic field sensing for magnetic flux leakage defect characterisation

Yong Li, John Wilson, Gui Yun Tian

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Magnetic flux leakage (MFL) testing is widely used to detect and characterise defects in pipelines, rail tracks and other structures. The measurement of the two field components perpendicular to the test surface and parallel to the applied field in MFL systems is well established. However, it is rarely effective when the shapes of the specimens and defects with respect to the applied field are arbitrary. In order to overcome the pitfalls of traditional MFL measurement, measurement of the three-dimensional (3D) magnetic field is proposed. The study is undertaken using extensive finite element analysis (FEA) focussing on the 3D distribution of magnetic fields for defect characterisation and employing a high sensitivity 3-axis magnetic field sensor in experimental study. Several MFL tests were undertaken on steel samples, including a section of rail track. The experimental and FEA test results show that data from not only the x- and z-axes but also y-axis can give comprehensive positional information about defects in terms of shape and orientation, being especially advantageous where the defect is aligned close to parallel to the applied field. The work concludes that 3D magnetic field sensing could be used to improve the defect characterisation capabilities of existing MFL systems, especially where defects have irregular geometries.
    Original languageUndefined
    Pages (from-to)179-184
    Number of pages6
    JournalNDT and E International
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


    • Nondestructive testing
    • Magnetic flux leakage
    • Finite element analysis
    • 3D magnetic field measurement

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