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Congratulations on your appointment as professor, Håkan!

‘Thanks, it feels great! It’s not completely new since I’ve been a visitor professor at University West since 2020, and before that, I was associate professor at Chalmers University of Technology.’

What is non-destructive testing?

‘It’s a testing process used to inspect components for defects and other anomalies, without any impact on their functionality or quality. With the help of various techniques such as ultrasound, X-ray and eddy current testing, you can find cracks and other defects in metals, and simultaneously find out what kind of defect it is, how big it is, and where it is.’

‘Non-destructive testing, NDT, is used in the nuclear power industry, and the aviation and space industries where quality requirements are extremely high. Small cracks in metal can grow over time and may have disastrous consequences if they appear in nuclear power plant pipes or an airplane engine’s turbine blades, for instance.’

‘The same techniques can be useful in many different industries, such as manufacturing industries that invest in additive manufacturing and other new manufacturing methods. This becomes increasingly important as the ability to compete in the production system of the future will largely be quality-based. At University West, we’re developing NDT by applying simulation models and tools to ensure product quality in additive manufacturing using various metal materials and components based on composites. ’

Why did you choose this area of research?

‘At the beginning of my research career, my focus was on developing mathematical models for non-destructive testing. In conventional industry, this work has long been performed manually by operators who have learned to identify defects by building experience in their area of expertise.’

‘When I took a leave of absence from Chalmers to try to implement our developed simulation tools in the inspection industry, I was deeply impressed by the competence and craftmanship that testing staff represent. That made me want to develop our simulation tools further to be able to facilitate their work and give a deeper understanding for the techniques they apply. I’m convinced that the experience-founded knowledge base and the conclusions we as specialists come to based on it, cannot be fully replaced by machine learning and AI.’

What attracted you to University West?

‘After 20 years of research with a theoretical focus at Chalmers, I wanted to develop non-destructive testing for new applications in close collaboration with industry. University West invests in experimental research, and I saw good opportunities to build both theoretical and practical knowledge in this research environment.’

‘Our applied research is run in close collaboration with trade and industry around us and is a clear example of how work-integrated learning characterises University West’s research operations.’

‘I’m convinced that the experience-founded knowledge in combination with our theoretical simulation tools provides deeper knowledge in the testing industry, as well as a significantly better final result. It feels incredibly important that our research is relevant and useful for the industry.’

What challenges are there in the research area?

‘The biggest challenge is in transferring knowledge from the nuclear power and aviation industries to the conventional manufacturing industry. Small and medium-sized industry enterprises don’t always have the time to, nor interest in, participating in research projects. But there seem to be many indications that quality assurance will be a competition factor for the industry in the future. So, you must have the knowledge and technology in place.’

What are you mainly focussing on now?

‘We’re developing new courses in non-destructive testing, both for our Master’s (120 credits) programme in manufacture technology, and for professionals who want to develop their skills. The demand for knowledge in this area is great.’

‘In parallel, we’re expanding the researcher team in non-destructive testing with more doctoral students and building a broader palette of competence. In our research environment, Production Technology Centre, there is now an X-ray-based CT scanner (XCT) that makes it possible for us to develop our competence in X-ray technology. University West’s research profile in non-destructive testing is at the forefront in northern Europe. Our combination of theoretical and experimental research is unique.’

Contact: Håkan Wirdelius 

Read more about non-destructive testing: http://www.ndtsweden.com/2021/12/09/forskningsgrupp-inom-ofp/

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