Thin-film ultrasonic sensor for aerospace NDT to launch in June

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Scottish-startup Novosound is preparing to launch its first flexible thin-film ultrasound sensor for inspecting curved surfaces, after securing a £3.3 million (US$4.3 million) investment in its technology.

The flexible phased array, which is 0.25mm thick and can be customized to various lengths and shapes is connected to standard hardware scanners and imaging devices for non-destructive testing (NDT) and inspection. The first market Novosound is targeting for the device is inspection in aircraft maintenance and repair.

The device to be launched in June this year is Novosound’s first in a range of ultrasound sensors it is planning for the aerospace market made using the company’s patented thin-film deposition manufacturing process.

“Aerospace is a huge market for us,” said Novosound’s founder and chief technology officer Dave Hughes. “The ultimate challenge we solve is that airplanes aren’t flat. We simplify the ultrasound inspection process significantly. The array is swept across curved surfaces continuously – you don’t need to stitch images together like you do with rigid sensors.”

According to Novosound, the thin-film sensors can produce higher resolution imaging than other ultrasound sensors. The company is also developing  “fit and forget: sensors that can operate continuously at high temperatures, suitable for use in applications such as flight testing and condition monitoring.

The recent funding round was led by the Foresight Williams Technology Fund, which is investing £1.5 million (US$1.9 million) alongside Scottish and European government funding and investments from existing shareholders Par Equity, Kelvin Capital, Gabriel Investments, the University of the West of Scotland, and the Scottish Investment Bank.

Andrew Bloxam, senior iInvestment manager at Foresight, said, “Novosound is a brilliant example of the type of disruptive technology and team that we look for. Its early traction in NDT really stood out to us. There is also huge potential for other markets that it has not yet pushed into, which makes it a really exciting opportunity.”

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 20 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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