It is an advanced non-destructive testing (NDT) method that uses an ultrasonic technique to determine component quality and detect failure such as flaws or cracks. The term phased refers to the timing, and the term array refers to the multiple elements. Phased array ultrasonic testing is based on principles of wave physics, which also have applications in fields such as optics and electromagnetic antennae. Furthermore, Phased Array Ultrasonic Testing (PAUT) can be effectively used for wall thickness measurements in conjunction with corrosion testing. Its efficiency comes from the combination of many angles and focus depths through to one probe which then performs several different inspections without the need for changing the transducer assembly.

The inspection results are clearly stored and displayed for reporting. It can be used on standard and special materials like austenitic and high alloy materials. Common applications are to noninvasively examine the heart or to find flaws in manufactured materials such as welds in piping and industrial equipment.

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Developments in construction codes have allowed PAUT to be used as a direct replacement to Radiography on piping butt welds to meet the quality control requirements of ASME B31.3 and B31.1 and numerous European standards. PAUT enables reduced inspection time by simultaneously collecting multiple angle ultrasonic data in a one pass scan from either side of the weld. Typical inspection rates are between 15-20 butts per shift. By ensuring accurate scan plans and specifically designed techniques all construction defects are readily detected, sized and sentenced accordingly. Detectable defects in welds are cracks, lack of fusion, lack of penetration, slag inclusions and porosity.