This paper presents a rotating focused field eddy-current (EC) sensing technique, which leverages the advantages of magnetic field focusing and rotating magnetic field, for arbitrary orientation defects detection. The sensor consists of four identical excitation coils orthogonally arranged in an upside-down pyramid configuration and a giant magneto-resistive (GMR) detection element. The four coils are connected to form two figure-8-shaped focusing sub-probes, which are fed by two identical harmonic currents with 90 degrees phase difference. A finite element model-based study of arbitrary orientation defects detection was performed to understand the probe operational characteristics and optimize its design parameters. Probe prototyping and experimental validation were also carried out on a carbon steel plate specimen with four prefabricated surface-breaking defects. In-situ spot inspection with the probe rotating above the defect and a manual line-scan inspection were both conducted. Results showed that the probe has the capability of detecting defects with any orientations while maintaining the same sensitivity and the defect depth can be quantitatively evaluated by using the signal amplitude. Compared with the existing rotating field probes, the presented probe does not require additional excitation adjustment or data fusion. Meanwhile, due to its focusing effect, it can generate a strong rotating magnetic field at the defect location with a weak background noise, thus yielding superior signal-to-noise ratio.
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