Estimating the exact residual lifetime of wire rope involves the security of industry manufacturing, mining, tourism, and so on. In this paper, a novel testing technology was developed based on unsaturated magnetic excitation, and a fabricating prototype overcame the shortcomings of traditional detection equipment in terms of volume, sensibility, reliability, and weight. Massive artificial discontinuities were applied to examine the effectiveness of this new technology with a giant magneto resistance(GMR) sensor array, which included types of small gaps, curling wires, wide fractures, and abrasion. A resolution enhancement method, which was adopted for multiframe images, was proposed for promoting magnetic flux leakage images of a few sensors. Characteristic vectors of statistics and geometry were extracted, then we applied a radial basis function neural network to achieve a quantitative recognition rate of 91.43% with one wire-limiting error. Experimental results showed that the new device can detect defects in various types of wire rope and prolong the service life with high lift-off distance and high reliability, and the system could provide useful options to evaluate the lifetime of wire rope.
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