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Professor Robert Smith

Professor Robert Smith

Professor Robert Smith
MA(Cantab.), MSc(Kings College London), PhD(Nott.), CEng, CPhys, FInstP, FInstNDT

Professor of NDT and High Value Manufacturing

Area of research

NDT for High Value Manufacturing of Composites

Office 1.39
Queen's Building,
University Walk, Clifton BS8 1TR
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 331 5934


Following an EPSRC Fellowship in Manufacturing entitled 'NDT for High Value Manufacturing of Composites', now combining the role of Director of the UK Research Centre for Non-destructive Evaluation with a research portfolio in the NDt of Composites. This involves researching new non-destructive testing methods for 3D characterisation of composites and evolving a strategy for ensuring they benefit the structural integrity of aerostructures and engines, wind turbines, etc. The ultimate aim is to enable the optimum use of composite materials by providing detailed information about the actual as-manufactured inner quality, thus moving from conservative designs to lightweight high-performance optimally designed components. An additional benefit would be facilitating the use of lower-cost manufacturing methods.


I have 35 years of research experience in ultrasonics, signal processing, data analysis and instrumentation, the first six years being at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) where I was involved in establishing a National Measurement System for medical ultrasound field characterisation and contributed to the preparation of international standards. In 1989 I moved to the Non-destructive Evaluation (NDE) Group at the Royal Aerospace Establishment, Farnborough, later becoming the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA), and then QinetiQ Ltd. Whilst there, I developed the ANDSCAN® portable scanning system and arranged for its commercial exploitation. More recent activities have included the development of TRECSCAN® – a transient eddy-current instrument, 3D-VALIDATOR™ for 3D-profiling the ply stacking sequence and ply wrinkling of composites, and PINPOINT® for automated analysis and sentencing of composite C-scans. My current areas of interest focus on composite inspection for aerospace and renewable power, especially the ultrasonic 3D characterisation of the inner quality of composites. Through an EPSRC Fellowship in Manufacturing, I built an academic research programme at the University of Bristol that benefits from my extensive experience in the use of structural composites in a wide range of applications from wind turbines through maritime vessels to aircraft and spacecraft, and of composite manufacturing processes from first-hand experience spanning four continents and several industries.


  • Ultrasound. Non-destructive Testing. Inspection. Composite Materials.

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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