Automatic internal crack detection from a sequence of infrared images with a triple-threshold Canny edge detector

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Original languageEnglish
Article number025403
Journal / PublicationMeasurement Science and Technology
Issue number2
Online published17 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


Visual inspection and assessment of the condition of metal structures are essential for safety. Pulse thermography produces visible infrared images, which have been widely applied to detect and characterize defects in structures and materials. When active thermography, a non-destructive testing tool, is applied, the necessity of considerable manual checking can be avoided. However, detecting an internal crack with active thermography remains difficult, since it is usually invisible in the collected sequence of infrared images, which makes the automatic detection of internal cracks even harder. In addition, the detection of an internal crack can be hindered by a complicated inspection environment. With the purpose of putting forward a robust and automatic visual inspection method, a computer vision-based thresholding method is proposed. In this paper, the image signals are a sequence of infrared images collected from the experimental setup with a thermal camera and two flash lamps as stimulus. The contrast of pixels in each frame is enhanced by the Canny operator and then reconstructed by a triple-threshold system. Two features, mean value in the time domain and maximal amplitude in the frequency domain, are extracted from the reconstructed signal to help distinguish the crack pixels from others. Finally, a binary image indicating the location of the internal crack is generated by a K-means clustering method. The proposed procedure has been applied to an iron pipe, which contains two internal cracks and surface abrasion. Some improvements have been made for the computer vision-based automatic crack detection methods. In the future, the proposed method can be applied to realize the automatic detection of internal cracks from many infrared images for the industry.

Research Area(s)

  • automatic image processing, Canny edge detector, infrared imaging, internal crack detection, non-destructive testing, pulse thermography