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Previous work has demonstrated a technique for acoustically detecting localized delamination of metallized patterns on insulating substrates [W. Imaino, L. Crawforth, A. C. Munce, and A. Julaiana, in Proceedings of the IEEE Ultrasonics Symposium, edited by B. R. McAvoy (IEEE, New York, 1986), p. 1065]. Employing a high‐spatial‐resolution permeable electromagnetic acoustic transducer to preferentially excite the metallization, the acoustic coupling between the metal foil and substrate may be probed. Scanning, then, provides a map of delaminations. To extend and generalize these results, the detailed generation mechanism and acoustic response of the substrate has been studied. A computer program developed previously [W. Imaino, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. Suppl. 1 80, S7 (1986)] was used to model the acoustic source. In this investigation, a finite‐element calculation is used to provide a more detailed description of the acoustic behavior of the delaminated plate. The effects of source size relative to defect dimensions and acoustic properties of the substrate have been studied. The determination of the localized coupling is complicated by structural resonances of the substrate, which make single frequency measurements unfavorable. However, the analysis shows that the spectral acoustic behavior provides an indication of metallization to substrate coupling. A signal‐processing algorithm based on this analysis has been formulated and will be described.