A new online resistance spot weld non-destructive evaluation (NDE) technique based on infrared (IR) thermography has been developed. It is capable of both real-time online (during welding) and post-weld online/offline (after welding) inspections. The system mainly consists of an IR camera and a computer program with proprietary thermal imaging analysis algorithms integrated into existing production lines. For real-time inspection, the heat flow generated from the welding process (with temperature exceeding 1000°C) is monitored by the IR camera. For post-weld inspection, a novel auxiliary heating device is applied to locally heat the weld region, resulting in temperature changes on the order of 10°C, and the transmitted heat flow is monitored. Unlike the conventional IR NDE method that requires surface coating to reduce the influence of unknown emissivity, the new method can be applied on as-is bare metal surface thanks to the unique “thermal signatures” extracted from infrared thermal images, which positively correlates to weld quality with a high degree of confidence. The new method can be used to reliably detect weld size, surface indents and defects such as cold weld with sufficient accuracy for welds made from various combinations of materials, thickness, stack-up configuration, surface coating conditions and welding conditions.