Unveiling the Power of Composite Inspection: Enhancing Safety and Performance
20th June 2023
Renato Nogueira, Applications Specialist, Sonatest
Composite is the technical definition for the combination of two or more materials with dissimilar properties, that are combined to create a material with properties unlike the individual elements.
In the industrial sector, composites find widespread use due to their exceptional strength-to-weight ratio, corrosion resistance, durability, and design flexibility. One of the most notable applications of composites is in the aerospace industry. Lightweight composites, such as carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRP), are extensively used in the construction of aircraft and spacecraft. The use of composites in these applications significantly reduces weight, leading to fuel efficiency and improved performance.
The automotive industry has also embraced composites to enhance vehicle performance and fuel economy. Carbon fiber composites, for instance, are employed in the production of high-performance sports cars, providing strength while reducing weight. Additionally, composites contribute to better safety features in automobiles by absorbing and dissipating impact energy during collisions. While carbon fiber composites offer numerous benefits, they are not without their potential defects. Here are some of the most common defects that can occur in carbon fiber parts: Delamination, void formation, fiber misalignment, cracks, and fiber breakage.
Ultrasonic inspection is a widely used non-destructive testing (NDT) technique for evaluating carbon fiber composites. It involves the use of high-frequency sound waves to detect and analyze internal defects or anomalies within the material. Specifically for ultrasonic inspection, phased array is a good approach and with the advance of TFM, more and more parts can be now inspected. Phased array is an advanced technique that utilizes multiple transducers to emit and receive ultrasonic waves simultaneously. It enables faster scanning, improved defect detection, and the ability to inspect complex geometries. FMC (Full Matrix Capture) and TFM (Total Focusing Method) are advanced ultrasonic inspection techniques used for the evaluation of composites, including carbon fiber composites. These techniques offer enhanced imaging capabilities and improved defect detection compared to traditional ultrasonic inspection methods.
FMC and TFM provide high-resolution images with improved signal-to-noise ratio, enabling better visualization of defects such as delaminations, disbonds, voids, and fiber breakages. In addition, the complete matrix data acquisition of FMC allows for a wider inspection coverage and increased inspection area compared to conventional ultrasonic techniques. It provides accurate defect sizing and positioning, allowing for quantitative assessment of defects and precise determination of their locations within the composite structure.
This inspection techniques have proven to be valuable tools in the evaluation of carbon fiber composites, particularly for critical applications such as like as racing cars. They offer enhanced defect detection capabilities, improved image quality, and quantitative assessment, ultimately contributing to the reliable and safe use of composite materials.
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