Advanced Ultrasonic Inspection of Thick-Section Composite Structures for In-Field Asset Maintenance

James A Quinn, James Davidson, Ankur Bajpai, Conchúr M. Ó Brádaigh, Eddie McCarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

An investigation into the inspection capabilities of in-field advanced ultrasound detection for use on ultra-thick (20 to 100 mm) glass fibre-reinforced polyester composites is presented. Plates were manufactured using custom moulding techniques, such that delamination flaws were created at calibrated depths. The full matrix capture technique with an on-board total focussing method was used to detect flaws scanned by a 0.5 MHz linear array probe. Flaw through-thickness dimensions were altered to assess the threshold for crack face separation at which delaminations could be identified. Furthermore, part thickness and in-plane flaw dimensions were varied to identify the inspection capability limitations of advanced ultrasonics for thick composites. The results presented in this study demonstrate an inverse relationship between the ability to find delaminations and plate thicknesses, with inspections successful at depths up to 74 mm. When the delamination thickness exhibited surface-to-surface contact, the inspection capability was reduced to 35 mm. There was an exponential decay relationship between the accuracy of the flaw depth measurement and plate thickness, likely due to the necessity of low probe frequencies. The effective inspection depth was determined to be in the range of 1 to 20 times the wavelength. It is speculated that the accuracy of measurements could be improved using probes with novel coupling solutions, and detectors with optimised signal processing/filtration algorithms.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3175
Number of pages18
Issue number15
Early online date26 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • delamination
  • full matrix capture
  • non-destructive testing
  • ultrasonics


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