Quantitative line-scan thermographic evaluation of composite structures

Kaltmann, D 2008, Quantitative line-scan thermographic evaluation of composite structures, Masters by Research, Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Quantitative line-scan thermographic evaluation of composite structures
Author(s) Kaltmann, D
Year 2008
Abstract This MEng (Master of Engineering) research thesis evaluates the capabilities and limitations of line-scan thermography for the non-destructive evaluation of composite structures containing hidden defects. In simple terms, line-scan thermography is a state-of-the-art technique in which a focused line of thermal energy is transmitted into a material. Line-scan thermography has great potential for the rapid and low cost non-destructive inspection of composite structures for aircraft, automobiles and ships. In this project, theoretical research exploring the heat transfer physics was undertaken in conjunction with experimental studies to develop an optimum inspection regime for line-scan thermography. The capability of line-scan thermography to detect impact damage in carbon/epoxy laminates was experimentally investigated in Chapter 3. From the impact side, in all materials, line-sc an thermography overestimated the size of the impact damage whereas flash thermography underestimated the size. There was a close relationship between the ultrasonic profile and the line-scan thermographic thermal response curve. New experimental data has been produced and analysed for the ability of line-scan thermography to determine the defect as well as the defect size. It was found that line-scan thermography was able to distinguish back drilled holes, but it was not possible to determine accurate defect sizing due to the depth of the holes from the inspected surface and the limitations associated with the line-scan thermographic apparatus itself. There was excellent correlation between the C-scan ultrasonics intensity curves and the line-scan thermographs as well as excellent correlation with the theoretical results. The relationship between line-scan thermography and foreign body objects were experimentally investigated for carbon/epoxy composites. A major limitation found with line-scan thermography is its limited depth penetration, which is highlighted in the foreign object study using 6 mm and 13 mm diameter TeflonĀ® discs and 13 mm TeflonĀ® strips embedded in carbon/epoxy laminates. Depth penetration allowed only 2 mm resolution for the 13 mm diameter discs and 1.5 mm resolution for the 6 mm discs in a composite panel. The results of the investigation of stainless steel shim objects in carbon/epoxy laminates reveal that line-scan thermography is capable of determining their presence and size close to the surface. There was also excellent correlation between the ultrasonic response curve and the line-scan thermographic intensity curve. The results of the investigation of thermoplastic film foreign body objects in carbon/epoxy laminates show that at present line-scan thermography does not have the capability to determin e such defects. Experimental results show that line-scan thermography is capable of detecting large voids, back drilled holes, some foreign body objects, and impact damage. However, the ability of line-scan thermography to measure the defect dimensions is dependent on the size and type of damage, the distance from the line source, the depth of the defect, and the type of composite material.
Degree Masters by Research
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering
Keyword(s) Composite materials -- Testing
Composite materials -- Thermal properties
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