Extensive studies have been conducted to examine the use of piezoelectric transducers and other ultrasonic devices for structural health monitoring applications due to their high electroacoustic efficiency and simple operation principles. Most studies use guided Lamb wave inspection methods to detect, locate, and characterize damage in relatively simple plate-like structures. These studies have proven that this type of technique is useful for structural health monitoring in the simple structures, but little work has shown feasibility when using more realistic test articles. In our study, we present a sparse array technique using multiple piezoelectric transducers mounted to an external composite panel on a legacy F/A-18 wing section to investigate its capabilities for more realistic structural health monitoring applications. The panel is secured to the wing by a series of bolts surrounding the panel, and as the main method of simulating damage to the wing, these bolts are loosened by a specified torque in several different cases. The guided Lamb wave pitch-catch inspection method is used to identify such simulated damage by comparing baseline and damaged trials using differential analysis and a spatial mapping approach. This approach requires an estimate of the Lamb wave mode group velocities in the composite panel along with the geometry of the transducer array and the transducers location metrics. Despite the complexities of using a realistic test article, the sparse piezoelectric array combined with the Lamb wave inspection method shows promise in its ability to accurately detect, locate, and characterize the simulated damage to the airframe.
Jacob R. McCullum, Byungseok Yoo, Darryll J. Pines, and Norman M. Wereley, "Structural health monitoring of a composite F/A-18 wing section using a sparse piezoelectric transducer array ," Proc. SPIE 10598, Sensors and Smart Structures Technologies for Civil, Mechanical, and Aerospace Systems 2018, 105980F (Presented at SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring: March 06, 2018; Published: 27 March 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2299845.
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