Monitoring Progressive Damage Development in Laminated Fiber Reinforced Composite Materials

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

With increasing applications of composite materials, their health monitoring is of growing importance in engineering practice. Damage development in composite materials is more complex than for metallic materials, because in composite materials (a) multiple damage modes are simultaneously in play, and (b) individual 'damage events' that occur throughout a component's service life may neither noticeably affect its performance, nor suggest future failure. Therefore, informed health monitoring of composite components must include monitoring and analysis of their health state throughout their service life.

A crucial aspect of the health monitoring process of composites is the development of tools to help with this goal of understanding the health state of composites throughout their life. This knowledge can lead to timely anticipation of future failure in composite components, and advance the state of current technology. One, timely maintenance can be planned in advance. Two, each component's service life can be determined based on its individual health information, rather than empirical statistics of previously failed components. This dissertation develops such tools and methods.

Composite specimens of multiple ply-layups are subjected to tensile loading schemes until failure. Pencil Lead Breaks (PLBs) are used to simulate Acoustic Emission sources and generate acoustic waves that are acquired by installed piezoelectric sensors. A numerical method to estimate the arrival of wave modes from ultrasonic signals is presented. Methods are also presented that utilize PLB signals to indicate approaching failure of specimens under monotonic as well as cyclic loading. These processes have been developed prioritizing simplicity and ease-of-execution, to be adapted for practical deployment.

Structural Health Monitoring, Composite Materials, Acoustic Emission