Non-Destructive Evaluation of Defects and Damage in Composite Materials and Structures

M R Bhat


The mechanical behaviour of composite materials differs from that of conventional structural materials owing to their heterogeneous and anisotropic nature. Different types of defects and anomalies get induced in these materials during the fabrication process. Further, during their service life, the components made of composite materials develop different types of damage. The performance and life of such components is governed by the combined effect of all these defects and damage. While porosity, voids, inclusions etc., are some defects those can get induced during the fabrication of composites, matrix cracks, interface debonds, delaminations and fiber breakage are major types of service induced damage which are of concern. During the service life of components made of composites, one type of damage can grow and initiate another type of damage. For example, matrix cracks can gradually grow to the interface and initiate debonds. Interface debonds in a particular plane can lead to delaminations. Consequently, the combined effect of different types of distributed damage causes the failure of the component.
A set of non-destructive evaluation (NDE) methods is well established for testing conventional metallic materials. Some of them can also be utilized for composite materials as they are, and in some cases with a little different approach or modification. Ultrasonics, Radiography, Thermography, Fiber Optics, Acoustic Emission Techniques etc., to name a few. Detection, evaluation and characterization of different types of defects and damage encountered in composite materials and structures using different NDE tools is discussed briefly in this paper.


Composite Materials; Defects; Damage; Failure Mechanisms; NDE; DIC; Guided Wave Techniques

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