Nondestructive Ultrasonic Inspection of Composite Materials: A Comparative Advantage of Phased Array Ultrasonic

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Applied Sciences






Carbon- and glass fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP and GFRP) composite materials have been used in many industries such as aerospace and automobile because of their outstanding strength-to-weight ratio and corrosion resistance. The quality of these materials is important for safe operation. Nondestructive testing (NDT) techniques are an effective way to inspect these composites. While ultrasonic NDT has previously been used for inspection of composites, conventional ultrasonic NDT, using single element transducers, has limitations such as high attenuation and low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Using phased array ultrasonic testing (PAUT) techniques, signals can be generated at desired distances and angles. These capabilities provide promising results for composites where the anisotropic structure makes signal evaluation challenging. Defect detection in composites based on bulk and guided waves are studied. The capability of the PAUT and its sensitivity to flaws were evaluated by comparing the signal characteristics to the conventional method. The results show that flaw sizes as small as 0.8 mm with penetration depth up to 25 mm can be detected using PAUT, and the result signals have better characteristics than the conventional ultrasonic technique. In addition, it has been shown that guided wave generated by PAUT also has outstanding capability of flaw detection in composite materials.