Acoustic Emission Beamforming for Detection and Localization of Damage
Rivey, Joshua Callen
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The aerospace industry is a constantly evolving field with corporate manufacturers continually utilizing innovative processes and materials. These materials include advanced metallics and composite systems. The exploration and implementation of new materials and structures has prompted the development of numerous structural health monitoring and nondestructive evaluation techniques for quality assurance purposes and pre- and in-service damage detection. Exploitation of acoustic emission sensors coupled with a beamforming technique provides the potential for creating an effective non-contact and non-invasive monitoring capability for assessing structural integrity. This investigation used an acoustic emission detection device that employs helical arrays of MEMS-based microphones around a high-definition optical camera to provide real-time non-contact monitoring of inspection specimens during testing. The study assessed the feasibility of the sound camera for use in structural health monitoring of composite specimens during tensile testing for detecting onset of damage in addition to nondestructive evaluation of aluminum inspection plates for visualizing stress wave propagation in structures. During composite material monitoring, the sound camera was able to accurately identify the onset and location of damage resulting from large amplitude acoustic feedback mechanisms such as fiber breakage. Damage resulting from smaller acoustic feedback events such as matrix failure was detected but not localized to the degree of accuracy of larger feedback events. Findings suggest that beamforming technology can provide effective non-contact and non-invasive inspection of composite materials, characterizing the onset and the location of damage in an efficient manner. With regards to the nondestructive evaluation of metallic plates, this remote sensing system allows us to record wave propagation events in situ via a single-shot measurement. This is a significant improvement over the conventional wave propagation tracking technique based on laser doppler vibrometry that requires synchronization of data acquired from numerous excitations and measurements. The proposed technique can be used to characterize and localize damage by detecting the scattering, attenuation, and reflections of stress waves resulting from damage and defects. These studies lend credence to the potential development of new SHM/NDE techniques based on acoustic emission beamforming for characterizing a wide spectrum of damage modes in next-generation materials and structures without the need for mounted contact sensors.