Vibration-Based Thermal Health Monitoring for Face Layer Debonding Detection in Aerospace Sandwich Structures
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This paper investigates the potential of a novel vibration-based thermal health monitoring method for continuous and on-board damage detection in fiber reinforced polymer sandwich structures, as typically used in aerospace applications. This novel structural health monitoring method uses the same principles, which are used for vibration-based thermography in combination with the concept of the local defect resonance, as a well known non-destructive testing method (NDT). The use of heavy shakers for applying strong excitation and infrared cameras for observing thermal responses are key hindrances for the application of vibration-based thermography in real-life structures. However, the present study circumvents these limitations by using piezoelectric wafer active sensors as excitation source, which can be permanently bonded on mechanical structures. Additionally, infrared cameras are replaced by surface temperature sensors for observing the thermal responses due to vibrations and damage. This makes continuous and on-board thermal health monitoring possible. The new method is experimentally validated in laboratory experiments by a sandwich structure with face layer debonding as damage scenario. The debonding is realized by introduction of an insert during the manufacturing process of the specimen. The surface temperature
sensor results successfully show the temperature increase in the area of the debonding caused by a sinusoidal excitation of the sandwich structure with the PWAS at the first resonance frequency of the damage. This is validated by conventional infrared thermography. These findings demonstrate the potential of the proposed novel thermal health monitoring method for detecting, localizing and estimating sizes of face layer debonding in sandwich structures.