Scattered Ultrasonic Guided Waves Characterized by Wave Damage Interaction Coefficients: Numerical and Experimental Investigations
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The present paper comprehensively investigates the complex interaction between ultrasonic guided waves and local structural discontinuities, such as damages, through highly sensitive features: so-called wave damage interaction coefficients (WDICs). These WDICs are unique for each structural discontinuity and depend solely on their characteristics for a given structure and condition. Thus, they can be particularly useful for advanced assessment of lightweight structures in the context of non-destructive evaluation and structural health monitoring. However, the practical application of WDICs entails significant difficulties due to their sensitivity and complex patterns. Therefore, this study attempts to guide researchers and practitioners in the estimation of WDICs from numerical simulations and physical experiments. Detailed investigations are made for an aluminum host plate modified by artificial structural discontinuities, i.e., surface-bonded steel sheets. The numerical simulations are performed to predict WDICs and study sensitivities using a sophisticated finite element model. The experimental setup uses piezoelectric transducers to excite guided waves in the host plate. A single scanning laser Doppler vibrometer measures the scattered guided waves caused by the surface-bonded steel sheets, and the resulting WDICs with possible influences are investigated. In both cases, the orientation and thickness of the attached steel sheets were varied to create 12 different damage scenarios. In general, the comparison between numerical and experimental WDICs show good agreement. This underpins the applicability of the general methodology for simulating and measuring WDICs over all scenarios. Furthermore, the WDIC scattering patterns reveal a clear dependency of the peaks in the back-scattered reflections for both the numerical and experimental amplitude coefficients on the damage orientation, basically following the law of reflection. However, some discrepancies between both studies were observed. Numerical sensitivity analysis identified the adhesive layer as one reason for such differences. Additionally, misalignment errors in the experimental measurements were also found to affect WDICs. Therefore, an improved baseline subtraction method is proposed, which clearly enhances the experimental WDICs. Finally, an experimental sensitivity study of WDICs for selected sensing radii revealed only a minor influence. All these investigations were made for the amplitude as well as the phase representation of WDICs. Thus, these findings may open the way to future research and development of techniques employing WDICs for advanced applications of non-destructive evaluation and structural health monitoring.