Structural damage diagnostics via wave propagation-based filtering techniques
Ayers, James Thomas
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Structural health monitoring (SHM) of aerospace components is a rapidly emerging field due in part to commercial and military transport vehicles remaining in operation beyond their designed life cycles. Damage detection strategies are sought that provide real-time information of the structure's integrity. One approach that has shown promise to accurately identify and quantify structural defects is based on guided ultrasonic wave (GUW) inspections, where low amplitude attenuation properties allow for long range and large specimen evaluation. One drawback to GUWs is that they exhibit a complex multi-modal response, such that each frequency corresponds to at least two excited modes, and thus intelligent signal processing is required for even the simplest of structures. In addition, GUWs are dispersive, whereby the wave velocity is a function of frequency, and the shape of the wave packet changes over the spatial domain, requiring sophisticated detection algorithms. Moreover, existing damage quantification measures are typically formulated as a comparison of the damaged to undamaged response, which has proven to be highly sensitive to changes in environment, and therefore often unreliable. As a response to these challenges inherent to GUW inspections, this research develops techniques to locate and estimate the severity of the damage. Specifically, a phase gradient based localization algorithm is introduced to identify the defect position independent of excitation frequency and damage size. Mode separation through the filtering technique is central in isolating and extracting single mode components, such as reflected, converted, and transmitted modes that may arise from the incident wave impacting a damage. Spatially-integrated single and multiple component mode coefficients are also formulated with the intent to better characterize wave reflections and conversions and to increase the signal to noise ratios. The techniques are applied to damaged isotropic finite element plate models and experimental data obtained from Scanning Laser Doppler Vibrometry tests. Numerical and experimental parametric studies are conducted, and the current strengths and weaknesses of the proposed approaches are discussed. In particular, limitations to the damage profiling characterization are shown for low ultrasonic frequency regimes, whereas the multiple component mode conversion coefficients provide excellent noise mitigation. Multiple component estimation relies on an experimental technique developed for the estimation of Lamb wave polarization using a 1D Laser Vibrometer. Lastly, suggestions are made to apply the techniques to more structurally complex geometries.