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Design of an Automated Ultrasonic Scanning System for In-situ Composite Cure Monitoring and Defect Detection


Title: Design of an Automated Ultrasonic Scanning System for In-situ Composite Cure Monitoring and Defect Detection

Authors: Tyler B. Hudson, Frank L. Palmieri, T. Bryce Abbott, Jeffrey P. Seebo, and Eric R. Burke

DOI: 10.33599/nasampe/s.19.1523

Abstract: The preliminary design and development of an automated ultrasonic scanning system for in-situ composite cure monitoring and defect detection in the high temperature environment of an oven was completed. This preliminary design is a stepping stone to deployment in the high temperature and high pressure environment of an autoclave, the primary cure method of aerospace grade thermoset composites. Cure monitoring with real-time defect detection during the process could determine when defects form and how they move. In addition, real-time defect detection during cure could assist validating physics-based process models for predicting defects at all stages of the cure cycle. A physics-based process model for predicting porosity and fiber waviness originating during cure is currently under development by the NASA Advanced Composites Project (ACP).

For the design, an ultrasonic contact scanner is enclosed in an insulating box that is placed inside an oven during cure. Throughout the cure cycle, the box is nitrogen-cooled to approximately room temperature to maintain a standard operating environment for the scanner. The composite part is mounted on the outside of the box in a vacuum bag on the build/tool plate. The build plate is attached to the bottom surface of the box. The scanner inspects the composite panel through the build plate, tracking the movement of defects introduced during layup and searching for new defects that may form during cure. The focus of this paper is the evaluation and selection of the build plate material and thickness. The selection was based on the required operating temperature of the scanner, the cure temperature of the composite material, thermal conductivity models of the candidate build plates, and a series of ultrasonic attenuation tests. This analysis led to the determination that a 63.5 mm thick build plate of borosilicate glass would be utilized for the system. The borosilicate glass plate was selected as the build plate material due to the low ultrasonic attenuation it demonstrated, its ability to efficiently insulate the scanner while supporting an elevated temperature on the part side of the plate, and the availability of a 63.5 mm thick plate without the need for lamination.

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Conference: SAMPE 2019 - Charlotte, NC

Publication Date: 2019/05/20

SKU: TP19--1523

Pages: 12

Price: FREE

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