In this article an algorithm for the analysis of raw thermal infrared images is proposed. The images are obtained by using the nondestructive evaluation method of the laser-spot thermography and aim at detecting the presence of surface defects. A laser is used to scan a test specimen through the generation of single pulses. The temperature distribution produced by this thermoelastic source is measured by an infrared camera and processed with a two-stage algorithm. In the first stage, simple mathematical and statistical parameters are used to flag the presence of damage. Then, once damage is detected, the thermal image’s first and second spatial derivative and two spatial filters are computed to enhance contrast, and to locate and size the defect. Some of the advantages of the proposed method with respect to existing approaches include automation in the defect detection process and better defective area isolation through increased contrast. The algorithm is first proven by analyzing simulated thermal images, and then it is experimentally validated by scanning the surface of a CFRP composite plate with induced defects.
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