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Thermographic Detection and Characterization of Flaws in Composite Materials

Thermography has become a widely used technique for detection of moisture, impact damage, delamination, foreign object debris and porosity in composites in aerospace manufacturing and maintenance. Composite materials are often regarded as ideal candidates for thermographic nondestructive testing. In most cases, procedures for composite inspection are no different than they would be for any other material, beyond appropriate adjustment of camera and excitation parameters. However, there are factors unique to composite materials, particularly carbon fiber reinforced polymers, which affect thermographic responses associated with subsurface features. These factors include both in-plane and perpendicular anisotropy, as well as the degree to which the flaw thermal effusivity differs from that of the composite matrix. The effect of these factors is demonstrated through numerical modeling and also experimentally, and thermographic responses of various composite configurations are compared to those of an isotropic solid.

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