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Proceedings Paper

Advanced instrumentation for acousto-ultrasonic based structural health monitoring
Author(s): Joel Smithard; Steve Galea; Stephen van der Velden; Ian Powlesland; George Jung; Nik Rajic
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Paper Abstract

Structural health monitoring (SHM) systems using structurally-integrated sensors potentially allow the ability to inspect for damage in aircraft structures on-demand and could provide a basis for the development of condition-based maintenance approaches for airframes. These systems potentially offer both substantial cost savings and performance improvements over conventional nondestructive inspection (NDI). Acousto-ultrasonics (AU), using structurallyintegrated piezoelectric transducers, offers a promising basis for broad-field damage detection in aircraft structures. For these systems to be successfully applied in the field the hardware for AU excitation and interrogation needs to be easy to use, compact, portable, light and, electrically and mechanically robust. Highly flexible and inexpensive instrumentation for basic background laboratory investigations is also required to allow researchers to tackle the numerous scientific and engineering issues associated with AU based SHM. The Australian Defence Science and Technology Group (DST Group) has developed the Acousto Ultrasonic Structural health monitoring Array Module (AUSAM+), a compact device for AU excitation and interrogation. The module, which has the footprint of a typical current generation smart phone, provides autonomous control of four send and receive piezoelectric elements, which can operate in pitch-catch or pulse-echo modes and can undertake electro-mechanical impedance measurements for transducer and structural diagnostics. Modules are designed to operate synchronously with other units, via an optical link, to accommodate larger transducer arrays. The module also caters for fibre optic sensing of acoustic waves with four intensity-based optical inputs. Temperature and electrical resistance strain gauge inputs as well as external triggering functionality are also provided. The development of a Matlab hardware object allows users to easily access the full hardware functionality of the device and provides enormous flexibility for the creation of custom interfaces. This paper discusses the impetus for the concept, and outlines key aspects of the hardware design and the module capabilities. The efficacy of the system is demonstrated through the results of first-of-class testing, as well as laboratory AU studies on a flat plate using an array of piezoelectric elements.

Paper Details

Date Published: 20 April 2016
PDF: 15 pages
Proc. SPIE 9803, Sensors and Smart Structures Technologies for Civil, Mechanical, and Aerospace Systems 2016, 98030M (20 April 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2218985
Show Author Affiliations
Joel Smithard, Fortburn Pty Ltd. (Australia)
Steve Galea, Defence Science and Technology Group (Australia)
Stephen van der Velden, Defence Science and Technology Group (Australia)
Ian Powlesland, Defence Science and Technology Group (Australia)
George Jung, Defence Science and Technology Group (Australia)
Nik Rajic, Defence Science and Technology Group (Australia)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9803:
Sensors and Smart Structures Technologies for Civil, Mechanical, and Aerospace Systems 2016
Jerome P. Lynch, Editor(s)

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