Non-destructive testing evaluation of low velocity impact damage in carbon fiber-reinforced laminated composites

  • M. A. Perez Technical University of Catalonia
  • L. Gil Technical University of Catalonia
  • S. Oller Technical University of Catalonia
Keywords: carbon fiber composite, low velocity impact, damage detection, non-destructive testing, modal analysis, and ultrasound phased array


Fiber-reinforced laminated composite materials are widely used in aircraft, modern vehicles and light-weight structures. With their high elastic modulus, high strength, and capability of being tailored for a several applications, these materials offer definite advantages compared to more traditional structural materials. However, their behavior under impact is of concern since those events may occur during manufacturing, normal operation or maintenance. The situation is critical for impacts that induce significant internal damage undetectable by visual inspection, which causes large reductions on the strength and stability of the structure. New standardized tests to assess the impact tolerance (ASTM D7136 and D7137) lose some of its appeal by its destructive nature as well as costs involved. Non-destructive techniques such as ultrasonic phased array or experimental modal analysis can be complementary in the evaluation of damage and structural integrity. The results of both destructive and non-destructive experiments carried out on forty-eight composite specimens are presented. A good correlation between incident impact energy and delaminated area as well as variation of eigenfrequencies is noticed. This study does not only provide a better understanding of the impact phenomenon but can also help in design and implementation of new test procedures for structural assessment.