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Finite element analysis of ultrasonic CFRP laminate inspection

Dobson, Jeff and Gachagan, Anthony and O'Leary, Richard and Tweedie, Andrew and Harvey, Gerald (2016) Finite element analysis of ultrasonic CFRP laminate inspection. In: 55th Annual British Conference of Non-Destructive Testing, 2016-09-12 - 2016-09-14, East Midlands Conference Centre and Orchard Hotel. (In Press)

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Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) materials pose a challenge for NDE inspections due to their anisotropic material properties and often complex morphologies. Simulation is a vital tool in the design of ultrasonic inspections, improving setup and helping understand wave propagation in complex components. In this work, three different approaches of constructing accurate Finite Element Analysis (FEA) models of CFRP components are presented. The first approach generates a model of a flat CFRP laminate using the design specification to construct the idealised laminate geometry – essentially recreating the ‘as designed’ component in the model. The second approach utilises photomicrographs of the laminates’ cross-section to produce a more realistic ‘as built’ geometry within the model. Ultrasonic inspection simulations performed show a good correlation when comparing resulting A-scans with experiments. A final modelling approach of using an image of X-Ray CT data is then performed to develop an accurate model of a tapered composite structure. This paper presents the construction of the finite element models using PZFlex and the subsequent results highlighting the ability of the simulations to recreate experimental inspection performance.