Composite materials have revolutionized many fields of engineering by providing lightweight strong components whose internal structure can be tailored to optimise their load-bearing capabilities. Engineering composites consist of high-strength fibres embedded in a lightweight matrix that keeps the fibres in position and provides the shape of the component. While many composite materials have an impressive structural performance, some also exhibit spectacular failure modes with noises like guitar strings snapping when fibres start to fail and with jagged eruptions of material appearing on the surface, as shown in the image. A year ago, I reported on our work in the DIMES project, to test the capabilities of our integrated measurement system to detect and track damage in real-time in a metallic section from an aircraft wing [see ‘Condition monitoring using infrared imaging‘ on June 17th, 2020]. Last month, we completed a further round of tests at Empa to demonstrate the system’s capabilities on composite structures which have been tested almost to destruction. One of the advantages of composite structures is their capability to function and bear load despite quite high levels of damage, which meant we were able to record the progressive rupture of one of our test panels during cyclic fatigue loading. Watch and listen to this short video to see and hear the material being torn apart – ignore the loud creaking and groaning from the test rig, it’s the quieter sound like dead leaves being swept up.
The University of Liverpool is the coordinator of the DIMES project and the other partners are Empa, Dantec Dynamics GmbH and Strain Solutions Ltd. Airbus is the topic manager on behalf of the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking.
The DIMES project has received funding from the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 820951.
The opinions expressed in this blog post reflect only the author’s view and the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.