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New Dimension of Structural Health Monitoring for Aircraft Components

10.09.2012
At the ILA Berlin Air Show taking place from September 11-16, 2012, Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF will present two carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic panels with integrated fiber optics (hall 3, stand 3221).

CFRP panel in a test stand at Fraunhofer LBF.
Photo: Fraunhofer LBF

The Darmstadt-based engineers have successfully managed to develop and manufacture large CFRP parts and test them up to a load of twenty metric tons, thus launching the Institute into new dimensions of structural health monitoring.

Aviation is becoming more environmentally friendly: Innovative technologies are used to reduce fuel consumption, pollutant emissions and noise. For this purpose, Fraunhofer researchers are developing novel fuselage structures with structure-integrated functions, within the framework of the EU project "Clean Sky". The panels on display contain several sensors for the monitoring of structures; among others, acoustic sensors are applied and optical strain sensors are integrated in the panel.

Developing, manufacturing and testing prototypes made of composite fiber materials, also involving special technologies such as sensor function integration, is one of the domains of Fraunhofer LBF. In the case of the exhibits, the development chain included the design of the structure with the help of the finite-elements method (FEM), detailed construction and creation of drawings by means of CAD, the design and manufacturing of forming tools and clamping devices as well as prototype manufacturing of the panels with structure-integrated fiber-optical strain sensors and sensors for impact damage detection.

Fraunhofer LBF develops new connector solution
For the first time, an innovative connector system for fiber-optical sensors integrated in composite fiber materials, developed at Fraunhofer LBF, was implemented in a production process that came very close to series production. The panels were tested by non-destructive methods including lock-in thermography, ultrasonic and x-ray technology, as well as by destructive impact, fatigue and residual strength testing.

At the trade fair stand, Fraunhofer's engineers will show a tested and an undamaged panel. The fully functional exhibit allows visitors to try and see for themselves how the fiber-optical strain sensors react to the load to which the panel is subjected and how this is represented graphically on the screen.

Anke Zeidler-Finsel | Fraunhofer-Institut
Further information:
http://www.lbf.fraunhofer.de

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