Adhesive bonded structures have been widely used in aerospace, automobile, and marine industries. Due to the complex nature of the failure mechanisms of bonded structures, cost-effective and reliable damage detection is crucial for these industries. Most of the common damage detection methods are not adequately sensitive to the presence of weakened bonding. This paper presents an experimental and analytical method for the in-situ detection of damage in adhesive-bonded structures. The method is fully non-contact, using air-coupled ultrasonic transducers (ACT) for ultrasonic wave generation and sensing. The uniqueness of the proposed method relies on accurate detection and localization of weakened bonding in complex adhesive bonded structures. The specimens tested in this study are parts of real-world structures with critical and complex damage types, provided by Hyundai Heavy Industries® and IKTS Fraunhofer®. Various transmitter and receiver configurations, including through transmission, pitch-catch scanning, and probe holder angles, were attempted, and the obtained results were analyzed. The method examines the time-of-flight of the ultrasonic waves over a target inspection area, and the spatial variation of the time-of-flight information was examined to visualize and locate damage. The proposed method works without relying on reference data obtained from the pristine condition of the target specimen. Aluminum bonded plates and triplex adhesive layers with debonding and weakened bonding were used to examine the effectiveness of the method.
Sunarsa, T. Y., Aryan, P., Jeon, I., Park, B., Liu, P., & Sohn, H. (2017). A reference-free and non-contact method for detecting and imaging damage in adhesive-bonded structures using air-coupled ultrasonic transducers. Materials, 10(12). https://doi.org/10.3390/ma10121402