Portable Thermographic Inspection for Composites

Period of Performance: 01/15/1993 - 01/14/1995


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Industrial Quality, Inc.
640 E. Diamond Avenue, Suite C
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
Principal Investigator


Infrared thermal imaging, combined with advanced image processing techniques and design for portability, is proposed as a method for enhancing the detection of critical defects in composite structures in a field environment. The infrared imaging approach offers the advantages of providing a portable, non-contact inspection system with one-sided inspection capability and rapid inspection of relatively large areas. Data can be collected on videotape and can be viewed in real-time for many defect conditions. Post-inspection analysis of the data at an image enhancement workstation can increase the sensitivity for the detection of less severe defect conditions. The Phase I results established the feseability of using the portable design and advanced image processing to demonstrate the sensitivity of thermographic inspection to detect composite impact damage (including minimal damage barely detectable by visual methods). The Phase II program will further refine the design concepts and the image processing to optimize sensitivity for various types of discontinuities. A wide range of composite samples will be available for the Phase II program by arrangements made with MTL and many other DoD-related organizations. Samples will include laminates and sandwich structures. Degradation processes will include impact, moisture, and heat. The Phase II program will include guidance for test interpretation and a preliminary evaluation of defect impact on performance. A prototype portable inspection system will be developed, demonstrated, and delivered under the Phase II program.