Damage Detection and Identification in Advanced Composites

Period of Performance: 01/22/2008 - 10/21/2008


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Vista Engineering Technologies, LLC
1355 Columbia Park Trail
Richland, WA 99352
Principal Investigator


Vista Engineering Technologies will develop, validate, and deliver a fully automated, real-time, computer-based, portable IR system for making a pass-fail decision about the location and extent of damage to composite aerospace structures that improves upon existing methods in terms of speed, accuracy, and cost. An engineering prototype of the system will be demonstrated on both test articles provided by the Air Force and on actual aircraft in the field to evaluate the detection and location performance in terms of probability of detection and probability of false alarm. The system can be automated using a signal processing algorithm that has been developed and validated by Vista Engineering on the composite samples of the rudder and vertical stabilizer of an F-15 aircraft for the detection of and classification of skin-to-core disbonds, delamination, and fluid ingress. The successful application of the technology is due to novel methods of heating the composite no more than several degrees to produce a strong thermal signature due to the defect. A single measurement over a 2-ft2-area can be in 15 to 60 s using a COTS low-cost, low-resolution (320x240) uncooled IR camera; an entire vertical stabilizer can be inspected in the field in less than 1 h.