Nonlinear imaging (NIM) of flaws in a complex composite stiffened panel using a constructive nonlinear array (CNA) technique

Gian Piero Malfense Fierro, Michele Meo

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Recently, there has been high interest in the capabilities of nonlinear ultrasound techniques for damage/defect detection as these techniques have been shown to be quite accurate in imaging some particular type of damage. This paper presents a Constructive Nonlinear Array (CNA) method, for the detection and imaging of material defects/damage in a complex composite stiffened panel. CNA requires the construction of an ultrasound array in a similar manner to standard phased arrays systems, which require multiple transmitting and receiving elements. The method constructively phase-match multiple captured signals at a particular position given multiple transmit positions, similar to the total focusing method (TFM) method. Unlike most of the ultrasonic linear techniques, a longer excitation signal was used to achieve a steady-state excitation at each capturing position, so that compressive and tensile stress at defect/crack locations increases the likelihood of the generation of nonlinear elastic waves. Moreover, the technique allows the reduction of instrumentation nonlinear wave generation by relying on signal attenuation to naturally filter these errors. Experimental tests were carried out on a stiffened panel with manufacturing defects. Standard industrial linear ultrasonic test were carried out for comparison. The proposed new method allows to image damages/defects in a reliable and reproducible manner and overcomes some of the main limitations of nonlinear ultrasound techniques. In particular, the effectiveness and robustness of CNA and the advantages over linear ultrasonic were clearly demonstrated allowing a better resolution and imaging of complex and realistic flaws.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-47
Number of pages18
Early online date22 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • Composite
  • Laser vibrometer
  • Nonlinear ultrasound
  • Phased array
  • TFM


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