Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing
Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 22 (2008) 1327–1335

Damage detection in composite plates with embedded PZT transducers
˙ P. Kudelaa,Ã,1, W. Ostachowicza,b, A. Zaka

Institute of Fluid Flow Machinery, Polish Academy of Sciences, ul. Fiszera 14, 80 952 Gdansk, Poland b Faculty of Navigation, Gdynia Maritime University, Al. Jana Pawa II 3, 81 345 Gdynia, Poland Received 5 January 2007; received in revised form 16 July 2007; accepted 17 July 2007 Available online 2 August 2007

Abstract This paper presents a concept of a structural health monitoring system based on PZT transducers. Taking advantage of spectral element method simulations of A0 mode of the Lamb waves propagating in a multilayer composite plate have been carried out. Based on obtained signals for a clock-like configuration of sensors, a damage detection algorithm has been proposed. The results for the proposed algorithm have been presented in the form of damage maps. It can be concluded that the clock-like sensor configuration is suitable for embedding in composite plates because information about wave velocities at each angle can be included. r 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Crack detection; Signal processing; Composite plate

1. Introduction As a human body, structures deteriorate or are damaged in a long-term use. The damage can be generated by initial defects, fatigue, overloads, and impacts. In composite structures, the different damage modes expected are: delamination, fibre breakage and matrix cracking. Damage and deterioration of structures appear as a significant problem because they often cause catastrophic accidents. However, unlike a human body, the health of structures cannot be self recovered. Therefore, periodic inspections are essential to ensure the safe operation of structures [1]. Traditional nondestructive evaluation techniques such as: ultrasonic scan, eddy current method, X radiography, acoustic emission and passive thermography are difficult to use in operation due to the size and weight of necessary devices. Moreover, operation must be interrupted, parts must be disassembled and reassembled for inspection, which is complex, expensive and time consuming. In opposite, a structural health monitoring system is an attractive approach to solve problems that occur in degraded structures. Damage and intensity of degradation are monitored in real time providing useful information for predicting the service life. Such a system can improve not only safety and reliability but also can reduce maintenance costs.
ÃCorresponding author.

˙ E-mail addresses: (P. Kudela), (W. Ostachowicz), (A. Zak). Supported by the Polish Ministry of Education and Science (Proj. No. N501 001 31/0103).

0888-3270/$ - see front matter r 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.ymssp.2007.07.008

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Fig. 1. Configuration of sensors: (a) a distributed sensor array, and (b) a clock-like sensor array.

The most popular sensors suitable for embedding in structures are fibre-optic sensors and piezoelectric sensors. In the first case, sensing area is focused around fibres and the cost of a complete system depends on the type of sensors and configuration of distributing and multiplexing techniques. In the second case, the sensing area is reasonably, sensors can be placed in a network configuration (Fig. 1a) or connected in a small circular group working similar to radar devices (Fig. 1b). Piezoelectric sensing systems are cheaper than the systems based on fibre-optic sensors and are the subject of this paper. 2. Lamb wave modelling Piezoelectric sensors use diagnostic signals that are generated by impact or actuators. Input signals usually excite Lamb waves. In practical application only input signals that excite fundamental modes of Lamb waves (A0 and S0) are considered, in order to simplify interpretation of signal responses. In this case a wave dispersion appears as an important problem. That situation requires to chose an optimal operation point corresponding to an excitation frequency. The most suitable cycle number and frequency for a Lamb mode can be determined by the minimum resolvable distance (MRD) approach [2]:     V0 1 1 MRD ¼ L À þ T in , (1) V min V max d where L and d are the wave propagation distance and plate thickness, V 0 , V min , V max are the group velocity at the central frequency of the input wave-packet, minimum and maximum velocities in the wave packet to travel through the distance of L, while T in is the duration of the input signal. It has been found that the smaller a MRD value the better the resolution and the more suitable the current frequency and cycle number. Modes S0 and A0 are usually observed to have very low MRD values. An effective development of damage detection systems which utilize guided waves must be supported by numerical simulations. Wave propagation and scattering that appears in composite plates can be modelled by taking advantage of spectral element method [3]. Spectral elements are versatile and can be applied to domains of complex boundaries. Moreover, selection of suitable base functions and numerical integration points enable equations uncoupling and crucial reduction of calculation time. Also convergence is very fast comparing with the classical FEM. 3. Numerical calculations 3.1. Influence of composite material parameters on wave propagation Parameters of composite materials strongly influence on the velocity of propagating waves. Waves in composite plates propagate in each direction with different velocities. That can be plotted in the polar coordinates as presented in Fig. 2. It can be seen that numerical model gives little slower wave front than the wave front calculated using a simply analytical procedure given in [4]. Also the shape of the wave front changes with the frequency. For this reason a right choice of an optimal excitation frequency should minimize dispersion (MRD value) and should give the most circular wave front. Fortunately, the frequency range which gives a flat group velocity curve (Fig. 3) gives the most circular wave

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120 150

90 1500 1000 500

60 s08

100 kHz 30 kHz 20 kHz 100 kHz simul.



210 240 270 300


Fig. 2. Group velocity surfaces calculated analytically compared with velocities estimated from a simulation (cross markers) by spectral element method.

5 4 Group velocity [km/s] 3 2 ×
105.7 kHz ~343 kHz

cω cα cβ

1 0




300 Frequency [kHz]




Fig. 3. Dispersion curves for a ½Æ45Š2 composite plate of 2 mm thick obtained from a mathematical model.

front. It should be noticed that dispersion curves presented in Fig. 3 are obtained from a mathematical model of the composite plate based on Mindlin’s plate theory. This theory gives a good approximation of A0 mode of the Lamb waves (cw curve in Fig. 3) only below cut off frequencies. A1 and A2 mode of the Lamb waves are approximated very roughly (ca and cb curves in Fig. 3, which correspond to rotational degrees of freedom). If a composite material contains more fibres then waves propagate at higher velocities. Also the shape of the group velocity surface changes with the volume fraction of the fibres. The group velocity depends also on the orientation angle of the reinforcing fibres. Theoretical and numerical calculations for a single layer graphiteepoxy composite plate with a constant volume fraction of the fibres show that the front of the propagating wave is preserved, while an ellipse shaped elongation is rotated according to the fibre orientation angle [4].

3.2. Multilayer composite plate with crack A plate under consideration (Fig. 4) has the following dimensions: length 500 mm, width 500 mm, and thickness 2 mm. The excitation source is a 105.7 kHz sinusoidal signal modulated by Hanning window of five cycles. This frequency corresponds to the maximum group velocity of A0 mode of the Lamb waves (vide Fig. 2). It is assumed that the plate consists of four graphite-epoxy layers. A volume fraction of the reinforcing

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sensor array 12 9


6 100



Fig. 4. Geometry of a composite plate with two cracks.

fibres in each layer is 50%. The ply stacking sequence of the plate is ½Æ45Š2 . The total time of analysis has been assumed 0.7 ms, which is enough for propagating wave to travel from excitation point to the boundaries of the plate and back. The excitation point is located at the center of a clock-like array of sensors and the remaining points in Fig. 4 indicate sensors. Based on the assumptions described above, numerical simulations of A0 mode of the Lamb waves have been carried out in the case of undamaged and damaged plate. This problem is solved by the use of spectral element method. A grid of 30  30 100-node spectral plate elements has been used. It gives roughly 220 000 degrees of freedom and about seven nodes per wavelength. The total simulation time has been divided into 15 000 time steps. Such parameters assure stability of the method. Two damage scenarios have been investigated. In the first case only crack no. 2 is present. In the second case crack nos. 1 and 2 are present in the plate as presented in Fig. 4. Left tip of the crack no. 1 has coordinates (300 mm, 83.3 mm) and length is 16.6 mm. Left tip of the crack no. 2 has coordinates (233 mm, 300 mm) and the length 16.6 mm. The cracks have been introduced by separations appropriate element nodes. Certain results of numerical simulations are presented in Fig. 5. Reflections from the cracks can be clearly visible. 4. Damage detection algorithm For the purpose of damage detection based on the signals registered by the considered clock-like manner sensor array a simple detection algorithm has been proposed and developed, and founded on the ideas presented in [5–7]. The proposed damage detection algorithm makes use of the assumption that the excitation signal and signals reflected from damage have matching features. If this is true the idea is to search all signals registered for signals reflected from damage and subsequently to compare the features of these signals with the features of the excitation signal. The excitation signal has a finite length (Fig. 6) and thus can be thought of as surrounded by a virtual time window. This time window can be arbitrarily placed on each of the registered signals resulting in a certain time shift, which is equivalent to a distance required for the propagating signal to travel from the excitation point (the central transmitter) to a point P of coordinates x and y (possible damage location) and then back to an appropriate sensors. Based on the part of the registered signal matching the extent of the time window a certain measure of the match between the signals can be built and associated with

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Fig. 5. Snapshots of the propagating waves in a graphite-epoxy composite plate with one crack (left) and with two cracks (right) obtained from simulation. (a,b) Time 0.07 ms; (c,d) time 0.12 ms; (e,f) time 0.16 ms; (g,h) time 0.21 ms.

the coordinates x and y. In the case when the registered signal, within the considered time window, is free of the signal reflected from damage the value of this measure is very low and close to zero. On the other hand when the registered signal carries on some information about the signal reflected from the damage the value of the measure is much higher. A special damage influence map can be built by application of this procedure to all points of the plate and by summation of the obtained results. For the signal registered by the kth sensor it can be written that: ^ ST ¼ ST ðt0 ; t0 þ Dtà Þ; ^ S R;k ¼ S R;k ðt0 þ Dt; t0 þ Dtà Þ; k ¼ 1; . . . ; 12, (2)

where t0 is the beginning time of the time window, Dtà is the width of the time window and Dt is the signal time ^ ^ shift (Fig. 6). The two time signals S T and S R;k obtained in this way have the same width Dtà . The signal time

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sensor array 12 9 d0P dPk P(x,y) P(x,y) 6 V( ) 3



Fig. 6. The idea of a damage identification algorithm in a composite plate.

shift Dt may be expressed in terms of the distance between point P and the signal propagation group velocity V as qffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi pffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi 2 þ y2 ðx À xk Þ2 þ ðy À yk Þ2 x d 0P d Pk Dtðx; yÞ ¼ þ ¼ þ , (3) V Pk V 0P V Pk V 0P where d 0P and d Pk represent the distances between the central transmitter and point P and between point P and kth sensor, respectively. It should be noticed that in composite materials the group velocity depends on the direction of propagation (vide Fig. 2). For this reason the values of the group velocities V 0P and V Pk are ^ not equal and are different for each point P in opposite to an isotropic case. Based on the time signals ST and ^ SRk the measure of the match between the two signals can be build and associated with the point P of coordinates x and y as Z t0 þDtà ^ ^ ek ðx; yÞ ¼ (4) ST ðtÞ½F ðtÞGðx; yÞSRk ðtފ dt,

where F ðtÞ is a windowing function (such as Gauss, Hann, Hamming, etc.), while Gðx; yÞ is a function taking into account the attenuation of the reflected signal amplitude: Gðx; yÞ ¼ ea ðd 0P þd Pk Þ , (5)

where a is the attenuation coefficient. The total measure of the match between the signals obtained from all receiving sensors can be build as follows: XZ XX E¼ ek ðx; yÞ dS % ek ðxi ; yj Þ,
k S k i;j

k ¼ 1; . . . ; 12;

i ¼ 1; . . . ; N; j ¼ 1; . . . ; M,


where S is the surface of the plate and N and M represent the total number of nodes i and j located on the plate surface. 4.1. Example of damage detection The damage detection algorithm described in the previous section has been tested based on the results from numerical simulations. The algorithm has been applied to signals registered by 12 sensors with random noise

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up to 2% of the maximum amplitude of the signals. The plate has been divided into 200x200 nodes. The group velocity of the propagation signal has been taken from the numerical simulations rather from the known analytical formulas. The measure of the match between the two signals defined in Eq. (4) has been modified to the form: ^ ek ðtj Þ ¼ jFðf c Þj % jDFT½F ðti ÞS Rk ðtj þ ði À 1Þ dtފj; i ¼ 1; . . . ; N w , (7)

where F is the linear interpolation of the amplitude corresponding to the carrier frequency f c of the excitation signal S T , calculated using the signal registered by the kth sensor, the DFT denotes the discrete Fourier transform, F is the Hanning window, dt is the sampling interval, and N w is the number of points in the virtual window. Such definition causes that the damage detection algorithm can be classified as a time-frequency method. Moreover, such a damage detection algorithm has excellent filtering properties. In all cases investigated here the exact location of damage considered has been clearly indicated and marked for reference purposes. As a first damage influence maps have been built based on damage state signals (plate with cracks). It can be seen that the reflections of the signal from the cracks (Figs. 7a and 8a) are obscured by the reflections from the boundaries and the location of the cracks cannot be detected. However, boundary reflections can be removed considering only the time of wave propagation from the central transmitter to the nearest boundary and back to the nearest sensor. In such a case the damage influence map gives a clear indication of the location of the cracks (Figs. 7b and 8b). In the case of two cracks a damage influence map clearly indicates the position of crack no. 1, which is located closer to the centre of the sensor array and the value of the damage influence amplitude is high, while reflections from crack no. 2 cause that the second maximum of the damage

Fig. 7. Numerical results: damage influence maps for a plate with one crack (white mark). (a) Signals without a baseline; (b) Signals without a baseline and with boundary reflections removed; (c) Signals with a baseline; (d) Signals with a baseline and with boundary reflections removed.

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Fig. 8. Numerical results: damage influence maps for a plate with two cracks (white marks). (a) Signals without a baseline; (b) Signals without a baseline and with boundary reflections removed; (c) Signals with a baseline; (d) Signals with a baseline and with boundary reflections removed.

influence map indicate its location (Fig. 8b), but the value of damage influence amplitude is much smaller than that for crack no. 1. Obviously, the front wave propagating parallel to the crack generates much more scattered waves and for this reason identification of the position of crack no. 1 is easier. Signals used by the algorithm can be related to the signals obtained for the plate with no damage. Such differential signals carry all essential information about the presence of damage and can be very effectively used (Figs. 7c and 8c). The location of a crack can be estimated with sufficient precision. The difference between the maximum of the damage influence amplitude and the centre of the crack is less then 3 mm in the case of one crack (Fig. 7d) and less than 10 mm in the case of two cracks (Fig. 8d). Considering a clock-like PZT element as a moving monitoring tool, the dead zone presented in Fig. 4 could be reduced and in a few stages a large area of a structure may be inspected. Another possibility is to cover the area of a structure by few clock-like PZT elements and to monitor the structure online. 5. Conclusions Spectral element method enables accurate modelling of the wave propagation phenomena in anisotropic media with failures. In composite materials wave propagates in each direction with different velocity and this information should be included in a damage detection algorithm. As a consequence of this property it is easier to design a monitoring system with the clock-like PZT configuration than with a regular grid of sensors. The proposed method of damage detection enables one to produce damage influence maps. Such maps show the location and the severity of damage. The developed damage detection algorithm is universal and can be applied to any sensor configuration.

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