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Damage analysis in metallic components using thermoelastic techniques

Fluid Structure Interactions Research Group, School of Engineering Sciences

N. Sathon and J M Barton School of Engineering Sciences, University of Southampton, UK

Damage analysis
Damage evaluation is essential for structural assessment to prevent a catastrophic failure Thermoelastic Stress Analysis (TSA) is a non-contacting technique for stress analysis TSA has been used successfully in LEFM for determination of damage severity in terms of stress intensity factors from a crack tip stress field. However, a practical usage of TSA to determine the severity of an internal part-through defect does not exist

Three types of materials (Al, Steel, PMMA) are chosen Each set of specimens made from the same material consists of three specimens of different damage severity as shown in Fig.4 The crack-like damage was represented by a through minute slot manufactured by EDM Each specimen was tested at various loading frequency to observe the behaviour of the non-adiabatic effect

A new approach for stress and damage assessment of sub-surface flaws using phase information from thermoelastic techniques is proposed Experimental evidences show that it is possible to use this approach to locate and evaluate the severity of the sub-surface damage

Thermoelastic Stress Analysis (TSA)

T =

t T0 kk c p

Under adiabatic condition

Fig. 4: Defect geometry, the drawing only shows the middle section of the specimen in Fig. 5

Fig. 5 Typical TSA data on the plane x-y

Fig. 1: TSA equipment arrangement

Experimental TSA Setup: 1. A highly sensitive infrared detecting system is used to acquire thermal response on the specimen surface due to thermoelastic effect 2. Virtually adiabatic condition for a small stress gradient on a general object can be achieved by applying periodic loading to the object

Finite Element Analysis

TSA_025 TSA_050 TSA_075

30 20 10 0 0 -10 -20 -30

FEA_025 FEA_050

20 P has e (deg)
Phase (deg)

10 0 0 -10 -20 -30 Distance from the notch (mm) 5 10 15 20




Around a defect region, there exists a high stress gradient and hence a thermal gradient. The irreversible process of heat diffusion occurs and leads to attenuation of thermoelastic response The thermoelastic equation accounting for the heat conduction can be expressed as a generalised heat conduction equation:
Phase (deg)


Distance from the notch (mm )

TSA_025 TSA_050 TSA_075

FEA_025 FEA_050 FEA_075


20 Phase (deg) 10 0 0 -10 -20 -30

Distance from notch (mm)

10 0 0 -10 -20 -30 5 10 15 20




Distance from notch (mm)

k 2T = C p

kk T + tT0 t t

Fig. 6: Example results Al-alloy specimens (load freq 2 and 5Hz), the line plot was taken from a location of the (white) arrow shown in Fig.5

Thermal response in terms of magnitude and phase change at any point and time on the object can be obtained by solving the above equation

Preliminary testing
In-phase image
a/t=0.75 a/t=0.5 a/t=0.25 6 Hz

2-D FE simulations of thermoelastic effect were carried out to study the effect of damage severity and material properties on the thermal response There is a good agreement between FE results and thermoelastic data. Any discrepancy may be caused by the generic material properties used in the FEA. The more damage in the specimen, the larger phase difference around the damage site In PMMA specimens, the adiabatic condition is achieved at very low load frequency because the material has low thermal diffusivity On the opposite face of the crack front, this region suffers from complex stresses and the thermal response becomes more complex and can be predicted by FEA.

Out-of-phase image
a/t=0.75 a/t=0.5 a/t=0.25

12 Hz

18 Hz

6Hz_Sx 12Hz_Sx 18Hz_Sx 24Hz_Sx 6Hz_Sy 12Hz_Sy 18Hz_Sy 24Hz_Sy

24 Hz
800 700

In-phase data

Uncalibrated Unit (Sx and Sy)

600 500 400 300 200




TSA can be used to detect sub-surface flaw by assessing phase information from the thermoelastic data close to the damage site Validity of the proposed technique has demonstrated by conducting FE simulations based on the theory of thermoelastic effect FEA results have shown that damage severity can be established from the phase of the thermal response

Out-of-phase data
100 0 1 -100 11 21 31 41 51 61 71




Fig. 2: Al plate specimen with artificial crack like flaw damage has been tested to observe the thermoelastic effect from the un-damaged face


The Royal Thai Navy for financial support and Dr Janice Barton

Distance (pixel)

Fig. 3: Thermoelastic signal at different load frequency and damage severity