Modeling of ultrasonic wave propagation in composite laminates with realistic discontinuity representation

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This paper presents a method for embedding realistic defect geometries of a fiber reinforced material in a finite element modeling environment in order to simulate active ultrasonic inspection. When ultrasonic inspection is used experimentally to investigate the presence of defects in composite materials, the microscopic defect geometry may cause signal characteristics that are difficult to interpret. Hence, modeling of this interaction is key to improve our understanding and way of interpreting the acquired ultrasonic signals. To model the true interaction of the ultrasonic wave field with such defect structures as pores, cracks or delamination, a realistic three dimensional geometry reconstruction is required. We present a 3D-image based reconstruction process which converts computed tomography data in adequate surface representations ready to be embedded for processing with finite element methods. Subsequent modeling using these geometries uses a multi-scale and multi-physics simulation approach which results in quantitative A-Scan ultrasonic signals which can be directly compared with experimental signals. Therefore, besides the properties of the composite material, a full transducer implementation, piezoelectric conversion and simultaneous modeling of the attached circuit is applied. Comparison between simulated and experimental signals provides very good agreement in electrical voltage amplitude and the signal arrival time and thus validates the proposed modeling approach. Simulating ultrasound wave propagation in a medium with a realistic shape of the geometry clearly shows a difference in how the disturbance of the waves takes place and finally allows more realistic modeling of A-scans.

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