Concept and Objectives:
Accurate quantification of damage in aircraft structures during their life cycle through an automated monitoring system could ensure airframe integrity and long term durability. Nonlinear Elastic Wave Spectroscopy are an innovative class of non-destructive techniques providing an extreme sensitivity in diagnosing manufacturing defects such as porosity, component assembly contact conditions, and incipient damage in the form of microcracks, delaminations, clapping areas, adhesive bond weakening, which are superior to what can be obtained with traditional NDTs. Following the automated -monitoring, the next natural logical scientific step lies in the development of material with in-situ wound healing, that will move the intrinsic limiting material boundaries encountered by aerospace manufacturers. Classical healing self-healing concepts are based on the embedment of hollow-fibres/microcapsules in the resin. A new potential class of self-healing materials can be introduced by adopting thermally reversible cross-linked polymers. This new class of polymers is capable of healing internal cracks through thermo-reversible covalent bonds formation. This new approach eliminates the needs for additional ingredients such as catalyst, monomer. Moreover, these new healable resins have the built-in capability to restore mechanical properties several times through multiple cycles of healing. This allows multiple damages occurring at the same location to be repaired.
The goal of this project is to develop and build an autonomous modular system for monitoring and healing aircraft structures and demonstrate its efficiency in a life-cycle simulated environment starting from the production to the in-service loading. This will be accomplished by combining integrated modular NEWS techniques and ad-hoc developed Nonlinear Imaging Methods (NIM) for smart quality control system and maintenance of aircraft structures.