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Lock-in thermography using miniature infra-red cameras and integrated actuators for defect identification in composite materials

A novel approach for thermographic Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) of laminated polymer composite structures is presented. The technique is based on Lock-In Thermography (LIT), which traditionally uses an external heat source. Here a new means of internal heating, via a lightweight embedded actuator capable of providing highly repeatable and uniform heating is presented. The equipment cost, complexity and hence size is reduced by removing the need for high power external thermal excitation. Instead, the necessary temperature modulation of the internal actuator is achieved with a compact and low-cost Arduino controlled circuit. The size and cost of the equipment is further reduced by demonstrating that a miniature printed circuit board mounted thermal core type micro-bolometer can be used effectively for LIT. The performance of the thermal core is quantitatively compared with the more expensive and bulky traditional infra-red cameras. It is shown that the thermal core can detect defects with similar overall performance as a cooled photon detector and an uncooled micro-bolometer. The low-cost, compact nature and small mass of the thermal core offers great potential in thermographic inspection opening the possibility of deploying devices permanently on structures in conjunction with the embedded actuators for in-situ monitoring in the service environment.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Elsevier BV
This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).