Composite materials in aircraft wings and control surfaces can be fatally weakened by accidental impacts or environmental incidents, such as lightning strikes. NLA Diagnostics’ simple, fast and effective non-destructive testing (NDT) device is practical for use outside the laboratory to detect damage in composite wing material that is invisible to the eye and undetectable by other methods. Easy to use in the field, the device can reduce aircraft downtime by enhancing routine inspection procedures. At the same time, it can provide rapid, easily deployable “first aid” assessment testing in cases of suspected impact damage.
The “tap test” is the most common field inspection method currently being performed on composite helicopter rotor blades. However, the human subjectivity of traditional tap testing does not detect delamination and degradation accurately or early enough to prevent catastrophic failure. NLA Diagnostics’ affordable, reliable and user-friendly non-linear acoustics device determines the structural health of composite rotor blades in multiple failure modes. It can test for manufacturing defects, failures due to cyclic stress, projectile impact, battle damage, heat damage and other external damage effects that cause delamination and degradation.
Used in construction for over 2,000 years, concrete is one of the world`s oldest composite materials. Much of the nation`s concrete infrastructure is over 40 years old, and the demand for accurate and reliable means of testing the structural integrity of concrete has never been greater.
The testing of concrete, however, presents numerous problems. Widely-used conventional methods such as pulse-echo and pitch and catch are of limited effectiveness. The aggregates contained in concrete cause scattering of sound waves and multiple reflections that greatly reduce the effectiveness of conventional tests. The use of reinforcing bar (rebar) in concrete structures can also cause severe problems for conventional testing methods.
NLA testing methodology avoids these problems entirely by evaluating the overall mechanical properties of concrete over a given region, instead of attempting to determine the location of single defects. To NLA methodology, reflections from aggregates become irrelevant and rebar effectively invisible.
Wind and Motor Sports
At the leading edge of boatbuilding, we are now seeing increased use of carbon fiber to strengthen key areas of sailboats, such as the bows and keel sections. Additionally, carbon fiber masts are increasingly common, as they offer major performance and vessel stability benefits. ORACLE TEAM USA is a prime example of the benefits of composite materials to allow a lighter, simpler structure, which increases efficiency, and does not fatigue or corrode. NLAD sees a significant opportunity to partner with existing manufacturers and teams to deliver deployable evaluation services.
Presently, less than 4% of all materials used in the transportation industry are composite based. However, the industry has signaled composite materials that are significantly lighter, may be the most cost effective method to achieving productivity targets. Several projects are currently funded that will re-shape the industry, including a large German manufacturer whose stated goal is to significantly reduce the weight of its automobiles. Additionally, USCAR, a consortium of the Big Three, is designing, and has recently been awarded the patent, a prototype composite underbody for a full-size, rear-wheel-drive passenger car. In each of these instances, the manufacturers will need to ensure new designs meet current and future crash test standards.