Document Type



Barely visible impact damage (BVID) due to low velocity impact events in composite aircraft structures are becoming prevalent. BVID can have an adverse effect on the strength and safety of the structure. During aircraft inspections it can be extremely difficult to visually detect BVID. Moreover, it is also a challenge to ascertain if the BVID has in-fact caused internal damage to the structure or not. This paper describes a method to ascertain whether or not internal damage happened during the impact event by analyzing the high-frequency information contained in the recorded acoustic emission signal signature. Multiple 2 mm quasi-isotropic carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) composite coupons were impacted using the ASTM D7136 standard in a drop weight impact testing machine to determine the mass, height and energy parameters to obtain approximately 1” impact damage size in the coupons iteratively. For subsequent impact tests, four piezoelectric wafer active sensors (PWAS) were bonded at specific locations on each coupon to record the acoustic emission (AE) signals during the impact event using the MISTRAS micro-II digital AE system. Impact tests were conducted on these instrumented 2 mm coupons using previously calculated energies that would create either no damage or 1” impact damage in the coupons. The obtained AE waveforms and their frequency spectrums were analyzed to distinguish between different AE signatures. From the analysis of the recorded AE signals, it was verified if the structure had indeed been damaged due to the impact event or not. Using our proposed structural health monitoring technique, it could be possible to rapidly identify impact events that cause damage to the structure in real-time and distinguish them from impact events that do not cause damage to the structure. An invention disclosure describing our acoustic emission structural health monitoring technique has been filed and is in the process of becoming a provisional patent.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// 4.0/).

APA Citation

James, R., Joseph, R. P., & Giurgiutiu, V. (2021). Impact damage ascertainment in composite plates using in-situ acoustic emission signal signature identification. Journal of Composites Science, 5(3), 79.