Development of a reinforcing fibre light-guide for use as a damage sensor within composite structures
This study presents the results of an investigation to develop a novel sensor which would give a direct indication of the extent of impact damage in a composite. This was achieved by using glass reinforcing fibres to produce a light-guide, which was embedded within a composite laminate. The laminate was then subjected to impact events or bending stresses of sufficient magnitude to cause damage. The impact energies used in this study varied between 2 and 10 Joules, and the indentation depths varied between 0.125 and 1 mm, allowing damage propagation to be monitored. The fall-off in the transmitted light was used to monitor the level of damage, along with C-scanning and sectioning to provide reference data. The use of reinforcing fibres to produce the sensor meant that the strains required to cause failure in the fibres was realistically close to those of the composite constituents. Changes in the transmission characteristics of the sensor were found to correspond to real failure events occurring during impact.