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Structural monitoring with advanced integrated sensor technologies

Final Report Summary - SMIST (Structural monitoring with advanced integrated sensor technologies)

The ultimate aim of the SMIST project was to develop and validate monitoring technologies able to deliver certain cost savings for maintenance and enable innovative structural design for metals and composites. For this purpose, the objective was to allow the most advanced sensing technologies to become an integral part of the aircraft structure and thus implement Structural health monitoring (SHM) into aircraft structural design in order to minimise maintenance costs, increase aircraft availability and minimise weight.

The main achievements of the projects are subsumed into the following eight fields:

Fibre Bragg gratings (FBGs)
application procedure using patches was established and filed for patenting;
connectors for embedding Fibre optic (FO) sensors have been developed;
panels for damage monitoring on composite structures were manufactured;
finite element analysis was performed and verified by small scale tests

Acousto-ultrasonic (AU) technologies
the damage detection capability in metal structures was shown and a better understanding of signal processing was achieved;
hardware with regard to transducers was investigated and new sensors were developed;
the first environmental tests were successfully finalised;
the first common testing on composite structures was performed;

Comparative vacuum monitoring (CVM) - systems
an application procedure was established and an installation sheet compiled;
tailored sensors for several applications were developed;
a service bulletin was published allowing the use of these sensors on service aircraft;
the first environmental and mechanical durability tests were successfully performed;
a Probability of detection (PoD) was achieved;
the first detection capability tests on composite panels were successfully performed

Acoustic emission (AE) systems
two patents have been filed, the first one concerned new types of transducers and the other one concerned the testing procedure for the damage assessment of small Carbon fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP) coupon specimens subject to AE-monitored fatigue loading including the algorithms for processing AE data;
the AE BALRUE software was improved;
work was completed to develop AE analysis for complex three-dimensional (3D) structures;
a study on the use of FBG sensors for AE was completed

Sensitive coatings (SCs) and Environmental degradation monitoring systems (EDMS)
Direct write (DW) Radio-frequency identification (RFID), Strain Gauge (SG), Crack wire (CW) and micro-environmental sensors were developed and tested under mechanical and environmental conditions;
one new sensor system for crack detection was filed for patenting;
a study on environmental degradation monitoring systems was completed

Micro-wave antennas (MWAs)
new antennas were designed and tested;
signal modelling was completed and verified

Imaging ultrasonics (IU)
the IU system was improved;
cross-link between Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) technology provider and industrial partners was established

Eddy current foil sensors (ETFS)
numerical modelling was performed;
new improved sensors were developed and planned to be used in flight tests