Composite materials, such as glass fiber reinforced resins, are commonly used in modern aircraft. The performance and service life of these materials, however, depend heavily upon the presence or absence of defects introduced during the manufacturing process as well as any damage that may occur in-service.
CT scans provide a powerful, non-invasive method to inspect the internal structure of composite parts and to visualize the location of defects which can negatively impact the structural integrity of the part. The 3D geometry can be reconstructed from the CT scan data but the analysis of the part using finite element software is currently a labor intensive and costly part of the process, as meshes are often generated by hand.
The solution being investigated by Fen Technologyis to use an automatic mesh generator which can snap the grid to the internal feature boundaries within the composite part model with reduced element distortion. The meshing approach handles complex geometries and allows the production of refined grids around features of interest, such as defects.
This tool will be of interest to companies involved in the construction, maintenance and repair of modern civil and military aircraft where composite panels form a significant part of the structure. It may also be of interest in other safety critical industries where composite materials are used such as in boats and small ships. This will save them a significant amount of time and cost in diagnosing the structural effects of defects in composite panels.