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Sensors 2017, 17(7), 1683; https://doi.org/10.3390/s17071683

Demonstration and Methodology of Structural Monitoring of Stringer Runs out Composite Areas by Embedded Optical Fiber Sensors and Connectors Integrated during Production in a Composite Plant

1
Airbus Operations, S.L, Paseo John Lennon S/N, Getafe, 28906 Madrid, Spain
2
Materials Science, ETSII, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, José Gutiérrez Abascal, 2, 28006 Madrid, Spain
3
Instituto de Óptica (CSIC), 28006 Madrid, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 June 2017 / Revised: 13 July 2017 / Accepted: 19 July 2017 / Published: 21 July 2017

Abstract

Embedding optical fibers sensors into composite structures for Structural Health Monitoring purposes is not just one of the most attractive solutions contributing to smart structures, but also the optimum integration approach that insures maximum protection and integrity of the fibers. Nevertheless this intended integration level still remains an industrial challenge since today there is no mature integration process in composite plants matching all necessary requirements. This article describes the process developed to integrate optical fiber sensors in the Production cycle of a test specimen. The sensors, Bragg gratings, were integrated into the laminate during automatic tape lay-up and also by a secondary bonding process, both in the Airbus Composite Plant. The test specimen, completely representative of the root joint of the lower wing cover of a real aircraft, is comprised of a structural skin panel with the associated stringer run out. The ingress-egress was achieved through the precise design and integration of miniaturized optical connectors compatible with the manufacturing conditions and operational test requirements. After production, the specimen was trimmed, assembled and bolted to metallic plates to represent the real triform and buttstrap, and eventually installed into the structural test rig. The interrogation of the sensors proves the effectiveness of the integration process; the analysis of the strain results demonstrate the good correlation between fiber sensors and electrical gauges in those locations where they are installed nearby, and the curvature and load transfer analysis in the bolted stringer run out area enable demonstration of the consistency of the fiber sensors measurements. In conclusion, this work presents strong evidence of the performance of embedded optical sensors for structural health monitoring purposes, where in addition and most importantly, the fibers were integrated in a real production environment and the ingress-egress issue was solved by the design and integration of miniaturized connectors compatible with the manufacturing and structural test phases. View Full-Text
Keywords: embedded optical fiber sensors; ingress-egress optical fiber; structural health monitoring in composite structures embedded optical fiber sensors; ingress-egress optical fiber; structural health monitoring in composite structures
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Miguel Giraldo, C.; Zúñiga Sagredo, J.; Sánchez Gómez, J.; Corredera, P. Demonstration and Methodology of Structural Monitoring of Stringer Runs out Composite Areas by Embedded Optical Fiber Sensors and Connectors Integrated during Production in a Composite Plant. Sensors 2017, 17, 1683.

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