Currently, detecting "kissing bond" failures, especially where primary airframe structures are joined, is elusive and unreliable. Spectral Sciences, nationally known for its expertise in spectroscopy, hyper-temporal imaging, remote sensing and imaging, is developing new non-destructive testing techniques that visualize and measure small vibrations in composite materials. Spectral’s imager identifies defects in materials by mapping their vibration. These vibrations show where things are similar and where they are different (defects). These new techniques are important for composite airframes because tests developed for metal airframes cannot identify potential joint failures. The initial target for this technology is the Joint Strike Fighter program and ultimately integrating this nondestructive examination technology into Navy Fleet Readiness Centers.
This nationally known resource with expertise in spectroscopy and hypertemporal imaging is developing a new vibration-sensing imager that displays the location and extent of heat damaged composite aircraft skin. Using commercially available hardware and custom software, the FINDIT instrument images vibration patterns and infers spatial variation in the material state and airframe structure. Utilizing advanced physics-based algorithms and having a simple set-up, FINDIT can survey a square meter of material in minutes identifying any anomalies allowing for further localized nondestructive inspection of composite material. Early testing on spot damaged carbon composite panels has shown contrast in portions of the vibration spectrum. The initial target for this technology is the F-35 Lightning II program and integrating the technology into Navy Fleet Readiness Centers along with prime contractor aircraft inspection workflow.