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In-situ monitoring of fibre reinforced composites using embedded fibre optic sensors

Mr Daryn Benecke, Undergraduate Student, Swinburne University 


The incorporation of optical sensing fibres into fibre reinforced composite structure offers huge potential to deliver both an enhanced understanding of the manufacturing process and provide material state awareness in the manufactured product. However, the transition of this capability into main-stream composites manufacture has been slow, in large part due to the practical challenges associated with integration of these fibres into real world structures that often contain geometric complexities. Furthermore, reliable interpretation of the resultant optical response measurements is critical if the results obtained are to be relied upon for decision making.

This paper provides a comparative evaluation of the three main classes of fibre optic sensor which are suitable for composites embedment (fibre Bragg gratings, continuous fibre gratings and Rayleigh scattering). These fibres are embedded in nominally identical composite hydrofoils that contain many of the geometric features that can present challenges for integration in real world applications. Experimental data is presented comparing the response of the different classes of sensor during resin transfer moulding of the hydrofoils and their subsequent curing and demoulding processes. Finally, experimental results will be presented of the performance of the fibre optic sensors in the finished hydrofoils under quasistatic cantilevered loading.


Dr Claire Davis is a Senior Research Scientist in the Aerospace Division of the Australian Defence Science and Technology group. She received her B.Sc. in Applied Sciences from Trinity College Dublin in 1992, M.Sc. in Optoelectronics from the Queens University Belfast in 1993 and a PhD in fibre optic sensing from Swinburne University in 2000. She provides technical leadership for the fibre optic sensing program within the Airframe Diagnostics area with a focus on the development and evaluation of fibre optic sensors and systems for application to the structural health monitoring of Defence platforms