Composite materials impact damage detection using neural networks

  • Ning Liu

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis considers two basic aspects of impact damage in composite materials, namely damage severity discrimination and impact damage location by using Acoustic Emissions (AE) and Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs). The experimental work embodies a study of such factors as the application of AE as Non-destructive Damage Testing (NDT), and the evaluation of ANNs modelling. ANNs, however, played an important role in modelling implementation.
In the first aspect of the study, different impact energies were used to produce different level of damage in two composite materials (T300/914 and T800/5245). The impacts were detected by their acoustic emissions (AE). The AE waveform signals were analysed and modelled using a Back Propagation (BP) neural network model. The Mean Square Error (MSE) from the output was then used as a damage indicator in the damage severity discrimination study. To evaluate the ANN model, a comparison was made of the correlation coefficients of different parameters, such as MSE, AE energy, AE counts, etc. MSE produced an outstanding result based on the best performance of correlation.
In the second aspect, a new artificial neural network model was developed to provide impact damage location on a quasi-isotropic composite panel. It was successfully trained to locate impact sites by correlating the relationship between arriving time differences of AE signals at transducers located on the panel and the impact site coordinates. The performance of the ANN model, which was evaluated by calculating the distance deviation between model output and real location coordinates, supports the application of ANN as an impact damage location identifier. In the study, the accuracy of location prediction decreased when approaching the central area of the panel. Further investigation indicated that this is due to the small arrival time differences, which defect the performance of ANN prediction. This research suggested increasing the number of processing neurons in the ANNs as a practical solution.
Date of AwardJun 2002
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJohn E.T. Penny (Supervisor)


  • damage level discrimination
  • damage location
  • NDT
  • acoustic emission

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