An integrable sensor inlay for monitoring crack initiation and growth inside bondlines of structural carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) components is presented in this paper. The sensing structures are sandwiched between crack-stopping poly(vinyliden fluoride) (PVDF) and a thin reinforcing polyetherimide (PEI) layer. Good adhesion at all interfaces of the sensor system and to the CFRP material is crucial, as weak bonds can counteract the desired crack-stopping functionality. At the same time, the chosen reinforcing layer must withstand high strains, safely support the metallic measuring grids, and possess outstanding fatigue strength. We show that this robust sensor system which measures the strain at two successive fronts inside the bondline allows for crack recognition in the proximity of the inlay regardless of mechanical loading. Feasibility is demonstrated by static load tests as well as cyclic long-term fatigue testing for up to 1,000,000 cycles. In addition to pure crack detection, crack distance estimation based on sensor signals is illustrated. The inlay integration process is developed with respect to industrial applicability. Thus, implementation of the proposed system could potentially lead to better exploitation of lightweight CFRP constructions by expanding the possibilities of structural adhesive bonding.
C. von der Heide, J. Steinmetz, O. Völkerink, P. Makiela, C. Hühne, M. Sinapius, A. Dietzel
Polyetherimide-Reinforced Smart Inlays for Bondline Surveillance in Composites
Polymers 2022, 14(18), 3816; (2022) [Link]