Condition monitoring of a wing structure for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)
Masango, Thubalakhe Patrick
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Currently non-destructive testing techniques for composite aircraft structures are disadvantaged when compared to online Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) systems that monitor the structure while in-service and give real time data. The present research work looks at developing a protocol for online structural health monitoring of a UAV wing structure using PVDF film sensors, especially including the monitoring of structural changes caused by defects. Different types of SHM techniques were studied in relation to carbon fibre composites. Laminate composite make-up and manufacturing process was investigated and vacuum infusion process was used to manufacture the samples that resemble the Guardian II wing structure, then the three-point bending test was used to determine the material properties. Digital Shearography was employed as a stationery non-destructive technique to determine the sensor to structure attachment, type and position of defects that affect the state of performance. Finite Element Analysis (FEA) was done using ANSYS Workbench which served as a modelling tool using a drawing imported from Solid-works. Experimental investigation was done using PVDF sensor embedded on the surface of the sample in a cantilever setup and a vertical Vernier scale to measure the deflection due to impact and vibration loading. A Fluke-View oscilloscope was used as a data logger when the measurement of the output voltage and the natural frequency were recorded. The techniques of using FEA and experimental investigation were then compared. The findings of this study showed that the PVDF sensor is suitable for condition monitoring of a UAV wing structure.