Comparative defect evaluation of aircraft components by active thermography

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Active Thermography has become a powerful tool in the field of non-destructive testing (NDT) in recent years. This infrared thermal imaging technique is used for non-contact inspection of materials and components by visualizing thermal surface contrasts after a thermal excitation. The imaging modality combined with the possibility of detecting and characterizing flaws as well as determining material properties makes Active Thermography a fast and robust testing method even in industrial-/production environments. Nevertheless, depending on the kind of defect (thermal properties, size, depth) and sample material (CFRP carbon fiber reinforced plastics, metal, glass fiber) or sample structure (honeycomb, composite layers, foam), active thermography can sometimes produce equivocal results or completely fails in certain test situations. The aim of this paper is to present examples of results of Active Thermography methods conducted on aircraft components compared to various other (imaging) NDT techniques, namely digital shearography, industrial x-ray imaging and 3D-computed tomography. In particular we focus on detection limits of thermal methods compared to the above-mentioned NDT methods with regard to: porosity characterization in CFRP, detection of delamination, detection of inclusions and characterization of glass fiber distributions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number72510J
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventImage Processing: Machine Vision Applications II - San Jose, CA, United States
Duration: 20 Jan 200922 Jan 2009


  • Active Thermography
  • Aircraft inspection
  • Computed tomography
  • NDT
  • Shearography


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