Fly with new materials
The use of more exotic materials in airframe construction, e.g., carbon composite and honeycomb structures, has increased the demand for a versatile means of inspection. Piezoelectrics and laser-generated ultrasound are being adopted by the aerospace industry because they are well suited for nondestructive evaluation and testing (NDE/NDT). PZFlex is used to model and analyze non-contact or air-coupled ultrasonic inspection, which has opened up the possibility of inspecting partially cured composite plates (Prepreg) for inclusions and porosity. This process for pinpointing structural damage has drastically reduced the scrap rate of completed components.
PZFlex is an excellent modeling tool for the piezoceramics in a variety of aerospace sensor and actuator applications. The software is used to develop arrays of highly sensitive miniature strain gauges for the continuous monitoring of airframe condition. The strain gauge data are quantitative and qualitative measures of aircraft integrity and longevity and allow for a more complete picture of typical aircraft lifespan. The strain gauges depend on fiber optic Bragg reflectors to detect the frequency modulation that occurs whenever a fiber optic cable is subjected to stress or strain. PZFlex is also used to examine the propagation of laser-generated ultrasound through various media and its interaction with defects or inclusions within the aircraft structure.