AGH UST develops innovative method of examining microdamage

The researchers of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics at the AGH University of Science and Technology have developed a device capable of carrying out a very quick search and examination of microdamage in different types of construction. It is an extremely important project as the detection of cracks or damage - for example in plane covering and bridges - can have a significant influence on people's health and life.

Professor Tadeusz Uhl, head of the research team.

Ph.D. Mariusz Szwedo

Ph.D. Łukasz Pieczonka

Professor Tadeusz Uhl, head of the research team, explains the essence of the developed vibrothermography method on the example of the aviation industry. In the case of aeroplanes, where during the take-off or landing of a plane, the aircraft's fuselage or wing often hits a bird, the incident may lead to the creation of all sorts of damage. In order to examine the aircraft by means of a conventional method, it would need to be disassembled and taken to a laboratory. This process, combined with examination, reassembling, and safety tests would mean that the plane could not be used for a longer period of time. Therefore, our researchers have come up with a method which is quick, cheaper, and very precise. Vibrothermography is a detailed measurement of temperature distribution in an object. How does it work? Energy in the form of ultrasonic signals is delivered to the structure of an aircraft's wing; when the signals encounter a failure, the phenomenon of friction takes place thus generating heat. The warmer areas (i.e. microdamage) are located by means of a very sensitive thermographic camera.


As the AGH UST scientists say, this method is not new, but it is advantageous since the examined object does not require disassembling. Why? Two types of the device have been designed: stationary (to be used in laboratory conditions) and mobile. "Thanks to the device, it is possible to examine a panel mounted on a plane, and this is what

distinguishes our method from other methods of a similar type," says Mariusz Szwedo, DSc, of the research team. Thanks to it, the examination is quick, and does not require interference with the construction. Hence the time and financial advantage is enormous.


The project works lasted two years. Now, the device is ready to use. "We show it at various exhibitions, seminars, and fairs. It arouses a great interest. The device is complete (camera and software), and in the laboratory version is costs 500,000 PLN. Competitive devices are double the price," explains the head of the research team.


Our researchers have already completed laboratory tests, and currently, the so-called "field tests" are taking place. "We take industrial elements, and check how they work," says professor Uhl, whose team have tested the device on the aeroplanes in Mielec. The market success depends on the number of conducted examination tests. "The more applications of the device we have, and the more people have a chance to see that the method is effective in all sorts of places, the more customers we will have," emphasizes professor. In the near future, the constructors hope to get certificates for the method from international institutions in aviation and power engineering, because, as they claim, it is applicable to many branches of industry; in all the places where metal and composite materials, as well as bolted, riveted, and welded joints are used. All this for more efficient and safer equipment in transportation and industry.



Story: Ilona Trębacz, Photo: Dawid Jach/KSAF AGH UST

Tr.: Grzegorz Kłopotowski