Physical basis of tap test as a quantitative imaging tool for composite structures on aircraft

Hsu, David K.; Barnard, Daniel J.; Peters, John J.; Dayal, Vinay
May 2000
AIP Conference Proceedings;2000, Vol. 509 Issue 1, p1857
Academic Journal
Tap test is a simple but effective way for finding flaws in composite and honeycomb sandwich structures; it has been practiced in aircraft inspection for decades. The mechanics of tap test was extensively researched by P. Cawley et al., and several versions of instrumented tap test have emerged in recent years. This paper describes a quantitative study of the impact duration as a function of the mass, radius, velocity, and material property of the impactor. The impact response is compared to the predictions of Hertzian-type contact theory and a simple spring model. The electronically measured impact duration, τ, is used for generating images of the tapped region. Using the spring model, the images are converted into images of a spring constant, k, which is a measure of the local contact stiffness. The images of k, largely independent of tapper mass and impact velocity, reveal the size, shape and severity (cf. Percent stiffness reduction) of defects and damages, as well as the presence of substructures and the associated stiffness increase. The studies are carried out on a variety of real aircraft components and the results serve to guide the development of a fieldable tap test imaging system for aircraft inspection.—This material is based upon work supported by the Federal Aviation Administration under Contract #DTFA03-98-D-00008, Delivery Order No. IA016 and performed at Iowa State University’s Center for NDE as part of the Center for Aviation Systems Reliability program. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.


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