Skip to Main Content
A new Lamb-wave-based nondestructive testing (NDT) technique, which does not rely on previously stored baseline data, is developed for crack monitoring in plate structures. Commonly, the presence of damage is identified by comparing "current data" measured from a potentially damaged stage of a structure with "baseline data" previously obtained at the intact condition of the structure. In practice, structural defects typically take place long after collection of the baseline data, and the baseline data can be also affected by external loading, temperature variations, and changing boundary conditions. To eliminate the dependence on the baseline data comparison, the authors previously developed a reference-free NDT technique using 2 pairs of collocated lead zirconate titanate (PZT) transducers placed on both sides of a plate. This reference-free technique is further advanced in the present study by the necessity of attaching transducers only on a single surface of a structure for certain applications such as aircraft. To achieve this goal, a new design of PZT transducers called dual PZT transducers is proposed. Crack formation creates Lamb wave mode conversion due to a sudden thickness change of the structure. This crack appearance is instantly detected from the measured Lamb wave signals using the dual PZT transducers. This study also suggests a reference-free statistical approach that enables damage classification using only the currently measured data set. Numerical simulations and experiments were conducted using an aluminum plate with uniform thickness and fundamental Lamb waves modes to demonstrate the applicability of the proposed technique to reference-free crack detection.