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Non-destructive testing and evaluation of composite materials/structures: A state-of-the-art review

Wang, Bing; Zhong, Shuncong; Lee, Tung-Lik; Fancey, Kevin; Mi, Jiawei


Bing Wang

Shuncong Zhong

Tung-Lik Lee


Composite materials/structures are advancing in product efficiency, cost-effectiveness and the development of superior specific properties. There are increasing demands in their applications to load-carrying structures in aerospace, wind turbines, transportation, and medical equipment, etc. Thus robust and reliable non-destructive testing (NDT) of composites is essential to reduce safety concerns and maintenance costs. There have been various NDT methods built upon different principles for quality assurance during the whole lifecycle of a composite product. This paper reviews the most established NDT techniques for detection and evaluation of defects/damage evolution in composites. These include acoustic emission, ultrasonic testing, infrared thermography, terahertz testing, shearography, digital image correlation, as well as X-ray and neutron imaging. For each NDT technique, we cover a brief historical background, principles, standard practices, equipment and facilities used for composite research. We also compare and discuss their benefits and limitations, and further summarise their capabilities and applications to composite structures. Each NDT technique has its own potential and rarely achieves a full-scale diagnosis of structural integrity. Future development of NDT techniques for composites will be directed towards intelligent and automated inspection systems with high accuracy and efficient data processing capabilities.

Journal Article Type Review
Publication Date Apr 9, 2020
Journal Advances in Mechanical Engineering
Print ISSN 1687-8132
Publisher SAGE Publications (UK and US)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 4
Pages 1-28
APA6 Citation Wang, B., Zhong, S., Lee, T., Fancey, K., & Mi, J. (2020). Non-destructive testing and evaluation of composite materials/structures: A state-of-the-art review. Advances in Mechanical Engineering, 12(4), 1-28.
Keywords Non-destructive testing; Composite materials; Structures; Defects; Damage; Detection and evaluation; Structural health monitoring
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Copyright Statement This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (

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