Acoustic Emission (AE) has become a powerful tool for Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) and Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) to identify and locate damage in engineering structures. Propagation cracks and other damages emit stress waves which can be detected by suitable sensors mounted on the structures surface. AE is becoming more and more popular for composite structures since it is not only able to monitor a relative large area at a time and without scanning but also because it is able to detect and potentially discriminate all different failure types such as matrix cracking, delamination and fibre breakage. In order to identify the location of AE sources in large plate-like structures it typically requires the use of at least three widely spaced sensors. The distance between these sensors is defined by, for example, expected AE intensity and attenuation of the signals. This paper presents AE monitoring results from a tensile test on a composite plate. The origin of each AE event was located using a novel configuration of the three sensors, which were installed in a closely arranged triangular array with the sensors just 45 mm apart. The algorithm locates AE sources by determining the direction from which the wave approaches the array using the time of arrival and the distance the wave has travelled using the wave mode separation. The test was conducted on a carbon fibre reinforced composite (CFRP) plate with anisotropic lay-up. The technique is particularly suitable for NDT and SHM applications where the close positioning of the sensors allows the array to be installed in one housing to simplify mounting and wiring.

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