Carbon fiber composite laminates, consisting of highly anisotropic ply layers, are widely used in aerospace structures due to their good strength to weight ratio. However, due to poor interlaminar strength, composite components are prone to barely visible impact damage during aircraft operation. Sparse array guided wave imaging, using a network of distributed sensors, is an important Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) tool for the detection and localization of in-service damage in composite structures. However, the anisotropy of composite laminates influences guided wave scattering, impacting imaging performance. Defect characterization can be improved by considering the scattering characteristics of various damage types for the sparse array signal processing. Guided wave scattering (A0 Lamb wave mode) was investigated around an artificial insert delamination in a quasi-isotropic carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) panel. Permanent magnets, mounted on an undamaged region of the plate, were also used as scattering targets and compared to the delamination case. Full 3D Finite Element (FE) simulations were performed for both the delamination and magnet cases and compared to wavefield data obtained from non-contact laser measurements. Good agreement was found between the experimental measurements and simulations. Scattered guided wave amplitudes around each damage type show strong directional dependency with energy focusing along the fiber directions of the outer ply layers of the laminate. Distinct scattering behavior was observed for each damage type. A forward scattered wave was observed for the delamination, whereas the magnet blocked forward wave transmission. Implications of anisotropy and angular scattering on sparse array SHM of different defect types are discussed.

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