Due to the problems arising from impact damage in composite laminates, there is a need to develop fast, accurate, cost-effective and non-destructive testing methods to identify this type of damage at an early stage and thus enhance the service life of composite structures. This paper presents the results of an extensive experimental campaign conducted to investigate the feasibility of using vibration-based methods to identify damages sustained by composite laminates due to low-velocity impacts. The experimental programme included an evaluation of impact damage resistance and tolerance according to ASTM test methods, characterisation of induced damage by ultrasonic testing and quantification of the effects on the vibration response. The damage identification involved the detection, localisation, quantification and estimation of the remaining bearing capacity. Four damage indicators based on modal parameters were assessed by comparing pristine and damaged states. The results allowed for conclusions to be drawn regarding the capability and suitability of each damage indicator, including its ability to detect impact-induced damage, its precision in determining the location of damage, its sensitivity regarding damage extent and pertinent correlations with residual bearing capacity.
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