Composite materials can become damaged in many different ways. There can also be flaws in the original manufacturing process. Many times it is necessary to identify any damaged areas within the composites layers that cannot be detected with the eye.
Inspection of composites fiberglass and carbon fiber structures may be required for advanced critical applications of composites materials. Identifying any potential problems with the composites structure is extremely important.
Of course problems can be identified through destructive testing-drilling holes, making cuts, etc. It also may be necessary to do testing in a non-destructive manner, i.e. not cutting into the laminate that is being tested.
One method of accomplishing non-destructive testing of composites laminates is using ultrasound. This Youtube video demonstrates the use of this method.
As you can see, the damage is found in this carbon fiber laminate. This information is a flag that can be used to decide whether to make a repair or replace the structure.
Delamination within the fiberglass or carbon fiber part will result in a much weaker structure than the design intended. Other areas of the composites part will be further strained by weaknesses in other areas and may also fail.
This ultrasonic test can help to identify otherwise invisible problems with either the original manufacturing process or damage during the life cycle of the composite part.