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Stress tests on carbon fibre bike frames utilise thermal imaging

Carl Messtechnik (Dinsladen, Germany) is using Flir thermal imaging cameras to conduct pulse thermography quality tests to detect defects in bicycles made from carbon fibre reinforced materials.

Modern bike frames, especially those at the higher priced end of the market, are made from carbon fibre reinforced plastics, which are exceptionally light and strong. The way these frames behave in the case of damage and failure is fundamentally different from traditional metal frame bikes. Instead of bending, carbon fibre reinforced materials just break. This potentially exposes riders to failures that may lead to injury or even death.

To identify hidden stress defects in carbon-based bike frames, Carl Messtechnik employed a pulse thermographic method to trigger a thermal pulse through the material under study and then used a Flir SC 7000 thermal imaging camera to trace the heat flow. Differences in the heat flow data collected by the camera have provided a unique insight into stress induced flaws in carbon fibre reinforced materials.

Volker Carl, managing director of Carl Messtechnik, commented: 'The cooled Indium Antimonide (InSb) detector used by the Flir SC7000 thermal imaging camera is extremely sensitive (<20mk) and provides high contrast thermal images at a resolution of 640 x 512 pixels. The SC7000 is extremely good for this application, for its accurate temperature readings and detailed thermal images that ensure that no flaws are missed.'

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