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ASTM E2533-21

Standard Guide for Nondestructive Examination of Polymer Matrix Composites Used in Aerospace Applications

Standard Guide for Nondestructive Examination of Polymer Matrix Composites Used in Aerospace Applications E2533-21 ASTM|E2533-21|en-US Standard Guide for Nondestructive Examination of Polymer Matrix Composites Used in Aerospace Applications Standard new BOS Vol. 03.04 Committee E07
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Significance and Use

5.1 This guide references requirements that are intended to control the quality of NDT data. The purpose of this guide, therefore, is not to establish acceptance criteria and therefore approve composite materials or components for aerospace service.

5.2 Following the discretion of the cognizant engineering organization, NDT for fracture control of composite and bonded materials should follow additional guidance described in MIL-HDBK-6870, NASA-STD-(I)-5019, or MSFC-RQMT-3479, or a combination thereof, as appropriate (not covered in this guide).

5.3 Certain procedures referenced in this guide are written so they can be specified on the engineering drawing, specification, purchase order, or contract, for example, Practice E1742/E1742M (Radiography).

5.4 Acceptance Criteria—Determination about whether a composite material or component meets acceptance criteria and is suitable for aerospace service should be made by the cognizant engineering organization. When examinations are performed in accordance with the referenced documents in this guide, the engineering drawing, specification, purchase order, or contract should indicate the acceptance criteria.

5.4.1 Accept/reject criteria should consist of a listing of the expected kinds of imperfections and the rejection level for each.

5.4.2 The classification of the articles under test into zones for various accept/reject criteria should be determined from contractual documents.

5.4.3 Rejection of Composite Articles—If the type, size, or quantities of defects are found to be outside the allowable limits specified by the drawing, purchase order, or contract, the composite article should be separated from acceptable articles, appropriately identified as discrepant, and submitted for material review by the cognizant engineering organization, and dispositioned as (1) acceptable as is, (2) subject to further rework or repair to make the materials or component acceptable, or (3) scrapped when required by contractual documents.

5.4.4 Acceptance criteria and interpretation of result should be defined in requirements documents prior to performing the examination. Advance agreement should be reached between the purchaser and supplier regarding the interpretation of the results of the examinations. All discontinuities having signals that exceed the rejection level as defined by the process requirements documents should be rejected unless it is determined from the part drawing that the rejectable discontinuities will not remain in the finished part.

5.5 Life Cycle Considerations—The referenced NDT practices and test methods have demonstrated utility in quality assurance of PMCs during the life cycle of the product. The modern NDT paradigm that has evolved and matured over the last twenty–five years has been fully demonstrated to provide benefits from the application of NDT during: (a) product and process design and optimization, (b) on-line process control, (c) after manufacture inspection, (d) in-service inspection, and (e) health monitoring.

5.5.1 In-process NDT can be used for feedback process control since all tests are based upon measurements which do not damage the article under test.

5.5.2 The applicability of NDT procedures to evaluate PMC materials and components during their life cycle is summarized in Tables 3 and 4.

(A) Applicable to composites used in storage and distribution of fluids and gases, for example, filament-wound pressure vessels.

5.6 General Geometry and Size Considerations—Part contour, curvature, and surface condition may limit the ability of certain tests to detect imperfections with the desired accuracy.

5.7 Reporting—Reports and records should be specified by agreement between purchaser and supplier. It is recommended that any NDT report or archival record contain information, when available, about the material type; method of fabrication; manufacturer’s name; part number; lot; date of lay-up or of cure, or both; date and pressure load of previous tests (for pressure vessels); and previous service history (for in-service and failed composite articles). Forwards and backwards compatibility of data, data availability, criticality (length of data retention), specification change, specification revision and date, software and hardware considerations will also govern how reporting is performed.


1.1 This guide provides information to help engineers select appropriate nondestructive testing (NDT) methods to characterize aerospace polymer matrix composites (PMCs). This guide does not intend to describe every inspection technology. Rather, emphasis is placed on established NDT methods that have been developed into consensus standards and that are currently used by industry. Specific practices and test methods are not described in detail, but are referenced. The referenced NDT practices and test methods have demonstrated utility in quality assurance of PMCs during process design and optimization, process control, after manufacture inspection, in-service inspection, and health monitoring.

1.2 This guide does not specify accept-reject criteria and is not intended to be used as a means for approving composite materials or components for service.

1.3 This guide covers the following established NDT methods as applied to PMCs: Acoustic Emission (AE, Section 7); Computed Tomography (CT, Section 8); Leak Testing (LT, Section 9); Radiographic Testing, Computed Radiography, Digital Radiography, and Radioscopy (RT, CR, DR, RTR, Section 10); Shearography (Section 11); Strain Measurement (Contact Methods, Section 12); Thermography (Section 13); Ultrasonic Testing (UT, Section 14); and Visual Testing (VT, Section 15).

1.4 The value of this guide consists of the narrative descriptions of general procedures and significance and use sections for established NDT practices and test methods as applied to PMCs. Additional information is provided about the use of currently active standard documents (an emphasis is placed on applicable standard guides, practices, and test methods of ASTM Committee E07 on Nondestructive Testing), geometry and size considerations, safety and hazards considerations, and information about physical reference standards.

1.5 To ensure proper use of the referenced standard documents, there are recognized NDT specialists that are certified in accordance with industry and company NDT specifications. It is recommended that a NDT specialist be a part of any composite component design, quality assurance, in-service maintenance, or damage examination.

1.6 This guide summarizes the application of NDT procedures to fiber- and fabric-reinforced polymeric matrix composites. The composites of interest are primarily, but not exclusively, limited to those containing high modulus (greater than 20 GPa (3×106 psi)) fibers. Furthermore, an emphasis is placed on composites with continuous (versus discontinuous) fiber reinforcement.

1.7 This guide is applicable to PMCs containing, but not limited to, bismaleimide, epoxy, phenolic, poly(amide imide), polybenzimidazole, polyester (thermosetting and thermoplastic), poly(ether ether ketone), poly(ether imide), polyimide (thermosetting and thermoplastic), poly(phenylene sulfide), or polysulfone matrices; and alumina, aramid, boron, carbon, glass, quartz, or silicon carbide fibers.

Note 1: Per the discretion of the cognizant engineering organization, composite materials not developed and qualified in accordance with the guidelines in CMH-17, Volumes 1 and 3 should have an approved material usage agreement.

1.8 The composite materials considered herein include uniaxial laminae, cross-ply laminates, angle-ply laminates, and sandwich constructions. The composite components made therefrom include filament-wound pressure vessels, flight control surfaces, and various structural composites.

1.9 For current and potential NDT procedures for finding indications of discontinuities in the composite overwrap and thin-walled metallic liners in filament-wound pressure vessels, also known as composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs), refer to Guides E2981 and E2982, respectively.

1.10 For a summary of the application of destructive ASTM standard practices and test methods (and other supporting standards) to continuous-fiber reinforced PMCs, refer to Guide D4762.

1.11 Units—The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as standard. The values given in parentheses after SI units are provided for information only and are not considered standard.

1.12 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety, health, and environmental practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

1.13 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

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Book of Standards Volume: 03.04
Developed by Subcommittee: E07.10
Pages: 49
DOI: 10.1520/E2533-21
ICS Code: 49.025.40