Current testing methods are capable of measuring strain near the surface on structural parts, for example by using strain gauges. However, stress peaks often occur within the material and can only be approximated. An alternative strain measurement incorporates fibre-optical strain sensors (Fiber Bragg Gratings, FBG) which are able to determine strains within the material. The principle has already been verified by using embedded FBGs in tensile specimens. The transition area between fibre and aluminium, however, is not yet properly investigated. Therefore, strains in tensile specimens containing FBGs were measured by neutron diffraction in gauge volumes of two different sizes around the Bragg grating. As a result, it is possible to identify and decouple elastic and plastic strains affecting the FBGs and to transfer the findings into a fully descriptive FE-model of the strain transition area.We thus accomplished closing the gap between the external load and internal straining obtained from cast-in FBG and generating valuable information about the mechanisms within the strain transition area.It was found that the porosity within the casting has a significant impact on the stiffness of the tensile specimen, the generation of excess microscopic tensions and thus the formation of permanent plastic strains, which are well recognized by the FBG. The knowledge that FBG as internal strain sensors function just as well as common external strain sensors will now allow for the application of FBG in actual structural parts and measurements under real load conditions. In the future, applications for long-term monitoring of cast parts will also be enabled and are currently under development.
Keywords: Fibre Bragg Gratings; X-ray tomography; neutron diffraction; tensile test.