A generic design for a type of flexible structural- health- monitoring sheet with multiple sensor/actuator types and a method of manufacturing such sheets has been developed. A sheet of this type contains an array of sensing and/or actuation elements, associated wires, and any other associated circuit elements incorporated into various flexible layers on a thin, flexible substrate. The sheet can be affixed to a structure so that the array of sensing and/or actuation elements can be used to analyze the structure in accordance with structural-health-monitoring techniques. Alternatively, the sheet can be designed to be incorporated into the body of the structure, especially if the structure is made of a composite material.
Customarily, structural-health monitoring is accomplished by use of sensors and actuators arrayed at various locations on a structure. In contrast, a sheet of the present type can contain an entire sensor/actuator array, making it unnecessary to install each sensor and actuator individually on or in a structure. Sensors of different types such as piezoelectric and fiber-optic can be embedded in the sheet to form a hybrid sensor network. Similarly, the traces for electric communication can be deposited on one or two layers as required, and an entirely separate layer can be employed to shield the sensor elements and traces.