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Sensors 2017, 17(2), 328; doi:10.3390/s17020328

Proof of Concept of Integrated Load Measurement in 3D Printed Structures

1
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Elsene, Belgium
2
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Department of Mechanics of Materials and Constructions, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Elsene, Belgium
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Jae-Won Choi and Erik D. Engeberg
Received: 24 November 2016 / Revised: 25 January 2017 / Accepted: 5 February 2017 / Published: 9 February 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printed Sensors)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [24555 KB, uploaded 9 February 2017]   |  

Abstract

Currently, research on structural health monitoring systems is focused on direct integration of the system into a component or structure. The latter results in a so-called smart structure. One example of a smart structure is a component with integrated strain sensing for continuous load monitoring. Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, now also enables such integration of functions inside components. As a proof-of-concept, the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technique was used to integrate a strain sensing element inside polymer (ABS) tensile test samples. The strain sensing element consisted of a closed capillary filled with a fluid and connected to an externally mounted pressure sensor. The volumetric deformation of the integrated capillary resulted in pressure changes in the fluid. The obtained pressure measurements during tensile testing are reported in this paper and compared to state-of-the-art extensometer measurements. The sensitivity of the 3D printed pressure-based strain sensor is primarily a function of the compressibility of the capillary fluid. Air- and watertightness are of critical importance for the proper functioning of the 3D printed pressure-based strain sensor. Therefore, the best after-treatment procedure was selected on basis of a comparative analysis. The obtained pressure measurements are linear with respect to the extensometer readings, and the uncertainty on the strain measurement of a capillary filled with water (incompressible fluid) is ±3.1 µstrain, which is approximately three times less sensitive than conventional strain gauges (±1 µstrain), but 32 times more sensitive than the same sensor based on air (compressible fluid) (±101 µstrain). View Full-Text
Keywords: strain; additive manufacturing; 3D printing; smart structures; tensile; embedded capillary strain; additive manufacturing; 3D printing; smart structures; tensile; embedded capillary
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Hinderdael, M.; Jardon, Z.; Lison, M.; De Baere, D.; Devesse, W.; Strantza, M.; Guillaume, P. Proof of Concept of Integrated Load Measurement in 3D Printed Structures. Sensors 2017, 17, 328.

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