Sensors provide an interface between mechanical systems and the physical world. With the move towards Industry 4.0 and cyber-physical systems, demands for cost-effective sensors are rapidly increasing. Conventional sensors used for monitoring manufacturing processes are often bulky and need complex processes. In this study, a novel high-sensitive nanocomposite-based sensor is developed for measuring strain. The developed sensor is comprised of polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) as a piezoelectric polymer matrix, and embedded carbon nanotube (CNT) nanoparticles creating a conductive network. Exhibiting both piezoelectric and piezoresistive properties, the developed sensors are capable of strain measurement over a wide frequency band, including static and dynamic measurements. The piezoresistive and piezoelectric properties are fused to improve the overall sensitivity and frequency bandwidth of the sensor. To simulate the sensor, a 3D random walk model and a 2D finite element (FE) model are used to predict the electrical resistivity and the piezoelectric characteristics of the sensor, respectively. The developed models are verified with the experimental results. The developed nanocomposite sensors were employed for strain measurement of a cantilever beam under static load, impulse excitation, free and forced vibrations, collecting both piezoelectric and piezoresistive properties measurements. The obtained signals were fused and compared with those of a reference sensor. The results show that the sensor is capable of strain measurement in the range of 0–10 kHz, indicating its effectiveness at measuring both static and high frequency signals which is an important feature of the sensor.
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