This contribution demonstrates the functionality of polymer planar Bragg grating (PPBG) sensors integrated into commercial-grade carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) components. Multiple CFRP specimens are generated by curing a stack of pre-impregnated fibers inside of a heated mechanical press, exposing the polymer sensor to a pressure of 7 bar and a temperature of 120 °C for 2 h. After integration, the sensor still exhibits a strong and evaluable signal. Subsequent flexural experiments reveal a linear response of the integrated sensor’s Bragg wavelength to the CFRP specimen’s maximum deflection. Additional findings demonstrate that the embedded PPBG can be used to detect plastic deformations of a CFRP workpiece, whereas a linear correlation of plastic deformation to the resulting Bragg signal offset is determined. A plausibility check of the obtained results is delivered by a comparison of three-point flexural experiments on bulk CFRP workpieces, without integrated sensors and additional specimens featuring external optical sensors affixed to their surface. It is found that PPBGs based on cyclic olefin copolymers are able to overcome the temperature-related limitations of traditional polymer-based optical sensors and can thus be directly integrated into commercial-grade composites during production.
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