Fabrisonic – Building Fiber Optic Strain Sensors into Metal Components

By Mark Norfolk, PE | President & CEO | Fabrisonic

Fiber optic strain sensors and other temperature sensitive components can be integrated directly into dense metal with Fabrisonic’s patented hybrid metal 3D printing process, Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing (UAM). Dr. Adam Hehr, Research Engineer at Fabrisonic, recently wrote which delves deeper into the fundamental work Fabrisonic is doing to embed fiber optic strain sensors into dense metal structures.

Sensors and electrical controls are used widely in all industries. A common problem, however, is degradation of exposed components over time from corrosion, impact, and wear. Ideally, in such situations, it would be best to bury the electronics in solid metal. Using conventional manufacturing technologies, this is difficult and requires complicated sealing.

Conventional processes, such as casting and welding have been attempted, but the high temperatures required may damage, melt or change the properties of the desired circuits. Fabrisonic’s UAM process can help to eliminate these common issues.

The future of embedded fiber optic materials. Built-in connectors are used for usability and robustness. Metal coated fibers are used for higher temperature applications (Photo courtesy of Fabrisonic)

The future of embedded fiber optic materials. Built-in connectors are used for usability and robustness. Metal coated fibers are used for higher temperature applications (Photo courtesy of Fabrisonic)

The technology we use, UAM, is a solid-state (no melting) metal 3D printing process. Since the metals do not have to be heated for bonding, many electronics can be embedded without damage. Sensor integration into metal components is of interest for enhanced control and monitoring purposes of cutting-edge components. The technology has relevance in aerospace, nuclear, oil & gas, and a variety of other industries.

Fabrisonic has pioneered a unique system that utilizes ultrasonic additive manufacturing (a hybrid additive and subtractive manufacturing process) to inlay sensors into system parts as they are being built. The early success of the technology is prompting further study and shows great promise for advancements in the manufacture of sensing systems.

About Fabrisonic LLC
Fabrisonic LLC is an innovative manufacturing technology company. Fabrisonic provides 3D metal printing services in a wide range of metals through the patented ultrasonic additive manufacturing process. As a technology focused small business, Fabrisonic has the technical capability and agility needed for the emerging fast-paced manufacturing world. Fabrisonic’s commitment to quality is evidenced through several quality awards from industrial customers.

Source: Fabrisonic LLC

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