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Title: 3D Printed Stress Sensors for Non-Destructive Evaluation of Space Structures
Self-sufficient and non-contact sensors play multiple roles in lunar, planetary exploration, and Earth structures. These sensors allow engineers to accurately examine structural integrity and defects on mechanical components for optimal operations. Structural integrity allows the industry to ensure the safety and capacity of key structures. Materials like α-alumina can be employed as sensors due to the photoluminescent properties that they possess. Piezospectroscopy is a non-destructive evaluation (NDE) method capable of capturing in-situ stress using α-alumina due to the chromium ion impurities that it contains. The chromium ion impurities carry spectral characteristics, that when excited with an Nd: YAG laser (532 nm), demonstrate capabilities for structural integrity monitoring. In this work, a 3D printing method is developed to autonomously create sensors that are compatible with use in space environments. The 3D printing method intends to provide the industry flexible and adaptive solutions for structural integrity monitoring. This method includes a modified Fused Deposition Method printer by exchanging its original nozzle with a syringe base nozzle. The printing parameters such as printing speed, printing bed temperature, coating thickness, and syringe volume are determined during the testing process. Challenges include achieving uniform integration and nanoparticle dispersion as well as adhesion between the matrix and the substrates. The parameters to encounter these challenges will depend on the materials used. Experiments with three different volume fractions (VF) of α-alumina within an epoxy were performed to address the printing challenges. The sensors were applied to nine specimens, three of each VF but with varying deposition rates after the mixture process. These experiments considered the mixing and deposition method while testing the dispersion within the α-alumina and the epoxy matrix. The substrates, on which the epoxy matrix was deposited, underwent a surface treatment to ensure adhesion between the substrate and the sensor matrix. During this experiment, the epoxy matrix was deposited with a syringe onto a substrate and cured at room temperature. The specimens were tested with a tensile load using an electromechanical MTS. While the samples are tensile loaded, the sensors were characterized via photoluminescent piezo spectroscopy to determine which VF demonstrates the best stress sensing capabilities, along with the adhesion between the matrix and the substrate. The data collected allows the optimal VF to be established for future applications.  more » « less
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AIAA 2021 Regional Student Conference, April 2021.
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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