Electromechanical Properties of 3D-Printed Smart Materials for Structural Health Monitoring

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  • Smart materials with sensing capabilities are an exciting new technology that will impact many applications, including structural health monitoring (SHM), biomedical implants, wearable sensors, automotive, and actuators. Strain sensors (piezoresistive material) for SHM can be used to measure the in-situ deformation by integrating the structural and sensing function into one component. Conductive polymer composites are being developed for SHM due to their flexibility, low cost, and low processing temperature. However, these materials are usually not durable and are difficult to repair. This study leverages additive manufacturing (AM) to fabricate continuous wire polymer composites (CWPCs) which are self-sensing, multi-functional composite structures wherein a sensor is an integral part of the structure and can enhance its mechanical properties. For this study, electromechanical properties of copper (Cu) reinforced polylactic acid (PLA), nickel-chromium (NiCr) reinforced PLA, and Cu reinforced thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) were investigated to compare the sensing capabilities of composites using two different types of wires. This manufacturing approach provides sensors with significant design flexibility, repeatability, and lower fabrication time and cost, which helps to widen the range of applications. To achieve these goals, samples of CWPCs have been fabricated and electromechanically characterized successfully in tension and fatigue scenarios to study the correlation between elastic mechanical deformation and electrical resistance.

    Part of Proceedings of the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering International Congress 2022.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International