University of Delaware OEIP
University of Delaware

A large area sensor for composite process monitoring

Technology #ud17-34

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Researchers
Hongbo Dai
Dr. Erik T Thostenson
The Multifunctional Composites Laboratory, headed by Dr. Erik Thostenson, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Delaware, seeks to obtain a fundamental understanding of the processing-structure-property relations in nanostructured materials and composites.
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Johnson Will
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Patent Protection

Provisional Patent Application Filed

APPLICATIONS: 

This is a tool for on-line monitoring of a composite manufacturing process.

PROBLEMS ADDRESSED:

The composites industry lacks sufficiently accurate and robust tools necessary for monitoring its standard polymer/fiber manufacturing process. Often, point sensors are used.  They are expensive, monitor only one portion of the process, such as curing, and provide feedback only in one area at a time. T Better sensors developed at the University of Delaware provide continuous feedback during processing over large areas.  The result is reduced scrap, improved yield, and higher quality composites. 

BENEFITS:

  • Complete in situ monitoring
  • Instant, Accurate, Economical and Effective
  • Non-invasive and simple integration
  • Enhanced detection probability and coverage rate
  • Evenly distributed sensing capability

TECHNOLOGY DESCRIPTION:

A novel carbon nanotube based non-woven fabric sensor for the whole-body process monitoring of composite manufacturing  process has been developed. The porous sensing sheet, dubbed a “Smart Veil”, can be woven into any size and shape prior to the fabrication process. It is thus suitable for a wide range of product shapes and sizes.  The sensor outputs an easily measurable electrical signal that responds directly to changes during the composite manufacturing process.  Among other variables, resin infusion, curing and post-curing can all be readily determined using the inventive product.

STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT:

A prototype has been completed.  Optimization for specific composite parts and/or processes is easily accomplished.