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Traditional multifunctional composite structures are produced by embedding parasitic parts, such as foil sensors, optical fibers and bulky connectors. As a result, the mechanical properties of the composites, especially the interlaminar shear strength (ILSS), could be largely undermined. In the present study, we demonstrated an innovative aerosol-jet printing technology for printing electronics inside composite structures without degrading the mechanical properties. Using the maskless fine feature deposition (below 10µm) characteristics of this printing technology and a pre-cure protocol, strain sensors were successfully printed onto carbon fiber prepregs to enable fabricating composites with intrinsic sensing capabilities. The degree of pre-cure of the carbon fiber prepreg on which strain sensors were printed was demonstrated to be critical. Without pre-curing, the printed strain sensors were unable to remain intact due to the resin flow during curing. The resin flow-induced sensor deformation can be overcome by introducing 10% degree of cure of the prepreg. In this condition, the fabricated composites with printed strain sensors showed almost no mechanical degradation (short beam shearing ILSS) as compared to the control samples. Also, the failure modes examined by optical microscopy showed no difference. The resistance change of the printed strain sensors in the composite structures were measured under a cyclic loading and proved to be a reliable mean strain gauge factor of 2.2±0.06 which is comparable to commercial foiled metal strain gauge.
aerosol-jet printing, direct write technology, multifunctional composites, strain sensor
Date of Defense
November 4, 2011.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science.
Includes bibliographical references.
Ben Wang, Professor Directing Thesis; Mei Zhang, Committee Member; Tao Liu, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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