Single-Process Fused Filament Fabrication 3D-Printed Piezoelectric Sensor

date: 24.11.2021

category: Sporočila za javnost


Piezoelectric materials are capable of converting mechanical energy into electrical energy, which makes them a perfect candidate for sensing mechanical loads, deformation and structural health. Researchers from Laboratory for Dynamics of Machines and Structures presented design prinnciples to manufacture piezoelectric sensors in a single process using fused filament fabrication (FFF) technique.  FFF enables manufacture of piezoelectric sensors of complex shapes and offers the possibilty to embed the sensory elements within other functional 3D-printed structures, which would not be possible using conventional techinques of manufacture.

Conventional manufacturing techniques of piezoelectric sensors made out of piezoelectric polymers normally involve three steps. In the first step piezoelectric layer is fabricated and in the second step the electrodes need to be deposited on the sensing element. In the third step a high electric field under elevated temperatures has to be applied to the piezoelectric sensors to align dipole moments of the piezoelectric layer and increase sensor's sensitivity. This multi-step process limits the sensor's shape complexity and makes it harder to embed the piezoelectric sensing elements in various 3D-printed structures.


Figure shows FFF 3D-printed piezoelectric sensor and electric poling. Source

In the research presented by young researcher Tilen Košir and prof. dr. Janko Slavič, published in Additive Manufacturing Journal (IF=10,998, the leading journal in Manufacturing Engineering category), the design principles of a functional, single-process, dynamic piezoelectric sensor using the fused-filament-fabrication (FFF) technique are proposed. Piezoelectric and conductive commercially available filaments were used to fabricate piezoelectric layer and electrodes. The electrodes are automatically connected to the high-voltage terminals during FFF. As a result, a high electric field is applied to the sensor in the process of 3D printing, which makes the sensor fabrication single process. The proposed design principles for the fused filament fabrication of piezoelectric sensors enable the single-process manufacturing of geometrically complex sensors and offer the possibility to embed the piezoelectric sensing elements into various FFF structures without an additional process.


Figure shows an example of FFF 3D-printed pieoelectric sensor after fabrication: a) top view, b) bottom view. Source

Link to the publication:

The authors acknowledge the partial financial support from the Slovenian Research Agency, Republic of Slovenia (ARRS, P2-0263) and research project »V enem procesu 3D natisnjeni dinamični senzorji« (ARRS J2-3045, 2021-2024).

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