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Flexible Strain Sensor Using Additive Manufacturing and Conductive Liquid Metal: Design, Fabrication, and Characterization

[+] Author Affiliations
Austin Smith, Hamzeh Bardaweel

Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, LA

Paper No. IMECE2018-88753, pp. V002T02A066; 6 pages
  • ASME 2018 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 2: Advanced Manufacturing
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, November 9–15, 2018
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5201-9
  • Copyright © 2018 by ASME


In this work a flexible strain sensor is fabricated using Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printing technique. The strain sensor is fabricated using commercially available flexible Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) filaments and liquid metal Galinstan Ga 68.5% In 21% Sn 10%. The strain sensor consists of U-shape 2.34mm long and 0.2mm deep channels embedded inside a TPU 3D printed structure. The performance of the strain sensor is measured experimentally. Gauge Factor is estimated by measuring change in electric resistance when the sensor is subject to 13.2% – 38.6% strain. Upon straining and unstraining, results from characterization tests show high linearity in the range of 13.2% to 38.6% strain with very little hysteresis. However, changes due to permanent deformations are a limiting factor in the usefulness of these sensors because these changes limit the consistency of the device. FDM 3D printing shows promise as a method for fabricating flexible strain sensors. However, more investigation is needed to look at the effects of geometries and 3D printing process parameters on the yield elongation of the flexible filaments. Additionally, more investigation is needed to observe the effect of distorted dimensions of the 3D printed channels on the sensitivity of the strain sensor. It is anticipated that successful implementation of these commercially available filaments and FDM 3D printers will lead to reduction in cost and complexity of developing these flexible sensors.

Copyright © 2018 by ASME



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