Optomec, a leading global supplier of production grade additive manufacturing systems for 3D printed electronics (Aerosol Jet) and 3D printed metals (LENS), has been working with its customer General Electric on what they claim is a groundbreaking production application.
The application establishes the convergence of additive manufacturing and the Industrial Internet of Things. It uses Optomec’s Aerosol Jet technology to print passive strain sensors directly onto turbine blades used in an industrial gas turbine.
The sensors are composed of a ceramic material that can withstand the high operating temperatures seen in the hot section of the gas turbine. These sensors can detect deformations in the underlying metal that could ultimately result in an expensive and sometimes catastrophic failure.
GE recently unveiled this proprietary 3D Printed Sensor technology at its Future of Work Showcase in Boston. The data from the sensors has a direct tie to GE’s Predix software platform, demonstrating the digital convergence between Additive Manufacturing and the Internet of Things.
Aerosol Jet is a suitable printing tool for precision deposition of polymeric and metal inks for these sensors. The process is a non-contact, high resolution printing technology compatible with a range of conductive, insulating, and resistive materials.