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Layered sensors up to 12µm drive process optimisation

Posted: 20 Mar 2014  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:sensor  Fraunhofer  process 

A team of researchers at the Fraunhofer Adaptronics Alliance's Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films has developed a solution that allows the direct extraction of information from the main stress zone of a manufacturing process via non-wearing thin-film sensors.

While pressure and temperature data, along with their associated spatial data make steady process control, a room has to be created in order to accommodate sensors as close as possible to the workpieces, while withstanding the abrasive forces in the main stress zones.

To withstand the abrasive forces in the main stress zones, the piezo and temperature sensors are enclosed into robust hydrocarbon layers. This makes it possible to integrate the sensors directly into tools for injection moulding, sheet metal filling and punching. The basis for these layered sensory systems is a multi-functional hydrocarbon layer, dubbed DiaForce, which unites abrasive resistance with wear resistance and piezo-resistive behaviour.

To achieve measurements with spatial information, the researchers deposited electrode structures made from chromium on top of the sensors. To prevent wear, these chromium layers are covered with an electrical insulator layer of SiCON, a material made of silicon and oxygen. An optional additional meander structure can be applied to this SiCON layer which would result in local temperature measurement devices. These devices again are protected by a SiCON cover.

The entire system represents a layered sensor at an overall thickness between 9µm and 12µm. These layered sensors are attached to carriers shaped according to the respective application, which are afterwards integrated into the machine tool where they measure relevant parameter and transmit the results to a control unit. Thus they provide a significant contribution to understanding and monitoring the process. The measurement provides a significant contribution to process optimisation and can checked against numeric simulation.

The sensor module for use in injection moulding processes is a result of the "Wechselwirkungen" project funded by the German ministry for Economy and Technology.

- Christoph Hammerschmidt
  EE Times Europe





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