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Sixth Sense in Mechanical Engineering
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[تصویر:  13851432801.jpg]
Sixth Sense in Mechanical Engineering: Sensor Screw Measures Forces Inside Machines


Details — An age-old engineering problem: how do you precisely measure
the forces that act between two components inside a machine or, for
example, on the sail of a boat without drilling holes or sticking on a
sensor? Researchers at the Technischen Universität Darmstadt have developed a brilliantly simple solution: a screw with an integrated sensor.


The sensor screw has its origin in special research area SFB 805,
"Control of uncertainty in load-carrying mechanical systems" at the TU
Darmstadt. If you are investigating uncertainties and ultimately want to
overcome them, you need precise measurements that are provided by
sensors.

"Until now, there really were no particularly
good methods for attaching sensors," explains Matthias Brenneis, who
invented and developed the screw, based on a previous project at the
Institute for Production Engineering and Forming Machines. "Adhesive
compounds dissolve easily, especially in a harsh real-world production
environment." In addition, externally mounted sensors provided readings
from "outside"; however, these could differ from the forces actually
acting in the interior of a machine or a component. "So why not combine a
sensor and an machine component such as a screw using metal-forming?"
wondered Matthias Brenneis. The advantages are obvious: screws are
available practically everywhere and could be replaced by their
"sensing" counterparts in entire production chains. Their operation is
very simple and the little "measuring device" is hardly prone to faults.
The sensor is located exactly where the forces are acting and therefore
works very precisely, so that designing and dimensioning can be carried
out more efficiently. The sensor screw can provide measurement data at
certain points in time, but also continuously. Among other things, this
makes precise quality controls possible. For example, if a workpiece
that is deformed or whose thickness varies is being transported through a
roll train, the sensor screws that hold the rollers would register it
immediately. Until now, quality-reducing deviations often become
apparent only during the final inspection after the entire production
process -- resulting in expensive rejects. In order to be able to read
and interpret the measurement data of the sensor screw, the TU
researchers are developing suitable analysis software. "The goal is to
obtain a lot of information from a few reliable data" summarizes Manuel
Ludwig, who is in charge of this part of the project. The screw has
passed through several stages, was made smaller, is approaching
marketability and has been patented. The German Federal Ministry of
Economics and Technology is convinced by the new technology and has
incorporated the project in its "Exist-Forschungstransfer"
(Exist Research Transfer) program. For 18 months, the development of
the sensor screw will now be supported with funding -- ideally until it
goes into production. The first clients are already using the technology
in pioneering projects. The development of the sensor screw has now
culminated in the spin-off of ConSenses GmbH -- a good example of the
innovation and impetus coming from TU Darmstadt, the "university of
originators." But things will not end there, however, explains Jörg
Stahlmann, who is in charge of Marketing and Sales at ConSenses. "Our
goal for the future is always to cooperate with the TU in order to open
up new application fields." The ConSenses founders would also like to
benefit from the interdisciplinary knowledge that converges at the TU.


"This pool of expertise can not be found in industry in this form" says
Stahlmann. The TU development turns an everyday object into a smart
high tech product and provides future users with a "sixth sense," as it
were, when dealing with buildings and systems. A convincingly simple
concept that Matthias Brenneis summarizes with a simple common
denominator: "Good ideas are always easy to use."


Big Grin
................!
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