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Okanagan-developed sensor could detect dangerous manufacturing defects

Okanagan-developed sensor could detect dangerous manufacturing defects

Researchers at UBC Okanagan have developed a tiny, innovative sensor that could save manufacturers millions of dollars every year.

“Technology that we have developed here can be a game changer,” said Abbas Milani, professor at UBCO’s school of engineering.

The microscopic sensor can be embedded inside manufacturing materials, which allows manufacturers to monitor for any defects.

“If we embed it inside the material from the beginning, then when we make parts, it’s already there,” Milani said. “It will give us information about what is happening during manufacturing.”

The sensor uses conductivity and voltage signals to let manufacturers know what is happening inside fibre-reinforced composite fabrics, which are widely used to manufacture all kinds of things, including cars, boats and home appliances.

The sensor can also be embedded into clothing, which allows people to track their daily movement.

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But when it comes to the manufacturing world, the sensor could be hugely beneficial to a number of sectors, including automotive, marine, aerospace and home construction.

That’s because flaws and defects are common during the manufacturing process and the sensor could dramatically reduce those instances.

It could capture major flaws, such as ‘fibre-wrinkling’ during the manufacturing of advanced composite structures, such as those currently used in car bodies and airplanes.

The tool could be life-saving.

“Any fault in certain thingsn like an airplane can create a crash,” said Mina Hoorfar, professor at UBCO’s school of engineering. “What if you could follow or monitor that fault before it is implemented on the plane?”

And for manufacturers, the sensor could save them millions of dollars every year.

“In the case of the flaws, the manufacturers have to either scrap the part or repair it,” Milani said. “That is a lot of overhead on manufacturing and cost.”

The researchers are now looking to partner with companies interested in putting the tiny sensor to the big test.