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Sensor Film Technology Reduces Warped and Rejected Composite Parts

02 July 2008

Sensor Products has developed Pressurex, a thin sensor film that carefully maps and measures the amount of interfacial stress exerted on honeycomb cores, composite lay-ups and bonded surfaces within composite structures.

Pressurex is designed to show how surface stresses are distributed, so that an engineer can observe inconsistencies and misregistration in composite parts and thereby greatly reduce the yield defect rate. Sensor Products say that other applications for Pressurex include determination of press planarity in lamination processes, monitoring of vacuum bagging pressures, confirmation of pressure uniformity on wound filaments parts, and calibration of tools and equipment.

Pressurex comes in the form of a thin plastic sheet or roll that can be cut to required dimensions. When placed between contacting or mating surfaces, the film instantaneously and permanently changes colour. This colour change is a direct result of the amount of pressure applied. Comparison of colour variations to a colour correlation chart (conceptually similar to interpreting Litmus paper) can help determine precise pressure magnitude. Pressurex can detect pressures from 2 to 43,200 PSI (.14 to 3,037 kg/cm2). Depending on the requirements of the project, Additional evaluation and analysis can be performed with an optical analysis system (Topaq) available from Sensor Products Inc.

In the aerospace industry, Pressurex has been used to determine the exact amount of pressure causing cracks in the inner spars of a helicopter’s main rotor blade. A large sheet of Pressurex was inserted into the bonding tool, bagged up, and pressurized in the autoclave. When the film was removed, the exact amount of pressure causing the crack was determined.





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