Active and regular monitoring of structural components is a critical safety precaution, particularly as it concerns infrastructure, aerospace, industry, and many other applications. Solutions for effective structural health monitoring need to be able to probe surface and bulk properties using durable and low-power engineering. Towards these ends it is possible to build smarter, highly networked, and secure materials in order to enable remote real-time material sensing with a lesser-known form of 3D printing, ultrasonic consolidation (UC). This approach harnesses sound waves to weld metal layers in a low temperature process that does not damage sensors and electronics as they are embedded into a solid metal structure. This makes UC perfectly suited for designing solid metal parts with active embedded sensing components. However, the process parameters, material influences and mechanical factors that result in high-quality UC metal components are difficult to control or are loosely understood. The use of trial-and-error optimization during fabrication represents the chief hurdle between its current state of use and its potential to transform rapid prototyping and manufacturing of high-impact technologies (e.g., metal smart structures, wearable sensors, lab-on-a-chip, etc.). This disclosure describes a novel structure for how embedded sensors may be used for in situ process monitoring and optimization in solid parts manufactured by UC. This technology will allow standardizing UC welding for similar and dissimilar metal bonding and for embedding active sensors that can be used to create smart structures enabling long-term structural health monitoring and other high impact applications. This outcome is expected to be of interest to licensing partners working on metal additive manufacturing (including both vendors and end-users of additive manufacturing equipment), as well as various sensors manufacturers and any companies specializing in tamper indication and secure enclosures.
Not eligible for exploratory licence