Compact Fiber Optic Sensing Platform Promises Greater Efficiency
Kagan Pittman posted on September 15, 2015 |
Sensuron's RTS125. (Image courtesy Sensuron.)

Sensuron's RTS125. (Image courtesy Sensuron.)

Sensuron, a global provider of compact fiber optic sensing (FOS) systems, recently revealed their RTS125 and RTS150 systems after diverging from their sister company, 4DSP.

Sensuron worked with the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center to design a smaller system compared to those currently available. This size reduction opens many new doors for FOS technology.

“Our engineering team took an in-depth look at each system component to determine how size and weight could be minimized,” said Michael Heflin, CEO at Sensuron.

“The Previous design, the RTS150, used a 3U chassis and large VPX cards for processing and control, but these cards were large, had unused features and used space inefficiently. The team came up with a different form factor that provided a denser consolidation of the electronics. A new chassis was chosen that would house the system components. Great planning went into internal organization, cable routing and issues like heat dissipation,” Heflin told ENGINEERING.com.

Able to match or exceed the accuracy of traditional strain gauges, the new RTS125 and RTS150 systems allow for thousands of sensors along a fiber.

Heflin explains this gives engineers a better representation of what is happening in the environment they’re measuring.

“Monitoring only a handful of critical points often does not provide a detailed enough picture of a structure. What is more important is how loads and temperatures are distributed through parts. Additionally, various types of structural failure can happen away from previously determined critical points. If you don’t have sensors connecting two such points and a failure happens between them, engineers and operators may never know about it until it’s too late. Continuous information is especially useful for model verification.”

Downsizing such a complex system didn’t come without its challenges, requiring thorough redesigns.

Electronics within the RTS125. (Image courtesy Sensuron.)

Electronics within the RTS125. (Image courtesy Sensuron.)

"One of the biggest challenges during the design process was ensuring that the optics were ruggedized,” Heflin explained. “In order to achieve ruggedization, careful attention was given to how the optics were integrated into the enclosure. 

“Another major challenge was reducing the form factor while maintaining performance.  A denser consolidation of components was achieved by creating a stackable version of the electronics. This contributed both to a smaller form factor and optimized performance.”

The RTS125 and RTS150 systems will see application across energy, medical and military industries, in equipment and both land and air vehicles.

Safer and more efficient military and commercial vehicles can be designed thanks to more detailed load, stress, strain, shape and temperature distribution measurements recorded during testing.

“The adaptive trailing edge is a development that’s currently getting a lot of attention in the aerospace industry. This technology helps redistribute loads across aircraft wings while in flight,” Heflin said. “Sensuron’s FOS platform provides real time load distribution information that provides the data necessary to make an adaptive trailing edge successful. NASA Armstrong is currently using our platform to test the FlexFoil flexible aircraft wing as part of the Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge project.” (see Shape of Wings to Come? on ENGINEERING.com)

In the medical industry, FOS platforms can be used to sense the shape and position of minimally invasive surgical tools. Sensuron provides an optical frequency domain reflectometry (OFDR) platform providing an alternative to imaging techniques requiring radiation or foreign chemicals.

Other applications for Sensuron’s FOS platforms include public safety by monitoring the structural health of aircraft, buildings, nuclear equipment, damns, cars, trains and more.

Sensuron predicts the FOS industry is expected to increase from $1.8 billion in 2013 to $2.2 billion by 2018.

To learn more about Sensuron’s compact FOS platforms, visit sensuron.com.

Recommended For You