Successfully embedding optical fibre sensors into a composite structure requires careful thought and attention to detail, this task has just got a lot easier as Epsilon Optics have launched a range of components to help solve some of the most common problems.
According to Epsilon, these problems include how to design the exit of the optical fibre from the laminate so that it will be able to survive lay-up, curing, and subsequent deployment in a potentially harsh operating environment. Epsilon says it has developed a range of standard connector housings suitable for surface mounting and fully compatible with vacuum bagging and autoclave curing processes up to 200˚C. The connector housings are compatible with Aerospace and MIL spec harsh environment connectors from Diamond, Amphenol, Fischer, Radiall, Deutsch and others.
Fibre-optic strain sensors often require co-located temperature sensors to enable correction for temperature. Epsilon explains that these temperature sensors are typically additional fibre-optic sensors that are physically isolated from the strain in the structure. It has developed a temperature sensor kit comprising a number of self-adhesive laminates which enable a temperature sensor to be quickly and reliably assembled within the laminate stack during lay-up.
A similar system of self-adhesive laminates can be used to manage excess lengths of optical fibre within the lay-up and avoid the problems of optical fibres crossing one another (which can result in fibre breaks or high optical loss). A number of these designs are either covered by patent or are the subject of patent applications.