Blog: Additive manufacturing meets IIoT, or, how to print passive sensors

By Will Hastings, for ARC Advisory Group

Jan 24, 2018

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Additive manufacturing technology has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years. Printing technology, especially in the metals space, is becoming faster, more accurate, and less encumbered by expensive and time-consuming post processing. At the same time, additive manufacturing software, largely driven by PLM companies, is opening new avenues of design and simulation to create more complex parts with greater understanding and control of the process.

However, for the additive manufacturing industry to maintain its remarkable growth over the past few years, it must continue to inspire innovation. In a recent briefing with Optomec, a global supplier of additive manufacturing systems for 3D printed electronics and 3D printed metals, I learned of their passive sensor applications. In partnership with GE, Optomec has developed a passive 3D printed sensor for turbine blades.

Using an Aerosol Jet system, a thin ceramic pattern is printed onto a portion of a gas turbine blade. By scanning the grid-like pattern over the course of the turbines life-cycle, GE can measure the blades creep and better predict failures. As part of the program, GE employed Predix, it's IIoT Platform, to pull and analyze the data during regular maintenance cycles.

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