Development of a Novel, Manufacturing Method of Producing Cost-Effective Thin-Film Heat Flux Sensors
Cherry, Rande James
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A new method of manufacturing heat flux sensors was developed using a combination of copper etching and stencil printing nickel/silver conductive ink thermocouple materials onto a thin-film polyimide Kapton® substrate. The semi-automated production capabilities of this manufacturing process significantly decrease the cost of producing thin-film heat flux sensors while still maintaining acceptable performance characteristics. Material testing was performed to first determine the most appropriate materials as well as the theoretical sensitivity and time response of the final sensor. Seebeck coefficient of a thermocouple formed using the combination of EMS CI-1001 silver and EMS CI-5001 nickel ink was measured to be 18.3 ± 0.9 uV/ deg C. Calibrations were then performed on a sample of sensors produced using the novel manufacturing process to verify theoretical values for both sensitivity and time response. The printed heat flux sensor (PHFS) made using this process has a nominal voltage output sensitivity of 4.10 ± 0.23 mV/(W/cm2) and first order time constant response time of 0.592 ± 0.026 seconds. Lastly, a cost analysis was performed to estimate that the final cost to produce the PHFS is approximately $7.73 per sensor. This cost is significantly lower than commercially available sensors which range from $210 upwards to $3000.
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