Smart Screw Connection bolts were developed at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany.
German scientists from Fraunhofer Institute proposed to monitor the technical condition of important objects with the help of "smart" bolts Smart Screw Connection. Thanks to their electronics, such bolts can let people know about problems in advance, which will help bring the technical condition of an object to normal more quickly. The bolts are connected to the network at all times and provide 24/7 monitoring of the condition of the bolt connection.
Special sensors monitor the pressure at the bolt head contacting the surface and immediately notify about its changes. If the pressure decreases and becomes less than the rated pressure, a special sound signal is generated. This approach provides a higher level of safety of important objects, where the main way of fastening parts is a bolted connection. In addition, the convenience of inspections increases, while reducing the likelihood of accidents.
The smart bolt principle is based on the use of a thin DiaForce piezoresistive film. When the bolt is fully tightened, the force is fixed at three different points on the contact plane. If the bolt is released, it causes the film resistance to change as well. An alarm is then generated, addressed to the service technician. Researchers have proposed several schemes for powering smart bolts.
Electricity can be generated by a thermoelectric generator, where the temperature difference between the bolt head and the surrounding space is used, or by using photosensors, provided that the bolts are on a surface illuminated by sunlight. In addition, a base station is required in the vicinity of an array of such bolts to connect the individual wireless Smart Screw Connection channels to the Network.
According to the developers, these bolts are ideal for facilities such as bridges and wind turbines. They would also be a great solution for other structures that need regular condition monitoring.
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