In the near future, optical fibres could be used as thermometers for industrial processes such as cutting. Researchers from the Charles III University of Madrid (UC3M) have developed a fibre optic pyrometer that can withstand extreme temperatures, which could be used to optimise the life of tools and increase productivity.
Up until now, measuring mechanical or cutting processes has not been possible with conventional technologies, such as thermographic infrared cameras, as they cannot fit into small enough spaces to get a clear view of the industrial tool. In addition, the sensors deteriorate from the high temperatures.
However, UC3M researchers solved this problem by developing a fibre optic pyrometer that uses standard optical fibres typically used in the telecommunications field. The fibre is just 62.5µm thick, so it can fit into very small spaces, and can measure temperatures between 300 and 1,000°C.
Obtaining data regarding temperature changes during cutting processes helps in the analysis of the evolution of wear on a tool. By using the new machine, it is possible to optimise the life of the tool, and therefore improve productivity.
A pyrometer determines temperature by measuring the amount of radiation that an object emits − as the radiation increases, so does the temperature. It measures radiation in two colours and calculates the temperature based on the quotient of the two signals.
The system has high potenital in environments where mechanised tools are used for manufacturing parts, for example in the aerospace sector, where it is important to prevent extreme temperature changes during the mechanised production motor components, as this is related to poor performance.