Honourable Mention Award for:
Printed Paper Sensors for Intelligent Wood, Sanitary-, and Medical Systems – JKU Linz (project leader Dr. R. Schwödiauer), Kompetenzzentrum Holz GmbH, SCIO-Holding GmbH
The submission "Printed Paper Sensors for Intelligent Wood, Sanitary, and Medical Systems" had been nominated for the Houskapreis and was finally awarded with an Honourable Mention in the category University Research. The award, donated with € 10.000, is the provisional highlight of an interdisciplinary collaboration between physicists from Soft Matter Physics (SoMaP, JKU), chemists from Kompetenzzentrum Holz GmbH (Wood K plus), and engineers from SCIO Holding GmbH. The research partners are driving the basic research work for novel sensor solutions with their joint project "Smart Wood Impedance Paper Sensors" (SWIPS).
As part of the grant program "Produktionsstandort OÖ: 2050: Industrie 4.0", SWIPS has been acquired in the year 2015 by Wood K plus with a total funding of € 380.000 for a work period of three years. Together with the Soft Matter Physics department from JKU, and the SCIO specialists for printed electronics, an efficient and dynamic process could be launched that enabled the successful fabrication of printed sensor electrodes on water-permeable paper substrates.
These printed paper sensors are designed to fit directly in between a wood glue joint to monitor the curing of water based adhesives in the course of the drying and crosslinking process. The paper sensors bond strongly with a wood glue adhesive and can thus remain in the glue joint without weakening the bond and without losing its sensor function. This enables further in-situ real time measurements of structural health parameters in wood and timber products for lightweight construction elements. In contrast, current commercially available sensors with similar sensing capabilities are all based on plastic substrates which are not water-permeable and do not bond to any wood glue adhesive. Such plastic sensors act as impurities with adverse effects on both, the quality of the measurement and the strength of the glue joint.
The fabrication of the paper sensors via conventional printing techniques is highly flexible. A great number of various custom made sensors for special purpose applications can be produced. The scientific focus thereby is set primarily by the requirements of the Upper Austrian wood and timber industry with a pertinent emphasis on the technological demand and support of "Industry 4.0". The preeminent paper sensor application is the real time in-situ monitoring of adhesive curing kinetics at the industrial production of wood and timber elements, and other composite products.
Another promising application is the detection and quantitative measurement of humidity. As demonstrated by the SoMaP team, the printed paper sensors are highly sensitive to minute amounts of water vapour in the atmosphere. The high sensitivity may allow embedded paper sensors the detection of moisture in glue joints and fibre reinforced composite elements. A respective long time monitoring could help to ensure the quality and prolong the life span of composite products.
The research partners are continuously improving the paper sensor system with the aim to provide a unique technology feature and a competitive advantage for the Austrian wood and timber industry towards Internet of Things fabrication of intelligent wood, timber, and composite products. A long term perspective is the already ongoing development of paper sensors for humidity and moisture detection, not only in wood and composite products, but also for applications in sanitary and medical systems. Environmentally friendly paper sensors integrated in nappies, plasters, and wound dressings can readily indicate a necessary replacement. All these activities open new opportunities for SCIO Holding GmbH to expand into new business areas for new and advanced products for the wood and timber industry, hygiene products and medical technology.