In this work, 3D printing is explored as a solution for fast prototyping of optical fiber sensors with applications in power transformers. Two different sensing structures were evaluated using finite element method (FEM) analysis and were fabricated using 3D printing. The printed structures are composed by acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), a common thermoplastic polymer used in 3D printing. Attaching a fiber Bragg grating (FBG) to each structure, frequency measurements were successfully obtained for values between 20 and 250 Hz.
Power transformers are at the core of power transmission systems. The occurrence of system failure in power transformers can lead to damage of adjacent equipment and cause service disruptions. Structural and electrical integrity assessment in real time is of utter importance. Conventional techniques, typically electrical sensors or chemical analysis, present major drawbacks for real-time measurements due to high electromagnetic interference or for being time-consuming. Optical fiber sensors can be used in power transformers, as they are compact and immune to electromagnetic interferences. In this work, an optical fiber sensor composed by 2 fiber Bragg gratings, attached in a cantilever structure was explored. The prototype was developed with a 3D printer using a typical filament (ABS) that enable a fast and low-cost prototyping. The response of the sensor to vibration was tested using two different vibration axes for frequencies between 10 and 500 Hz. Oil compatibility was also studied using thermal aging and electrical tests. The studies shown that ABS is compatible with the power transformer mineral oil, but the high working temperatures may lead to material creeping, resulting in permanent structural deformation.