Researchers use machine elements as sensors


Tobias Schirra, who specializes in product development and machine elements, spent one and a half years researching further development together with his colleague from the department, Georg Martin. They have turned a standard rolling bearing into a sensor bearing that can be used to measure loads and lubricant film thickness, among other things. The new development is intended to help “estimate the time of the next maintenance or when the component needs to be replaced,” reports Schirra. The service life can thus be predicted better and operating procedures can be designed more smoothly.

Tobias Schirra (l.) & Georg Martin (r.).

The TU researchers have not installed any additional measuring sensors, but instead use the electrical properties of the rolling bearing itself as a sensor. Tobias Schirra explains the principle in simple terms: “We hold a kind of voltage measuring device to the bearing rings. The advantage of TU technology: ”Other bearings on the market equipped with extra sensors require more space. Our development, on the other hand, does not take up more space than a conventional bearing,“ he emphasizes.

At the Hannover Exhibition, the TU researchers presented their technology and established contacts with companies. Initial reactions, Mr. Schirra and Mr. Martin report, were already encouraging. ”Thanks to the support of the Pioneer Fund, we can now concentrate on further development work," they say. The support ensures a full-time position for the next one and a half years.