Additive manufacturing (3D print) of air-coupled diaphragm ultrasonic transdrucers

  • Botong Zhu

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Air-coupled ultrasound is a non-contact technology that has become increasingly common in Non Destructive Evaluation (NDE) and material evaluation. Normally, the bandwidth of a conventional transducer can be enhanced, but with a cost to its sensitivity. However, low sensitivity is very disadvantageous in air-coupled devices. This thesis proposes a methodology for improving the bandwidth of an air-coupled micro-machined ultrasonic transducer (MUT) without sensitivity loss by connecting a number of resonating pipes of various length to a cavity in the backplate. This design is inspired by the pipe organ musical instrument, where the resonant frequency (pitch) of each pipe is mainly determined by its length. The −6 dB bandwidth of the "pipe organ" inspired air-coupled transducer is 55.7% and 58.5% in transmitting and receiving modes, respectively, which is ∼5 times wider than a custom-built standard device. After validating the concept via a series of single element low-frequency prototypes, two improved designs: the multiple element and the high-frequency single element pipe organ transducers were simulated in order to tailor the pipe organ design to NDE applications.Although the simulated and experimental performance of the pipe organ inspired transducers are proved to be significantly better than the conventional designs, conventional micro-machined technologies are not able to satisfy their required 3D manufacturing resolution. In recent years, there has been increasing interest in using additive manufacturing (3D printing) technology to fabricate sensors and actuators due to rapid prototyping, low-cost manufacturing processes, customized features and the ability to create complex 3D geometries at micrometre scale. This work combines the ultrasonic diaphragm transducer design with a novel stereolithographic additive manufacturing technique. This includes developing a multi-material fabrication process using a commercial digital light processing printer and optimizing the formula of custom-built functional (conductive and piezoelectric) materials. A set of capacitive acoustic and ultrasonic transducers was fabricated using the additive manufacturing technology. The additive manufactured capacitive transducers have a receiving sensitivity of up to 0.4 mV/Pa at their resonant frequency.
Date of Award17 Dec 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde
SupervisorJames Windmill (Supervisor) & Francesco Guarato (Supervisor)

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