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Effective monitoring and diagnosis of manufacturing processes is of critical importance. If critical manufacturing process conditions are continuously monitored, problems can be detected and solved during the processing cycle. However, current technology still evidently lags behind practical needs. Microfabricated thin-film thermocouples and strain gauges are attractive for their small size and fast response. It is challenging to fabricate and embed these sensors into metallic components that are widely used in manufacturing. This paper investigates the fabrication, embedding, and characterization of metal embedded thin-film thermocouples and strain gauges. The materials (dielectric and metallic) constituting a complete microsensor were characterized and optimized. The results obtained from characterization and optimization of materials are presented and discussed. Thin-film thermocouples on stainless steel substrates (before and after embedding) were calibrated to elevated temperatures. The behavior of thin-film strain gauges was also studied. The metal embedded sensors demonstrated good accuracy, sensitivity, and linearity that matched the performance of commercial thermocouples and strain gauges well. The metal embedded microsensors are promising for in situ monitoring in hostile manufacturing environments.
Date of Publication: April 2006