Optic Fiber delivers : Accuracy, reliability and performance
AC72 (Artémis 2013), AC45 (Land Rover BAR Team 2014-2016), Imocas, Ultimes…
PIXEL sur MER offers a comprehensive solution for measurement and analysis through an optic fiber instrumentation tailored to each technical and sporting challenge.
A reminder on a technology that has proven itself…
As early as 2003, Alinghi, Swiss Challenger for the America’s Cup, experimented optic fiber for stress measurements on board its IACC monohull during race.
From then on, real time monitoring of the structure became part of performance development programs and of an improved maintenance of the boat.
Today, Optic Fiber technology can be applied to all classes of sailboats.
A reliable and efficient measurement system
Optic Fiber has unparalleled physical properties to meet the requirements of a racing sailboat. Only 250 micrometers in diameter, Optic Fiber is a measurement tool that satisfies the compact design instrumentation required by this type of composite structure.
Optic Fiber sensors meet the same measuring functions than conventional strain sensors. However, the unique properties of optic fiber provide further benefits : stability, high pressure and temperature resistance, insensitivity to electromagnetic interference, broadband and low measuring signal attenuation…
Thus Optic Fiber instrumentation offers a very good resistance in harsh environments. It is ideally suited to the constant mechanical and chemical wear and tear of marine environment.
Nowadays, the implemention of a microstrain measurement system is done during the early phases of the project and the construction or to address shortfalls in the existing information system. The fiber can reach all extremities of the materials exposed to high levels of strain : rudders, foils, keel, rigging…
Optic fiber sensors (Fiber Bragg Grating) are spaced on the same optic fiber along the composite part. Direct microstrain and temperature measures allow for a wide range of information about structures.
What is at stake with Optic Fiber
From an economic perspective : a comprehensive optic fiber measurement system seems to be more costly than one using conventional technologies. However, in addition to performance, this system provides some guarantees for investment : gains in maintenance, longer lifespan of the measuring source, cost-effective solution if the application requires a significant number of sensors…
From a sporting perspective : A competitive challenge in the America’s Cup requires the implementation of an optic fiber measurement project for performance analysis. In addition to OF inertial navigation units, the "Ultimes" and "Imocas" teams are now using the properties of OF to measure stress and strains.
From a technological perspective : Composite materials are at the foundation of numerous high-tech applications thanks to their mechanical properties (resistance, stiffness, density…).
However, a measurement procedure for stress/strains is necessary in order to anticipate the limits of the structure.
Optic Fiber Bragg Grating allows for a monitoring evenly distributed within the material and provides accurate data to establish prediction method regarding the wear and tear of the components.
From a human perspectives : In extreme conditions of high speed and harsh environment, the reliability of stress measurements improves risk anticipation and consequently the safety of equipment and people…
Feedback from "PIXEL sur MER", "AIM45" and "Micron Optics"
Jeff Cuzon, yachtsman and manager of Pixel sur Mer :
« We have been working with this technology for 5 years now. Its integration is straightforward and user-friendly. Results in the wet and harsh marine environment we work in are outstanding.
Now, we no longer navigate in the dark, without any data on mechanical stresses exerted on sailboats (mast, foils, rudders…).
This new knowledge helps us to maintain structures, to improve them (stiffness, weight…) as well as to optimize settings.
This technology also opens up new perspectives for development. I’m thinking, for example, of the redevelopment of applied shape, the mast in particular (curve/twist/camber parts) or of the prediction of performance.
Equipment reliability, data quality, development opportunities… All in all, the return on investment with OF is higher than the ones with other measuring technologies. »
Olivier Douillard, yachtsman and manager of "AIM45", company providing services in measurements and performance analysis:
«The sensations experienced at sea while sailing are sometimes hard to interpret. Data given by optic fiber provide a real answer regarding the stresses and strains exerted on the structure of a boat. Indeed, it’s a specific piece of data, a raw measurement that is very reliable and that doesn’t drift over time.
I also note that there’s a great expectation coming from engineers and architects, they trust that measurement in order to know the reality of the strains and to validate their calculation models.
Therefore, the optic fiber value offers dual benefits on both the development phase and the use phase of a sailboat.
Optic fiber technology is now well-managed : users have validated the measurement chain, the reading of measurement, its use and its analysis.
Today, this technology opens a wide field of study in the knowledge and understanding of open ocean race sailboat.»
Daniele Costantini, Ph.D. Business development manager, European branch of "Micron Optics" Inc. Atlanta:
«In industry, Optic Fiber Bragg Grating sensors are opening doors for all kinds of applications not feasible with conventional sensors. That’s why our panel of solutions is wide and covers the needs in areas such as renewable energies, aerospace, superstructures … (www.micronoptics.com)
Concerning offshore sail racing, all boats are subject to the same harsh environment : the ocean. However each sporting challenge is unique and each class of boat has its own characteristics requiring a particular technological and scientific approach, an adaptability of the measurement system for a better analysis. In this regard, Pixel-sur-Mer is the partner who will enable users to convert the advantages of optic fiber technology into tangible and quantifiable benefits.»
photos Crédits : Gitana 16 - © Th. Martinez-Gitana SA / Maxi Macif - © Llyod Images / Gitana XV - © Yvan Zedda- Gitana SA