Two simple, effective techniques for attaching thermocouples to metal substrates have been devised for high- temperature applications in which attachment by such conventional means as welding, screws, epoxy, or tape would not be effective. The techniques have been used successfully to attach 0.005-in. (0.127-mm)-diameter type-S thermocouples to substrates of niobium alloy C-103 and stainless steel 416 for measuring temperatures up to 2,600 °F (1,427 °C). The techniques are equally applicable to other thermocouple and substrate materials.

In the first technique, illustrated in the upper part of the figure, a hole slightly wider than twice the diameter of one thermocouple wire is drilled in the substrate. The thermocouple is placed in the hole, then the edge of the hole is peened in one or more places by use of a punch (see figure). The deformed material at the edge secures the thermocouple in the hole.

In the second technique a hole is drilled as in the first technique, then an annular relief area is machined around the hole, resulting in structure reminiscent of a volcano in a crater. The thermocouple is placed in the hole as in the first technique, then the “volcano” material is either peened by use of a punch or crimped by use of sidecutters to secure the thermocouple in place. This second technique is preferable for very thin thermocouples [wire diameter =0.005 in. (=0.127 mm)] because standard peening poses a greater risk of clipping one or both of the thermocouple wires.

These techniques offer the following advantages over prior thermocouple- attachment techniques:

  • Because these techniques involve drilling of very small holes, they are minimally invasive — an important advantage in that, to a first approximation, the thermal properties of surrounding areas are not appreciably affected.
  • These techniques do not involve introduction of any material, other than the substrate and thermocouple materials, that could cause contamination, could decompose, or oxidize at high measurement temperatures.
  • The simplicity of these techniques makes it possible to attach thermocouples quickly.
  • These techniques can be used to attach thermocouples at locations where access is somewhat restricted by the surrounding objects.

This work was done by Kevin Murtland, Robert Cox, and Christopher Immer of ASRC Aerospace Corp. for Kennedy Space Center. For further information, contact the Kennedy Innovative Partnerships Office at (321) 867-1463. KSC-12775