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Proper cable protection/flex management/etc.

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Michael, Aug 29, 2007.

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  1. Michael

    Michael Guest

    Hi there - I'm constantly dealing with cables breaking. I work in
    robotics, so I am always stringing cables through joints and whatnot -
    so these cables see constant flexing. Try as I might, though, no
    matter how carefully I route cables, they always wear out.

    Are there secrets to properly running cables? Perhaps is there a good
    resource about this? I mean much of it is common sense - but I suspect
    that there is much that I don't know - like how thick of insulation to
    use, what kind of strain relief to use at connectors, etc.


    Thanks dudes,

  2. Look for "Superflex" cable, which has soft insulation, and a large bunch
    of *very* fine copper wire for the conductors. Often sold for test lead
    cable and such.


    Adrian Jansen adrianjansen at internode dot on dot net
    Design Engineer J & K Micro Systems
    Microcomputer solutions for industrial control
    Note reply address is invalid, convert address above to machine form.
  3. Charles

    Charles Guest

    Run the cables where flexing is minimized ... you probably already know that
    .... but I had to say it ...
    Use cables that use fine (small gage), braided conductors and shields.
    Pay close attention to strain relief, cable support and abrasion points and
    add bushings/sleeves when necessary.
    Thick insulation can work against you.

    I don't know of a good website about this but others might. GL!
  4. Excellent cable source for hi-flex cable is Igus, check out:
    They cut to whatever length you want and are cheap, excellent support
    too. You can call them up and ask for advice on the best cable to use.
    Good luck!

  5. whit3rd

    whit3rd Guest

    Cable materials (metals and polymers) will tolerate flexure
    if that doesn't exceed the elastic limit of the materials. So, keep
    cables loose (to eliminate tension) and add in a few loops where you
    have room (the bending of a loop is distributed over the entire length
    of wire in the loop, NOT concentrated at one short segment). Take
    the lesson of the coiled cord on a telephone handset; it rarely
    because each coil takes up a bit of flexure.

    Also, use thin cables where possible, because a 1/4" cable bent around
    a 1" radius has a lot bigger internal stresses than a 1/8" cable with
    the same
    bend. If you can remove the solid sheath from a cable, and replace it
    with a
    fabric (like polypropylene wire loom), your 1/4" sheathed cable
    a bunch of 1/32" individual conductors. For bends without any twist,
    printed-wiring assembly can be effective because the copper/kapton
    is again a very thin section; use a spiral of flex wiring for a tight
    bend, because
    it can flex ONCE to take the spiral shape without damage; subsequent
    flexure changes that spiral shape only slightly.
  6. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

    Yup. If you have the space, coily cords are the gold standard.
    2 other places where they are commonly used are guitar cords
    and connectors from foil on glass doors/windows
    over to the door/window frame (on places with burgler alarms).

    Think how much traffic the front door of a prosperous business gets
    ....and do I have to mention what Rock-n-Roll musicians can do to stuff?
  7. JosephKK

    JosephKK Guest

    Charles posted to
    I second the issue of strain relief, i have seen to many times where
    careful strain relief dramatically improved operational life.
  8. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    Cables 'wear out' wher they flex the most. Typically that'll often be right next
    to the connector itself. Relieve your cables there first.

  9. Ecnerwal

    Ecnerwal Guest

    Look at providing mechanical means to limit flex radius - run cables
    inside a spring, hose, or innerduct type material, or use the "rolling
    cable tray" type of cable control (typically seen on long rolling
    assemblies - ie, stationary robots with internal parts that move
    around), looks a bit like chain links in a box shape, with the box being
    where the cables run.
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