|In 2013, Fralock won the Innovation Award for our contributions to Boeing and DARPA’s Fast Access Spacecraft Testbed (FAST) program. The advanced, rugged, lightweight, flexible flat cable components Fralock offers for solar power collection and distribution, have received a lot of attention from the space industry since that time. FAST was a design and demonstration of an ultra-lightweight, high power generation system for spacecraft, for which we supplied flexible back panels for solar arrays and flat cable networks to carry power from the solar cells to its destination, Adhesiveless polyimide flat cables are among Fralock’s most advanced and versatile products.
Looking like stiff ribbons, they are structurally similar to our thermofoil heaters, with conductive metal tracings sealed between two layers of polyimide insulation. A few others claim to offer similar products, but only Fralock’s are made with our 100 percent Adhesiveless Lamination Technology (ALT), which mechanically bonds the layers of foil and polyimide insulation with each other, locking the conductive element in place and eliminating the use of adhesives. Legacy technology uses PTFE to bond the layers of material together. However, PTFE provides a weak bond, often resulting in poor adhesion that can cause cracking and delamination. This produces fragile cables that have poor radiation resistance and less structural integrity.
Our flat cables can be folded or even crumpled without affecting performance. Eliminating the need for adhesives also lets our cables tolerate a wider range of temperatures, from -269° to 220° Celsius (-452° to 428° Fahrenheit) and makes them about 30 percent thinner and lighter, saving space and launch cost. Additionally, our proprietary technology eliminates the possibility of circuit “swimming,” wherein conductive traces move too close to each other, possibly resulting in electrical failure, and it lets us create tighter, denser circuits, which can further reduce cable size.
Fralock offers an Electrostatic Dissipative (ESD) option of polyimide insulation, which protects against electrostatic buildup that is common in the dry vacuum of space. Our flexible flat cables are easy to install on solar array back panels. Rather than bundling and tying wires, an engineer can simply lay them in place, and they fit better than round cables. They can readily be made into cable harnesses to carry power between the panels and to the battery. In increasingly popular flexible solar arrays, a ribbon-like design is perfect for folding and unfolding.
Not only are Fralocks flexible flat cables the strongest available, combining tensile strength and physical robustness with high resistance to temperature, radiation, and even flame and chemicals, but they’re also more convenient and functional than other alternatives. For all these reasons, they’re ideal for use in satellite solar arrays and other space applications.
Flexible Flat Cables Features and Benefits
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