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Machine Design

Product Spotlight: PTFE lets cables glide

A line of electrical cables takes advantage of the low-friction properties of expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePT FE) to give long life in demanding, high-speed motion systems.

Expanding PT FE in a tightly controlled manner produces a porous, engineered structure that’s an ideal insulator for wires and cables, according to the manufacturer. It combines thermal stability and mechanical flexibility with other special qualities of PTFE, such as low dielectric constant, low water absorption, and chemical inertness.

Cables that incorporate ePT FE reportedly transfer less stress to the conductor, which minimizes fatigue. The result is better flexibility, a tighter bend radius, and a longer flex life than with conventional cables. In repetitive-motion applications, the cables consistently handle more than 20 million cycles at speeds to 2.5 m/sec.

Flexing has no effect on signal transmission with high bandwidth, low skew, and efficient shielding. The construction also permits smaller connectors without compromising durability or signal quality. Jacket options include polyurethane and PVC for reliability in harsh environments.

The cables are used in wide-ranging applications — from robots and pickand- place equipment to factory-floor assembly and vision systems. For instance, low particulation and outgassing characteristics make them suited for clean-room tasks such as chip and wafer handling. Yet they also stand up to the weather and physical abuse on outdoor material-handling cranes. Here, the ePT FE insulation isolates the conductors from the cable jacket, which prevents the conductors from bearing tensile loads on the cable and protects signal integrity. They handle lift heights to 130 m and can be wound on drums. The ePT FE insulation also protects the conductors from precipitation, temperature extremes, and extended UV exposure.

The company makes numerous versions. Round cables are typically suited for linear, torsion, and randommotion applications. Lighter, thinner, and more-flexible flat cables are usually a better choice for linear-motion applications. And a trackless design bundles electrical and pneumatic lines in one self-supporting cable, eliminating the need for cable track to protect and guide cables. Products include individual cables and multiple lines combined in one cable system, based on user requirements.

W. L. Gore and Associates, 402 Vieve’s Way, Elkton, MD 21921, (800) 445-4673,

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