Cables rolling back and forth or up and down over millions of flex cycles are most often placed in cable tracks. The tracks bundle numerous individual cables together to prevent twisting, and they maintain a minimum bend in the cables to prevent them from failing prematurely.
A Gore hybrid planar cable, which packages multiple cables into one flat assembly, provides part of the answer to awkward bundles of cables. But until the development of the new self-supported assemblies, Gore planar cables still required the support of problematic tracks.
Without a track, flexible cables most often cannot support themselves. They may sag, buckle or jump at high speeds or over long distances. But tracks can consume valuable space and introduce other problems, such as noise, vibration and particle emissions.
Consider medical diagnostic equipment, for example. Automated equipment is used in the testing of blood and tissue samples, so the equipment performs thousands of repetitive cycles in a day. The equipment’s cables are therefore subject to continuous, repeated stress and often require cable tracks.
In cleanroom manufacturing settings in the semiconductor industry, as another example, automated equipment is used extensively. As the moving surfaces of cable tracks wear against one another, they generate fine dust particles, which can contaminate product surfaces. By eliminating the cable track and reducing particulation, semiconductor manufacturers can improve product yields.
In any environment, substituting a lower profile cable for a bulky track can reduce the size of equipment and the manufacturing footprint, thereby reducing operating costs. Trackless cables simplify the building of equipment, and they eliminate reliability problems posed by cable wear, which can persist if the cables are not properly loaded in tracks.