If you have been reading the Wonderful World of Wiring newsletter over the past 18 months, you have seen that InterConnect Wiring, along with other companies (such as Lockheed Martin) and government agencies (such as the United States Navy) warn of the problems of polyimide AKA Kapton wire. When InterConnect briefs a country about their F-16 or UH-60 aircraft flying with Kapton wire, we are sometimes asked, “Why did military and commercial aircraft manufacturers use Kapton in the first place if it is so bad?” Today’s article addresses this question, “What are the advantages of Kapton insulated wire?”
Kapton insulated electrical wiring has been widely used in civil and military aircraft because it is lighter than other wires and has good insulating and temperature characteristics. This material possesses great abrasion and cut-through resistance. Weight is a very important factor to consider when dealing with miles of wire. Heavy wire, multiplied by the amount of wire, can add several hundred pounds of weight to a plane, especially if there are miles of wire required for the aircraft functionality. Additionally, the lighter the plane, the less fuel is needed to overcome the weight burden. This translates to savings on costs associated with fuel consumption. So, to be sure, there were many advantages to Kapton insulated wire when this polyimide film was created in the late 1960s.
The disadvantages of using Kapton in aircraft will be detailed in an upcoming article. Be sure to look for it. In the meantime, please do the following:
- Pull 4 hairs out of your head.
- Put those 4 strands of hair together.
- Feel the weight of those 4 strands.
- Feel the thickness of those 4 strands.
- Realize that that bundle of hair in your hand is the same size and weight as Kapton insulation!
The above steps demonstrate a true advantage of Kapton. To read about when Kapton was developed, and to see a photo of Kapton wire that InterConnect removed and replaced, please touch here.