Who is the biggest loser? TKT Insulated Wire or Kapton Insulated Wire?
How does arc tracking of F-16 TKT wiring harnesses compare to F-16 Kapton wiring harnesses? This article includes videos too!
Most of InterConnect’s blogs in 2017 were about F-16 Kapton insulated wiring. We discussed many things about Kapton wiring including: (1) which aircraft have it, (2) when it was invented, (3) the benefits of it, (4) the problems with it, (5) what breaches are in Kapton, (6) how many breaches in wiring you can expect in a 20-year-old fighter jet, (6) the most problematic areas of Kapton wiring in an F-16, (7) inherent viscosity related to Kapton wiring, and (8) MTBF for F-16 Kapton wiring harnesses. We also covered that the replacement for Kapton insulated wire is TKT wire. The purpose of this blog is to compare the arc tracking phenomenon of Kapton versus TKT insulated wiring.
Many of you are probably familiar with the phrase, “A photo speaks a thousand words.” Well, here is another phrase, “A video speaks a million words.” Instead of describing the differences in arc tracking between Kapton wire and TKT wire, InterConnect is going to do something much grander; we will show you a video that will surprise you! You will see that the arc tracking event of the Kapton wire is significantly greater than that of the TKT wire.
Prior to the video, let’s set up what you are about to see. Instead of writing paragraphs we decided to list bullet points.
- InterConnect sent samples of Kapton and TKT wire to a professional test laboratory.
- Each sample wire was connected to an electrical AC circuit that simulated aircraft power (115V AC).
- A knife was used to make breaches in each wire’s insulation. Two breaches on wires that are close to each other cause arcing.
- A video was made to show what happened next.Besides AC circuits, InterConnect also had the laboratory test at 28 Volts DC. There was very little difference in arc tracking between the AC circuits and DC circuits.
Video 1: Kapton Wire
Video 2: TKT Wire
As you can see in the videos, there is a huge difference in arc tracking between Kapton and TKT insulation. The Kapton burned the aircraft wiring much longer. Arc tracking was hard to get started on the TKT samples. InterConnect has hours of videos of various arc tracking experiments. If you would like to see more, please contact us. Also, as a synopsis, here are the results of our study:
- Arc Tracking occurred in just about all tests.
- Typical damage was more than 5 inches and lasted more than 10 seconds long.
- Arc Tracking occurred but less.
- Typical damage was less than 2 inches and lasted less than 2 seconds.
If I am an Air Force fighter jet pilot, I would certainly choose wiring harnesses made with TKT wire and not Kapton wire. The same goes for the Army, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard who fly fixed or rotary wing aircraft with Kapton wire. It is strongly recommended to rewire those aircraft as well.