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Connector Geek

February 17, 2017 09:19

Weight Saving in the Marine Environment

The marine environment might seem like an odd place to talk about space and weight saving technologies. After all, ocean-going ships displace thousands, or even tens of thousands, of tonnes. Neither are they small, with commercial and naval vessels regularly exceeding 100 metres in length.

Fig 1.  (Images courtesy of US Navy, TE Connectivity)

Despite this, the quest to save weight and space is of primary concern to designers. Careful tradeoff in weight mean that savings in one area may allow more capability in another area. Capability can mean an increased load-carrying capacity, an increase in fuel carried, or lighter weight resulting in improved speed or handling. Therefore, designers are always looking to optimise their vessel by saving space and weight - without compromising performance or personnel safety.

In many cases, a vast saving in weight and space can be generated by implementing a small change. A perfect example would be the cabling used aboard ship for power and data distribution. Modern ship design emphasises the increased use of automated systems, often incorporated into ship-wide information networks, and the total weight of cables can represent a quite staggering amount - sometimes a significant proportion of the total weight of the ship.

Reducing the size and weight of cabling is not always easy to achieve. Aside from the electrical characteristics of the cables, those used in a marine environment must also provide performance benefits in a range of circumstances:

  • Mechanical robustness and resistance to abrasion
  • Environmental toughness to resist a range of temperatures, and also oil and solvents
  • No compromise of safety, including low toxicity and low flammability in the event of a fire

Critically, these characteristics are desirable in a range of markets far beyond just the marine and offshore industry.

Clearly, the key to size and weight reductions in cabling is the intelligent use of materials that are appropriate for the task that is required of them. TE Connectivity have produced a range of cables with a unique thin-wall insulation used on the conductors called C-Lite.

A typical cable used in marine applications meets the requirements of EN60092 and has an insulation wall thickness of 0.8 mm. C-Lite offers a thin-wall insulation system, meeting the same performance requirements while reducing the thickness to a mere 0.2 to 0.3 mm.  Fig 2 shows the space saving that can be acheived with even a modest reduction in the thickness of cable insulation.

Fig.2

TE Connectivity have created a fantastic white paper that details the challenges of this demanding environment, the approach that they have taken to solve the problem, and some of the products that would be useful not only to ship designers, but to engineers in a wide range of industries.

Click here to download your copy today.

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Connector Geek

Connector Geek is Dave in real life. With over 25 years in the industry, Dave likes talking about connectors almost as much as being a Dad to his two kids. He may still be a kid at heart himself...