Challenge:Reduce Production and Assembly Costs without Compromising Reliability
Solution:DuPont™ Pyralux® LF & FR - Acrylic Adhesive Based Flex Circuit Cable Assemblies Withstand the Harsh Environment of an Automotive Powertrain
The automotive industry is under constant pressure to reduce production & assembly costs and to increase overall productivity and reliability. It is an on-going challenge to find ways to simplify complex designs especially when they are required to function in the very harsh environments of the automotive world. This is particularly true in electrical interconnects. Electronic systems and controls are becoming a greater percentage of the overall cost of the car and are more and more the focus of reengineering efforts.
In this case a complex discrete wire cable harness for an automatic transmission gear box control was difficult to build and assemble. However, it was quite reliable so any alternative approach in addition to being less expensive would have to survive a difficult performance requirement: work flawlessly while continuously immersed in automotive transmission oil at 120°C for the life of the car.
Materials Selected and Why
A flex circuit cable was proposed as an alternative to the more complex individual wire / cable assembly. The use of a flex circuit eliminates the need to bundle a number of individual wires together to form a cable. Routings are determined by a single artwork rather than by individual wires. Maintaining the accuracy of the design is assured by semiautomatic processing from start to finish. Clearly these "pre-fabricated" cables would be easier to build, would reduce assembly costs and eliminate rework but would flex circuits survive the performance and reliability requirements?
DuPont™ Pyralux® FR and Pyralux® LF acrylic adhesive based flexible laminates were chosen as the preferred material. In general acrylic adhesives offer superior resistance to thermal degradation than epoxy adhesives which are typically used in flex circuit applications.
The initial design was qualified by exposing the circuit to 150C oil at two atmospheres for 90 days. Pyralux® acrylic laminate passed this qualification test with flying colors. The flex cable was internally qualified as a replacement for the wire harness and was installed in vehicles. Its actual performance was monitored over time and during these field trials it performed flawlessly. Today, more than 20 years after initial qualification and adoption, Pyralux® circuits are still being fabricated and installed in this application. Millions of circuits have been produced for various gearbox systems & car platforms, and there has not been a field failure reported that involved a material performance issue.
Other automotive system suppliers have noticed this level of reliability and are also taking advantage of the design options flex circuits provide. Pyralux® acrylic flex circuits are frequently used in multiple transmission controls, fuel pumps and engine controls systems by a wide variety of automotive manufacturers.
Due to the proven success of Pyralux® flexible circuit materials, it is increasingly the material of choice in a variety of other automotive sensor and electrical interconnect circuits where cost and reliability are both critical success factors.
For more information on this or other key applications for DuPont™ Pyralux®, contact us.