December 11th, 2017 - Santa and his team of Elves are very experienced when it comes to managing projects in freezing temperatures. They know firsthand that extreme cold can be very tough on technology. It can freeze, seize, rigidify, paralyze, and even break machinery and its corresponding components.
At the North Pole, Santa recently went through the process of outfitting Santa’s sleigh and his reindeer’s harnesses with cable to help light their way. After completing his cable project, Santa put together this list of key considerations for your next arctic project to keep your mind at ease this Holiday Season!
Santa’s List for designing cable tough enough for the North Pole:
- Will the cable be used in a static application or will it be moving? Cold temperatures can decrease the flexibility of a cable and make it very brittle. Santa wanted his cable to be flexible and able to move with the reindeer as they fly, so he considered a TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) and a TPU (urethane) as both jacket materials are rugged and perform well in low temperatures.
- If instead, the cable would be in a static environment, a good question to ask is whether the cable will be supported/contained or free to move in the wind?
- Impact Resistance is an important factor as well because even the smallest contact such as someone stepping on the cable or the cable bumping into the sleigh in the wind could affect its integrity when subjected to freezing temps. While travelling around the world delivering toys, there is the possibility that either Rudolph or Santa himself could step on the cable, so it was important to him to have materials designed into his cable that have a superior cold bend radius
- Will the temperature stay relatively constant or will it fluctuate from cold to warm to hot and back to cold? If so, what is the cycle time of the fluctuation? Santa must consider the different climates and the elevation changes that he and the reindeer fly through to deliver presents across the world. If they go from very cold to very warm too quickly or frequently, the cable jacket may become brittle and break open if proper materials were not used in the cable design.
- Another consideration is whether the cable will be exposed to liquid. Especially if the temperature reaches the freezing point! The reindeer must navigate through all types of weather and could encounter snow and rain. When passing through different climates, the water may freeze and unfreeze multiple times, which could affect the materials used in the cable as well as the way in which it is terminated to the connector. For this reason, Santa chose to use an over-mold to help protect the connection points while being flexed and to help protect from any liquid it may encounter.
- Will the cable assembly be installed and frequently handled in freezing temperatures? From time to time, Santa rearranges the reindeer lineup, so he disconnects and reconnects their harnesses. It was important for him to have connectors on those harnesses that feature reliable mating cycles in extreme temperatures and will not be subject to cracking and breaking.
When cable, wire, and assemblies will be exposed to extreme temperatures, it is important to consider the overall cable construction. There are many factors to consider when selecting materials to ensure your cable will perform when exposed to frigid temps! Hopefully Santa’s list got you thinking about your cold application and of course, Santa recommends you check it twice, but if you still have questions, Northwire Cable Design Specialists are here to help! Get in touch by calling +1 715-294-2121