Excellent transmission properties and a long service life under extreme motion – these are the challenges that machine tool and automation equipment manufacturers pose for systems with flexible cables. Even high-performance networks with 10 GB/second Ethernet must fulfill these requirements in the industrial Ethernet environment. igus® and Telegaertner have worked together to create a cabling solution which has passed the toughest practical tests with sufficient reserves. The combination of chainflex cables and MFP8 RJ45 plug connectors offers outstanding transmission characteristics even after millions of cycles.
Individual components of a cabling path were tested by the manufacturer for conformity to standards in a laboratory. This ensures the user that the fully assembled solution functions reliably over time; in addition, we have demonstrated that this can pass strict, practical tests. This applies in particular to solutions with flexible cables which are subjected to high mechanical stresses.
igus® and Telegaertner therefore decided to join forces and test various assembled cabling solutions in their laboratories. The focus was on product solutions with highly flexible cables for Ethernet and PROFINET applications. These are used in nearly all areas of automation equipment, in which large volumes of data must be transmitted quickly and reliably in more and more applications.
chainflex® cables from igus® were developed for use in moving energy chain systems, and have been proven in many different application areas. Among others, Cat. 6A cables CFBUS.050 with a TPE outer jacket were tested, in which the conduit elements were braided with an especially short pitch length. The precise, very tightly braided overall screen and four protection pairs offer reliable and durable protection against outside electrical influences. chainflex bus cables with PVC and PUR sheaths were also tested.
The RJ45 modular connectors in the MFP8 series from Telegaertner are characterized by their innovative and especially reliable wire terminations. The individual wires in a cable are pulled through during manufacturing. The special piercing technique provides especially stable connections with outstanding transmission values. The connector can be made in the field, and can be installed even within tight space limitations on-site without special tools. The wires are reliably contained in specially-sized chambers without free play, so that a stable, positive connection is ensured with optimal signal transfer.
Telegaertner uses a reliable, innovative technology called "Insulation Piercing Contact" (IPC) for cable diameters which commercially-available RJ45 crimp connectors cannot accept. It has proven itself not only in industrial applications, but also in power networks for telecommunication and in high-value IT patch cables for durable, reliable contacts. In IPC technology, the fine wires of a braided conductor are not simply clamped between two displacement connectors (IDCs), as with conventional technology; rather, they are pulled through at three spatially offset locations. This pioneering technology offers outstanding, long-term stable contacts and additional safety under tensile stresses which cannot always be avoided in practical applications.
Telegärtner and igus® agree on clearly defined, separated tasks for the tests. The igus® lab is specializing in load tests while performing mechanical movements in real applications. Up to 700 tests run continuously and simultaneously on a 2,750 m² test area. From a technological point of view, the Telegärtner lab is on of the leading measurement and test labs for high frequency measurements of plug connectors and assembled cable systems. The key component is the real time re-embedded test setup, which Telegärtner developed. In this type of testing, relevant parameters are recorded simultaneously instead of successively. The procedure is much more precise than what is specified in the requirements for measurement technology put forth in the international IEC 60512 standard series. For this reason, leading independent measurement labs also often use Telegärtner measuring adapters.
When it comes to testing highly flexible industrial cable systems, both companies have lead the way. The current EN 60352 standard only defines measurement requirements for cables with solid, single-wire conductors and flexible, seven-wire strands. No measurement requirements exist for cables with 19-wire, highly-flexible, stranded conductors which are necessary for automation technology applications. The trendsetting combination of these types of Category 6 and 6A strands with innovative plug connectors with IPC technology is a groundbreaking technology that goes far beyond the current state of standardization.
The assembled cables for energy chains have been subjected to linear movements with over one million cycles. The transmission parameters of cabling systems which have been subjected to these stresses were then measured in accordance with strict Cat. 6A specifications up to 500 MHz as per ISO/IEC 11801. All samples tested demonstrated outstanding transmission quality. No defects were found either inside the cables or in the link to the connector. Final destructive testing of work-pieces, in which the compounds were filled with casting resin and polished for microscopic examination, showed perfect contact images: The contacts were completely intact, as at the beginning, the fixation was as solid and reliable as at the beginning, and no play was found in the connection chamber of the plug connectors. Building on the test results with cablear movements, a torsion test was run at +/- 180°/m in order to simulate typical movements for robot applications. Cables with a different structure were used here; these were also able to withstand the most demanding special needs for robotics.
The test results showed in general that the combination of MFP8 connectors and chainflex® bus cables is particularly well-suited to provide the highest reliability in highly flexible cabling systems in automation devices, and to ensure Ethernet connections even at high data rates up to 10 GB/second. The cable solutions tested showed no recognizable wear and no impact on signal transmission even after several million cycles. This was also confirmed in other test series. The assembled cables thus fully conform to Ethernet standards in the important Cat. 6 and 6A categories. Even within the lower requirements of Cat. 5, which play an important role in Profinet applications, chainflex® cables with MFP8 connectors from Telegaertner provide outstanding reliability.