A major web mapping service applications provider contacted Chromalox to come up with a unique flexible Kapton® heater design for their land base and aerial earth mapping cameras. The main challenges were sensor bonding integrity to particular metals (due to the tenacious oxide layer of the trace foil that is very difficult to remove since the nature of the oxide is very dense, coherent, etc.), extreme end use vibrations, wire harness strain relief, and extreme temperature (tropical, arctic, desert, and high altitude) insulation. All of these features had to be packaged in multiple configurations for different mapping camera lenses (aircraft and ground vehicles).
Our engineering team came up with a totally unique Kapton® (polysilicon laminate) heater design that included different types of metals within the same layer that served both signal and heating purposes. This multi-foil process allowed simultaneous superior surface mount sensor attachment and trace resistance for the heating element. To address the extreme temperature environments, the Chromalox team came up with an insulation product and process to allow for 360° bonding for environmental shielding around the perimeter of the heating units. And lastly, a harness strain relief feature which practically eliminated failures due to rough handling, installation, and extreme temperature environments.
The customer now has a design that is robust, can withstand many times the expected maximum end use vibration, extreme temperatures (tropical, arctic, desert, and high altitude) protection, easy installation, and rough handling in the field. As it pertains to future design options for all industries, this proprietary multi-foil Kapton® heater process allows for such unique designs such as; (1) one foil for optimal sensor mounting and signal transfer, (2) one foil for an etch RTD, and (3) another foil for heater circuit itself. And the amazing thing is that is all delivered in a single heater, on a single layer, with no increase in the overall thickness in the z-direction. This is a typical example of how Chromalox offers new innovative world class cost saving solutions to exceed customer expectations and enhance its capabilities.