Don't get it twisted

5th December 2017
Posted By : Enaie Azambuja
Don't get it twisted

The UK government has invested £16 million in 5G network development. Here, Dervish Ibrahim, international sales manager at wire payoff machine supplier, TM Robotics, explains how the success of this, and investments in high speed broadband and smart city connectivity, are very much dependant on the quality of manufacturing processes for high speed internet cables. 5G will go beyond enhancing our own smartphone usage. It will enable the smart city, enhancing the cities we live and work in.

With so much money on the line, wire manufacturers need to keep up with smart city investment, providing quality products that live up to expectation. In this process, we cannot forget the basics. Even simple steps, such as how wire used in cable manufacturing is un- or respooled, has major implications on cable integrity, strength and lifespan.

Investing in automated wire payoff systems brings speed, control and accuracy to your production line. Automating payoffs with a machine to take wire off a spool and onto the next part of the line ensures smoother payoff and reduces the risk of tangles, snags and wire breaks.

It’s vital that you get this right, as mistakes in payoff not only mean down time in the production process if there is a wire break, they can also negatively impact the integrity of the end product.

Any slight twists will weaken the wire, which inevitably makes it more likely that the product could break. If the cable being produced is being used in a high tension application, for instance, this could have very serious consequences.

There are two main types of payoff machines on the market that cable manufacturers can take advantage of, but to make the decision about which is best for them manufacturers have to consider their application very carefully.

One common payoff method is using a flyer payoff system. This is designed to unwind wire from a static spool, using a tension controlled arm that rotates around the spool, rather like using your arm to unravel cotton off a reel.

However, the motion of the flyer arm moving the wire around the spool induces a 360-degree twist in the wire. Twists in the wire have a huge impact on the characteristics of the end product. For this reason, flyer payoff is not recommended for any application with dynamic properties where the product is subjected to a physical stress of some kind, such as stretching.

However, there are many applications were flyer payoff is actually the best option. The most common being where payoff copper wire is being passed directly into a subsequent process, such as a bunching machine or extrusion line. This is most usually the case in electrical or data cable manufacturing.

To avoid the 360-degree twist and protect the dynamic properties of any cable being manufactured, you can instead use driven payoff with tangential machines. These drive the complete spool without twisting the wire, which is particularly important in applications where more precise tension control is required due to the high-speed processing of the payoff.

Tangential payoff machines drive the spool, connected to a motor, directly into the next machine in line. The motor matches the speed of the next machine, rotating the spool without creating twist, lowering the risk of breaking and snagging.

This lack of twist is essential for applications such as optical fibre manufacturing, were fine wires are used in high-speed processing. Twists are detrimental in wires as thin as 0.1mm and will cause them to snap.

Driven payoff controls the tension, without twisting, which prevents breakage. Remember, time is money. If the wire breaks , then the line stops and the machine will need to be rethreaded.

With this is mind, it's clear that wire manufacturers are in a privileged position to enable effective 5G roll out and be a part of the smart city transformation. If they get it right, then the rest will follow smoothly.


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