10 July 2008

Cutting Polyester Ribbon Cable

Ribbon cable is commonly used in the computer and electronics industry to transmit multiple bits of data in parallel between other cards or peripheral devices. Today, you will find ribbon cables in products ranging from appliances to automobiles as manufacturers integrate an ever-expanding array of computerized controls and sensors in an effort to increase product reliability, safety, and performance.

One type of ribbon cable, shown in the photograph, is comprised of multiple copper conductors encased between two sheets of one-mil thick polyester film. Polyester film (also known as Mylar®) has excellent dielectric properties and is an effective insulator in electrical applications.

Depending on the width of the data bus required (8, 16, or 32 bit) this ribbon cable, with an assembled thickness of 0.44 mm (0.0175"), is cut lengthwise to create one or more groups of eight conductors. The beam delivery set-up consists of a cutting head equipped with a 63.5 mm (2.5") positive meniscus lens that provides a 100-micron (0.004") spot with a 1.8 mm (0.07") depth of focus. Using 10 watts of laser power and a 20-PSI air assist, lengthwise cuts were made between groups of conductors at a line speed of 500 inches per minute. The resulting cut edge is exceptionally smooth with no dross or discoloration present.

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