THERMAL STRAP FAQ
Which Thermal Strap Solution is Right for Me?
There are a number of important factors to consider when identifying the right strap, including: operating temperature, mass, stiffness/flexibility, range of motion/deflection, environmental conditions, material mismatch, and other various QA & materials issues. More often than not however, many customers may be limited to certain options based on their available budget and the amount of qualification and reporting required in their prototype and flight model (FM) programs.
In most cases, if you only have the budget for a 0.10 - $10/unit solution (as is the case in many consumer electronics, automotive and LED/lighting applications), a thermal strap is not going to be your best option. If your product's thermal management needs can be met with a much cheaper, lower quality strap or other product, our experts can help guide you in the right direction, free of charge. We are always happy to help—even if that means you cannot use our products.
Operating Temperature/Environment: In most cases, if your operating temperature is < 80K, our OFHC cu straps are best, as they provide exponentially greater thermal performance than aluminum, graphene, and graphite fiber straps. While certain PGS materials offer equivalent material thermal conductance in the 60 - 70K range, the resistance losses associated with these materials, as well as durability issues associated with bending/flexing and thermal expansion/contraction of these delicate sheets at cryogenic operating temperatures, puts them at a disadvantage when compared to OFHC cu cable and foil configurations (CuTS and CuFTS).
Flexibility/Large Scale Movement: While our graphite thermal straps are flexible, they do need to be designed and manufactured into a shape which allows them to bend more easily (similar to metallic foil straps). Graphene and PGS straps also have similar limitations. While they offer superior flexibility to graphite rope and metallic foil straps on 2 of 3 axis, they lack flexibility on the lateral axis, and can be torn or compromised if installed and improperly flexed or mishandled. When a large scale range of motion, deflection on all axes, and durability are all critical requirements, our CuTS products are the best choice. Please note that while we cannot predict stiffness, stiffness data for all of our strap products is available upon request.
Mass: Graphite/Carbon/Graphene Thermal Straps offer the best mass-to-thermal-conductance ratio of any strap product. Our graphite/carbon fiber straps are 1/5 - 1/15 the mass of their metallic counterparts.
Price: There is a significant difference in cost between graphite and copper straps. Graphite/Carbon thermal straps have higher material and assembly costs, and often customers require additional testing/verification. To learn more, contact us today.
To learn more about the various strap materials and configurations (and which may best suit your application), visit our Thermal Straps page.
Do You Outsource Your Straps?
TAI does not outsource design or assembly of our straps to any company or 3rd party—setting our straps apart in the industry. All of our strap products are designed, assembled, and go through extensive finishing, cleaning, and testing processes (and multiple quality inspections throughout), right here at our facility—by our experts. This ensures our customers get only the highest quality thermal strap product on the market.
At TAI, we don't just claim to make our own straps; we actually do it (and we can steer you clear of "suppliers" who simply repackage straps from low quality, inexperienced machine shops in the US and overseas). Further, we invite your Engineering, Quality, and Supplier Management teams to visit our facility and meet our staff, to ensure your straps are made by experts; not outsourced and repackaged in a basement, garage, or third party warehouse.
If we cannot manufacture or do not offer a particular strap type (i.e., aluminum foil / 5N aluminum foil straps), we are happy to recommend a reputable supplier such as Space Dynamics Laboratory).
What Are Your Production Capabilities?
Many of our customers require hundreds or even thousands / tens of thousands of units per order, and we routinely fill orders for hundreds or thousands of straps at a time. TAI has the trained production staff, facilities, and equipment to ensure your order can be designed, assembled, cleaned, tested and shipped in just weeks or months--whether you need only a few, or a few thousand units.
What Is Your Manufacturing Process?
All copper straps are assembled by hand, and made using our unique (proprietary), cold press process (also referred to as a cold-weld). This process, while time-consuming, ensures the highest quality strap, and maximizes flexibility.
CuTS® are nothing like the (outsourced) welded or crimped foil or rope straps advertised elsewhere, nor are they like the highly-brittle (and stiff) annealed pyrolytic graphite "thermal straps" used in the past; they are far more durable, flexible and affordable.
All graphite and graphene straps are made by hand, by highly-skilled technicians that have a combined total of 25 years of experience assembling our thermal strap products. All CuTS® products are assembled, undergo thorough, complex, finishing, cleaning and (often) testing processes, by technicians with several years of copper thermal strap fabrication and test experience.
By having a dedicated team of assembly and test technicians, our products are guaranteed to be the most affordable and highest quality products on the market, and all straps come with our exclusive one year warranty (which is unique in the industry).
What Materials Are Used?
All of our copper thermal strap models and products are made using only OFHC cu (C10100). We do not braze or weld, and we never use solder, binders, or any other material of any kind. Our Graphite and Graphene Thermal Straps are made using only NASA-approved, low-outgassing materials (graphite, graphene, carbon fiber composite, and/or aluminum).
Can You Predict Flexibility?
All of our straps are optimized to reduce stiffness and increase flexibility as much as possible. While it is impossible to accurately project flexibility of any thermal strap (as it is dependent-upon factors including: number of ropes, number of rows, diameter and weave type of the cu rope, and the strap's final installation configuration), we can provide you with stiffness data from previous programs, in order to provide you with a general sense of the typical strap stiffness (in N/mm).
Do Your Straps Have Spaceflight Heritage?
TAI's graphite fiber thermal straps have spaceflight heritage in several programs including ORION and ASTRO-H, in addition to several programs with the US Department of Defense, and many which are scheduled to launch in 2018-2020 and beyond (GRACE-FO, SORA, CST-100, EnMAP, GPS III, etc.)
Our copper straps have flight heritage on the OSIRIS-REx mission, as well as GOES-R, GOES-S, in addition to others for the US Department of Defense. Several programs are also scheduled for launch in late 2018 - 2010 (DSAC, GRACE-FO, SORA, LUNAR ICEcube, METEOSAT-EUMETSAT, and many more).
To learn more about our spaceflight heritage and qualification of each of our products, visit the following pages:
Can You Help Me Draft My SOW / Spec?
Yes. We provide sample SOW's and Specs for our customers, to help you sort through which information is needed, and which requirements can or should be left out in order to reduce costs to your program.
How Does The Inquiry Process Work?
Once you have provided our engineers with a thermal strap questionnaire (and any pictures you have of your interfaces and the available geometric envelope, complete with "keep-in" / "keep-out" zones), our experts can provide you with: assessments, projections on performance, cost, lead time, and notional designs—typically within just 1-2 business days.
Once your team is comfortable with the notional design and projections (and has sent us an official RFQ), our Program Manager, Production Manager and Business Manager will begin work on your quote.
What Are The Typical Phases Of A Program?
Once you've settled on your final RFQ (and we've updated our proposal accordingly; if necessary), and an order is placed, your program begins:
Design - Within 1 week ARO, or less (for copper), or 1-2 weeks (for graphite programs), you will be provided with final drawings, which will need to be approved prior to strap fabrication. Please note that quoted lead times are based on the date you provide drawing approval. That is to say a 6 week lead time means that your straps will be shipped 6 weeks from the day you provide drawing approval.
Assembly - Material Procurement (if needed), assembly of straps
Cleaning - All copper straps ultrasonically cleaned
Testing - Thermal Conductance testing performed. *Stiffness, Shock, Vibe, Thermal Cycling, Tensile Strength and other testing available upon request.
Cleaning - Final Round
Shipping - Straps are prepared, bagged, boxed and shipped in accordance with customer's SOW.
What Are Your Typical Lead Times?
This depends on the program and strap type ordered.
CuTS® Standard Models - 5 - 6 weeks for most smaller orders (Q = 1 - 10). Expedited lead times available on most orders.
CuTS® Custom Straps - 7-8 weeks for most prototype programs. Please note that multiple designs and additional testing (stiffness, shock, vibe, thermal cycling, etc.), may increase the lead time by 1 to 3 weeks). Flight Model (FM) programs: 3 to 5 weeks (depending on quantity). Expedited lead times are limited, please ask our Director of Business Development for further details, as early as possible in the inquiry process.
GFTS® and PGL™/GTL™ Straps - 6 to 9 weeks for most prototype programs (depending on number of designs, quantity, QA, testing and reporting requirements). Additional testing, extensive QA and reporting requirements may increase this to as much as 8 to 12 weeks. Flight programs: 3 - 6 weeks (depending on quantity). Expedited lead times are available on most orders.
*Please note that Production Level Orders (Q = 100 - 10,000+), may require a minimum lead time of 10 weeks, and staggered deliveries. Please contact us as early as possible to discuss delivery and fabrication schedules if your order exceeds 1,000 units.
**Lead times for orders placed February - May, and September - October may require an additional 1 to 2 weeks, due to the government-funded procurement rushes from national labs and aerospace organizations during these times.
Do You Accept Credit Cards / P-Cards?
Yes. TAI uses PayPal for any customer wishing to pay via a credit card. Payment is considered the official PO.