Thermal Strap FAQ's

 

[fa icon="plus-square"] 1) 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 requirements (and concerns), range of motion, environmental conditions, material mismatch, and also your budget, (among many others). 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 .10 - $10/unit solution (as is the case in many consumer electronics, automotive and LED/lighting applications), then 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 below 90K, our OFHC cu straps are best, as they provide exponentially greater thermal performance than any aluminum, graphite or carbon strap.

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 composite and PGS straps also have their limitations. While they may have superior flexibility to graphite rope and metallic foil straps on 2 of 3 axis, they are not flexible whatsoever on the lateral/horizontal (Y) axis, and can tear or be damaged easily. However, our copper rope straps (unless very short, and "double row"), are far more flexible, and on each axis, than any strap available. Stiffness data of our strap products is available upon request.

Mass: Graphite/Carbon/Graphene Composite 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.

[fa icon="plus-square"] 2) Do You Outsource Your Straps?

TAI does not outsource design or assembly of our straps to any company or 3rd party. All of our strap products are designed, assembled, 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.

[fa icon="plus-square"] 3) 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 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.

Not only does TAI have the actual facilities and staff required to provide high volumes of straps, but we also welcome visits from our customer's Engineering, Quality and Supplier Management groups.

[fa icon="plus-square"] 4) 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. These straps are nothing like metallic foil straps, brazed/welded rope straps (often made in Europe), or the stiff and highly-brittle annealed pyrolytic graphite "thermal straps" offered by some companies; they are far more durable, flexible and affordable.

All  graphite straps are handmade, by highly-skilled technicians that each have over 5 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 years of copper thermal strap fabrication and test experience.

[fa icon="plus-square"] 5) What Materials Are Used?
All of our copper thermal strap models and products are made using only OFHC cu (C10100). We do not use solder or brazing of any kind. Our Graphite / Carbon Fiber Composite Thermal Straps are made using only NASA-approved, low-outgassing materials (our GraFlex™ graphite bundles, aluminum 6061 or carbon fiber composite end fittings, and our Condux™ epoxy). PGSTS products are made using only graphite sheets, epoxy, and low-outgassing fittings, while GCSTS products use 97% graphene composite sheets, in addition to fittings.
[fa icon="plus-square"] 6) 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)
[fa icon="plus-square"] 7) Do Your Straps Have Flight Heritage?

TAI's graphite fiber thermal straps have flight heritage in several programs including ORION and ASTRO-H, in addition to several programs which are scheduled to launch in 2016/2017 and beyond (GRACE-FO, SPICE, CST-100, EnMAP, GPS III, etc.)

Our copper straps have flight heritage on the OSIRIS-REx mission, in addition to a large range of programs all scheduled for launch in late 2016, and 2017 (DSAC, GOES-R, GOES-S, GRACE-FO, METEOSAT-EUMETSAT).

[fa icon="plus-square"] 8) 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.

Visit our SOW and Spec page to learn more.

[fa icon="plus-square"] 9) 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.

[fa icon="plus-square"] 10) 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, boxed and shipped in accordance with customer's SOW.

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[fa icon="plus-square"] 11) How Does The Ordering Process Work?

Most copper strap programs are fairly straight forward: call up and place your order. However, for CuTS Space Flight, custom CuTS, and all GFTS programs, the process is a bit more in-depth. 

Once you send us the RFQ, our team will work with you to find ways to reduce costs and/or eliminate any requirements that may increase costs (and may not be necessary). This phase usually takes 1 - 5 business days.

Most programs submit PO's via their procurement departments. TAI typically uses Net 30 billing terms. However, for smaller programs, we also accept credit card and NASA p-card payments as well (and in some, smaller international programs, we may require payment or retainer via credit card or wire transfer, prior to shipping your hardware).

[fa icon="plus-square"] 12) What Are Your Typical Lead Times?

This depends on the program and strap type ordered.  

CuTS™ Standard Models - 4 to 5 weeks for most smaller orders (Q= 1 - 10). Expedited lead times available on most orders.

CuTS™ Custom Straps - 5 to 7 weeks for most prototype programs. Please note that mulitple 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 CCTS™ Custom 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.

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