Out of the blue, we received a call from a leading manufacturer of high quality industrial cables. Could we help them to develop a bespoke bedding tape to solve a common problem caused by water damage?

Our ears pricked up.

Underground power lines can often fail in situ due to cuts or breaks in their insulation. Water seeps in and spreads along the cable, leading to costly repair bills and major disruption to the services.
The client needed a fabric within the electrical cables that would help to block water, thereby safeguarding the internal components from damage and eliminating disruption to customers.

The Project

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After their existing supplier failed to meet the desired performance using yarns, we were handed the task of cracking this particular problem. And that’s precisely what we did.

Our talented product designers placed a Do Not Disturb sign on their office door, donned their thinking caps and chewed pencil ends from morning ‘til night. It took a day or two – time was tight, so it was scheduled in – but then, as usual, came the eureka moment.

Excited by the result, our expert production team took the solution and gave it the green light – producing technical high performance fabrics is second nature to them. We’d now delivered the right answer to the demanding specification:

  • Lightweight nonwoven
  • Rapidly absorbs and retains liquid
  • Swells when exposed to moisture
  • Semi-conductive
  • Allows seamless taping
  • Strong and conformable
  • Slits into narrow reels
  • Does not shed particulate
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Solution

We drew up a project plan with key deliverables to ensure each requirement was achieved within a strict timescale.

  • We showed the difference between superabsorbent powder technology (SAP) and superabsorbent fibre technology (SAF) including the implications on cable quality, performance and cost.
  • Based on in house know-how and supported by industry research, we recommended a SAF Bico polyester bedding tape to eliminate shedding and guarantee seamless taping.
  • Prototypes were made and different densities sampled to illustrate the delicate relationship between absorption, retention capacity and rate of swelling.
  • Fabrics were stringently tested in house against validation protocol. Results were presented with a best performing solution and most cost-effective solution.
  • The chosen specification was precisely slit into narrow widths and supplied to the customer for trial manufacture, with us on hand to offer advice on how to achieve maximum effectiveness.

Result

The customer loved our collaborative approach and really appreciated being closely involved at every step of the development process. What stood out for them was the power of our combined knowledge of cable manufacturing. The result was a product that surpassed performance expectations and easily outperformed the alternative solutions on offer.

The new bedding tape featured in the manufacture of an exclusive range of exceptional underground cables, with orders for the new fabric rapidly increasing to commercial supply over a five month period.

Recently, the customer asked us to develop a similar solution for sub-sea cables. With a heavier density fabric, this product will boast increased absorption and retention capacity. We’ve also pioneered a series of super lightweight tapes for use in the fields of fibre optics and telecoms.