Composite alternative to wiring harnesses

Paul Boughton

A new concept for the protection of wiring assemblies from damage, vibration and environmental impact has been developed by Beru F1 Systems, a highly regarded specialist in high-durability vehicle electrical systems.

Wire in Composite (WiC) completely encloses wiring looms in a bespoke composite sleeve, thereby protecting them from damage. In addition, the technology permits designers to improve packaging by laying wires securely side-by-side as opposed to a traditional bundle.

Conceived for motorsport applications in which wiring harnesses must be mounted as low and flat on a vehicle chassis as possible, WiC is equally suitable for aerospace, marine and other ground vehicle applications. WiC looms can be built to virtually any shape or form, offering the ability to incorporate sharp bend radii without the risk of strain or chafing that would be found in a conventional harness.

“This technology allows us to create a loom that exactly matches the profile of the component to which it is attached,” says managing director John Bailey. “This inherently reduces vibration, reduces package size and the composite sleeve prevents damage by external forces or accidental human interference.”

The concept is highly versatile; different wire gauges can be incorporated in a single composite component. With serviceability equally critical, WiC conveniently retains the option to change the connectors fitted to each end of the harness.

Testing of prototype parts has shown that WiC will easily match the temperature and humidity performance of existing loom technologies. Beru F1 Systems is also trialling components in the harsh F1 engine environment where severe vibration caused by the latest short-stroke, high-revving (over 19,000rpm) V8 engines and high temperatures are experienced. The testing completed to date has also highlighted an added bonus of improved EMC performance thanks to the shielding effects of the carbon fibres.

Beru F1 Systems is investigating other materials - such as Kevlar - that could be used to increase impact or heat resistance. Though not fully yet productionised, Beru F1 Systems believes that the costs could be lower than people expect. “Although we have a higher tooling cost, the assembly process is much simpler than for that of a conventional loom,” continues Bailey. “People will be surprised at how cost-competitive for the weight and durability advantages this solution really is.”

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