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Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2014/202928
Kind Code:
A new type of polymeric tubular control cable liner formed by extrusion whereby transverse lubricant retention cavities A project outwardly from its internal bearing surface with a force transmitting core and which thereby facilitate improved lubrication and a reduction in sliding resistance.

PILECI, Antonio Fernando (8 Quiney's Leys, Welford on Avon, Warwickshire CV37 8PU, GB)
Application Number:
Publication Date:
December 24, 2014
Filing Date:
June 11, 2014
Export Citation:
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PILECI, Antonio Fernando (8 Quiney's Leys, Welford on Avon, Warwickshire CV37 8PU, GB)
International Classes:
F16C1/24; F16C1/10; F16C1/26
Foreign References:
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Title : A Polymeric Tubular Control Cable Liner Manufactured By Extrusion And Incorporating Transverse Internal Lubricant Retention Cavities

Filing date : 18 June 2013

Application no. : 1310846.9

What is claimed

1 (main claim) - A control cable liner comprising:

A polymeric control cable liner whose internal surface encloses and bears against a core, said core transmits a force along a predetermined path, said liner having a plurality of substantially transverse cavities projecting outwardly from its internal bearing surface

2 (subordinate claim) A control cable liner according to claim 1 that is generally tubular in structure.

3 (subordinate claim) - A control cable liner according to claim 1 wherein the plurality of substantially transverse lubricant cavities are located at largely regularly spaced intervals.

4 (subordinate claim) A control cable liner according to claim 1 wherein the plurality of substantially transverse lubricant cavities are located at largely irregularly spaced intervals.


The term 'control cable' (or push/pull cable) refers to a method of attachment or active connection between two separate parts of an operating system whereby a movement at one end of the control cable will produce a reciprocal or complementary movement at its opposing end. Thus by virtue of this active connection the attached ends of the operating system are able to move in unison. The two parts of the operating system may not be in close proximity to one another or in the same horizontal or vertical plane and in such circumstances a flexible control cable may be preferred.

Flexible control cables are employed in many mechanical systems where a rigid link would be impractical. The range of applications is extensive but the world-wide automotive industry is arguably the largest and most important market for such components where, for example, they may be used as part of the actuating mechanism in door, bonnet, boot, accelerator, clutch and gear operating systems. The duty specification for such control cables varies according to the magnitude of the force applied during actuation of the mechanism and the frequency of its application. So, for example, a bonnet or boot mechanism may be subject to low forces applied infrequently and consequently the duty specification for the flexible control cable is less exacting. Clutch and gear cables on the other hand, may be subject to high load and high frequency operation and under such conditions a much higher specification control cable is required. Typically, the composite cable consists of a stranded wire inner core (illustrated at B in Figure 1) which is able to slide within the cable in response to an applied force. Several static layers facilitate the sliding motion of the inner core or actuator. A polymeric liner (illustrated at A in Figure 1) is designed to minimize friction and promote smooth operation of the actuating cable. The anti-friction liner is overlaid with thin metal spiral windings (illustrated at C in Figure 1) that permit a smooth change in the vertical or horizontal plane of the cable around obstructions without distorting the liner and thereby restricting the sliding motion of the inner core. Clutch and gear control cables have an additional wire reinforcement layer (illustrated at D in Figure 1) designed to maintain cable integrity under the higher loads that are typical for these applications. Finally, an outer covering of polymeric material (illustrated at E in Figure 1) protects the cable from potential long-term damage that can occur as a result of any hostile environmental conditions in the immediate vicinity of the cable.

This specification is concerned primarily with the polymeric anti-friction liner shown at A in Figure 1. Such materials are manufactured in a separate extrusion process and incorporated into the control cable in an integrated assembly procedure.

All control cable liners in current use have a tubular cross-section. Most of these liners also have surfaces that are as smooth as materials and manufacturing systems will permit, particularly the internal surface where it is important to minimize sliding resistance between the liner itself and the stranded wire actuating cable. Dimensional stability to a precise tolerance is another important consideration such that there is minimal free space between the outer surface of the stranded wire actuating cable and the inner surface of the cable liner.

The requirement to minimize sliding resistance throughout the service life of a cable liner and to maximize durability are important considerations in determining the type of raw material that may be used for fabrication. Perhaps the most common materials in commercial use include polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE), polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), polypropylene (PP), high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and acetal (POM). However, in considering the physical properties of such materials, particularly sliding resistance, durability and dimensional stability of extruded profiles, it is clear that each of these materials is more effective in one area of performance and less effective in another.

In terms of durability, attrition between the polymeric liner and the stranded metal actuating cable leads to wear at the internal surface of the liner producing an accumulation of finely divided polymer particulates which, over time, agglomerate into a paste in combination with the grease coating the surface of the actuating cable. The binding together of polymer and grease leads to a progressive loss in lubricity and, thereby, an increase in sliding resistance between the liner and the stranded metal actuating cable, impeding its smooth operation.

Alternative cable liner systems have been introduced and these address the problems of durability and dimensional stability in specific applications, for example, vehicle accelerator cables. One such system, designated a self-lubricating cable liner, is described in Patent Application number GB 0018830.0 wherein a silicone oil is coupled to an engineering polymer during compounding and the resulting material has both increased durability and dimensional stability. However, these gains in performance are balanced by a marginal reduction in the coefficient of friction of the material when compared, for example, to PTFE cable liners. Nevertheless, the previously described system has been successfully used in volume vehicle manufacture for a number of years.

The need to improve liner performance has led various workers in the field to investigate changes to the cross-section of the liner profile. For example, longitudinal ribs have been incorporated along the internal liner surface as described in US Patent 20090193926. The aim in this case is to reduce the surface area of the liner in contact with the actuating cable and thereby reduce the effect of friction. In performance trials this type of system has been shown to be unsuitable for long term use and, more importantly, inferior to existing designs. The longitudinal internal ribs were found to exacerbate liner wear, thereby increasing the free space between actuating cable and liner, notably at the positions where the flexible control cable is routed around obstructions such as engine or gearbox components.

During the control cable assembly operation a lubricant is introduced throughout the interface between the polymeric liner and the actuating core that promotes its smooth reciprocating movement. In-service, however, the repeated reciprocation of the core leads to a tendency for the lubricant to migrate progressively to the extreme ends of the control cable leading to a loss of cable lubricity and a consequent reduction in its service life.

I have discovered that it is possible to significantly improve the performance and service life of all types of extruded cable liner by means of transverse lubricant retention cavities formed at predetermined intervals on the internal surface of a polymeric tubular extrudate such that a non-linear wall thickness is produced. A tubular extrudate formed in such a manner has an internal surface that is laterally ridged when viewed in longitudinal cross-section (A in Figure 2) whilst its external surface is smooth and of constant diameter. The cavities are preferably formed at 90° to the longitudinal direction of the tubular extrudate and at the optimum frequency required to minimize sliding resistance within the control cable. All such frequencies of transverse cavity and their angles to the longitudinal direction are within the scope of this specification. Although lubricant and contaminant retention is the primary purpose of the cavities their formation produces a consequent decrease in the area of internal liner surface in contact with the actuating cable and, thereby, friction, or more accurately sliding resistance when referring to control cables, is reduced.

Where required a second polymeric material may be co-extruded onto the external surface of the liner thereby forming a strong composite system. The co-extruded layer may be flexible where, for example, the application calls for anti-vibration characteristics, as may be required for the door or window of a vehicle. Alternatively, an outer layer of a rigid or semi-rigid polymer will provide a higher level of resistance to compression of the control cable.

Standard extrusion equipment and techniques do not facilitate the fabrication of transverse ribs in a cable liner profile and consequently an unorthodox method of processing must be employed involving the development of a specially designed extrusion die-head.

The die-head illustrated in Figure 3 is a swan-neck design whereby the primary polymer feed (A) from the extruder screw enters the swan-neck (B) and is then channelled in an indirect flow path into the main cavity within the body of the head. A flow control shaft (C) is located centrally within the body of the extrusion head and by virtue of its reciprocating motion the polymer flow is regularly restricted at a frequency determined by the number of internal cavities per linear metre that are required in the extruded liner. The reciprocating motion is facilitated by an electric motor and gearbox (D) that rotates a cam wheel (E) the lobes of which connect with the end of the flow control shaft. A return spring (F) ensures that the flow control shaft is in constant contact with the lobes of the cam. The extrusion die face is illustrated at G in Figure 3 and is also shown in an enlarged view together with the flow control system (H). The reciprocating action of the flow control shaft produces a variation in the material supplied to the extrusion die the extent of which is determined by the depth and shape of the lobes on the drive cam. The frequency of the variation in polymer flow is controlled by the rotation speed of the electric motor and gearbox assembly.

If the contact faces of the drive cam and the flow control shaft are in alignment then the flow control shaft will be static in that it will have no tendency to rotate. The lack of rotation produces an unequal distribution of polymer melt as it feeds in and around the die face and will tend to produce internal cavities within the tubular profile that are not of consistent depth and thickness. To counteract this effect the contact face of the flow control shaft is at a slight angle to the contact face of the drive cam (A in Figure 4) and this causes the flow control shaft to slowly rotate (the speed of rotation is determined by the rotational speed of the drive cam and the contact angle between the two faces). Rotation of the flow control shaft results in an advantageous reordering of the polymer melt so that a more equable distribution of the material is achieved at all points around the extrusion die thereby allowing internal cavities of consistent depth and thickness to form transversely around the internal surface of the tubular profile.

The culmination of the process described is a regular variation in the wall thickness of the profile being fabricated resulting in transverse undulations or cavities on its internal surface when viewed in longitudinal cross-section (A in Figure 2). When required a secondary but sequential process may be employed (as noted earlier) whereby a further coating of a different polymer may be overlaid or co-extruded onto the primary polymer of the control cable liner. The point on the extrusion die-head at which this second polymeric material is introduced is shown at G in Figure 3. Such secondary extrusion processing is employed where end-user specifications require particular characteristics, for example anti-vibration properties.

For some control cable applications the specification may call for the internal surface of the liner to be pre-coated with a grease or oil. For this purpose the die-head shown in Figure 3 has an additional inlet (illustrated at H) whereby additives may be injected under pressure coating the internal surface of the extrudate profile during its fabrication.

The wall thickness of the profile and frequency of transverse ribs may be varied according to the particular control cable application. For example, a profile having an internal diameter of 8 millimetres and an external diameter of 1 1 millimetres may have four transverse cavities per linear centimetre but other wall-thicknesses and frequencies of transverse cavity may be found by those skilled in the art and are therefore also within the scope of this specification.

The liner may be fabricated in a variety of polymeric materials according to the specific control cable application. Proprietary materials include:

Example 1 For anti-vibration applications

Inner layer : HDPE - Atochem grade, HD2003 SN53

Outer layer : SBS TPE - Alphagary grade, Evoprene 089

Example 2 For high compressive strength applications

Inner layer : PBT - Ticona Celanex grade, 1600A

Outer layer : PP - Montell grade ; EPD60R