Product Announcement from Quabbin Wire & Cable Co., Inc.
Quabbin Wire and Cable products are put through rigorous physical testing to insure the highest quality.
HOW DO I LOOK?
The series of "Physical Tests" are designed to answer that very question. We know the importance of consistency in appearance and take all measures necessary to deliver the exact product being requested.
- Pi Tape - Circumference tape used to measure the overall diameter of jacketed cable over 0.180" with a resolution to 0.010". A micrometer is a very accurate piece of measuring equipment and anyone who's spent some time in a lab probably knows how to use one. Generally speaking it's the tool of choice for accurately measuring the size of small parts. When it comes to measuring a cable though, you can leave it on the shelf. When we measure cables we are primarily interested in overall diameter and since a cable isn't perfectly round, trying to accomplish the task with a micrometer will only leave you frustrated. That's where a PI® Tape comes into play. Sometimes something that may look lower tech may also quite simply be the right tool for the job.
- Video Optical Microscope - Quabbin uses a video optical microscope with a digital readout, resolution to 0.0005" and direct data download capability. What does this do for us? For starters it's a lot easier to view the sample on the computer screen than through the eye pieces of a conventional microscope, but that's just the start. When comparing two samples together samples don't have to be continuously re-mounted on the microscope because the images have been captured on the P.C. This saves time when switching back and forth between samples. Further, the microscope software and the computer take vary accurate measurements which are not only precise but also easily stored in electronic file for future reference. The photos below depict measuring the wall thickness of the primary insulation of a data cable. It's important that the copper conductor be located as close to the center of the insulation as possible giving the insulation wall the same relative thickness all the way around the conductor. The photo shows six blue lines superimposed on the insulation sample. Measurements are found on the left. Since this specimen is from a stranded cable, you will also notice the "flower" pattern of the opening in the center of the insulation. The flower pattern is generated by the individual strands in the copper conductor.
- Xrite® Color Spectrophotometer - A spectrophotometer is used for color matching. The days of trying to eyeball Pantone® Swatches are a thing of the past at Quabbin. Instead we've gone high tech. with the highest level of accuracy available in the market. Consistency and repeatability are critical to a color match. The first step of the process is to standardize the light type. Think about it, samples can be viewed in daylight, incandescent light or fluorescent light and under each lighting scenario the sample can appear to be a slightly different shade. Without controlling the lighting conditions, don't expect to get a repeatable match. The solution to this is a light box (pictured below). A light box provides a controlled environment because it is closed off on all sides with the exception of the viewing/working side. Further, it will provide illumination that can simulate any of the three different lighting types at the push of a button. The next thing you need is a set of samples. As can be seen in the photo, there are several samples of red inside the light box. Some of the samples are cable and some are flat squares of red material called plaques. Plaques are generally used by color concentrate manufacturers who sell their concentrate to more than just cable companies. When we ask for a color sample of their concentrate they don't send us a piece of cable, they send us a plaque. Occasionally, some of our customers may be trying to match our cable to their other components, like a boot or a custom rack, etc. If they have the capability, they may also send us a plaque instead of the actual piece of equipment they're trying to match. In this photo is a set of plaques from the concentrate manufacturer, a set of plaques from our customer and the completed color matched cable, fresh from our plant. In order to test the samples to verify the match, a hand held measuring device is used. (see below) The hand held is positioned over the sample in the light box and a reading is taken. The information is then forwarded to the P.C. where it can be plotted into a four quadrant representation of the color spectrum. The center of the circular graph is the theoretical "bull's eye" and if the reading lands in an outlying quadrant it may or may not be close enough. There is usually a circle in the graph and any points inside the circle are considered a match and those outside are considered too far away from the goal. Depending on the acceptable tolerance the size of the circle or "acceptable range" may vary. The best part about this piece of lab gear is that it can be calibrated to match another similar piece of gear at the customer site if they also have one. This can be done even when the two devices are on opposite sides of the country. Imagine the confidence this creates. With or without the second unit at a customer site, rest assured a spectrophotometer is the best way to match a color and Quabbin has the capability