CRE supply several customers that specialise in the manufacture of one atmosphere manned vehicles for the private, commercial and military markets.
During a dive there could be certain scenarios where the release, from the vehicle, of items such as batteries or manipulators are considered necessary. Historically, this has been achieved using pyrotechnic fasteners and a guillotine that is qualified to cut the cable attached to the assemblies.
The challenge presented to CRE was to develop a unique connector assembly incorporating five primary elements within its design. The design requirements were to:
- Remove the guillotine on the vehicle and the associated cable cut qualification program.
- Incorporate electrical functionality for a variety of cable types used on different vehicles.
- Enable equipment to be disconnected from the vehicle as quickly as possible without the requirement of manually cutting each cable from within the vehicle.
- Be operational at any depth: previous industry designs were suspect to hydraulically locking at certain pressures and could therefore not be, consistently, relied on.
- Be as lightweight an assembly as possible.
CRE designs and manufactures their own metal shell connector range and continually task their experienced team of product designers for new, innovative underwater connectivity solutions. This challenging project provided CRE the opportunity to diversify its product range and use new techniques in connector development.
CRE can utilise various materials across its connector portfolio but the concept that was developed on this occasion utilised Peek in order to satisfy the lightweight requirement of the design criteria. In addition the design involved:
- Two sections, with the quick release functionality contained within the centre of the assembly.
- A male and female connector that differed from the traditional underwater mating design construction: neither connector being designed with a thread or locking sleeve to hold the connectors together when mated.
- The connectors, at full water depth, are pressure balanced with the mated quick release disconnect force based around shear screw ratings as opposed to hydrostatic pressure.
CRE conducted a detailed design review of existing OEM solutions to identify why they were failing to reliably disconnect underwater.
A new custom design was developed enabling CRE to offer a wide range of configurations whilst guaranteeing that the mating components were pressure balanced regardless of depth.
The concept was conceived during a discussion on the scope of supply for a new vehicle and was designed, tested, qualified and incorporated into the vehicle build, without negatively impacting on the customer’s delivery schedule.
CRE unique Quick Release assembly.
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