Avionics guru Larry Anglisano was at the Aircraft Electronics Association show last week and caught up with DMC Tools for a demo of the LaceLok. It’s a combination of zip ties and conventional lacing methods in a prefabricated form. A trigger tool tightens and then snips the ends of special lacing bundles that use a low-profile buckle to maintain the clamping force. Waxed lace, used for years in aviation, is easier on wire bundles than plastic zip ties, which can eventually wear through the insulation.
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I worked in a USAF job that entailed installing major wire bundles in airplanes. We used wax string; I sill do that on GA airplanes. After a while, you can make those loops w/ slip knot almost one handed in no time at all. Looking at the video, I don’t see any savings of time AND those buckles are sticking up from the bundle AND there’s a string tail hanging out, too. I don’t see this as any great advantage at all. And $650! Won’t be one in my toolbox.
$650 seems a bit steep. Well, more than a bit. A lot more than a bit. Ridiculously more than a bit. Larry S’s method seems more appropriate. (But then again there are folks who buy Phillipe Patek watches for their unborn great great great grandchildren because, ya know, these are meant to be inherited!)
$650 to do lacing cord.
It really looks and operates more like a zip tie than traditional lacing cord. The hand feeding of the free end through the buckle is the hard part. I would be curious if you can lock the buckle without the tool. It appears the tool is more like using a zip tie gun vs pulling a zip tie tight by hand, you get consistent tension on the wrap vs hand tightening. Military and aircraft manufacturers will have no problem dropping $650 for the tool to get consistent tie tensions to meet quality and manufacturing standards with today’s workforce. $35 for 100 ten-inch ties looks to be about 2x a standard width 11″ zip tie and about the same cost as an 11″ wide (.3″) zip tie. A good production quality zip tie gun cost $300-$500. DMC is not a price leader with cheap tools.
I have to agree with Larry on this. I have a spool of the waxed lacing cord that I purchased about 40 years ago, and it still has plenty of cord left on the spool. After watching a couple EAA videos and with a little practice, you can lace up a bundle of wire really fast and make it look like a professional job. To me, the only advantage of this system would be that it might hold the wire bundle a little tighter, assuming that the tool puts enough tension on the lace before it cuts it. With lacing cord it is difficult to pull the cord tight enough to hold the bundle really securely. But then, that’s kind of what Adel clamps are for.
HA! I have two rolls at least 40 years old, John. Only one of ’em is getting to the end. 🙂
DMC makes some fine tools but this looks like a solution in search of a problem. I stopped using zip ties after I found they can saw through a wire bundle with very nasty consequences. They can also break over time and become a FOD hazard. I’m not a fan of waxed cord either because it stretches when pulled tight and can turn the now very thin cord into a knife, squeezing the wire insulation enough to cold flow the current. Much better is a dacron or nomex lacing tape. Neither has the residue the waxed string has, nor do they stretch appreciably. All of the wiring I did for a major manufacturer was with nomex lacing tape because of its fire resistance. Did two spacecraft the same way. It was the only material allowed. Dacron is cheaper, of course, and available through Spruce or other supply houses.
There was a guy at Airventure 2022 hawking a nifty variant of zip ties w/ a rubber like insert to cushion the clamping internal surface of the tie. For tieing to — e.g. an engine mount — it’d be a good alternative although anything made out of plastic should never be used (or expected) to last in areas where heat is an issue. The ability of individual wires to move a bit is desirable when you’re trying to bend and form a bundle. As you say, in exotic conditions, waxed string isn’t what you want. But under normal conditions, it does the job. Ultimately, you’re trying to make a pretty looking harness bundle and then — hopefully — using adel clamps to ensure the security and routing of the wiring. In the end, common sense has to apply. Some A&P’s are pretty good with electrical tape, though 🙂
Just the other day I had to dive under a panel and came back out with blood everywhere. The sharp ends of the zip-ties had sliced my forearm to ribbons. It happens so often that I almost don’t notice anymore. So, even at $650, I am interested if it saves me from exsanguination.
I do have lacing twine and I do use it where I can build a nice wire bundle on the bench. Much of the time I am trying to work in situ and trying to re-lace a bundle in-place is just not going to happen. I would love an alternative to zip ties.
“exsanguination” … I thought you misspieled a word, Brian, but when I looked it up, you used it correctly. I love it when I learn a new word in addition to learning aviation stuff, too. I’ve never ever heard that word.