The name “Kapton” comes from the polyimide film that was first developed by the company Du Pont for applications where a thin, flexible housing for heating circuits is necessary. A Kapton heater has the capacity to operate at extremely low and extremely high temperatures. Even though they are flexible, they have incredible tensile strength and durability.
During manufacturing, a pattern is etched into the thin foil to help spread heat across a surface. This very thin film or foil can be created using materials like copper, kanthal and constantan.
Another unique feature of Kapton heaters is that they are able to endure radiation and resist harsh chemicals, making them well suited to industrial applications. Polyimide film can have holes cut in it to fit around other electrical components and special heat sensors can even be bonded to the film’s surface. Thermostats, thermal fuses and specialty wiring harnesses can all be added to Kapton heaters.
Applications of this innovative technology include LCD displays, analytic test equipment, military equipment, and medical diagnostic instruments.
Kapton heaters can be manufactured with a variety of custom options that may be useful in some industrial or commercial electronic applications. Heaters can be made for low voltage heating situations or multiple heating zones where different Wattages are needed in different areas of the film. Adhesive tape can be added to make installation with other components easier, and aluminum foil can be used as a backing to improve heat distribution.
Most manufacturers are able to consult with a company when developing Kapton heaters and then determine which extra features will be added before making a functional prototype. Electronics like ATM machines or laptops that might need to function in cold weather almost always have an integrated Kapton heater to keep all of the other parts at a functional temperature. Even critical aircraft electronics are protected by these special heaters so that the aircraft’s electronic systems are not compromised in harsh conditions.