Building custom cable assemblies and wire harnesses often involve a massive amount of design and engineering. Our team of in-house engineers have spent years perfecting the design and makeup of our cable solutions and are all experts in the field. Over the past several decades, we have developed thousands of custom cable solutions for nearly every industry in the books.
With a wealth of engineering know-how at our disposal, we’ve assembled this guide to serve as a resource for technical engineers. Get ready to plug in as we explore the ins and outs of wire harnesses and cable assemblies.
From The Wire Out Building Custom Cable Assemblies
We begin our guide by briefly discussing the steps necessary to create custom cable assemblies. At the heart of each high-capacity cable is the conductor. In order to make the metallic components that become the conductors, molten metal is pulled into extremely thin lengths of wire. This process takes a lump of metal in strands or organized wires that can then be shaped to form conductive cable components.
Getting to the Heart: Conductors and Standing
Depending on the intended application of the cable assembly, the conductor size can be customized to suit the transfer and power requirements. Also, this stage of production is where we would add stranding if it is a part of the design for the cable. As stranded conductors can help the sustainability of data transfer, this is an important step in the design of each cable.
By designing and creating the cables from scratch, we have our hands on every step of the process to create completely customizable cables. The options for designing your cables include the following:
- Custom conductor size
- Custom stranding size
- Unique conductor color options
- Choice of insulation components
- Filler material options
- Shielding and wrapping selections
- Choice of jacket material
Once the conductors have been construed, they are capable of transferring data and power. However, without the other components, these are just naked wires at this stage. Adding insulation is the next crucial step in production.
Insulation in a cable is designed to be a two-fold purpose in protecting the all-important conductor. Acting as a barrier for the conductors, the insulation also serves to hold in the flow of electronic pulses that run through the cable. Essentially, the insulation keeps the electricity where it is supposed to be and allows the cable to work efficiently.
With the options for insulation materials all having slightly differing benefits, working with our in-house design engineers can help ensure that your cables are optimized for the application you intend for which you need them. As you design your cable, adding in the right insulation is a key element to the success of your cable solution.
Once the insulation is selected, choose the filler to give the cable a uniform shape. While the filler does not necessarily serve the same purpose as insulation, it will help keep the cable protected from outside elements.
Each filler can have unique characteristics in addition to giving the cable a uniform shape. Depending on the precise purpose of your cable assembly, you may choose to implement a particular filler. Our engineering team will help you select the ideal options for filler in the design process.
The options for filler materials include:
Protecting Data with Shielding
Shielding your cables is an optional choice during the design process. While not all custom cable assemblies require shielding, it can be a useful asset in a wide array of applications. Shielding within a cable acts as an additional barrier from outside electromagnetic interference (EMI), which can corrupt or destroy the data that is being transferred. This is a particular problem in electronically noisy environments, such as server rooms, communications floors, and industrial switchboards.
Adding the protective layer of shielding blocks the EMI from reaching the conductors within a cable and keeps your data safe from interference. In areas that deal with highly sensitive data, like the medical field, military, or telecommunications, protecting your cables is likely a high priority for your line of work. With shielding as a part of your cable solution, you are doing all that you can to keep your data safe and secure.
Every cable that Meridian Cable produces undergoes a stringent quality testing process to ensure functionality and efficiency. Particularly with our shielded cables, this process helps ensure that they are well-protected and suitable for industrial use.
Topping it Off with a Jacket
The final stage of a custom cable assembly is adding the jacket to the cable. The jacket is the outermost layer of protection that wraps the cable up clean and tidy. There are several options for jacket materials, such as nylon, rubber, PVC, and more. The design team can aid you in selecting the one that will best work for your industry.
After your jacket is added, the individual cable is complete and ready to be added to the assembly.
Building Custom Wire Harnesses
From the design phase to completion, creating a custom wire harness is a complex process. While wire harnesses are seen in nearly every industry in some capacity, the process of building them takes particular skill and ultra-precise engineering. The most exacting detail is crucial when designing and building custom wire harnesses, and if something is awry, it could render the wiring ineffective or even dangerous.
With our in-house engineering team, Meridian has become a world leader in creating successful wire harnesses for industries all over the world. We pay attention to the tiniest details and perform rigorous testing for every step of the production process.
In the most simple explanation, a wire harness is a system of collected wires to serve to connect multiple components together. They will typically have a complex array of sub-assemblies to transfer data, power, and/or signals between instruments. This collection of wires, connectors, and terminators requires incredibly detailed design and execution. Luckily, the engineers at Meridian have the prowess and skills to create even the most complicated wire harnesses.
Components of Custom Wire Harnesses
A range of elements is used to complete each custom wire harness. We build each aspect to be optimal for your industry needs. As our engineering design team works with you to build a custom wire harness, they can help you compile the precise components you need for your wiring solution.
Though each custom wire harness will be unique, they should all contain some form of the following components:
- Strain relief
Unlike cables, each wire will only contain a single strand or bundle of strands that form the sole conductor. Typically, a wire conductor will be made of copper or aluminum. Each wire is intended to be a direct link between systems within a wire harness.
The conductors can be exposed or coated, but they will not have shielding, filler, or insulation. This allows wires to maintain a smaller size and form more connections than a cable assembly. Conductors in wire assemblies will also have loads of options for custom color, material, stranding, and conductor size.
At the end of each wire, the connectors allow the joining of the wire to the port on the equipment. While these connectors can be made from plastic, they can also be 3D printed from resin. These are designed to match the ports of your equipment and form a tight connection. The connectors house the end of the wire and the metal terminal that is inserted into the port.
The terminal at the end of each wire is a metallic component meant to be inserted into the port. This tiny piece of metal is the bridge between the wire and port and is what enables the connection to be established. Without the terminals in a wire harness, the system would fail to have a consistent connection.
A fuse within a wire harness is designed to retrain the electricity to the appropriate levels. The function of fuse is an essential component as it protects the wiring and the equipment from taking the brunt of an electronic pulse. These fuses protect the equipment from surges that could overload and cause damage.
Bringing it all together, the ties on a wire harness are designed to organize the mess of wires into a streamlined form. These ties are usually adjustable to allow for unique arrangements and can be moved up and down the wire harness as needed.
Strain relief is typically added outside a connector as an additional safety measure. This works to offset potentially hazardous surges and protect the wires. Not all wire harnesses will have these, but they are necessary for many situations.
Connect With Our Team
Here at Meridian, we have the engineering insight and skills to manufacture any wire harness and cable assembly you need. Our team will guide you through every step of the process. Contact our team to get started on your project.