As one of the leading manufacturers of custom cable assemblies and custom wire harnesses, Meridian Cable offers expert custom cable extrusions. Unlike other manufacturers, Meridian extrudes all its wires and conductors in-house.
By building custom cable assemblies from the cable extrusion out, we are able to offer completely customizable cable assemblies and wire harnesses.
How Custom Extruded Cables are Made
Extruding the metal conductors, plastic, and other materials used to make custom cables is a relatively simple concept. Though it takes a good deal of time and effort, the mechanical functions involved in extruding cables can be boiled down to a few easy steps.
We start with a molten substance, like copper or another metallic material, and begin forcing it through a funnel-line machine to create its shape. The process is similar to how pasta starts as an unformed mass of raw dough and is pressed through a mold to form the pasta shape.
Once put through the wire extruder, the molten metal transforms into a long tube called a wire rod.
The wire rod is the base of nearly every custom cable extrusion that we build. Though the process from molten material to custom cable extrusion takes monumental effort, we offer some of the fastest production times for custom cable assemblies. Once the wire rod is complete, it can be drawn or pulled into a smaller size. We will create the custom conductor size for your cables depending on the individual project or requirements.
The process is used in nearly every cable that is produced around the world. Cable extrusion is used in everything from the cable that powers your laptop computer to the HDMI cable connecting your television to your streaming device. Though commonly used, extruded cables can offer a wide range of diverse applications. Meridian Cable can build custom extruded cables with single or multiple conductors depending on the complexity of the cable’s function.
Single Conductor Extruded Cables
In its simplest form, an extruded cable will have only a single conductor. These cables offer great flexibility as they only have a singular wire conductor in the center. Once insulated and jacketed, single conductor extruded cables are typically pretty compact in size. These simple cables offer excellent support for low-voltage functions.
Alternatively, single conductor extruded cables can be coiled with other single conductor cables and used to form more complex cable harnesses. In such cable assemblies, choosing a different color for the individual cable jackets would help keep everything organized. During the creation process with our on-site engineers, you can select a variety of colors to ensure every cable is connected correctly.
Single conductor wires have many benefits. First of all, a single conductor cable will be less bulky than one with multiple conductors. The flexibility of a cable is based on its diameter. So the smaller the diameter of a cable, the more flexible it will be. Because the solo conductor takes up less room, it also adds greater flexibility. This compact nature allows single conductor extruded cables to have a tight minimum bend radius.
While single conductor extruded cables offer great flexibility, they will typically only have a single layer of insulation. Unfortunately, a single layer of insulation can limit the use of these wires. The single insulation layer can leave these cables somewhat vulnerable to electromagnetic interference (EMI). The danger of EMI is that it can tarnish or destroy data that is being transferred, especially in electronically noisy environments like a busy data centers or industrial control facilities.
If you do have a mainly electronically noisy environment like a server room or industrial switchboard, Meridian’s shielded cable assemblies will help protect your data.
Multiple Conductor Extruded Cables
As opposed to single conductor extruded cables, multi-conductor cables have more than one extruded conductor in a single cable. These cables offer much more versatility in their uses and applications. Because they are used for more complex functions, multi-conductor extruded cables require more outer components than a single conductor wire. For example, a multi-conductor cable will need additional shielding and outer jackets to help protect the conductors.
While having multiple conductors in a single cable does add some bulk to the finished product, it vastly increases the cable’s utility. Multi-conductor extruded cables are often used in highly complex and electronically noisy applications. They can be found in nearly every industry from the medical field to telecommunications.
Meridian Cable will help you design and manufacture the perfect multi-conductor custom extruded cable assembly. We design our cables to the highest standards and follow strict guidelines to adhere to international standards.
Creating Custom Extruded Cables
No matter what project you have in mind, our team of in-house cable engineers will work with you to design the perfect custom cable solutions for you. Building a cable assembly has several benefits, not least of which is the ability to get precisely what you need. Additionally, a custom cable assembly organizes a series of cables into one easily managed unit of wires. This allows your cable assembly to perform several different functions simultaneously, such as power supply, data transfer, and signal connection. As many connectors require differing voltages or functionality, having multiple options in cable assembly ensures that you have the proper cable for each connector.
Another benefit of designing a custom extruded cable assembly is that your exact requirements can be met. We are able to completely customize each and every aspect of the design of your extruded cables, from the size of the conductors to the outer jacket material. There are over 5,000 possibilities for custom cable solutions that we can create.
In order to create a custom extruded cable, our team will walk you through the following options and steps:
- Choose the conductor size: Creating custom extruded cables starts with the little things. Depending on the equipment you are using and the function of your wire, you will need the appropriate conductor size. The right size conductor will mainly depend on what you need out of your extruded cables. If your conductor is too small, it may not be able to provide enough electric current to its connectors.
You can select from a wide range of conductor sizes, from as large as 12 gauge to as small as 34 gauge. You also have the option to have a single conductor or a multi-conductor cable.
- Choose your conductor color: Adding varying shades to your cables can help keep everything organized and properly connected. With over 25 colors available for conductor colors, you have an incredible range of organizational options.
You can also add dashes, stripes, or custom labels and wording. These options help eliminate the possibility of misconnections or potentially damaging your equipment from a connection error.
- Select stranding size: Stranding refers to the smallest piece of copper in each conductor. For residential wiring this is usually one piece of copper, but for custom extruded cable usually multiple strands are used to make one conductor. Using multiple strands, especially ones smaller in diameter, make the conductor more flexible and helps the conductor survive bending much better than a single piece of copper.
- Add insulation: Once the stranding size, or guage, is selected, you will need to add insulation. The insulation is a vital component of an extruded cable that serves in multiple ways. First, the insulation works to help protect the conductors from outside elements. Though it is not designed to be the ultimate defense against heat and moisture, the insulation does add a layer of protection for the conductors.
The second function of the insulation is to keep the electricity flowing correctly through the cable. Proper insulation keeps adjacent wires from shorting, or touching each other. This makes sure that the conductor does what it was designed to do, whether carrying a signal or transmitting power. While the insulation is not a conductor itself, it does aid in keeping the electric pulses from getting out of the cable.
Insulation can be made from different materials, including natural rubber, PVC, Teflon, PE, or PP. Your choice of material may change depending on what equipment or purpose you intend for your custom extruded cable.
- Add filler: After adding the insulation, the next step is to choose your filler. Filler helps to give the cable a uniform shape. Without a uniform shape the cable will have bumps or convolutions along its path. You can choose from natural fillers like cotton or fleece or select a synthetic filler like nylon, kevlar, and PVC. After the filler is added, your custom extruded cable is nearly finished.
- Add shielding and wrapping: As discussed earlier, shielding helps protect the cables from EMI and is a crucial component for cables in technologically hefty environments. With complex equipment like those used in the medical field or telecommunications, shielding and wrapping your cables is necessary. Wrapping and shielding your custom extruded cables helps keep your data and equipment safe from EMI and other dangers.
- Add the Jacket: The final step is adding the jacket material, and your cable is complete. The jacket is the last layer of protection for the custom extruded cable.
Contact our Team to Get Started
Here at Meridian Cable, we are all about customization. We will work with you through every step of the process to build your own custom extruded cable solutions. Contact our team to get the process started today.