Category Archives: Wire Harness

Finding Custom Wire Harnesses & Wire Harness Assemblies for Medical Devices

Creating a custom medical wire harness assembly requires a particular level of precision in order to meet the standards of highly sensitive medical equipment. With each medical wire harness assembly that Meridian Cable creates, we pour our years of experience and engineering into creating reliable, durable and flexible cable and wire assemblies. When finding the right manufacturer for medical wire harnesses and assemblies, it is imperative that the wires and cables can be relied on in the most desperate of situations. We make every one of our medical wire harness assemblies to meet the highest standard to ensure quality and dependability. 

What is a Medical Wire Harness Assembly?

A medical wire harness assembly is a conglomerate of many smaller cables gathered into an organized collaboration with the purpose and function of connecting many different ports. While there are many different components that go into the makeup of a medical wire harness assembly, the basic components are the wires themselves, the insulation material, the coating around each cable and the connectors at each end. 

The use of medical wire harnesses is mainly to connect the ultra-sensitive medical equipment to other equipment, monitors, processors and instruments. The wires themselves transfer medical data from the patient, equipment, or instrument to the medical monitors, computers and processors. This information is then translated into medical data used to diagnose a condition, monitor a patient, or gain insight into the workings of the body. 

It is vital that these wires operate correctly as the information they transfer can literally be the difference between life and death. Medical wire harness assemblies can be found attached to nearly every piece of medical equipment in one form or another. They are a crucial component to everything from Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) machines and ultrasound wands, to a heart monitor. Keeping these vital pieces of medical equipment operating smoothly through a dependable medical wire harness assembly is what we are all about. 

Down to the Wire: The Material Components of a Wire Harness Assembly

The components of what make up each Meridian Cable medical wire harness assembly are designed and engineered to meet the highest standard for medical equipment. The cable itself is made up of three main components:

  • The metal conductor 
  • The filler/insulator
  • The outer coating

Each of these elements are vital components to the cable to ensure proper functionality and efficiency. We utilize high quality components to craft every custom medical wire harness assembly. 

The metal used at the center of each cable is typically copper because of its conductor capabilities and its malleability. To make the copper wire, the copper is stretched to be ultra-thin strands and then coiled around every other strand to create a spiral or coil of strands less than 0.05 inches in diameter. These coils are then encased by a filler and insulator. 

The filler that surrounds the copper conductor is designed to not only protect the conductor from heat, but also acts as a buffer to outside the conductor as well. This insulator ensures that the small pulses of electricity flowing through the conductors remain within the conductors. In addition to this protection, the filler give the cable shape throughout the crossbody of the cable. 

Lastly, the outer layer of the cable is designed to protect the cable from elements outside the cable itself. This coating is typically a plastic blend designed to be a waterproof barrier surrounding the whole of the cable. We use a combination of teflon and silicone to create our medical wire harness assemblies to ensure protection from moisture, heat, and breaks. In addition to this protection, using these materials allows us to create a flexible wire to endure the rigorous duress that medical equipment requires. 

Meridian Cable creates each custom medical wire assembly with the highest standard in mind. As we craft our products from quality components, we strive to ensure that each custom medical wire harness assembly meets the most stringent medical requirements.

Applications and Medical Machinery 

An application of a custom medical wire harness assembly can be found in every medical facility across the world. While there are endless possibilities for their use, medical equipment is among the most particularly important applications in which to utilize a wire harness assembly. The data that they transmit is life saving and is vital to the treatment and diagnostics of a patient by medical personnel.  

They are frequently used in the following medical machinery:

  • Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) scanners
  • Bioconnectors
  • Heart monitors
  • Computed Tomography (CT) scanners
  • X ray machines
  • Patient monitoring systems
  • Other medical imaging equipment 
  • Other medical instruments

The list of medical equipment that utilize a wire harness assembly can go on and on and the potential cannot be understated. There are so many ways in which a reliable medical wire harness assembly is crucial to the operation of a medical facility. 

Because it is vital that each wire be correctly functioning, Meridian Cable ensures that our wire harness assemblies will be built to meet the highest of standards. Our team of engineers and designers have the experience of years working to design custom medical wire harness assemblies that can be trusted with the most sensitive medical machinery.

Designing a Custom Medical Wire Harness Assembly

With so many different pieces of equipment and applications for a medical wire harness assembly, having a custom made assembly is an absolute necessity for any medical facility. While there are certainly off-the-shelf options, a custom built medical wire harness assembly ensures that every one of the needs are met with precision and correctness. The quality that we put into all of our products rises to the occasion to meet the highest medical standards and perform with integrity and dependability. 

With all the complexities that can come with a medical wire harness assembly, experience and quality matter most. We use ASO-certified components to make our custom medical wire harness assemblies to ensure both high-caliber and durable products. Meridian Cable works with our customers directly to help create a custom medical wire harness assembly that suits their specific needs for their medical facility and equipment. 

Designed For Dependability 

The necessity of reliable wiring for medical equipment cannot be understated. With the use of technology within the medical sector advancing rapidly and being used so widely, properly functioning medical wire harness assemblies are a crucial component to correct patient monitoring, diagnostics, and treatment. With so much at stake, it is imperative that each wire function correctly and consistently. 

It is frightening to imagine the ramifications of a malfunctioning wire when connected to a heart monitor, MRI machine, defibrillator, or ultrasound wand. A faulty wire could cause a malfunction in any number of medical machinery with drastic results. Unfortunately, there is a lot that could go wrong with medical equipment and so it is essential that the wiring be dependable and made with precision. 

When we craft a custom medical wire harness assembly, we know what is at stake. With the weight of correctly operating medical equipment in mind, we put our cable and wire assemblies through stringent tests and rigorous quality control to ensure that each one meets the highest standard. Our years of experience and expertise has made us a leader in cable manufacturing and we strive to uphold reliable quality you can depend on. 

Working With Our Design Team

With every medical wire harness assembly having unique requirements, we work with you to create a custom designed wire harness to meet your specific needs. Our team will help walk you through every step of the process to make sure that you get exactly what your medical equipment and facility requires. Because each medical wire harness can present its own challenges and requires so much detail, we strive to communicate directly with you in order to provide the best experience possible.

The custom medical wire harness assemblies that we create to meet you specific needs are backed by our tears of experience crafting unique and precise cable assemblies. Custom work is our speciality and we have the expertise to craft a medical wire harness assembly to your satisfaction

We quality test and check each custom product that we create through thorough examination to ensure both the functionality and quality of our work. With every wire harness and cable assembly we make, we utilize quality materials, attention to every detail, and decades of experience to present a trustworthy and dependable product.

Let Meridian Cable Design a Custom Medical Wire Harness Assembly For You 

There is so much that goes into the design and crafting of a medical wire harness assembly that it can be easily overwhelming. Our years of experience has proven that Meridian Cable creates the quality and brings the expertise needed to design reliable medical wire harness assemblies for your medical facility. Contact us today to get started on designing, engineering, and creating a custom medical wire harness assembly for your doctor’s office, hospital, medical practice, or medical facility. 

How to Get Started with Your OEM Wire Harness Project

Wire Harnesses Design

An Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) is able to produce the exact parts required to fit within a system per strict specifications. OEMs are most commonly recognized as the manufacturers for parts used within the automotive industry but are widely used through a myriad of different applications. Custom wire harnesses for OEM applications therefore have to be perfectly suited to meet the specific demands of the application. 

In today’s LiveWire feature, we’ll look at the wide world of OEM wire harnesses and how these vital workhorses go from concept to volume manufacturing on their way to power some of the most sophisticated automotive systems on the planet.

What is an OEM Wire Harness?

First off, a wire harness assembly is the collection of wires, cables, terminals and other components that are then insulated, sheathed, and otherwise protected to fit the needs of their environments. An OEM wire harness is one that is built to the exact specifications as the original part in order to fit within an existing system. If you think about an automotive application, you have so many different systems within the vehicle that all must remain powered, with free exchange of signal, power, and data in order for the vehicle to safely operate. 

Wire harnesses are an especially critical support element as an OEM part. OEM wire harnesses are going to provide the connection needed to relay power, data, and/or signal to all the outlying systems. The alternator, battery cables, headlights, and a hundred other systems in the vehicle all rely on wire harness assemblies to maintain the connection. Vehicles are subjected to a lot of environmental forces that all require mitigation. 

Finding efficient ways to protect against all of the variables bombarding a wire harness assembly, our engineers take many steps during the design and prototyping phases to ensure our custom OEM wire harness assemblies are performing exactly to spec.

Designing an OEM Wire Harness

An OEM wire harness’s design is absolutely critical towards its overall functionality within the larger system it is intended for. There’s both a physical space requirement component, as well as a certain threshold for the transmission of data, power, or signal that play into the overall design. There’s also the environmental factors we just mentioned that also need to be accounted for in order to produce a viable and effective product. 

  • Space Constraints With OEM Wire Harnesses: cables and wires have to traverse some pretty tight spaces in order to provide the critical junction between different components. Whether it’s for a multi-million dollar fighter jet or a piece of industrial control equipment powering a municipal waterworks, space constraints play a huge role in dictating final design. When a cable is bent, the wire harness engineer will have had to factor in this stress and provide the right materials and overall design that best meets these conditions. We’ll touch more on testing OEM wire harnesses a little later. 
  • Power, Signal, and/or Data Requirements: different cables from coax to CAT5 are utilized within electrical systems to provide the necessary functionality. With power needs, the gauge of the wire dictates how much current can safely be transmitted through the system. The size differences here within a cable require engineers to provide just the right amount and type for structural components such as insulation and filler materials. While these support elements can be easily forgotten when looking at the finished OEM wire harness, without them, the system would not remain operable for long. 
  • Mitigating Against External Factors: think about the underside of your vehicle traveling down the highway day after day. When you walk out first thing in the morning to power your vehicle, you’re pretty much counting on it to start right up and get you where you need to go. But this would be impossible if the OEM wire harness engineer for your vehicle’s electrical systems did not plan for environmental variables in their initial design. Oil and caustic agents, moisture, abrasion, heat, and others all require a keen set of deterrents that are effective both in the efficiency of design, as well as related to budget. Operating within budget keeps an OEM wire harness feasible for the final application. 

When you have considered all of these different constraints of a project, you can design a wire harness that fits within that framework The various wiring and cables all need to be easily-deployed within their application, which requires exacting specifications based on a present set of data. Our engineers work to solve even the most complex integration issues to ensure our harnesses provide a seamless “drop-in” installation. 

Bringing an OEM Wire Harness Assembly From Concept to Reality

When our wire harness engineers are producing designs for new OEM wire harnesses, they are running multiple iterations through sophisticated modeling software that let’s engineers see how a system will perform under a variety of simulations. The design that moves forward to the assembly of the wire harness is called a schematic which then gets translated into a physical assembly board, also referred to as a pin board.

A pin board is like a large diagram of an OEM wire harness which helps to map out all the different parts and pieces with their specific location to match the necessary applications set by the manufacturers specifications. Wires and cables have systems of identification, along with the proper terminals, connector housings, and other pieces to integrate the final harness assembly. 

All of these components have been placed perfectly within the system to maximize efficiency and utilization. Support structures such as cable sleeves, ties, and straps are all required to protect and strengthen the overall electrical system. The process to produce each of the various components takes a blend of fully-automated, semi-automated, and hand tools to produce the final product. 

While automation and semi-automation are utilized when it’s most efficient to do so, much of the work of an OEM wire harness assembly is still completed by hand because there are so many intricate processes. 

Testing is Everything with OEM Wire Harnesses

Even during the design and prototyping phases, testing is a constant part of the process. Testing during the design phase, helps to save time and money during prototyping, which in turn, saves time and money for the overall project timeline. Meeting each major project milestone on the project schedule takes careful planning from the start.

When looking to test electrical functionality with an OEM wire harness, a test board is a good place to start. A test board is one that comes programmed specifically to test the unique characteristics of that particular product. A wire harness is dropped into a test board much like it would need to plug and play with its final destination. The test board is just one of the many resources available within Meridian’s in-house Advanced Life Testing Lab. 

The Lab is arguably one of the funnest places at our facility as engineers put wire harnesses through a variety of extreme tests based on real life scenarios. Freezing and burning, bending and stretching, and even automated testing from our venerable Cirris testing units are in store for any OEM wire harness that wants to make it past quality assurance testing. Often, prototypes are used for testing before volume or even small-batch production to ensure the final iteration is the most efficient design possible. 

Bringing it All Together

Having the best design and manufacturing process in the world for OEM wire harnesses is meaningless if you can’t bring it all together to get to your customers what they need, when they need it. Having fully-owned manufacturing facilities in both the US and in China, allows our team to utilize a global logistics network to source materials, assemble designs, and deliver the product on-time and on-budget. This level of commitment is earned through many years of tweaking your processes in order to find the best mix for your unique offering. 

Meridian is proud to maintain our ISO 9001 certification which is only accomplished through a continued commitment to improving processes across the board. Formal quality assurance quality control (QAQC) procedures are put in place, as well as techniques like Kanban manufacturing and Just-in-time ordering to ensure efficiency of process. 

A crucial aspect of ISO 9001 quality management certification holders is that they also must commit to improving their service to the customer as well. We’ve learned over the years that honestly looking at each and every interaction with our clients and systematically reviewing how we could have done things better has allowed us to continue to deliver exceptional results for our clients.

Getting Started with Your OEM Wire Harness Project

At Meridian, we simply take the time to ensure that everything is done right. After decades of providing the OEM wire harnesses for some of the most sophisticated electrical systems on the planet, we have amassed both the tools and the talent to produce exactly what’s required. Contact our team now to start reviewing your project specs. 

The Automation of Complex Wire Harness Designs

Wire Harnesses and Wire Assemblies

Automation now accounts for vast amounts of modern manufacturing. Many if not most of the products we purchase have been assembled with the help of an automated process. But, are there certain functions and designs for which human experience and expertise are still required? Of course. Doctors still care for patients, though aided by computers. Roads require engineering and expertise even though engineers use computer aided drafting and design software. 

Complex wire harnesses require the same engineering and expertise expected of good health and good infrastructure. In today’s LiveWire special edition, we’ll explore why complex wire harnesses should not be fully automated with the following topics:

  • What are complex wire harnesses?
  • Why do complex wire harnesses require human engineering?
  • Why do some companies fully automate wire harness design and processing?
  • What aspects of wire harness assembly can be automated?
  • What aspects of wire harness assembly should not be automated?
  • What are some of the design features of wire harnesses?

What are Complex Wire Harnesses?

Complex wire harness designs require precision engineering and assembly, something automation cannot deliver. A wire harness includes an outer layer (protective sheath often of thermoplastic) and an inner layer (wires or cables). Other exterior sheathing materials include PVC, Teflon®, and Silicone. Wire harnesses often contain a variety of cables. Together, the wire harness offers a low-cost electrical solution. 

Remember though, low-cost does not mean simple. Some projects require very complex designs, incorporating conductors, connectors, terminations, sheathing, overmolds, grommets, and strain relief. These design elements require more than automation. They require expertise and engineering, like what is provided by Meridian Cable.

Why Do Complex Wire Harnesses Require Human Engineering?

First, each project requires unique attention and design. Our design team has the tested expertise to custom design wire harnesses in such a way that pitfalls are avoided. This doesn’t mean that automation is completely avoided. 

For example, in the prototyping phase, wire harness designs are subjected first to a series of automated tests from machines like Meridian’s Cerrus units (considered industry gold standard for automated testing). But, design iterations require more than automation. This is why our team ensures that our wire harnesses are custom-designed and manufactured without complete automation. No product ever leaves Meridian’s production line without being rigorously tested to ensure safe and proper function.

Design

Wire harness applications also deserve careful engineering. Automobiles and airplanes require substantial wires to successfully function. Wire harnesses join the many wires into a single harness, making installation easier and durability more attainable. These harnesses need to be designed and engineered first to ensure the assembled product will function optimally. 

During the initial design phase, our engineers have numerous conversations with our clients to ensure we understand the specific wire harness application. Is this design going into a toy airplane or a real airplane? The application makes a remarkable difference in design.

Logistics

Another reason automation cannot fully account for complex wire designs is that logistics have to be considered for production and distribution. An automated system may not be able to alter designs to better utilize available materials, but an experienced cable design company like Meridian can adjust to the unexpected, minimizing distribution delays.

Specific Standards

Finally, wire harness design and manufacturing should not be fully automated because custom wire harnesses are required to meet the variety of projects and standards needed across various industries. For instance, the standards for a medical application may differ widely from a military (MILSPEC) or telecommunications application. Industrial controls include bottling plants and municipal utility systems, and these both have unique wiring specifications. Our wire harness engineers must custom design a wire harness to meet the needs of an automotive manufacturer versus an alternative energy facility.

Most modern wire harness manufacturers will utilize some automation, but engineering and expertise are required, with rigorous testing standards, to ensure the highest quality of wire harnesses is produced. Meridian Cable has a full complement of equipment to process wire harnesses, from basic hand tools to semi-automatic machines.

Why Do Some Companies Fully Automate Wire Harness Design and Processing?

One research paper from Siemens Digital revealed 10 different reasons for fully-automated complex wire harness design. They propose that fully automated wire harness design offers the following benefits:

  1. Automated harness engineering and validation.
  2. Subassemblies to streamline production design.
  3. Controlled, automated change management.
  4. Digital continuity design through production.
  5. Full-scale formboard layout and fixtures.
  6. Effective formboard utilization.
  7. Factory modeling and bill-of-process generation.
  8. Time and cost calculations to increase assembly process efficiency.
  9. Balance tasks across a hardness production line.
  10. Ready-to-use work instructions for every stage of assembly.

Basically, these benefits proposed by Siemens can be summarized into three claims about fully automating wire harness design.

  1.  They claim fully automated design is faster and cheaper.

This may be true initially, but cutting down on design cost only helps on the front end. Over the wire harnesses life cycle, design flaws may prove costly. Engineering and careful product testing ensures the life-time costs will be more economic than a cheaply designed product.

  1. Improve product and process quality.

This seems doubtful at best. As the old saying goes, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Fully automated wire harness processing may be more cost effective, but it hardly guarantees better quality. Engineering and expertise deliver better quality products over full automation.

  1. Reduce harness manufacturing turnaround time and cost.

This may be true at the beginning. Fully automated manufacturing can produce wire harnesses quicker and for less money, but at what long-term cost? Another old saying merits citing: you get what you pay for. Rather than sacrifice quality to save a little time and money on the front end, the wise approach is to select a wire harness designer and manufacturer that balances a cost-effective approach with engineering and expertise.

What Aspects of Wire Harness Assembly Can be Automated?

Some aspects of wire harness assembly can be automated without sacrificing quality and durability. For instance, specialized machines cut and strip the ends of wires and then can crimp the terminals on the wire ends. Some soldering can also be successfully automated without degrading the wire harness’ quality. It should be noted that the more aspects of wire harness design that are automated, the more the need for rigorous quality testing.

What Aspects of Wire Harness Assembly Should Not be Automated?

The initial engineering process may be aided by computer drafting software, but should not be fully automated. This ensures the design matches the project. Meridian has become a field expert in custom solutions. More than 70 percent of the products we produce, we design. 

In addition to the initial design phase, the final testing phase should also not be fully automated. This complex stage of design iterations requires experience and expertise to ensure the highest quality wire harnesses. 

Additional manufacturing processes should not be automated, including:

  • Incorporating wires of different lengths into a single wire harness.
  • Performing multiple crimps on a single wire.
  • Binding together a variety of components with a variety of bonding materials such as clamps, ties, and tape.
  • Carrying wires through sleeves or exterior sheathing.
  • Properly bonding branch out points with tape.

Using the right tool for the right job matters. Meridian Cable has over 5,000 existing tools available in our tool crib, and we know how and when to use these tools. The wide variety of project applications requires the right tool for the right job in manufacturing complex wire harnesses. Our team brings both the tools and the expertise needed to get the job done right.

What are Some of the Design Features of Wire Harnesses?

Design features for wire harnesses include conductor sizes, conductor colors, stranding sizes, conductor insulation materials, and UL® wire and cable standard sizes.

Conductor Sizes

You’ll see a wide range of available conductor sizes in order to meet the needs of the project. From 12 awg to 34 awg, there’s many different options for our engineers to utilize.

Conductor Colors

Colors are fully customizable per the project’s needs and requirements and can greatly aid in wire management.

Stranding Sizes

From 0.002” to 0.01”, our wire harness engineers can find the perfect stranding size to match the application.

Conductor Insulation Materials

The choices abound for insulation as well, allowing our design team to put together the best materials for the needs of the project. Common insulating materials include Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and Polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon®).

UL® Certified Cables and Wires

Utilizing UL® certified cables and wires helps our designers start with a safe, tested, and reliable product from the start.

Start Your Wire Harness Design Today

With this variety of design features, it is little wonder that Meridian Cable is committed to hands-on engineering and manufacturing. We incorporate the best in semi-automated applications for manufacturing but remain personally invested in our products. 

Contacting Meridian means selecting a custom cable assembly or wire harness assembly team to deliver cost-effective and high quality wiring. Let us help you strike the balance between cutting edge automation, and dependable quality and experience.

Back to The Basics: A Beginner’s Guide to Wire Harness Assemblies

Wire Harness Assembly
Wire Harness

What do you think of when you hear the term “Wire Harness Assembly”? Like many, you may be inclined to picture a mechanism for organizing loose strands of cables or wires. While this description is partially correct, wire harness assemblies serve a much more useful purpose. Today’s blog post will dive into the world of wire harness assemblies. 

Here, we’ll answer some of the most common questions related to wire harness assemblies. To do this, we will start from the beginning with its definition.

What is a Wire Harness Assembly?

At its most rudimentary level, a wire harness assembly is a collection of cables or wires that work together to relay electrical power or information and command signals. These cables and wires are often enveloped in a basic thermoplastic or thermoset casing to safeguard against external forces that would otherwise affect the structural integrity of exposed cables and wires. 

By binding cables and wires into a single instrument, wire harness assemblies act as an organizational mechanism to diminish the amount of space that would have been otherwise taken up by singularly installed cables and wires.

The Benefits of Using a Wire Harness Assembly

Wire harness assemblies are important instruments in the operation of electrical systems around the world. They are often incorporated because they increase the efficiency of these systems. In this section, we discuss two of the major reasons why wire harness assemblies are popular: organization and protection.

Wire Harness Assemblies Save Valuable Space

Have you ever gone into the attic during the Christmas season to get your lights and found that the strands were hopelessly entangled? If you are one of the people who have experienced this event, then you can sympathize with how frustrating it can be to disentangle these from one another. 

In applying the previous example to a collection of loose cables or wires, you will quickly understand the need for an organization mechanism. A disorganized system of interlocking and intersecting cables and wires can be equally, if not more, aggravating to work with than a loose collection of Christmas lights. This is especially true should the need arise to replace or rearrange dozens of cables and wires. 

One of the major benefits of adopting a wire harness assembly is that it organizes your cable and wire arrangement. By clustering cables and wires beneath a single external casing, a wire harness organizes your cable/wire set up by decreasing the spatial dimensions needed to house the arrangement. 

To illustrate this point further, consider the car that takes you to work or the airplane that flies you to your favorite vacation destination. Both the car and the airplane require thousands of feet of wiring to operate effectively and efficiently. So, instead of attaching an abundance of cables and wires separately, the wire harness assemblies group cables and wires into an individual apparatus that is then easily installed. 

In short, if you are an individual that values organization and order, a wire harness assembly will change your life. 

Wire Harness Assemblies Protect Cables and Wires 

A wire harness assembly not only acts as an organizational tool but also protects the functionality and durability of your cables and wires. Interconnecting and intersecting cable and wire setups may result in suboptimal performance and damage to cables/wires over time. Organizing cables and wires using a wire harness assembly can minimize decreased functionality and potential damages resulting from external forces. More specifically, the outer thermoplastic or thermoset casing of the harness acts as a basic buffer against the negative impacts associated with moisture, lacerations, and accidental vibrations. 

Additionally, wire harness assemblies can protect against electrical damage. The insulating sheath that covers the bound cables and wires assists in preventing electricity from shocking those working with them. Additionally, the possibility of an electrical short is diminished since the sheath that makes up the wire harness assembly grouping cables and wires are firmly bound. 

Because wire harness assemblies provide organization and increase protection for the cables and wire, they are an important element in global electrical systems. The next section will illustrate how wire harness assemblies are utilized across various industries.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

The Many Applications of Wire Harness Assemblies

Wire harness assemblies have many different applications. The list of applications extends across multiple industries and sectors including, but not limited to, the agriculture, automotive, communication, manufacturing, and medical sectors. 

Agricultural Industries

Much of the equipment and vehicles used in today’s agricultural sector utilize wire harness assemblies. The organizational and protective features of wire harness assemblies ensure that heavy machinery, such as tractors and cultivators, operate throughout the year. 

Automotive Sector

Wire harness assemblies are installed in cars to help disperse electricity and electric signals throughout the vehicle. The electric power and signals that pass through the wire harness are instrumental in starting the ignition, turning on the lights, cooling and heating the car, listening to the radio, and rolling down the windows.

Communications Systems

Global communication systems rely on wire harness assemblies to connect the world. From modems to routers and broadband networks to satellite receivers, wire harness assemblies are pertinent in powering the infrastructure that makes instantaneous communication possible. 

Healthcare Technology

Modern medical care would arguably not be possible without the integration of wire harness assemblies into the devices used in doctor’s offices and hospitals to treat modern ailments. Medical instruments are often subject to frequent operation and must rely on the durability and versatility of wire harness assemblies to assist in maintaining functionality. 

Industrial & Manufacturing

Wire harness assemblies are frequently used in the industrial control and manufacturing processes. As assembly line and production systems require intricate cable and wire systems to fuel automation, it is the wire harness assemblies that organize these elaborate connections of cables and wires to streamline the production process to ensure the optimization of the much larger manufacturing components. 

All things considered, wire harnesses assemblies are a common feature found in electrical systems spanning the globe. Without them, modern technology would arguably not nearly be as efficient. 

The Difference Between Wire Harness Assemblies and Cable Assemblies

One common assumption made about wire harness assemblies is that they are interchangeable with cable assemblies. Wire harness assemblies are often confused with cable assemblies because they both have similar features; however, they are not the same. 

Wire Harness Assembly

As a short review, a wire harness assembly is a collection of bound cables and wires sheathed in a basic thermoplastic or thermoset material designed. The wire harness assembly sheath is simply designed to bring organization to the installation of cables and to provide basic protection from externalities. This basic construction defines wire harness assemblies as best suited for indoor use where externalities are minimal. 

Cable Assembly

Similar to wire harness assemblies, cable assemblies consist of bound cables and wires. However, the material in which they are wrapped tends to be more durable. Cable assembly casings are usually made from materials, such as vinyl or thermoplastic rubber, that allow the unit to operate in the most intense environments where externalities abound. In comparison to wire harness assemblies, cable assemblies are often best suited for outdoor use or within environments operating under various amounts of stress, such as heat, moisture, and friction. 

If you are interested in delving into the more intricate details of the differences between wire harness assemblies and cable assemblies, read our article entitled “Cable Assembly VS. Wire Harness”.

Designing a Wire Harness Assembly

Wire harness assemblies are often designed to meet the needs of a purchasing agent. Depending upon the customer’s specifications and energy requirements, the number of cables and wires in a wire harness assembly can vary. In its most elementary form, a wire harness assembly may contain only a few cables or wires with only the most necessary terminals installed. 

On the other hand, for electrical systems that require a variety of operations and functions, a wire harness assembly may contain an incredible assortment of cables and wires that, without a harness, would resemble a never-ending labyrinth. In the end, the complexity of the design will ultimately be impacted by the function it is being designed to do. Meridian Cable specializes in designing simple to complex wire harness assemblies for a variety of purposes. 

Getting the Perfect Wire Harness for Your Application

If you are in the market for a custom wire harness, Meridian is here to help. Our team is committed to creating the highest quality, customizable wire harness assemblies for our customers. We have the capabilities to engineer wire harness assemblies for all types of applications. We guarantee that we will customize the perfect wire harness assembly to satisfy your necessary specifications. Alternatively, if you do not have a specific design in mind, we also maintain a large selection of pre-made products that are sure to meet your needs. 

Check out our products page to view our full range of products and customization options available to you and contact our team to start reviewing your project’s specifications.

The Ultimate Guide to Wire Gauge Sizes | Learn What Gauges Are Used For Custom Wire Harness Applications

Different kinds of cables are on wooden pallet.

Wire gauges help determine the effectiveness, as well as the costs of the overall design. That’s why our designers take such care when designing custom wiring harnesses to incorporate the perfect gauges to meet the needs of the project. 

In today’s LiveWire spotlight, we’ll showcase a complete wire gauge guide focused on topics like wire gauge sizes, how to measure wire gauge, and how to choose the right wire gauge in custom cabling applications.

Wire Gauges Explained

First up, what does gauge mean in wire harness design? Wires are produced in a wide variety of widths in order to meet the needs of the project. The diameter of a wire is expressed in a unit known as a gauge, as set by the American Wire Gauge (AWG). The AWG sets corresponding numbers to different diameters of wire gauge. 

Contrary to what you might think, the lower AWG numbers actually correspond to wires with higher diameters and the larger numbers in the AWG wire gauge size chart correspond to smaller diameters of wire. The AWG sets gauges in order to have a unifying system of measure with wires and conductors. It’s important to note that the AWG applies to round, solid, and non-ferrous wires. Non-ferrous metals, like aluminum and copper, make excellent conductors.

Wire diameter is critical in custom wire harness design as it helps to determine how much of an electrical load and the level of resistance, expressed in ohms (Ω). This standardization helps our wire engineers start with materials with known electrical properties to provide the most effective designs possible. In the custom cable manufacturing industry, exactness matters which is why even the smallest degree of error needs to be corrected in a design before ever moving forward with production.  

How to Measure Wire Gauge

To answer questions like, “how thick is 4 gauge wire?”, you need to understand how the AWG wire gauge system works. As we discussed, the larger gauge numbers expressed in an AWG size chart correspond to lower wire diameters and smaller gauge numbers mean larger diameters. 

Before the AWG, different manufacturers had their own unique sizes and systems, making any form of standardization difficult. However, the AWG isn’t the only gauge measurement around with most of the world relying on a metric-based system for gauge measure. For the purpose of this wire gauge guide, we’ll stick with the AWG.

The Formula for Wire Gauge Sizes

Looking at an AWG wire gauge chart, you’ll see 0000 on up to 36 and beyond. A 36 AWG wire is going to be .005 inches while a 0000 AWG is .46 inches. The ratio between these matters is exactly 1 to 92. With 40 different gauge sizes between 0000 and 36, there’s a consistent geometric step with each successive AWG number. 

This is important because it helps to qualify a constant multiple from which the entire system is based. For example, with every 6 gauge of decrease, you’ll get a doubling of the wire’s diameter. Conversely, a 3 gauge decrease doubles the wire’s cross-sectional area. 

Wire Gauge Diameter

The actual formula for figuring out the diameter of wire gauge is a little complicated but one our engineers use in our designs every day to find the perfect wire to match the application. Diameters are calculated with this formula – D(AWG) = 0.005·92((36-AWG)/39) inch. 

For those that want to dig more into the technical side of electronic formulas like this, we recommend a mainstay in the industry known as the “Handbook of Electronics Tables and Formulas” by Howard Sams. 

Wire Resistance & Wire Length

AWG helps to provide consistency to resistance and wire length as well since different gauges will have known levels. The larger a wire’s circumference is, the less resistance the signal or current will have. A very small gauge wire might not be able to handle a given electrical load, which could prove dangerous and even cause a fire. Wire gauges have to be exact in order to create the ideal resistance level in a given custom wire and cable harness. 

Another important consideration is the length of the wire. With longer wires, the signal or current has to simply travel further before reaching a termination. Longer distances lead to more resistance which can degrade the signal. A larger gauge wire can help to make sure that the signal or current is able to travel these long distances without becoming too degraded. In our AWG size chart, you’ll see this expressed as a measure of ohms per 1,000 feet.

You might simply think you should always just use a larger gauge wire and be done but this blanket approach can prove inefficient, especially from a materials-cost perspective. As a custom cable manufacturer, we examine all of the nuances of a design in order to produce the best utilization of our client’s budget, given the parameters of the intended application. This level of sophistication is what truly sets apart working with a custom manufacturer over relying on off-the-shelf cable assemblies.

Wire Gauge Chart

The standardization for diameters and cross-sectional areas presented as AWG sizes is continued to be maintained by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). The ASTM is actually an international organization that helps to develop consensus across industries for a wide range of technical applications. 

When it comes to the source for an AWG wire gauge chart, the ASTM is the best place to start. For the most up-to-date wire gauge chart see ASTM B258 – 18 Standard Specification for Standard Nominal Diameters and Cross-Sectional Areas of AWG Sizes of Solid Round Wires Used as Electrical Conductors. This publication specifies diameters, areas, equations, and rules for calculating AWG sizes. Length of the wire, resistance (Ω), and rated strengths are all required for standardization, as well. As you can imagine, global standardization is difficult and requires developing a complete methodology for the process.

The following wire gauge chart was adapted from an American Wire Gauge reference article published by Boston University:

AWG gaugeDiameter InchesDiameter mmOhms per 1000 ftOhms per kmMax amps for chassis wiringMax amps for power transmission
OOOO0.460011.68400.04900.160720380302
OOO0.409610.403840.06180.202704328239
OO0.36489.265920.07790.255512283190
00.32498.252460.09830.322424245150
10.28937.348220.12390.406392211119
20.25766.543040.15630.51266418194
30.22945.826760.19700.64616015875
40.20435.189220.24850.81508013560
50.18194.620260.31331.02762411847
60.16204.114800.39511.29592810137
70.14433.665220.49821.6340968930
80.12853.263900.62822.0604967324
90.11442.905760.79212.5980886419
100.10192.588260.99893.2763925515
110.09072.303781.26004.1328004712
120.08082.052321.58805.208640419.3
130.07201.828802.00306.569840357.4
140.06411.628142.52508.282000325.9
150.05711.450343.184010.44352284.7
160.05081.290324.016013.17248223.7
170.04531.150625.064016.60992192.9
180.04031.023626.385020.94280162.3
190.03590.911868.051026.40728141.8
200.03200.8128010.15033.29200111.5
210.02850.7239012.80041.9840091.2
220.02540.6451616.14052.9392070.92
230.02260.5740420.3666.780804.70.729
240.02010.5105425.6784.197603.50.577
250.01790.4546632.37106.17362.70.457
260.01590.4038640.81133.85682.20.361
270.01420.3606851.47168.82161.70.288
280.01260.3200464.9212.87201.40.226
290.01130.2870281.83268.40241.20.182
300.01000.254103.2338.49600.860.142
310.00890.22606130.1426.72800.7000.1130
320.00800.2032164.1538.24800.5300.0910
330.007100.18034206.9678.63200.4300.0720
340.006300.16002260.9855.75200.3300.0560
350.005600.14224329.01079.1200.2700.0440
360.005000.12700414.813600.2100.0350

You’ll see in the above chart that amps are listed with each gauge. This is the capacity level that each wire gauge is able to safely handle. Looking at lower gauges and remembering these correspond to thicker wires, you’ll notice that they have higher maximum amp ratings.  

Common Applications of Standard Wire Gauges

Wire gauges will each have their own electrical properties which makes them each perfect for their own unique applications. Higher gauges are great for lighter-duty electrical work, while lower gauges are reserved for more heavy-duty projects. 

The most common gauges of wire out there are 10, 12, and 14 as these are used in building and construction applications. As we’ve seen, when projects require a wire to go a longer distance, the gauge of wire needs to be bumped up in order to compensate and allow electricity and/or signal to pass through it. 

A few of the more common applications with AWG sizes include:

  • 14 Gauge Wire: this is very common in residential wiring applications such as with light fixtures, devices, and household outlets. 
  • 12 Gauge Wire: this is also common for residential wiring to be used for outlets, small appliances, and even smaller air conditioning units.
  • 10 Gauge Wire: 10 gauge is starting to get into larger household appliances such as window air conditioning units, water heaters, and your clothes dryer. 
  • 8 Gauge Wire: this is for larger household appliances such as electric ranges, ovens, and your home’s air conditioning system.
  • 6 Gauge Wire: this is going to be for the largest household appliances and air conditioning units.

Even within a consideration like wire gauges, we see that there is a tremendous level of exactness required from a cable harness design team in order to find the best application. Selecting the best gauge wire for the application takes a lot of careful measurements and considerations during the design phase. Our cable engineers work to find the most efficient means to produce a given assembly within the specifications provided by the client.

Choosing the Perfect Wire Guage

The two most important questions you need to know in your project are wire gauge and wire length. This is determined by looking at what carrying capacity and the level of current, expressed in amps. As we’ve discussed wire gauge is listed based on how the maximum amount of amps that can run through it. Last up is the distance as this is crucial for gauges. You’ll be able to effectively counteract the drop in voltage by increasing the wire gauge, which can handle more amps. 

Getting the Best Design with the Correct Wire Gauge

Working with our client’s unique specifications, the Meridian team is able to consistently exceed our client’s expectations when it comes to delivering the perfect solution for even the most complex issues. Contact our team today to start reviewing your project and to see where utilizing a custom cable manufacturer can benefit your project.

The Benefits of Low Pressure Molding in Wire Assembly

low pressure molding machine

One of the best methods custom cable manufacturers have for effectively protecting the many components composing cable assemblies is a process known as low-pressure molding. With investments in state-of-the-art machines like our Low Pressure Molding Machine, the LPMS Beta 300, Meridian is able to produce incredibly strong, custom assemblies that are perfectly suited for their intended applications. 

In today’s LiveWire deep dive, we’ll explore the many benefits of low pressure molding in cable and wire assemblies and how you can best utilize this method in your next production run.

What is Low-Pressure Molding?

If you’re sitting at your computer and reading this, right now your PC is using cable assemblies, connectors, terminals, and more to make that action possible. Across from you may be a printer, your cell phone sitting next to you, and outside is your car which may have got you to work this morning. All of these machines require complex cable assembly and wire harness engineering in order to function. 

Yet, each contains parts that can easily fail if they aren’t engineered with additional layers of protection. Abrasion, bending, water, heat, cold—all of these variables require a keen design that mitigates against the forces of nature constantly bombarding your electronics’ sensitive components. Enter low-pressure molding.

Low-pressure molding, also referred to as “hot-melt molding”, is a method of manufacturing that takes the best of two processes in injection molding and casting. Low-pressure molding is ideal for use in sealing custom cable assemblies, while also serving to provide strain relief. By completely surrounding the components, low-pressure molding provides a reliable protection against external forces.

A Closer Look at the Low-Pressure Molding Process

low pressure molding button

Whenever you use injection molding, you’re typically using a type of thermoplastic (basically a material that gets soft when heated and hard when cooled) that gets heated up and injected into a mold at-pressure. This process is great for volume manufacturing and often doesn’t actually create a permanent bond with the underlying material. 

Conversely, low pressure molding does create a permanent bond with the components it’s covering. Let’s look at the process:

  1. Using a hot-melt such as polyamide adhesive, we heat these granular pieces to somewhere between 350 degrees and 460 degrees Fahrenheit. The polyamide adhesive doesn’t really melt per-se, but rather just gets soft. When it’s at the right softness and viscosity, it’s ready for injection molding. These pellets are softened within an integrated melt tank directly on our LPMS Beta 300.
  1. Whatever wire assembly component is getting sealed gets placed into custom molds to be covered by the adhesives. Inside the Beta 300, gears are used to make a pressurized force through which the softened material goes through a heated hose and finally into the injection heads themselves. The Beta 300 utilizes a horizontal-injection system with a single-injection gun for maximum efficiency. Once the material is injected, the component becomes completely encased with a physical bonding of materials.
  1. The actual pressure used in the injection molding for these types of adhesives is far lower than your typical injection molding process. Hitting on the high side of 500 psi is much lower than the 15,000 psi for the upper reaches of injection molding. This gentler approach is ideal for extra-sensitive components such as with medical device technology. As well, the Beta 300 has two thermal zones which means our skilled operators have more control than ever before for precision melting temperatures.
  1. The materials will then cool down quickly, typically in under a minute. The component is then 100% ready to remove and use as desired.

And there you have it, the low pressure molding process in a nutshell. With the capabilities our LPMS Beta 300 provides, we’re able to create the perfect set up for even the most customized wire assemblies our clients need developed. This capability and our expertise is what’s helped set our services apart in custom cable manufacturing.

Benefits of Using Low Pressure Molding in Wire Assemblies

When utilizing a hot-melt polyamide adhesive, you’re starting with a compound that’s solid at room temperature. These are safely developed using renewable resources. Because any scrap material is reusable, these are also incredibly sustainable. 

These types of adhesive are also very safe, without toxic gasses being released into the atmosphere during a manufacturing run. Being both non-toxic, as well as able to be recycled, makes these materials a great choice for green initiatives, such as LEED electrical designs in sustainable buildings. Polyamides also offer greater levels of protection and can be used as an insulating material. 

Because they form an actual bond with the underlying components, the seal is highly resistant to water, dust, chemicals, and other environmental factors. This makes them ideal for extreme hot and cold environments, or where abrasion resistance is required. They even work well when they need to be printed on. 

Finally, while the initial material may cost a bit more than injection molding, there are many cost-savings measures along the manufacturing process that make this a very economical method. For example, molds used in injection molding have to be super heavy duty steel which are quite expensive. With low pressure molding, we can typically utilize lower-priced aluminum molds, or even 3D printed materials which is great for prototyping different iterations. The aluminum also removes heat faster after the process is complete which lowers the overall cycle time. Because heat distortion is also mitigated, you have less loss which means more efficient production runs.

Inside the Design Studio for Low Pressure Molding Applications

You might think that the molds, connectors, terminations, and other tools we use every day are easily-available. But the fact is, most of these are custom designs that we tweak to each individual product. In fact, after decades as leaders in custom cable manufacturing, we have amassed a tooling inventory of well over 5,000 different components at our disposal for a given project. 

Molds are one such tool in our arsenal that require careful design consideration, testing, and even prototyping to make sure we have everything right. We work with some of the best mold manufacturers in the world in order to create the products that help our men and women in the military, power high-tech telecommunications equipment, and a hundred and one other applications. We also have the ability to 3D print mold inserts for low-volume production runs or when the final design needs to be tweaked by successive iterations of tooling.

The low pressure molding sets are made so that the components can be removed efficiently after manufacture, without damaging any of the sensitive components. This requires very advanced engineering that allows the perfect amount of air and heat out, while still being able to be processed quickly. Components are centered within each mold and injected to be set. 

Areas Where Low Pressure Molding Can Be Advantageous

Whenever a fast cycle time is required, and we are seeking to improve the reliability of the data, signal, or power being transmitted within the system, low pressure molding is a fantastic addition to the overall design. That’s not to say, however, that all problems are solved with low pressure molding, but within specific applications our engineers utilize this process to bring about the most advantageous results for our client’s projects.

When looking at connectors, the low pressure molding materials can act as a great overmold for the connector, as well as the cable assembly. This provides advanced protection against water intrusion and other environmental factors. As well, the strain relief provided is another huge benefit. Overall, even the aesthetics of the design are improved with a streamlined component. Low pressure molding is even more reliable than heat shrinking tubing since a physical bond is made.

Other sensitive applications are able to employ low pressure molding to create a very effective overmold, without harming the underlying components. We often use this method when circuit boards or fragile electronic components need to be overmolded. This can also save money by not having to use all of the support elements such as housings and junction boxes, since the overmold performs this function. 

In wire harnesses, low pressure molding can be utilized with various components such as bushings. These low-pressure molded bushings will both hold the cable assemblies in place but also provide necessary strain relief. Low pressure molding bushings are able to provide a better grip on the components that need to stay in place and can be put together relatively quickly to make even the most complicated wire harnesses a better-managed system. That’s because these types of bushings are actually manufactured in place rather than having to be put on to an existing harness. The connections become waterproof powerhouses, ready to provide protection for the cables beneath.

Ready to See How Low Pressure Molding Can Benefit Your Project?

At Meridian, we specialize in the design and production of some of the most customized cable assemblies available today. To do this requires our team to have the best tools and talent available. With the capability of machines like the LPMS Beta 300 making low pressure molding a resource available when needed, our designers can create the best product possible to meet the needs of the project. Contact our team now to go over your project’s specs and to see if low pressure molding might be a useful addition to your overall design.

Advantages of Having a Full Tooling Inventory in Cable Production and Assembly

Cable Assembly Manufacturer

When you make custom cable assemblies for a long time, you start amassing a pretty big tooling inventory to do a wide variety of jobs. In fact, Meridian has over 5,000 existing tools with the ability to create a custom tool whenever a project needs it. Connectors, overmolds, junctions, and more combine with automated, semi-automated, and even hand tools to create the perfect custom cable assemblies needed for technologies in high-demand industries. 

Center stage in today’s LiveWire News spotlight is the incredible advantage for using a manufacturer who has both a demonstrated capability, as well as a full tooling inventory, in order to provide the perfect custom cable assembly for the application at hand.

What is a Tooling Inventory?

In cable production, you have a complex series of processes that are all available for our cable engineers to utilize in order to create the perfect custom cable assembly for our clients’ needs. True, the processes will vary considerably based on what is being produced, but the tooling inventory of the manufacturer is easily the most advantageous asset to bringing about the greatest diversity in product design. 

With a tooling inventory amassed over decades, our engineers have a full and complete tooling inventory at their disposal to produce exactly what’s required by the project. 

Why Molds and Dies Are So Important in Custom Cable Assemblies

In order for our injection molding machines to have anything to inject molten plastic into, you have to first have the molds and dies set up. Overmolding is the process whereby a cable assemblies components are covered in plastic as a way to protect against wear and tear, as well as environmental factors. Overmolding also helps provide strain relief, cable breakouts, cable stops, and seals and glands. 

Having an inventory of well over 5,000 existing molds helps us be able to design a cable assembly that’s both extremely durable, as well as perfectly matched for its intended application. During overmolding, you can also use different colors mixed into the resin to help with identification and integration. Envisioning how the end-user will utilize our cable assemblies helps our designers create useful value-added considerations such as cable management. 

Machines That Make All the Difference in Cable Production

From fans and crimpers, to coiling machines and pallet jacks, the machines required to produce the highest-quality custom cable assemblies make all the difference. Combined with some of the brightest minds in the industry, our expansive machine and tooling inventory is an incredible advantage built over decades as a leader in custom cable manufacturing. 

A few of the many machines that help make even the most complex assemblies a reality include:

Molding Machines

Injection molding takes injecting molten plastic into its designated mold cavity. A plastic resin of choice is fed into a heated barrel, where it’s mixed and then injected into the mold cavity. You may not think it, but choosing the right materials for this process can make or break your custom cable assembly. Different materials we utilize with overmolding include PVC, TPE, TPV, and TPEE. High pressure molding also lends itself extremely well to both high and low production runs, making it ideal for a variety of applications. 

Opposite high pressure plastic injection molding, is low pressure injection molding. Machines like our Low Pressure Molding System (LPMS) Beta 300 provide the perfect compact horizontal injection needed within a relatively small footprint. This machine has an integrated melt tank and two precision thermal zones, making it incredibly precise with it comes to melt control.

Terminal Crimping Machines

Believe it or not, in custom cable assemblies noise level matters. That’s why incredibly advanced technologies like our Super Mute Terminal Crimping Machine are so vital to overall project success. With a built-in frequency converter, this machine can run at high speeds with low noise. The machine is also highly customizable, making it ideal for many different terminals. Like much of our equipment, this machine can run on both a manual mode and automatic mode. With varying speeds, crimping dies are able to be designed to precise requirements set by our cable engineers. 

When it comes to advanced wire terminations, the AMP Crimping Press is one of the best tools for the job. These precision instruments come with loads of features that help maintain even the strictest tolerances. Advancements include the ability to run manual, fully-automated, or a combination thereof. These machines are also being made to be quieter or safer than ever before, creating the best environment possible for our skilled technicians to create custom cable assemblies.

Solder, Curing, and Fastening Machines

Providing an automatic and manual way of soldering, our Quick 376D solder station is in a league by itself. This machine makes high frequency heating, rapid heating, and thermal recovery processes look easy. However, with incredibly precise controls and temperature calibrations, we’re able to provide the perfect conditions to meet even the most demanding specifications. As well, a powerful motor with automatic feeding allows our operators complete control over how fast feeding speed and volume need to be for the given project. 

For applications requiring a light curing of adhesives and coatings, the Dymax Bluewave UV Curing Machine provides the perfect solution in both automated and manual production. Other tools like our KAMsnaps press machines for two-part snaps is a multi-functioned powerhouse for attaching both plastic and metal snaps. Having the right tools for the job like these is truly what provides the best finished product possible.

Cutter, Stripping, and Twister Machines

You can imagine during a high-speed production run the level of exactness required from our cutters, strippers, and twisting machines. With even the smallest misstep, an entire batch can be rendered useless. That’s why machines like our Komax Mira wire strippers are so crucial to pulling off custom cable assemblies. Pneumatic wire stripper and cutter machines are able to process large amounts of cables in short order and with incredible precision. 

Our twisters like the Eraser G10S Wire Twister are able to twist the ends of pre-stripped stranded wires or to tighten up an existing twisted wire. You might also need to twist an unwrapped shield onto a coaxial cable. Twister machines help provide the perfect twists per inch required by the design specifications.

Scales & Measurement Tools

Exact measurements are required throughout a custom cable assembly’s production run which is why we rely on automated counting and weight scales. Scales may seem like low-level technology, but our highly-complex measurement devices are tuned to be able to provide precise calculations. This level of detail is required for custom cable assemblies built from a single strand of copper wire onward. 

When even the smallest miscalculations can result in a cable assembly failing quality assurance tests for continuity, integrity, and/or safety, our scales and measurement tools are an absolutely critical component of our overall tooling inventory.

Moving Tools and Machines

Having all of the best tools and equipment in the world is useless if you don’t have a good means of moving materials and products just where they need to be throughout the production process. Just-in-Time (JIT) ordering is a way that we make our processes more efficient by getting just what’s needed, exactly when it’s needed so as to eliminate lag time. A crucial part of this operation is the fork trucks, pallet jacks, pneumatic carts, and even faithful hand dollies that move everything from A to B in a perfect synchrony throughout the production process. 

How We Bring it All Together During Production

One of the most important aspects of a production run is being able to reserve tools to be used. Having an extensive tool crib and tooling inventory requires having keen protocols in place for making sure everything is available and in place right as it’s needed. This is part of a Kanban manufacturing process that seeks to eliminate waste throughout the process. Focusing on being as efficient as possible and continually improving our processes is one aspect of maintaining our ISO 9001:2015 certification

During a production run, our project managers will reserve the right tools at the right time in order to complete the project in the most efficient means possible. This attention to detail has translated into being able to produce even the most exacting requirements for our customers. When our products are used in everything from cutting-edge medical devices to industrial control systems, our focus on quality in everything we do matters.

Starting Your Custom Cable Assembly Project Right

When you have a custom cable manufacturer with both the tools and the talent to accomplish just about any custom cable project, you’re able to have far more flexibility in finding the perfect solution to fit your unique set of circumstances. The team at Meridian prides ourselves on being a trusted resource for the highest quality custom cable assemblies available, a trait which has served us well for decades. Contact our team now to review your project specs and get started.

The Cable Engineer’s Ultimate Guide to Wire Harness Assemblies

Wire Harnesses and Wire Assemblies
Wire Harnesses and Wire Assemblies

When you’ve been a top cable engineer in custom harness assemblies for several decades, you begin to build up a vast knowledge bank of innovative manufacturing steps, process controls, and even tooling capabilities; all of which contribute to a better product and better customer experience. 

In today’s Livewire spotlight, we’ll capture everything we’ve learned for creating the perfect custom wire harness to integrate within even the most complex electrical systems.

What is a Wire Harness Assembly?

A wire harness assembly is the collection of various wires (single electrical conductors), cables (group of insulated wires), connectors, terminations, sleeves, and other infrastructure needed to provide a safe and efficient means for organizing wires within a larger electrical system. If that sounds like a mouthful, it’s because wire harnesses or complex mechanisms with direct impacts on the success of an electrical system. Whether that system is a life-saving surgical device or a vital piece of communications equipment for our military, wire harnesses play a crucial role in keeping these systems up and running.

Components Making up a Custom Wire Harness

Going back to the basics of a custom wire harness, These components all have to be of the highest-quality in order to meet the threshold standards set forth by the client. 

  1. Wires – a wire can be as simple as a single strand of a conductor like aluminum or copper. There are many variations of wires used in wire harness manufacturing, depending on the needs of the projects such as braided or stranded wires. 

Different gauges of wire can also be employed in the same custom wire harness to provide multiple and simultaneous functions. This level of sophistication is what makes complex and space-constrained designs possible. Common gauges based on the American Wire Gauge (AWG) system are 10, 12, and 14 but at Meridian we can extrude cables as small as 34 gauge.

As a cool side note, if you have a bunch of bare wires that get twisted together without any insulation, it’s still technically a single conductor and therefore a single “wire” rather than jumping up into the cable category.

  1. Insulation – wire insulation is the unsung hero of wire harnesses since they play a crucial role in protecting the wires within. Moisture, temperature swings, caustic materials, and other environmental factors all require a cable engineer’s attention when designing a wire harness to fit the system it’s intended for.

Insulation materials that are commonly utilized in wire harness assemblies include:

  • Polyvinylchloride (PVC) – this economical but strong material is intended for wires on the lower to medium-end of the voltage range. PVC insulation is very common as it’s great for protecting wires from heat, moisture, and abrasion.
  • Polyurethane (PU) – available as either thermosetting or thermoplastic, polyurethanes are a common insulation to protect wires from abrasion and moisture, while improving overall durability.
  • Thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) – in many cases TPEs are now replacing rubbers in the injection-moldable category. TPEs are very flexible and can be stretched without easily breaking, making them appropriate in a wide variety of situations. A TPE is a great way to increase the strength and resilience of a rigid thermoplastic, making them frequently used in overmolding. 
  • Thermoplastic polyester elastomer (TPEE) – these are considered your high-performance insulators. With the benefits of thermoset rubber but the ease of manufacturing of engineering plastics, TPEEs provide a high degree of strength and tear resistance as well as flexural strength. TPEEs are also able to help protect against caustic chemicals and temperature swings. For these reasons, they are commonly used in automotive wire harness applications.
  • Thermoplastic vulcanizate (TPV) – these special types of TPEs are vulcanized at high temperatures which helps make for a good compression set as well as strong resistance to heat. TPVs give the benefit of ease of processing like plastic but with the performance of rubber. This makes TPVs a cost effective means for enhancing performance.
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, commonly known as “Teflon®”) – this strong compound originally discovered by Dupont in the 1930’s is known for its tough, waxy-like makeup. PTFEs are a nonflammable form of synthetic resin used for being highly versatile and high performing against heat, moisture, and other variables.
  • Silicone – when you insulate a cable with silicone, you get an excellent thermal range, providing greater heat resistance. Silicone is definitely the preferred insulation type for extreme temperature swings. Silicone is also extremely maneuverable and flexible, making it ideal for tight spaces. Being easy to disinfect, silicone is also preferred for wire harnesses used by medical device manufacturers.

A cool aspect to common insulation types is the ability to vary the hardness or softness of each material depending on the needs of the project. This allows for the perfect degree of customization to be employed for the benefit and added efficiency to the overall system.

  1. Cables – there are many different standard cable types used in the industry. Cables will typically consist of a neutral wire ground wire, ad live or “hot” wire. Each of these then get twisting or bonding employed to bind together. Wires in a cable typically come insulated in a PVC or other insulator. Color coding the wires’ insulation aids in identification. 

Having standards (more on this below) helps cable engineers design a system based on the known specifications of a particular cable. This saves a lot of time and money versus producing a cable from scratch. 

As a UL-approved manufacturing facility, we’re able to produce a wide variety of UL-certified cable types such as TPT, SPT-2, TST, SVO, SJE, SJOOQ, and many more. Adjusting various factors like wire gauges, insulation, fillers, and sheathing materials, our designers are able to produce a cable that’s perfectly suited for its intended environment. 

With a custom wire harness and cable assembly manufacturer, the components are designed for the system rather than trying to be conformed to the system. The approach we utilize is more like an experienced football coach calling a well-orchestrated play that’s been practiced, employed, and proven successful many times over.

  1. Connectors – connectors come in all shapes and sizes and are typically utilized with a specific type of cable. For example, with ribbon cable connectors you might find d-sub connectors, socket-type connectors, dip connectors, and card edge connectors all inside a large and complex custom wire harness project.
  1. Terminations – to terminate a cable into the connection point of a piece of equipment, panel, wall outlet, or other device means having the perfect termination to do the job safely. Terminations also come in an absolutely endless amount of different types depending on the industry. Insulated and non-insulated, ring terminals, spade, and hook terminals are all common.

Telecommunications systems typically utilize UTP cables for LAN networking. UTP cable terminations like a copper insulation displacement (IDC) terminations are ideal for this specific application. No matter what the needs of the project, any cable engineer worth their weight will be well-versed in a wide variety of termination methods to most efficiently accomplish the task at hand.

  1. Sleeves – sleeves add built in resistance to UV, abrasion, cable management, and other benefits. Some of the different types of sleeves used in wire harnesses include:
  • Velcro sleeves are easy to secure and very common. 
  • Polypropylene spiral wraps come in many different diameters. Adding strength and resilience with UV resistance, as well. Great to utilize for color management.
  • Braided sleeves are great for aesthetics and can be heat shrunk to a specific cable and connector pair.
  • Polyethylene spiral wrap is very economical and offers a good basic level of cables from heat and everyday wear and tear. 

Using UL-listed components from the start helps build superior products that respond more in line with specifications. That’s because UL-listed products have been rigorously tested to ensure quality and consistency. This helps our engineers start with components of a known specificity, instead of having to design and test from scratch.

Utilizing quality components is just the beginning of any wire harness manufacturing project, which is why we’re proud to be certified by UL to produce a wide variety of standard wire and harness types.

What Wire Colors Mean

The wires that make up a wire harness are identified for safety and continuity in design. This can also be a desire for aesthetics. Standard colors and functionality include:

  • Black wires: typically designate a hot or positive current.
  • White wires: will typically be for negative currents.
  • Green wires: typically used for ground wires, especially in residential wiring applications.
  • Red wires: can be used as a secondary line for hot and or positive currents.
  • Blue wires: good for designating a point of connection. 

The ideal part of cable and wire colors is the vast degree of customization that can be employed. However it is easiest to make the wire harness assembly integrate with the existing system in a safe and efficient manner is what our team will employ.

Getting Wire Harness Assemblies Started

When it comes to custom wire harnesses, the manufacturer you choose to work with makes all the difference. Our team is proud to be a UL-approved manufacturing facility with an incredible range of capabilities for your next wire harness design project. Contact us now to get started.

The Insider’s Look at the Cable Assembly Manufacturing Process

Cable Assembly Manufacturer

There are decidedly many steps that comprise getting a cable assembly from concept into production. At Meridian, we design over 70% of the products we manufacture which gives our team an edge when we’re solving the types of complex problems our clients bring our way every day. 

Today’s spotlight is pointed squarely at the process of cable assembly manufacturing. We’ll cover how our brilliant cable and wire engineers bring our clients’ designs to life and what it takes to go from a digital blueprint all the way to volume manufacturing.

Laying the Framework: Cable Assembly Design 101

Whenever we start to get the cable assembly specifications from the client, our team can immediately set to work designing the perfect solution. The design phase is a crucial first step in the process and allows our team the ability to test multiple iterations of a product in a virtual environment. Utilizing sophisticated design software, our cable assembly engineers create the blueprint for the final design. 

Systems will be tested to make sure the assembly can withstand the rigors of its intended environment – all within complex simulations that greatly reduce the man hours needed to produce a given result. Even during the design phase, our engineers will be hard at work testing the design before ever moving forward in the process. It is indeed very rare for a product to move from the design phase to volume manufacturing without first going through a prototyping phase.

Why Use Prototyping in Cable Assembly Production?

Prototyping is taking the digital design our engineers have developed and physically bringing all the pieces together to see how they’ll perform in the real world. As with the design phase, when prototyping we can test several different versions simultaneously to see which product performs most efficiently. Aside from performance and integrity of product, prototyping also gives our team a chance to see how the supply chain will respond to the needs of the project. 

We strive to be a lean manufacturer, adhering to Kanban principles of waste elimination in the manufacturing process, as well as just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing which helps reduce time in production runs. Both of these principles are front and center during prototyping where our team can test how one set of products comes together versus sourcing a different way. Focusing on reducing waste at every step of the manufacturing process is one way we help ensure our projects are delivered on-time and on-budget.

A Closer Look at Short Run Manufacturing 

At Meridian, we get all kinds of orders from all kinds of industries. From military applications, to medical technology, telecommunications, and more, our cable assemblies help provide the data, signal, and/or power needed to run today’s advanced technologies. When a client needs a relatively small batch, such as with a sample production, we’re able to accommodate with a short run manufacturing process. Short run production also typically involves having at least one factor in the manufacturing process that’s fixed.

Soldering During a Manual Termination

Manual termination is often used during the short run manufacturing process in order to meet the requirements of our clients both in terms of how many products are being created and how quickly they need to receive them. Decreasing lead times is something our project managers are incredibly skilled at and manual termination using soldering is just one tool in their tool belt to do just that. 

With advanced technology and an incredibly skilled workforce, we are able to meet even the most precise soldering specifications to within .015. 

Moving Into Cable Assembly Manufacturing

Through every stage of cable assembly manufacturing, we strive to engineer in as much value as possible. Value is achieved when you have an extremely high quality product that our clients know they can depend on. 

There are many “off-the-shelf” cable assemblies out there, but these don’t always provide the exact solution our clients need nor are they usually engineered to the same level of quality as what is received with a UL-approved manufacturing facility like Meridian. We’re proud to be UL approved and can also work with our clients to get their products certified through most industry certification agencies.

Starting Off Right with Custom Cable Extrusion

When it comes to building high-quality cable assemblies, extrusion is a crucial piece of the manufacturing process. Extrusion is the process of manufacturing a cable assembly’s cross sections. These cross sections must be absolutely uniform in order for the system to perform at its best. Meridian’s extruder machines look something like a giant screw with a large hopper. The “screw” has a heated barrel where the material of choice from the hopper is combined and melted down so it can then be forced into a reusable metal die. With sophisticated equipment and very capable cable assembly engineers, we’re able to extrude conductors from 34 gauge all the way up to 12 gauge. 

A conductor is the basic building block of any assembly and gets stranded based on the needs of the project. After, we can insulate, fill, wrap, and shield depending on the environment the cable assembly will be used in. 

What is Insert Molding and Overmolding in Cable Assemblies?

Insert molding is a process we’ve completed many times which leads to a significant improvement in the strength and resiliency of a cable assembly. Insert molding involves applying an engineered plastic such as PVC or TPEE to cover the component and provide better protection. 

Overmolding connections can provide many different industry-specific advancements. For example, with medical devices, a silicone overmolding can be used to provide increased chemical resistance and tensile strength. Overmolding improves the overall quality of the assembly and also increases the limits for what is possible in medical device technology

Custom colors in overmolding help us be able to match our overmolded components to just about any color our client desires. For aesthetics, we can match a specific color of equipment or can help provide a color-coded overmold that makes the assembly easier to integrate. Custom designs like the name of a product or a corporate logo can also be placed on overmolds through our extensive tooling inventory.

High-Tech Ultrasonic Plastic Welding

Ultrasonic may conjure up images of your toothbrush but it’s just the word to describe the use of high-frequency vibration. In cable assembly manufacturing, ultrasonic welding is used to precisely seal components together in an extremely fast manner. Ultrasonic plastic welding produces a clean, strong connection point that makes the assembly all the more durable.

Test, Test, Repeat

One of the most important aspects to the entire cable assembly manufacturing process is the testing that is layered in from the very beginning. Our quality assurance team makes sure mistakes are prevented and the quality of process and product are both consistently high.

  • Analyzing Cable Assemblies for Signal Integrity

For each and every assembly that rolls off the production line, many rounds of testing will have already taken place. Even so, we test each product before shipping to ensure the integrity and functionality of the assembly. Signal integrity analysis helps our engineers look for things like opens or shorts, the correct pin-out, and also tests the integrity of the shielding. 

  • Utilizing Automated Testing Machines

Meridian utilizes highly-sophisticated, automated Cirrus testing units to ensure each product meets the high standards needed to complete its function. These testing units are able to spot even the smallest defects in the majority of cable assemblies produced. However, there are situations where a completely custom cable assembly requires a custom testing unit. In these cases, our expansive tooling inventory comes in handy. 

  • Testing for the Environment with Our Advanced Life Testing Lab

Testing cable assemblies would be useless if they are never subjected to the types of real world conditions they’ll be facing in their given systems. That’s why we created our very own Advanced Life Testing Lab. Here, our quality assurance engineers set to work putting cable assemblies through their paces, while being hit with all manner of environmental variables like extreme temperatures and moisture. 

Getting it There: Maintaining Efficient Logistics

Leveraging two, wholly-owned manufacturing facilities in the US and in China, Meridian is able to efficiently manage a global supply chain. This means our assemblies get where they need to go, exactly when they need to get there. Completing cable assemblies on-time and on-budget requires key planning from design all the way through delivery.

Starting a New Custom Cable Project

Moving forward with a custom cable manufacturer requires a lot of trust. Customers trust that the cable manufacturer has the tools and capabilities to produce a solution that fits and that can be depended on. Our team becomes a trusted partner in the success of each and every project we undertake. From the first design consultation through volume manufacturing, the Meridian team ensures we meet or exceed all project milestones. 

To get your custom assembly project started, contact us now through our online form. You can also reach us by calling 1-877-806-8667 or email us at sales@meridiancableassemblies.com.

Analyzing the Costs to Hire a Wire Harness Engineer

meeting with wire harness engineers

Wire harness engineers may seem like an expensive aspect of a wire harness fabrication project and you may be thinking, is an engineer really necessary for my wire harness build out? However, these professionals have the training, experience, and often the advanced certification required to be able to produce a wiring harness that ensures absolute continuity for the system they support. In today’s spotlight, we’ll run a complete analysis of all the costs involved and look at the value of having a wire harness engineer on your business’s next custom wire harness project.

How Much Does a Wire Harness Engineer Cost?

A wire harness engineer is typically a specialized set of electrical or mechanical engineers. These pros typically have a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical or Mechanical Engineering and then several years of experience under their belt before they ever sit for licensing. Once licensed, the engineer can sign and seal a set of plans for accuracy and safety.  While they are typically electrical or mechanical engineers, that can be from other engineering fields as well.

Wire harness engineers on average cost between $55 and $155 per hour depending on factors like the complexity, size of the project and their employer’s overhead. Wire harness engineers are gifted in the design, testing, and production processes required to produce a perfect solution to the client’s toughest issues. While the costs to have a wire harness engineer on your project may seem expensive, we’ll show you just how much time and money a wire harness engineer saves during custom wire harness fabrication over the course of the project. 

Benefits of Having a Wire Harness Engineer on a Custom Project

Wire harness engineers are a lot like football coaches that envision the perfect play for their team, detail everyone’s responsibility to pull it off, practice, and finally pull off the play perfectly. When you first start custom wire harness fabrication, the harness is carefully laid out on a specialized panel which allows pegs to be used to position each wire branch perfectly. The avenues of wires go off in varying directions, each with its own mission to complete. 

The wire harness engineer examines all of the terminations, connections, and other infrastructure needed to pull off the connectivity for powering the system or transmitting the signal. Using the layout grid allows the engineers to calculate dimensions perfectly to suit their intended application. When these dimensions are specified by the client, the engineer knows the input variables needed for their design parameters. This key information will help the wire harness engineer build out complex three-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD) models of the wiring harness before the first wire is ever extruded. 

When you have an incredibly detailed wire harness fabrication design plan in place, every step of the production process goes more smoothly. Project specifications need to be precise so that our gifted production team has the right information needed to minimize any issues and delays. 

When our production engineers receive detailed project specifications set by our experienced wire harness engineers, they’ll typically receive time and money-saving details like:

  • Spec sheets with close-up details of the connectors that show exact locations for pins.
  • A full list of wires that the project will use including the specific wire colors.
  • A full list of all the materials needed with specific part numbers.
  • A precise drawing of the final assembly with locations for labels, project tolerances, and detailed assembly instructions.
  • Specifications for testing the finished wire harness.

Remember that delays are incredibly detrimental to the project budget and timeline. When our design team puts together a project schedule, the timeline is based on accomplishing specific tasks at precise times in order to stay on schedule. So many moving parts require keen operations management principles. The project schedule uses principles first presented by Henry Gantt in the early 1900’s. Gantt’s charts would prove to be the basis for efficient project scheduling by showing how activities in a project are interdependent on one another. Wire harness engineers use other advanced methods like the critical path method (CPM) to determine the most efficient means to produce a custom wire harness. 

This level of sophistication in the design process helps to ensure projects are completed on-time and on-budget. A commitment to quality of the product and process is a driving factor behind Meridian’s continued certification in ISO 9001:2015. This rigorous certification requires a wiring harness engineer to be continually seeking new and better methods for production efficiencies, product quality, and even customer service. We have found the level of commitment required to maintain advanced industry certifications like ISO 9001 is what truly sets our custom wire harness fabrication design process apart.

A Closer Look at Engineering Fees & Other Costs

Unlike some wire harness manufacturers out there, Meridian does not typically charge for Non-recurring engineering (NRE) cost. So what are NRE costs? Typically, NRE costs will be a one-time cost for research and development (R&D) in order to design and test a brand new product for viability. At Meridian, we don’t charge a separate fee for something that should be inherent to a quality wire harness fabrication from the get-go. 

Starting Your Custom Wire Harness Project with a Knowledgeable Guide

Once the detailed project documentation is created and passed on to the design team to carry out, each process will follow a few familiar steps as it heads into production. Steps a meticulous custom wire harness fabrication process should follow include:

Review the Design. Rinse. Repeat. Okay so we’re not shampooing the wire harness but there absolutely needs to be a comprehensive review of the design in order to ensure integrity, safety, and functionality. When a client receives their custom design, the wire harness has to work as designed. Period. Our clients include those in telecommunications, medical and health technology, the military, automotive, and so many other vital industries that there simply isn’t room for error. That’s why the design review stage is so critical to overall project success. The process, parts, tools needed, and even personnel requirements will all be recalculated to ensure everything is correct and ready to be implemented.

Preparing the Materials. Logistics plays a really crucial role in the overall success of the project as sourcing materials needs to be as exact as the design itself. By using just-in-time (JIT) ordering techniques to minimize delays, our wire harness engineers are able to get quality components, right when they’re needed. We typically only use UL-certified wires and cables or are able to produce our own as a UL-approved manufacturing facility. 

Documenting the Assembly Process. While the materials are being sourced, your wiring harness engineers will be hard at work making sure the assembly documentation needed for manufacturing is complete and accurate. Meticulous assembly step-by-step instructions, complete with detailed images, illustrations, CAD drawings, and the final testing procedure will all be laid out. The physical assembly panel will also be readied and the pegs inserted in their required positions, as specified by the wire harness engineer’s design.  

Producing a One-of-a-Kind Wiring Harness. It is actually quite rare for a wire harness to go from design to volume manufacturing without first going through a prototyping stage. This allows our team the chance to review processes like the materials sourcing plan we outlined above and to test how different processes work in concert. By having a few different versions that each arrive at the same conclusion, our team is able to choose the most cost-effective and efficient means to produce the best iteration of the project. Our skilled production team will work to cut the right length of wires and lay the framework on the completed assembly panel, as specified in the design. This is when all of the connectors, terminations, wire bundling, and labeling is completed. With over 5,000 existing tools, connections, and terminations at our disposal, our gifted designers can put together the perfect amalgamation, perfectly suited for the requirements of the project.

Quality Assurance & Quality Control (QAQC). As we went through above, testing is a piece of the production process that arguably gets the most action. We test the final product to make sure it is absolutely in line with the specifications put forth by the client and detailed by the engineer’s design. We’ll make sure the wiring harness is performing as it’s required to, given the environmental factors it will face in situ. 

Given that each of these steps has a thousand tiny steps in between, orchestrating such a detailed operation takes a lot of knowledge, skill, and experience. The wire harness engineers of Meridian are some of the very best in their field because of the incredible diversity of projects we’ve been able to undertake. From highly complex industrial control systems to sophisticated aircraft controls, our team has the capability to design and produce the perfect wire harness to maintain system continuity.

Talking Over a Custom Wire Harness Design with a Wire Harness Engineer

When you’re ready for the precision and professionalism needed to complete your wire harness design on-time, on-budget, and to your exact specifications, a professional wire harness engineer is indispensable. Our streamlined process ensures your project is completed in a safe but efficient manner. Schedule a meeting with our team now to go over all of your project’s needs and to get the process started.