Category Archives: Wire Harness

LiveWire Behind the Scenes: Who Makes Custom Wiring Harnesses?

how custom wire harnesses are made

Custom wire harnesses are seen in so many different applications we all use every day that it can be easy to gloss over their vital utility. From global telecommunications to advanced manufacturing facilities, our connected world relies on high-quality wire harnesses to function. But who’s behind these custom solutions making the modern world possible? 

Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know to partner with a wire harness manufacturer to get the perfect solution for even the most demanding applications.

How to Spot a Custom Wire Harness Manufacturer

Behind even the most complex wire harness designs are the skilled men and women that make up the workforce of the wire harness manufacturer. When you have superior talent and you arm them with state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment available, you get a powerful combination of professional capability. 

What sets custom wire harness manufacturers apart from universal manufacturers mainly revolves around capabilities across the organization including areas such as:

  • Customization: being able to custom create the solution that fits the situation perfectly makes for more efficient and more resilient systems. Wire harnesses often have to meet strict geometric guidelines, as well as a specific threshold for the transmission of data, power, and signal. On top of the specs, there are myriad environmental variables that must be mitigated. That’s why the ability to customize conductor sizes and colors, stranding sizes, wraps, shields, jackets, and more, gets you a solution specifically engineered to satisfy the application’s requirements. 
  • Advanced Manufacturing Capabilities: customization is meaningless without the ability to manufacture each product to perfection. With full-scale design and engineering services to small batch and up to volume production, we have invested heavily in making our talent and tool crib extensive enough to handle any wire harness design project that comes through our doors. Being a UL-approved manufacturing facility with both our US and China locations means we’ve met the high thresholds of quality and capability required of the distinction. All of this translates into being able to produce the best possible custom wire harnesses for our clients.
  • Testing: having the excellent capability and executing well is still without the weight if you can’t tell for a fact that every product that rolls off your line has been 100% tested for continuity, integrity, polarity, and functionality before making its way to our clients. Whether it’s life-saving medical technology or a mission-critical municipal control system, dependability matters. In addition to a variety of high-tech testing machines that can spot even the tiniest imperfections, we created our own in-house Advanced Life Testing Lab. Here, custom wire harnesses are put through a variety of harsh real-world conditions to see how the materials and design hold up. 

Custom wire harnesses hold capabilities that off-the-shelf wire harnesses simply don’t have. That’s because a wire harness engineer creates a solution to the task at hand using the right materials for the specific application.  

Industries Where Custom Wiring Harness Solutions Matter

Custom wire harnesses are seen across so many different industries because our connected world relies on these humble workhorses to work behind the scenes to power how we live, work, and play. Some of the many industries we’re proud to lend our expertise include:

Industrial Control Systems

Wire harnesses provide the crucial infrastructure within some of the most advanced industrial control systems on the planet. From a high-volume bottling facility to a city’s wastewater treatment systems, Meridian’s custom wire harnesses bring it all together in some very demanding situations. 

Medical Technology

Medical diagnostic equipment, ultrasound wands, medical imaging equipment, patient monitoring equipment—the list goes on with the many different systems in hospitals and other care facilities that rely on custom wire harnesses to function. Reusability and sterilization matter greatly with such advanced technology, while precision and reliability are simply expected. At its core, we create custom solutions in the medical field that allows for better patient care.

Military Wire Harnesses

The Department of Defense (DoD) helps create military specifications (MILSPEC) to make sure that each component in, for example, a state-of-the-art weapons guidance system, can be depended on in some of the toughest situations imaginable. We can incorporate a wide variety of different protections like overmolds and Kevlar sheathing to make sure that the custom wire harness for the military we engineer is as tough as the men and women in uniform that are depending on it.

Additional Industries 

From automotive to consumer electronics, Meridian is proud to create custom wire harnesses that deliver the perfect blend of components and expertise to get the job done. Automotive OEMs depend on custom wire harness manufacturers to produce exact specs, which is something an off-the-shelf harness typically can’t provide.

Custom Solutions Produce a Better Return on Investment

The main aspect of why it matters who makes a wiring harness lies in the simple fact that a custom wire harness has been made for a specific purpose. There’s a clear-cut set of specifications and project parameters that require sophisticated engineering to deliver a solution that works on time and on budget. Aligning the product with the client’s specifications means our project managers are able to deliver just what’s required to accomplish the task at hand in the most efficient way possible. 

A huge capability advantage Meridian holds lies in our ability to prototype. We may look at several different iterations of the same product all at once to see how everything from material sourcing to checking out tools from the tool crib come together under real-world conditions. In a world where logistics is so crucial to keeping industries running smoothly, having two Meridian facilities in different corners of the globe means we’re able to provide consistently high levels of quality delivered just when it’s needed. We also input sound operational management strategies like Kanban and Just-in-Time ordering in order to eliminate waste throughout the process. 

After decades of instilling quality at every single touchpoint in a wire harness journey from conception to volume manufacturing, we are able to deliver the high level of quality our clients have come to depend on us for. All of this effort translates into a better return on the investment made with a higher quality product and specifically for the industry and the application. Our wire harnesses are made to be seamlessly integrated within the existing system with whatever criteria are required to ensure long-term viability and also ease of future maintenance. 

Certifications to Look for with Wire Harness Manufacturers

Wire harness assemblies truly are integral to our way of life. That’s why the quality of the custom wire harness manufacturer matters so greatly when it comes to the quality of the solution they are able to deliver. 

Three globally-recognized certifications to look for as your compare manufacturers include:

  • IATF 16949: the absolute gold standard for automotive quality management systems is only met when you hit all of the stringent requirements set forth by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF). This sought-after certification is one of the most widely used and recognized international standards specific to the automotive industry and brings together all aspects of the global automotive supply chain. We’re proud to have earned and maintain our IATF 16949 certification, especially as we produce custom wire harnesses to spec for automotive OEMs.
  • ISO 9001:2015: another globally-recognized certification you should definitely see with a custom wire harness manufacturer is the ISO 9001:2015. We’re proud to have met the rigorous standards for this certification as it pertains to quality at every single level in the organization. From customer experience to product quality, the standard also calls for continuous improvement. Never staying stagnant, our team looks to do that much better with each and every project we undertake. With decades under our belt, we can still learn, grow, and do better as we seek to represent the honor of holding this advanced certification for manufacturers. 
  • UL-Approved Manufacturers: as a UL-approved manufacturing facility and in using UL-certified wires and cables in so many of the solutions we provide, we are able to showcase quality in a tangible way every day. We are also able to help our clients get their products certified through any number of different certifying agencies. In a competitive marketplace, standing out with such a high mark of quality is crucial to our success. 

When you first compare wire harness manufacturers, one of the main differentiating factors can be certifications like these which show demonstrable experience and a continued commitment to quality. 

Talk to the Custom Wire Harness Experts

When answering the question of who makes custom wiring harnesses, you really need to answer who makes custom wire harnesses well. The team at Meridian is made up of brilliant designers, engineers, project managers, and production staff that bring together a diverse group of talents under one roof. With advanced capabilities and technology at our fingertips, we can deliver exactly what’s required and what can be depended on. Contact our team to review your custom wire harness specs and get started today. 

Wire Harness Components
Wire Harness Components

Diving into the wide world of wire harnesses can be daunting. There are simply so many variations for a wire harness that the options are truly mind boggling. But, in walks the concept of universal wiring harnesses and, poof, mind blow. So, is there such a thing as a universal wiring harness? 

Even in a space as customized as wiring harnesses, there are, indeed, universal wiring harnesses out there. We’ll look at what these curious amalgamations are, what industries use universal harnesses the most often, and where customization still plays a crucial role in the overall design.

What Are Universal Wiring Harnesses?

A universal wiring harness is one that can be used in several different applications that follow the same general set up. Some of the most prevalent universal wiring harnesses are for cars, trucks, and towing. However, because makes and models all can have their own little intricacies, some form of adaptation may be required to make a universal wiring harness fit its intended destination. 

Control modules, connection points, grommets, and other hardware are generally designed to handle multiple functions and accommodate different geometries. Therefore, you’ll see universal wiring harnesses with some typical features to make this feat easier. Lead lengths are usually pretty generous and instructions fairly straightforward. As we mentioned, though, there are almost always application-specific peculiarities that will exist and need to be customized. At this point, the question must be asked—If a universal wiring harness has to be customized, is it really universal? We’ll look to answer this head-scratcher next. 

Who Makes Universal Wiring Harnesses?

There are many, many manufacturers out there for universal wiring harnesses. A quick internet search is going to return page after page of online retailers. Most of these are going to be automotive wiring harnesses manufacturers. Now, not all universal harnesses are equal, and you need to know where you’re getting the item from. 

One of the certifications we maintain is the IATF 16949. This is one of the highest of the highs when it comes to automotive parts quality certifications and is held by only top manufacturers that can truly produce harnesses to spec. While it can seem tempting to go with that on-sale wiring harness online, it may actually cost you more in money, time, and labor if the unit fails prematurely. 

Bottom line, even with universal wiring harnesses, you need to do a little comparison shopping to make sure it’s a reputable manufacturer that has demonstrable expertise in the sector you need your harness for. 

Industries that Use Universal Wiring Harnesses

One of the most prevalent industries that you’ll find universal wiring harnesses is within the automotive sector. Automotive wiring harnesses are for specific applications where a “plug and play” solution can fit the bill. For example, you’ll see plenty of options for universal audio wiring harnesses for cars on Amazon for specific makes, models, and years. If you’ve ever done a search for a car part, you know that you need to find the right equipment based on the manufacturer’s specs. 

There are both OEM options and after-market options that may or may not be up to OEM specs. OEM stands for original equipment manufacturer and is an entity that can produce the exact specs that a manufacturer stipulates. These are usually subjected to higher quality assurance and quality control measures than the off-the-shelf wiring harnesses out there. 

Today’s cars have so many advanced components like audio systems, electrical systems, and convenience features. These all require complex wiring harnesses for helping manage the transfer of data, signal, and power throughout the system which is where “universal” can be a bit of a misnomer. You’ll more than likely still need various adapters to fit your unique set-up. 

How to Compare Options

As you start looking at different wiring harness options, it’s important to set a framework to level the playing field. We’ll show you a systematic approach to getting the best value from wiring harness manufacturers today:

  • Diversity of Options: one of the first things that you should see from a high quality wire harness manufacturer is going to be the diversity of options that they offer. As many applications require so many different individualized components to fit the needs of the project, you want to make sure the manufacturer can demonstrate expertise across multiple product lines. At Meridian, we are proud to make some of the finest quality cable assemblies, wire harnesses, coil cords, molded components, SMA cable assemblies, and other products that our world’s most advanced electronic equipment relies on. 
  • Customization: the ability to customize cable assemblies and wire harnesses is a big plus for a manufacturer. But customizing takes expertise and tooling capability. Meridian holds both with the ability to deliver the perfect solution that efficiently solves even the most complex tasks at hand. Even though there are universal wiring harnesses, at least conceptually, remember that each harness will typically undergo some form of customization to help it fit within the intended application.
  • Industry Experience: it’s hard to put a price on experience as it lends itself to so much value for the client. Your harness manufacturer of choice needs to show many years of experience in different industry sectors. From logistics to corporate governance, lessons learned from experience are invaluable for consistently achieving high levels of quality, efficiency, and reliability with each and every cable or wire harness produced. Meridian is proud to have decades of experience with some of the best and brightest cable engineers in the field today.
  • Capability: capability is what a manufacturer does, but a better way to look at it is what they do well. This means full-scale cable design and engineering services, in conjunction with, production, and global logistics. 
  1. First up, you need to have cutting edge design software and brilliant minds to engineer a perfect solution. At Meridian, we offer full-scale design and engineering services from dedicated experts.
  2. Then you need to be able to prototype and test different iterations to find the best fit. Prototyping is a crucial capability that includes testing everything from different insulation and jacket materials to seeing how sourcing logistics comes together with operations management techniques like just-in-time ordering.
  3. After that, you need to be able to rely on your extensive tool crib and deep intrinsic knowledge to manage a cost-effective and time-sensitive production schedule. This ensures on-time and on-budget solutions, every time. 
  4. Lastly, you need to see significant investments made in post-production testing. At Meridian, we created an entire Advanced Life Testing Lab where we put our units through an incredible battery of pertinent tests under stringent real-world conditions. This lets our engineers see how each component reacts to environmental factors and other outside forces to guarantee functionality, integrity, and safety with each and every harness that we produce. 
  • Certification: Last up on the comparison journey is going to be what certifications wiring harness manufacturers hold. Since a lot of universal wiring harnesses are made for the automotive electronic systems, certifications within this arena are fairly important. As we mentioned, we’re proud our quality of product and processes helped us earn the coveted IATF 16949 certification. Others out there that can really set a manufacturer apart include ISO 9001:2015 and UL certification. Both require extremely high levels of quality at every touchpoint in the organization and are internationally recognized.

When you’ve run through the above checklist, you’ll come out the other side with a truly top-notch wiring harness manufacturer who can handle everything from small-batch prototyping to volume manufacturing, from initial design through delivery—anywhere in the world. 

Where Custom Wiring Harnesses Come In

Custom wiring harnesses are needed in just about every application. Even in OEM settings, there can be variations between models that require adaptability on-the-fly. Customization is a skill that’s learned from experience. With decades as a leader in wiring harness and cable assembly manufacturing, our team has built this capability into our DNA. 

Custom wire harnesses can incorporate so many different unique aspects including specific conductor sizes and colors, stranding sizes, materials, and utilizing UL-certified wires and cables. Our engineers work with our clients to take wire harnesses from concept all the way through volume manufacturing with a project timeline that lets us meet all milestones. 

Starting a Wiring Harness Project

meeting with wire harness engineers

At the end of the day, there are many different off-the-shelf wire harnesses and cable assemblies out there. The difference is these can be lower quality and still require significant time and effort to make them fit a system. Our team takes a different approach by delivering a solution that’s perfectly made to efficiently solve the task at hand, and given the intended environment. From custom strain reliefs to overmolding, our capabilities, advanced technology, and team of experts all come together to deliver a solution that works. 

If you’re ready to start talking wire harness specs, contact our team however is most convenient. You can call 1-877-806-8667, fill out the online contact form, or email or sales team using the links provided on our contacts page.

What a Shielded Cable Assembly Is and Why It’s Needed

shielded cable

A cable assembly is a vital piece of modern technology that truly enables the functionality of our electronic systems. From cutting-edge communications systems to high-tech manufacturing facilities, cable assemblies are the humble workhorses that make it all possible. Certain applications call for increased protection like shielding in order to ensure the integrity of data transmission from interference like electromagnetic interference (EMI) or radio frequency interference (RFI). 

In today’s LiveWire cable assembly deep dive, we’ll explore all the ins and outs of shielded cable assemblies to highlight just how useful these can be in a variety of situations.  

What is a Shielded Cable Assembly, Anyway?

Data transmitting cable assemblies require advanced protection from interference that can degrade what’s being sent through their system. Many cable assemblies have advanced protections like hermetic sealing and overmolding, as well as using specific materials like Kevlar when abrasion is a concern. However, how do you protect against external sources that are creating “noise” that can lead to a total loss of the data being transmitted? In walks shielded cable assemblies. 

Sources for external disturbances are many. To complicate matters, there are several kinds of interference and several ways that each can manifest itself. Disturbances are both man-made, as well as natural occurrences. With today’s increasingly-sophisticated electronic systems, it’s likely to have systems running near other electrical circuits or large pieces of automated machinery. Each of these systems has its own transmission of data and electrical currents which can change quickly up and down and generate disturbance. 

Why Do Cable Assemblies Need to Be Shielded?

When the noise that’s generated by nearby electronics actually leads to degradation, it can severely disrupt operations. As we discussed, cable assemblies’ jacketing, insulative, and filler materials can all be modified with a custom blend in order to provide the best protection in a given environment. Waterproofing, adding flexural strength, protection from abrasions—these are great for making a mechanically-sound assembly that functions well in its intended environment but it wouldn’t address any issues related to interference which could still render an unshielded cable assembly useless. 

That’s where shielded cable assemblies can really prove their worth. They are specifically engineered to combat electromagnetic interference. A specialized shielding is used to encapsulate the conductors below which are vital to the effective transmission of data. The shielding can both reflect back the disturbance and/or also ground it. Cable shielding has additional protection engineered specifically to the application so the amount and type of shielding that’s required can vary significantly. Our engineers help our clients look at the specific situation for the assembly to produce the most cost-effective version of the solution. Achieving this over and over again takes the right people, equipment, and intelligence of process. 

With our ability to prototype different types of shielded cable assembly, we apply to test in real-time just how each and every component comes together. If it doesn’t fit within the strict project management timeline and budget we’ve developed with our clients, then we’ll move on to the next solution that does. Quality assurance and quality control (QAQC) is a dedicated science that requires process management engineers to be skilled in eliminating waste and capitalizing on efficiencies. We have found such attention to detail is how you produce shielded cable assemblies that can be depended on no matter what the situation or level of complexity is. 

Different Types of Cable Shielding for Different Applications

Whenever you start to explore your options for shielded cable assemblies, you will likely see one of two prevailing types of shieldings present which are foil shielding and braided shielding.

  • Foil Shielding –  foil is one that uses a thin sheet of reflective material such as copper and aluminum. The foil method generally employs an additional layer of something like polyester synthetic fabric to beef up the overall construction. Foil taping with a material like Mylar can be truly game-changing to help amp up coverage for the assembly from the harmful effects of EMI and RFI. 
  • Braided Shielding –  By weaving together bare strands of a material like tinned or regular copper, you can achieve a great EMI-shielded cable assembly. That’s because the braided cord is a great way to ground the system and provides ease of termination, especially when soldering or using an automated crimp machine as we have at Meridian. The only downside you will find with a braided shield is that they are not going to give you the complete coverage you get with foil. 

Think about how the weave comes together, on a small scale, but there nonetheless, will be small gaps in coverage no matter how tight your weaving is. The tradeoff there though is that braided shields are typically more effective but add size/bulk and cost to the final cable assembly design. 

Interestingly, many shielded cable assemblies rely on both braided shielding and foil/tape shielding. These are best utilized when there are a lot of electronic systems in a confined space, like what you might find at a busy data center.  

How Do You Test Shielded Cable Assemblies?

Testing shielded cable assemblies is paramount to product quality but it takes some dedicated processes and documentation standards in order to do it right. We have held industry-recognized certifications like the ISO 9001:2015 for decades based purely on our level of fanaticism with quality in everything we do. Testing, therefore, is one of the most involved processes you will find at Meridian. 

Even from concept, we’ll be looking at continuity, integrity, polarity, and functionality. This first occurs in a digitized environment while different designs come to life with the help of computer-aided design software. We’ll run virtual simulations on individual components to see which designs best meet the needs of the project. 

Once complete, we’ll typically move forward with small batch prototyping. As we’ve looked at, this helps test the entire process for each design from start to finish. Just-in-time ordering, Kanban, and lean six sigma principles all come into play as we manage logistics, sourcing, manufacturing, testing, and shipping each individual component. The iteration that is most efficient in how it accomplishes every criteria is most likely to move forward with volume manufacturing. 

Last up is a visit to Meridian’s pride and joy – the Advanced Life Testing Lab. Cycles to failure, cable flexing to failure, retraction compliance—no matter what type of test is needed to confirm the data behind each unit’s performance, we make it happen under harsh, real-world conditions. Freezing and scorching temps, moisture, caustic substances, and more await each shielded cable assembly that rolls off the line to make sure it has what it takes to perform exactly as required for years to come.  

Industries that Use Shielded Cable Assemblies

Shielded cable assemblies provide their best benefit in particularly noisy environments or where the possibility for interference could possibly jeopardize the integrity of the data. In either case, industry stakeholders recognize the need for quality cable assemblies produced by trusted manufacturers. 

Shielded cable assemblies keep the modern world running and you’ll find them in just about every industry out there including:

  • Industrial control systems – think of a busy factory floor, a bottling facility, or even your city’s utility systems. Industrial control systems are tight environments, filled with a lot of electronic noise. Cable shielding helps keep each system operating as it should eliminate costly downtime and inefficiencies.
  • Medical technology – when diagnostic or surgical equipment performing well literally means saving lives, the cable assemblies powering these systems simply have to work. A host of additional design considerations play into medical cable assemblies beyond shielding including things like bio-sensitive jacks and specialized strain reliefs.
  • Telecommunications – our society is more connected than ever and relies on a steady stream of data from around the world. Advanced communications equipment like satellites and towers all require complex shielded cable assemblies to make sure data is uninterrupted. 
  • Military, Automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), and many others! 

Depending on what the design calls for, shielding helps to reduce or completely block EMI in a shielded cable assembly. The type and amount of shielding used in each industry is going to vary on a case-by-case basis based on the application at hand. This is where custom cable manufacturers have a steep edge over off-the-shelf cable assembly producers.

Shielded Cable Assemblies Manufactured With Precision

Having the tools and the talent in cable assembly manufacturing is only part of the equation for a truly exceptional experience for your customers. At Meridian, we’ve invested in the quality of both our product and our processes, which include customer service and interaction just as much as the quality of the manufacturing process. When you invest in getting that much better with each and every project you undertake, the results really do start to speak for themselves. Ready to discuss the details of your shielded cable project? Contact our team however is most convenient for you and we’ll start the process of getting you the perfect solution.

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 OEM 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.