Category Archives: Cable Assembly Jacketing Material

Talking Jacketing Material with Your Cable Assembly Manufacturer

Talking Jacketing Material with Your Cable Assembly Manufacturer

Choosing the right jacketing material is key to creating a tougher custom cable assembly.

Jacketing material is one of the many features of a custom cable that you should talk about with your cable assembly manufacturer. As the first line of defense against a variety of conditions — including heat, moisture, and chemicals — your choice of jacketing material can make the difference between a durable custom cable and one that fails long before it should. Ensure your finished cable is exactly what you need by covering three main points with your cable assembly manufacturer.

Physical Requirements to Discuss with a Cable Assembly Manufacturer

What is your cable connecting? Do the parts need to move around or are they generally stationary? Does the cable need to stretch? Does it need to resist tears and abrasions? These are just a few of the questions that may come up when discussing a cable’s physical requirements with your cable assembly manufacturer. Once they have the answers, they can weigh the positive and negative characteristics of different jacketing materials to select one that is most appropriate for your cable’s specifications. For example, a polyurethane jacketing has good elastic memory which makes it a solid choice for coil cords and cables that require more flexibility. However, it’s not a good choice if the cable needs to be processed easily.

Environmental Conditions

Beyond the basic physical requirements, a cable also needs to be able to function under a certain set of environmental conditions. These environmental requirements can include resistance to heat, flame, chemicals, and water or even stability over a range of temperatures. There are enough jacketing options available that really fine tuning your cable to the specific conditions of your installation environment is possible in most cases. We can even add a jacketing made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that can be made resistant to UV rays or almost as flexibile as a thermoplastic polyestomer.

Cable Appearance

While the look of a cable may not change its electrical or mechanical performance, the appearance is often more than simple cosmetics. Even something as simple as jacketing in a specific color can enhance the safety of the finished product because it helps better differentiate the finished product from other cables. A jacketing can also be designed to match the equipment manufacturer’s overall design aesthetic, which can help users keep the right cable with the right equipment.cable assembly manufacturer jacketing

Finishes can be matte or glossy, depending on your needs. In some cases, a matte finish can make the cable easier to grip, which can be useful for installation and handling in certain conditions. For medical equipment, there are also requirements for cables that may come into contact with skin that include cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization that may dictate the properties of the jacketing.

Conclusion

Jacketing material is one of the many features a cable assembly manufacturer is able to customize to meet your specific needs. With all the options available, it’s important to have an in-depth discussion with an experienced design team to make sure they have all the information they need to select the right materials for your cable. Contact Meridian Cable when you’re ready to get started on a custom cable. Our team looks forward to answering your questions.

Assembled vs. Molded Cable Assembly: What You Need to Know

Assembled vs. Molded Cable Assembly: What You Need to Know

There are two main options when it comes to shells for terminal connectors on your custom cable: assembled and molded.

Choosing between a molded cable assembly and one that must be assembled in the field requires careful consideration to ensure you are making the right decision for your application. When designing a custom cable assembly, there are many options for conductors, insulating materials, jacketing, and so on. All of these choices can affect the performance and durability of the finished cable. However, even the most durable cable is most likely to fail at the terminal point. The process of cutting and fitting the cable with a connector can expose it to damage. Once the terminal is in place, it is frequently the section of cable that is subject to the most twisting, bending, and other stresses. Because of this, the selection of a connector is key to determining the overall success of the cable.

Assembled Cable

As you may have guessed from the name, assembled cables consist of multiple pieces that are put together manually in the field. Connectors can have plastic or metal shells, and in some applications are the only solution. However, when you are choosing between assembled and molded cable assemblies, there are a few important considerations:

  • Installation – Since cables and connectors are assembled in the field, the experience and knowledge of the technicians performing the installation is very important. Whether using in-house or outsourced personnel, you must ensure that they are properly installing and testing your cable assemblies to prevent failure due to improper installation.
  • Cost – Comparing costs for assembled and overmolded cable assemblies can be tricky. On one hand, assembled cables are less expensive to produce, but you must also factor in labor costs for installations which can add to the overall expense.
  • Repairs – Because these types of cable assemblies are made with multiple components, they can be disassembled for applications when it makes more sense to repair an existing cable assembly than replace it with a new one.

Molded Cable Assembly

Overmolded cable assemblies feature shells that have been created by heating a plastic or rubber material and injecting it into a mold. Because the products are custom-molded, even aesthetic elements like color can be chosen for a sleeker appearance or to help differentiate cables. Here are a few of the benefits of overmolded products:molded cable assembly

  • Customization – With the range of materials available when designing a molded cable assembly, you are able to produce a cable that is tailored to the specific environmental concerns of your equipment.
  • Fewer Installation Errors – Since no additional assembly is required, a molded cable assembly can be installed quickly with a simple process that minimizes the opportunity for human error.
  • Strength & Flexibility – Cables are subject to additional stresses where they exit the connectors. Overmolded components can be designed to offer additional flex and strain relief to create a cable that is more durable and less susceptible to premature failure.

Choosing between an assembled or overmolded cable assembly is an important decision that requires some careful consideration. Meridian Cable is able to produce cables with overmolded components in house, using a wide variety of materials to ensure your finished cable meets the needs of your equipment. If you’re ready to design an overmolded cable assembly, get in touch. We’d love to hear about your project!

Custom Cable Assemblies with Standard Cables

Custom Cable Assemblies with Standard Cables

When designing custom cable assemblies for your product, it’s not always necessary to start from scratch.

Custom cable assemblies are designed and extruded for products or equipment when an existing cable does not meet the needs of the application. While stock cable can be inexpensive and easy to source, it doesn’t make sense if it simply doesn’t do the job required or is not as durable as it needs to be to withstand environmental conditions. In many cases, custom cables are a great way to make sure all your needs and specifications are met.

Cost is always a consideration whether you are dealing with custom or stock cable. Many perceive that “custom” means a higher price tag, but this doesn’t have to be the case. There are circumstances when a custom cable can even save money. For example:

  • Low Durability – A stock cable that doesn’t quite offer the durability for your application is going to need to be replaced more often. A custom cable more suited to the requirements and environment would need to be replaced less frequently.
  • Many Cables for One Piece of Equipment – One custom cable that meets all your needs is easier to install, maintain, and replace than multiple stock cables.
  • More Cable than You Need – Using stock cables means you sometimes have to pay for a more expensive option than you actually need. A custom cable eliminates that need because it is designed to meet the specifications of your equipment.
  • Creating a Cable from the Ground Up – There are circumstances when incorporating an off-the-shelf cable into a custom cable assembly saves time and money.

Making Smart Design Choices with Stock Cable

Commissioning a custom cable doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch by designing a completely new cable. If a stock cable is nearly perfect for your application, it’s possible to make some changes with a design based on the existing cable. These changes could include adding a tougher jacketing material or reproducing the cable with more flexibility or a different gauge that is not currently available.   

custom cable assemblies with black jacketing

Depending on the specifications of your product or equipment, you may need a custom cable assembly that combines multiple cables into one to save space. By combining these cables, the engineer can take advantage of different gauges and cable types – which may include stock cables – to create a streamlined solution that is tailored to your needs and specifications.

Talking with an Expert Wire & Cable Manufacturer

Off-the-shelf cables can be a great choice if there’s an existing model that matches the specifications for your product or equipment that is able to hold up to the environment where it will be used. But if a stock cable doesn’t meet your needs or is only “close enough,” talking to a wire and cable manufacturer might be the logical next step. During your initial discussion, make sure you clearly communicate how the finished cable needs to perform. If you are currently using an existing cable, share any frustrations or limitations you are experiencing. This will allow the engineering team to gain a full understanding of whether incorporating an off-the-shelf cable into your custom cable design makes sense.

An experienced manufacturer of custom cable assemblies, like Meridian Cable, can make recommendations that address any issues you are having with stock cables. They are also able to help you make the best choices when considering incorporating existing cables into your custom solution.

Expertise Matters When Designing A Custom Cable Assembly

Expertise Matters When Designing A Custom Cable Assembly

Balance longevity, performance, and price with a custom cable assembly designed with the help of experienced engineers.

Each custom cable assembly project comes with a unique set of requirements that calls for specific types of components for the best performance in a given situation. For example, a cable with the appropriate gauge for conducting electricity that is jacketed with a material that can’t withstand the environment will fail much sooner than it should even though it might meet requirements for price and performance.

With the many options available for conductors, insulations, fillers, and jacketing, a thorough working knowledge of which components offer the appropriate results for a given set of requirements is key to manufacturing a custom cable assembly that meets your needs at an appropriate price point. That kind of knowledge comes from a strong background that includes engineering and manufacturing custom cable assembly solutions for a variety of applications in a wide range of industries.

When reviewing recommendations from a custom cable manufacturer, it is essential to pay attention to a few key areas:

Conductor Gauge & Stranding Sizes

The gauge of a conductor impacts cost as well as how well electricity or signal flows through the wiring. An experienced engineer carefully considers how the cable will be used, as well as the voltage or signal type, and even the required length to determine the best gauge. While a larger gauge can reduce resistance and energy costs, a large gauge has a few drawbacks. The first of these is that larger gauges tend to be more expensive to produce. If your product does not require a larger gauge, you could end up paying more than necessary to produce your custom cable with no real additional benefits.

While solid conductors can be inexpensive, stranded conductors offer additional flexibility to the finished cable. By working with stranding sizes that range from 0.002” to 0.023” in a variety of materials, an engineer is able to recommend options that offer the conductivity and flexibility that meet the requirements of your project.

Insulation & Fillers

When we talk about insulation in a custom cable assembly, we are referring to a non-conductive material that is used to prevent energy leakage. Insulation also helps protect the wire from heat and moisture. Insulations can be made from plastics, fluoropolymers, and rubbers. Understanding the characteristics of each of these insulating materials is vital to producing a finished product that functions in a safe and efficient fashion. For example, some plastic insulations are inexpensive and have very good mechanical properties for many applications, but can emit a toxic halogens, making them inappropriate for use in some custom cable assemblies.

Fillers – like cotton, nylon, kevlar, PVC, and fleece – are used to ensure optimum performance in a custom cable. They have a variety of uses in custom cable assembly design, including reducing heat and friction as well as helping the cable maintain its shape.

Wraps, Shields, & Jacket Materials

Finally, choosing the appropriate wraps, shields, and jacket materials protects the conductors from interference, friction, and environmental conditions. The application, environment, and installation process can all be factors in what materials should be used to create your custom cable. There are a variety of plastics, rubbers, and fluoropolymers with differing resistance to heat, cold, moisture, and abrasion. With so many materials available, the knowledge and experience of your custom cable manufacturer can mean the difference between a well-performing cable at a reasonable price and an unnecessarily expensive or poorly performing product.

Cable Assembly Manufacturer

Partner with a Cable Assembly Manufacturer to increase your product’s efficiency and functionality with specialized colors, connectors, and more.

Cable Assembly Manufacturer
Cable Assembly Manufacturer

Customizing Your Product with the Help of a Cable Assembly Manufacturer

As any manufacturer can attest to, the more components a product has, the higher the risk of installation errors, added complexity for customers, and increased production times. A product with a complex wiring system is not exempt from this and can have detrimental, and potentially dangerous results if the wiring is not properly installed.

Cable Assembly Manufacturer
Cable Assembly Manufacturer

To make the manufacturing process as streamlined as possible, while remaining mindful of production times, it is often necessary to work with a cable assembly manufacturer to produce assemblies and wire harnesses that will meet your product’s specific needs. Working with a manufacturer and their team of designers and engineers opens up an array of options and specifications that can be applied to your product including:
Selecting the color of your custom wiring and cable
Developing an intuitive wiring diagram to reduce manufacturing errors
Increasing assembly speeds and creating a product that is easier for consumers to install

The Benefits of Color-Coded Custom Wiring

Custom-made wiring and cable can be designed to match almost any existing product or desired look. This is helpful for stylized products or when masking cords and cables so that they are less visible. Manufacturing techniques have evolved so that these products can be made in almost any color and can be produced in a variety of finishes to match your final product.

Aside from altering a product’s appearance, customizing the color of your wire can also serve as an important safety feature. Color-coding cables and wires can greatly reduce the chances of a wiring element being incorrectly installed. Visibly labeling the wires this way can streamline the installation process to make production faster, easier, and more accurate.

Speeding Up Production Cycles And Manufacturing

Production times can be decreased by giving those installing these wiring systems just one wire harness or cable assembly to work with. This reduces the need to track down other products and individual wires. When possible, combining multiple wires to form one cable is also beneficial and can reduce the number of connections that must be made during the manufacturing process.

Reducing Production Errors

The risk of production errors can be decreased by using wire harnesses and cable assemblies. These products are beneficial because they ensure that the proper wires are being used and that none are duplicated or left out. This not only streamlines installation but also makes troubleshooting a faster process as all of the wiring components are neatly housed together.

Improving Your Customer Experience With A Cabling Assembly

Cable assemblies can benefit products that require customer assembly. Opening a new product and finding a tangled heap of cords and wires is overwhelming for consumers and can urge many to make a call to customer service or struggle to ensure that they are wiring their new product properly.

This frustration can be eliminated by using a well-labeled wire harness. Handling just one wiring system instead of several small wires is easier and reduces much of the headache that results from having to untangle a heap of cords. This will help customers to discern the product’s layout and where the specific connectors belong, in some cases reducing the number of individual connections by consolidating several wires into one cord. Simplifying the installation process leads to happy customers and has the ability to reduce customer service call volumes.

Working with a manufacturer to create specific, user-friendly wiring systems is a great way to simplify your product’s manufacturing and installation process. By reducing the chances of errors during installation, your product’s safety and reliability can be improved drastically. This manufacturing method also has the potential to speed up production by making cords easier to identify, sort, and store.

Creating Efficient and Functional Products With the Help of a Cable Assembly Manufacturer

How to choose your Cable Assembly Conductor Material

Conductors are vital to the success of any custom wiring project. The Pros and Cons of Cable Assembly Conductor Materials.

As soon as the topic of Cable Assembly Conductor Material is brought up during the cable manufacturing and design process, you likely envision a long strand of copper and assume that is what goes into all wiring products. However, as with everything involving wiring – it’s much more complex than that. Two of the most common conductors used when cabling industrial wiring are bare wire and tinned wire.

How to choose your Cable Assembly Conductor Material
How to choose your Cable Assembly Conductor Material

While they each have their own benefits, they also come with their own set of downsides depending on the product and environment that they will be housed in. It’s important to utilize your manufacturer’s insight and expertise when choosing a conductor for your cable’s wiring, and are not just choosing one over the other based on price. This can be detrimental to the final product and prevent the manufacturer’s cable assembly from being as effective as possible.

Here, we’ll discuss two of the most commonly used types of conductors and the pros and cons of each:

Cable Assembly Conductor Material: Bare Copper

As the name suggests, bare copper is simply a strand of copper without any type of coating on it.

Pros of Bare Copper

The major benefit of using bare copper is that it costs less than coated copper. An additional benefit of bare copper is that it does not take as long to produce because it does not have to be covered with a fine layer of tin, so fewer materials are required for its production. Bare wire may be beneficial in reducing production time if the wiring has to be custom extruded, so it may be useful if there is an extreme need to speed up the production process. These factors combined can reduce the price of bare wire by as much as 15% compared to tinned wire.

Bare wire is also a great choice if your manufacturer intends to use crimp connectors. Crimp connectors can be used to connect wires to one another or to a terminal by clamping the metal arms of the connector tightly around the conductor. This method is more effective when used with bare wire than tinned wire. If a specific type of connector must be used, it’s important to take this into account before settling on a conductor and beginning to manufacture your product.

Cons of Bare Copper

An issue with bare copper is that it is susceptible to corrosion and oxidation. This oxidation is often visible as the copper begins to change color and turns green as a result of exposure to the elements. Over time, this oxidation begins to hinder the copper wire’s conductivity and may even corrode it to the point that the wires begin to degrade. To avoid this, solvents can be used to clean the wire, but this is a tedious process and requires the use of an array of chemicals. If the wire will not be housed in a spot that is easy to access and service, this may not be the best option for your product. If the wire will be stored in a relatively dry environment and will not be exposed to moisture or humidity, the bare copper wire may be suited for the project, as it is not likely to require this level of maintenance.

Cable Assembly Conductor Material: Tinned Copper

The copper conductor is housed in a thin layer of tin to protect it from the elements.

Pros of Tinned Copper

Tinned copper conductors are suited for custom cable that will be housed in humid conditions, near saltwater, and for products that require an extended lifespan. Because of this, this is often the preferred type of wiring used in the marine industry to protect the copper conductor from succumbing to oxidation. The tin used to cover these conductors can also add strength to the wiring system which can contribute to the longevity of the product.

Tinned cable is a useful Cable Assembly Conductor Material that requires a connector to be soldered onto the assembly’s cables. The tin coating is helpful when soldering terminals onto the wire and can make the process easier and more effective.

Cons of Tinned Copper

Tinned copper tends to be more expensive than bare copper as a result of the additional materials needed and the increased time and effort it takes to produce this type of wiring. Because of the price increase, many are hesitant to utilize this type of wiring for their products. Admittedly, this type of product can become increasingly expensive when creating a cable with multiple conductors in it, and depending on your product, each wire strand may need to be coated in tin individually. However, the additional functionality and lifespan of tinned copper often results in lasting benefits that outweigh the initial cost.

Choosing the right type of conductor material for your next project is dependent on your product’s intended lifespan, location, and the desired durability of the end product. It’s important to work closely with your manufacturer, engineers, and designers to determine the type of conductor that your product will need to be as effective as possible.

Which Conductor Material is Your Cable Assembly Manufacturer Choosing to Utilize?

Choosing the right jacketing material

Learn about the most common types of wire jacketing, the benefits of each, and which will be ideal for your product.

There are so many options when Choosing Cable Assembly Jacketing Material that finding jacketing materials for your custom cable assemblies, wires, and cables can be an exhasutive and daunting task. If you don’t know the jacketing material is what covers the conductor and insulation used in your custom wiring project. This outer covering will be used to protect your wiring from moisture, chemicals, UV rays, temperature extremes, or any other harsh conditions that your assembly may encounter. For this product to be as effective as possible, it’s crucial that you discuss the product’s specifics and environment with your manufacturer and their engineers before settling on a final product. Because of the specific nature of this product, it’s important to work with a designer who is willing to manufacture prototypes of your product to ensure that everything will run smoothly when you begin manufacturing on a large scale.  Finding a cable extruder who is willing to make small cable runs is critical to help control development costs.

Here are three common cable assembly jacketing materials that we use and the pros and cons of each:

Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC as most of us know it by, is often used because of its low cost and adequate durability for many uses. This makes it great for cords that need to withstand the wear and tear that comes with average users and moderate daily use. This type of jacketing can also be formulated to resist UV rays, making it a possible jacketing material for cable assemblies that will be housed outside.

A downside of this material is that while it can withstand temperatures ranging from -20°C to 105°C, it is not ideal for situations that require high heat or extreme wear. This type of jacketing works best in environments where the cable is not exposed to extreme conditions.

Choosing Cable Assembly Jacketing Material
Choosing Cable Assembly Jacketing Material

Thermoplastic Elastomer, or TPE, can handle a broader range of temperatures than PVC can. This makes it the preferable choice of jacketing for a wider range of temperature extremes than PVC. Its ability to withstand temperatures ranging from -50°C to 105°C make it perfect for projects that need to withstand a variety of temperatures without becoming brittle or cracking. It also has a high modulus of elasticity, making it a great choice where high flexibility is needed or wear may occur – it thus makes a wonderful coil cord.

This type of material is typically easier to produce than natural rubber as it requires fewer steps to process. This can reduce the time it takes to produce, speeding up the manufacturing process. This material can have a high shrink rate and surface friction though, so it is important that the cable is designed properly to ensure that these properties do not adversely affect the final product. To avoid this, it’s important that your cable manufacturer produces prototypes first to ensure that the final cured product will be the correct size.

Polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE, is often referred to as Teflon® as a registered trademark of Chemours. This material can handle extreme temperatures, as low as -200⁰C to 260⁰C. It also has excellent flexibility, abrasion resistance, and chemical resistance. Because of these properties, and because it has the highest cost of the materials listed here, PTFE is best used when the cable will experience very extreme conditions.  

Choosing Cable Assembly Jacketing Material

These are just a few of the jacketing materials that your custom cable assembly manufacturer may choose to utilize based on the customer’s needs, the manufacturer’s cable experience, and the industries that they typically operate in. All of the materials covered in today’s post are thermoplastics, if these materials don’t seem like they would be able to meet your product’s needs, it’s important to understand that there is an abundance of additional jacketing options that might be more effective for your product.

Need help when Choosing Cable Assembly Jacketing Material for your next project? Our engineers and designers have years of experience with cabling and manufacturing products in a variety of industries, ranging from the medical industry to telecommunications, and are happy to help!

How to work with your cable assembly manufacturer to choose the right jacketing material.