Category Archives: Cable Manufacturer

The Cable Engineer’s Ultimate Guide to Wire Harness Assemblies

Wire Harnesses and Wire Assemblies
Wire Harnesses and Wire Assemblies

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

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

What is a Wire Harness Assembly?

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

Components Making up a Custom Wire Harness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Wire Colors Mean

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

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

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

Getting Wire Harness Assemblies Started

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

The Insider’s Look at the Cable Assembly Manufacturing Process

Cable Assembly Manufacturer

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

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

Laying the Framework: Cable Assembly Design 101

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

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

Why Use Prototyping in Cable Assembly Production?

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

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

A Closer Look at Short Run Manufacturing 

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

Soldering During a Manual Termination

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

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

Moving Into Cable Assembly Manufacturing

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

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

Starting Off Right with Custom Cable Extrusion

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

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

What is Insert Molding and Overmolding in Cable Assemblies?

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

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

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

High-Tech Ultrasonic Plastic Welding

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

Test, Test, Repeat

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

  • Analyzing Cable Assemblies for Signal Integrity

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

  • Utilizing Automated Testing Machines

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

  • Testing for the Environment with Our Advanced Life Testing Lab

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

Getting it There: Maintaining Efficient Logistics

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

Starting a New Custom Cable Project

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

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

What to Look for When Comparing Wire and Cable Harness Manufacturers

Cable Manufacturer

When you start looking for the perfect solution to your unique cable and wire harness needs, it can be a bit daunting trying to decide between different manufacturers. Just looking over websites might only give you a partial picture as to the capabilities of one firm over another. So what do you use to compare different cable and wire harness manufacturers? 

Today’s spotlight is focused on how to find the best manufacturer to meet the specifications your project demands. 

Past Experience in Custom Wire and Cable Harness Manufacturing

There are many off-the-shelf cable and wire harnesses out there but rarely do these products check all of the boxes the end-user needs to ensure safe and reliable function. Simply put, manufacturers with limited experience in custom cable and wire harnesses will lack the expertise needed to adapt during the manufacturing process. 

With decades of experience under our belts as a custom cable and wire harness manufacturer, Meridian is uniquely poised to meet the tough demands of some of the most demanding projects on Planet Earth, and beyond. 

First up, always look at a manufacturer’s track record for producing products of the same nature as your custom build. We are proud to have produced the harnesses necessary to provide critical infrastructure in industries such as the military, medical, industrial, and telecommunications. 

  • Military – the military subjects cable and wire harness components to some of the harshest environments on the planet. Building to MILSPEC takes many years of experience and some truly gifted designers, as these products need to be extremely tough. With military men and women counting on the electronic systems our harnesses help make possible, our commitment to integrity, functionality, and safety is paramount.
  • Medical – the medical field uses incredibly advanced equipment to save lives, diagnose, and treat patients every day. Some of these electronics require sensitive considerations like a biomedical jack or specialized strain reliefs. Knowing our cable and wire harnesses must perform exactly as required within medical devices and equipment is all the more highlighted when someone’s health and wellbeing are on the line.
  • Industrial industrial control systems help to power the automation behind massive processing and manufacturing facilities. As well, these systems help control utilities and other necessary municipal functions like water treatment facilities. Cable and wire harnesses play an integral role in providing the infrastructure needed to transmit power, data, and signals throughout the system.
  • Telecommunications – today’s world has never been more connected, nor have we ever relied so heavily on communications infrastructure to keep the data flowing. With a heavy emphasis on beefing up the world’s telecommunications capabilities in the last few decades, Meridian has been at the forefront by providing the specific harnesses needed in highly-sophisticated and sensitive communications equipment.

While these four industries represent the core of Meridian’s prowess as a cable and wire harness manufacturer, we have also built up an incredible level of expertise in a vast number of other industries, as well. The best manufacturer is one that is familiar with your industry and can anticipate the needs of the project, even before the client may have fully articulated them. 

From the very first concept meeting right through volume production, our gifted designers and engineers have the experience necessary to produce a product that we know will work as intended, under whatever circumstance our client needs them to. This is where having an experienced custom manufacturer pays huge dividends and can save a project both time and money.

Capabilities of the Custom Wiring Harness Manufacturer

Next, as you compare different harness manufacturers, make sure to pay close attention to the capabilities they have. This may seem basic, but in manufacturing there are many companies that offer a very limited scope of capabilities and may be sourcing the majority of components from other manufacturers. 

Meridian is proud to custom create over 70% of the products that come off our assembly line. In addition to a wealth of experience, this has enabled us to build an incredible tooling inventory from which to choose from to complete the task exactly as required. In fact, we have amassed over 5,000 existing tools, connectors, and other components to be available to complete the project. During the design phase, we also employ some of the most sophisticated design software available today to produce a digital blueprint to follow all the way to volume manufacturing. With such a massive “library” of tools and equipment at our disposal, we have some of the highest levels of capability in the industry. 

Having a blend of hand tools, semi-automated, and fully-automated equipment provides a great level of product breadth and depth when it comes to manufacturing harnesses. We are able to produce a wide range of different harnesses and can also produce many different iterations of one particular type. We have found this combination of experience and capability to be crucial to our success as a custom wiring harness manufacturer.

Commitment to Quality

Quality can be overlooked as you compare different manufacturers as everyone says they are committed to it. If everyone is doing it, what does it really matter? Actually, a great deal as one’s definition of what quality is and what requirements it places on every step of the manufacturing process can vary. 

We’ve mentioned that our cable and wire harnesses are used in some pretty exacting industries, where a mistake can mean much more than time, money, or our reputation. With so much at stake, we take quality to extreme levels. 

With Quality Assurance and Quality Assurance (QAQC) engineers whose sole mission is to ensure functionality, integrity, and safety of the product and the process, quality becomes very much data-driven. Testing is a crucial step that is implemented throughout the design and manufacturing process in order to ensure quality. It is indeed quite rare for a product to go from concept to volume manufacturing without a prototyping phase. We are proud to be able to say we test each and every product multiple times throughout the process but especially once complete and before the product ships to our customers worldwide. We want our clients to be absolutely sure the product they receive functions reliably cycle-after-cycle.

Prototyping allows our engineers a chance to test how different variations come together and function together as part of the larger system. We are also able to measure how well we can source the necessary materials to complete the project both on-time and on-budget. Manufacturers that skip prototyping will generally be costing more in the long run as the product undergoes real-world conditions and may even lead to premature failure. 

We even created a means to test our products under real-world conditions in our Advanced Life Testing Lab. Factors like salt spray, water, humidity, heat, friction, and bending all need to be considered and mitigated against within a cable harness’s engineering. The Advanced Life Testing Lab gives our engineers a chance to review how components hold up under the actual conditions they’re likely to face. This also gives a chance to tweak anything that doesn’t meet the exacting standards set forth in the project plan.

What Industry Certifications Matter Most 

Continuing with our discussion of quality is the certifications that a manufacturer possesses. You may not necessarily group a certification with quality; however, Meridian is proud to be certified exactly for our commitment to quality. 

ISO 9001 is an internationally recognized certification that has incredibly high standards. We are very proud to have and maintain our certification in this rigorous quality assurance standard. ISO 9001 requires a continued commitment not just to quality of the product and the process, but also in customer service. By continuing to focus on making our processes better, we have continually sought to eliminate process waste and fix any issues before they impact a project. 

Another truly crucial certification to look for in your cable harness manufacturer is that of a UL-approved manufacturing facility. The little stamp with the “UL” inside a circle on the bottom of most every electronic product you purchase means that product has met the stringent requirements as set forth by UL, or Underwriters Laboratory. UL is one of only a very small handful of government-approved independent standards creators. As a UL-approved facility, we are able to produce products that meet UL’s strict requirements and can help get our client’s products UL-certified, as well when it’s desired.

Starting Your Custom Wire or Cable Harness Project

Starting your project can seem daunting when you first start comparing cable and wiring harness manufacturers. However, by going with a manufacturer with the unique experience, capabilities, commitment to quality, and certifications necessary to produce custom solutions, you can be sure your harness is perfectly suited to meet the demands required of it. At Meridian, we are proud to have built a reputation as a manufacturer that can deliver, no matter what specifications are required. Contact our team today to start reviewing your project’s unique specs and see what sets our process and products apart.

Custom Cable Manufacturers: Creating Endless Possibilities With Your Custom Cable Design

Based on the combinations of each level of design of a custom cable assembly, there seems to be an endless number of possibilities for creating a unique, never-seen-before amalgamation of cables, wires, and support materials. These innocuous materials come together by fanatical design to pull-off some of the most demanding jobs on the planet. From supporting our military men and women on tough missions, providing for the possibility of cutting-edge medical equipment to be employed by a skilled surgeon in a complicated surgery, or enabling the manufacture of millions of other products in an industrial setting, it all starts with humble cables and wires. We’ll explore how the different design layers come together to create a masterpiece of modern engineering that is the custom cable assembly.

Conductor Size Matters

Extruding conductors sounds like the name of a cool sci-fi flick but it’s actually the foundation of any cable assembly. Conductors are simply materials that are good at conducting; think copper, aluminum, or nickel. Extrusion is a series of processes where parts of cable assemblies’ cross sections are made. The conductor material of choice is fed into a large vertical hopper that in turn feeds the extruder machine. The extruder looks like a large screw with a barrel that’s heated so it can mix, melt, and pump the material into a die. Meridian’s brilliant design staff can extrude conductors as small as 34 gauge – about six one-thousandths of an inch, or as large as 12 gauge. Even cooler, oftentimes different gauge conductors are put together to accomplish different tasks within an electrical system. This type of cable is referred to as the mixed-gauge cable. Custom cable manufacturers mix and match gauges to meet the exact requirements, as well as, confines of the project.

Colors of the Rainbow

Color may seem a purely aesthetic choice but far from trying to keep up with the latest season’s fashion, colors help designers and installers keep track of the many different conductors within the cable assembly. At Meridian, we often make cable assemblies with well over 50 different conductors. Just to keep track, we have to use a color system. Colors and custom markings help ensure the right conductor goes exactly where it’s designed to within the cable assembly. The best cable manufacturers reverse engineer cable assemblies from their given applications so that installers can efficiently utilize the assembly in their unique circumstances. Color coding is one way to ensure the product works as intended from design through implementation. 

Leave No Strand Behind

Stranding is the process by which individual conductor strands are joined together. Using a really cool stranding machine, we take strands of wire and rotate them around a common axis to create a super strong and flexible cross-section. When using UL-certified wires, we know the industry specifications of each individual wire and produce a custom cable that performs under the given set of circumstances we plan for. The strands themselves can be an incredible array of different materials and sizes, depending on the level of connectivity an electrical system requires. Cable manufacturing companies typically leave no strand behind unless a single, large strand is the best conductor for the given objective.

Why Insulate a Cable Assembly?

Insulation provides the first line of defense for a cable. Insulators are non-conductive materials that act as separations for the conductors within the cable and also from the environment that could downgrade the effectiveness of the cable if exposed to the elements. Electrical and signal transmission cables will both use insulation to protect conductors from things like extreme temperature variants, friction, current/signal degradation, and moisture. Insulators themselves come in many different types of materials that then each have their own set of design specifications, like hardness and softness, that can be tweaked on a given project. Meridian offers a wide array of insulation materials to meet both budget and performance requirements of each project. Each insulator we employ in a custom assembly will have the specific properties needed to perform under the circumstances. Mechanical properties like operating temperature ranges, resistance to abrasion, and flexibility, electrical properties like dielectric loss (ability to dissipate electromagnetic energy), and physical properties like thermal expansion and resistance to moisture all need to be considered in the cable assembly’s design. Meridian’s design engineers are intimately familiar with each of our insulating materials’ inherent properties so they can hand-pick the perfect combination that meets the project’s unique requirements.

Fillers Can be a Good Thing

Like insulation, fillers are used to prevent abrasion between cables which can degrade their construction over time. Basic cotton and fleece are great low-cost options for fillers that provide protection for the cables, help maintain the cable’s shape, and strengthen the cable through thousands of flexings. For applications requiring more beefy specifications, Kevlar is a great insulator for its inherent strength and durability – not to mention its sweet ability to stop bullets in other applications. Custom wire and cable manufacturers utilize even simple materials like fillers to create the perfect set-up for the intended application of a cable assembly. Far from being just a “filler” within the assembly, cable assembly fillers play a critical role in both form and function.

Cable Armor: Wraps and Shields

Adding to the layers of protection and durability, cable wraps and shields are used to create a cushioned, pliable barrier between the conductors and the final outer jacket. This helps prevent friction, increases strength, and adds to the overall durability of the cable assembly. Also, many electronic cables need special shielding to prevent interferences like electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio-frequency interference (RFI). This happens when an external source, both man-made and natural, directly affects the electrical circuit, which can degrade the current or cause it to cease altogether. Engineering in an avoidance system to EMI and RFI, our design team is able to create a cable system that can operate unimpeded through many useful cycles. EMI can be an intentional act such as the case with radar-jamming in military applications. Specialized shielding like aluminized mylar helps to block EMI, which allows our soldiers to openly communicate with each other on the battlefield.

Last Line of Defense: The Cable Jacket

The cable jacket acts as a final insulator and a protective barrier from the elements. The jacket can be made in myriad materials ranging from hard to soft to give our clients the protection of their custom cable assembly project needs. Simple materials like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) ranging to Polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon), recognized for its use in non-stick, high-end cooking, can be utilized to create the perfect jacket to insulate all of the components from the elements in which they’ll be deployed. Nature throws a lot at cable assemblies like heat, oxidation, and moisture that would rapidly deteriorate the conductors and insulation materials without a robust jacket encasing the assembly.

Bringing it all Together

Each step in the production process requires an incredible level of detail to tweak the material to the exact specifications of the project. Our design engineers love being brought an unsolvable problem and putting together a solution that works for both budget and performance. These materials by themselves are just a bunch of seemingly commonplace components, but together, they can be formed into the cable assembly system to power a fighter jet or an electrical system for a Grand Prix race car. We combine the right materials for the right application to produce a one-of-a-kind solution that works. Simply put, we are passionate about exceeding our clients’ expectations and our passion is continuously showcased in our products.

Meridian Knows Custom Cable Assemblies

We know you have many choices in the cable manufacturing industry. Custom wire and cable manufacturers around the world boast of superior products and services. So why Meridian? First and foremost, we have almost three decades of experience in international manufacturing in order to bring our customers around the globe the perfect product, by the most judicious means possible. Our design staff has created cable assemblies for some of the most demanding applications the Earth has to offer. From military to medical, we take the trust placed in our products seriously so produce the very best we possibly can. We also have garnered incredible knowledge in pre-project planning so create an incredibly lean manufacturing process – saving our client’s time and money and producing an ROI time and again. Lastly, we place a huge emphasis on quality. We only use UL-certified cables and wires and even created our own testing lab to ensure each and every product that rolls off our assembly lines perform under the exact specifications to which it was designed. Our products are simply too vital to electrical and signal components to fail prematurely. Our continuing and unwavering commitment to quality is what’s earned us ISO 9001:2015 certification. 
When you’re ready to meet with an engineering team that loves solving even your most complex cable assembly design problems, give our knowledgeable sales and marketing team a call. They’ll help start the process of getting you the perfect custom cable assembly that meets your exact specifications.

3 Reasons to Work with Cable Assemblies Manufacturers on Prototyping

3 Reasons to Work with Cable Assemblies Manufacturers on Prototyping

Partnering with cable assemblies manufacturers to prototype can help you ensure a more successful solution.

Working with cable assemblies manufacturers on prototypes is a great way to keep your production process running smoothly and end up with a cable assembly that performs the way you expect. While there are situations where an off-the-shelf cable can be used, it’s common that equipment has specialized requirements that can’t be met with a standard cable. When dealing with these kind of specialized needs, working directly with cable assemblies manufacturers to create a prototype has many benefits. Here are a few of the more common ones.

Working with Cable Assemblies Manufacturers Reduces Costs

Anytime someone says the word “custom” many of us hear “expensive.” However, when talking about prototyping cable assemblies, that isn’t always the case. In fact, many times you can actually save money by working with a cable assemblies manufacturer on a custom prototype. One of the first ways prototyping can help reduce overall costs is when it comes to the price and availability of components. Creating a prototype can help you identify issues with the supply chain for components before you go to a full production run. Unavailable or overly expensive components can make a significant difference in the cost when producing a large quantity of units. Understanding these costs at a smaller scale allows you to make more informed decisions or adjustments before it’s too late.

prototypes with cable assemblies manufacturers

Prototyping Simplifies the Production Process

Aside from the availability and price of components, prototyping also allows you to get a clear picture of the overall production process. It’s not unusual to discover problems with the production of a cable assembly after the design phase. Producing a prototype gives you a much better idea of what it will take to create a larger number of products without making costly mistakes. By paying attention to the production process when creating a prototype, cable assemblies manufacturers are able to identify ways to streamline production. This, in turn, can make turnaround times much quicker when producing the desired quantities of the finished product.

Product Testing

Testing a finished product is the best way to understand how effective it will be. By working with cable assemblies manufacturers to create a prototype, you are able to do thorough testing on a fully functional version of your product. This will allow you to get the clearest assurance that your finished cable will function as planned and whether it will be able to withstand the environmental conditions it will be subjected to during normal usage.

Conclusion

There’s no question that working closely with cable assemblies manufacturers on prototypes allows you to produce cables that will work seamlessly with your equipment. Choosing a manufacturer with a great deal of experience with prototyping is a great first step toward producing a finished cable that functions as expected for as long as expected for a price that matches your budget. When you are ready to discuss your next custom cable prototype, contact the team at Meridian Cable. We look forward to talking with you!

Discussing Filler Materials with Your Cable Assembly Manufacturer

Discussing Filler Materials with Your Cable Assembly Manufacturer

Your choice of filler materials can affect the sequence of components, the strength, and even the appearance of your custom cable.

When meeting with a cable assembly manufacturer, filler materials might not be at the top of your list of subject to discuss. However, filler material is an important component of your finished custom cable and should receive serious consideration. While filler material can certainly be used to fill gaps and create a better appearance, there are other practical uses like enhancing the strength of the cable and/or reducing friction.

Appearance Counts with a Cable Assembly Manufacturerfiller material used by cable assembly manufacturer

In many cases, designing a custom cable assembly requires engineers to use multiple wires with different diameters. While it is possible to leave spaces between the larger wires to accommodate smaller wires, it is still sometimes necessary to use fillers to maintain the round shape of the cable. Maintaining the shape produces a more professional appearance while providing support for outer layers of the cable. Depending on the requirements of the finished cable, these filler materials can be foams, tapes, or even spare wires that are not carrying current.

Filler tapes are often used to bundle wires to maintain shape, but they also prevent tangling and are specifically good for expelling air pockets that are trapped between the wires. They can even be used to group specific wires inside the cable, which can help in processing and ultimately make it easier to attach components.

Filler Materials for Stronger Custom Cables

The appropriate filler material is one of several components that must be taken into consideration when a client requires more strength in their custom cable. Depending on the level of strength needed, there are a wide range of filler materials that can be used — including aramid fiber and steel.

Aramid fiber is a type of synthetic fiber that is strong, flexible, and resists abrasion. It can be used in a wide variety of applications, including clothing and lightweight protective armor (Kevlar™ is a commonly known commercial brand). Aramid fiber also offers additional heat resistance, which may be appropriate for some applications.

Reduce Friction with the Right Filler

Over time, friction can degrade cables. The good news is that there are several steps a custom cable manufacturer can take to reduce friction and extend the life of the cable. One of those steps is to choose the appropriate binder material.

PTFE tape is a great choice for custom cables when friction and heat are concerns. PTFE (or polytetrafluoroethelene) is resistant to heat and friction, and is also a good insulator due to excellent dielectric properties. You may have heard of PTFE referred to under the brand-name Teflon™.

Conclusion

While not every cable requires them, a cable assembly manufacturer can use filler materials to add strength, support, and friction resistance to custom cables. Their use allows the cable to function as effectively as possible while helping to protect it from environmental conditions. Work closely with your cable assembly manufacturer so they are able to select filler materials that fulfill the technical requirements of your equipment while fitting your budget. When you’re ready to talk about your next custom cable, contact the team at Meridian Cable. We look forward to discussing your project.

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.

5 Points to Discuss with a Custom Cable Manufacturer

5 Points to Discuss with a Custom Cable Manufacturer

Being clear about what you need at the start of your project is key to a successful relationship with your custom cable manufacturer.

Regular readers know we stress good communication with your custom cable manufacturer throughout the design and manufacturing process. More information, especially during the design phase, can help the team address potential issues before they become costly problems further down the road. However, we know it can be difficult to understand what kind of information is the most helpful. So we put together a list of some areas to discuss that will help your next custom cable project go more smoothly and result in a more successful product.

1. Previous Designs

If you are starting from scratch with a design for a brand new cable, you can probably skip this conversation. But if you’re replacing an existing cable assembly, this is the perfect opportunity to improve on the previous design. Talk to your custom cable manufacturer about the quality, cost, and performance of your existing cable. Let them know what is and is not working, and what could work better. Using your existing cable as a starting place allows you to really focus on what you need in a cable moving forward.

2. Basic Technical Requirements

This seems obvious, but coming up with a list of requirements for your custom cable manufacturer is a good way to make sure all of the absolute must-haves are met. Requirements might include voltage, number of contacts, signal speed, grounding, etc. Taking some time to understand what you need before the design phase will help save time and money when creating a custom cable assembly.

3. Environmental Concernscustom wire

Not taking the environmental conditions a cable must withstand into consideration during the design phase can be the reason the final product is unsatisfactory or fails prematurely. Concerns like moisture, heat, and cold are obvious, but they are not the only types of things you should be thinking about. For example, cables used in medical facilities often have additional requirements to ensure they are able to be sterilized for use with multiple patients. But, this is only one of many situations that you should talk through with your custom cable manufacturer.

4. Connector Types

A custom cable manufacturer can use a wide variety of connectors in your cable design, but the two main types are assembled and overmolded. In general, assembled connectors are less expensive to produce and molded connectors tend to be more durable. However, each type has it’s pros and cons, which should be discussed with your cable manufacturer’s engineering team to make sure you make the right choice for your application.

5. Safety Requirements

Most custom cables must comply with safety regulations. A reputable custom cable manufacturer should be able to discuss how their processes ensure the resulting product meets the appropriate standards. However, it’s also important to discuss any special requirements before the design stage to make sure all standards will be met.

Conclusion

Help your custom cable manufacturer design a better cable with some careful thought about what you need. Communicating as many details as you can as early as possible makes the design process run more smoothly and helps make sure your custom cable is tailored to the needs of your equipment. Good communication in the early stages of a project can also help save both time and money both in the short and long terms.

If you’re ready to share the specifications for your next project, contact the team at Meridian Cable. We’re happy to answer any questions!

How to Work with a Cable Assembly Manufacturer When You Have a Tight Budget

How to Work with a Cable Assembly Manufacturer When You Have a Tight Budget

A cable assembly manufacturer has many options available that can help you stay in budget and get a custom cable that is right for your situation.

Having an unlimited budget to work with when designing a custom cord might seem like the best way to get the perfect end product, but that type of situation is rare. In most cases, budget is a concern. The good news is your cable assembly manufacturer should be able to help you balance the cable’s functionality with cost.

Good Communication Saves Money

This may seem like common sense, but make sure you are sharing as much information with your cable assembly manufacturer as possible in the planning and design stages of your project. Having clear specifications about how and in what environment the finished product will function gives the design team a thorough understanding at the outset. This can translate to a cable assembly that meets the needs of the equipment and environment with fewer revisions or surprises late in the project.

Talk Materials with Your Cable Assembly Manufacturer

Armed with complete technical specifications and a good understanding of the environment where a finished cable assembly will function, the design team is able to select the optimum materials to create a solution that operates as expected. At its most basic, a cable is made up of a conductor, connectors, jacketing, and insulation. Each can offer an opportunity for cost savings with some careful thought.

Conductorscable assembly manufacturer conductors

Obviously, the conductor material should be selected based on the type of signal and how long the cable is expected to be in use. However, with so many options when it comes to size, material, and plating, a cable assembly manufacturer can make recommendations that address cost concerns without compromising on functionality. For example: In many cases, a smaller conductor is less expensive. Choosing the smallest conductor that will transmit the signal or power allows you to get the functionality you need without the unnecessary expense of a larger conductor. Though, in some cases, a smaller conductor is actually more expensive to produce, so it’s doubly important to discuss options with your cable’s design team.

Connectors

All cable assemblies connect to some sort of equipment or power/signal source. Because the section of cable that leads to the connector is a common point of failure due to stresses, it’s important to select the right type of connector for the job. While an overmolded cable offers more durability in many cases, it may make more sense to use a connector that can be repaired by a technician. Understanding the needs of your finished product allows you and your cable assembly manufacturer to make the right decision before producing a cable that doesn’t fit your needs.

Jacketing & Insulation

The environment where a cable assembly will be used often dictates what type of jacketing material or insulation is used in the finished product. Different materials are more suitable for cables that are exposed to extreme heat or cold, moisture, or stresses. More expensive materials for jacketing aren’t automatically better for every environment. In many cases, choosing a more costly material that is unsuited for the environment can be a waste of money and compromise the function or service like of the cable.

Conclusion

Good planning, open communication, and thoughtful selection of materials is the great way to save costs when creating a custom cable with a cable assembly manufacturer. If you are ready to talk about your next custom cable project, contact the team at Meridian Cable. We’d love to discuss your options.

Important Certifications for a Cable Assembly Manufacturer

Important Certifications for a Cable Assembly Manufacturer

Paying attention to a custom cable assembly manufacturer’s certifications is essential in today’s marketplace.

If you’ve recently been on the website of a cable assembly manufacturer, you have almost certainly noticed certifications listed in a prominent location. With so many options when it comes to certifications, it can be difficult to know what is important and, above all, reputable when reviewing manufacturers.

Obviously, different types of manufacturers should have certifications that are most applicable to their industries and products. There are many of these certifications that are nice to have, but not absolutely necessary, and you should evaluate these with your project and equipment needs in mind. However, if you are working with a cable assembly manufacturer, there are certifications from two organizations that are worth paying closer attention to.

ISO – International Organization for Standardization

The International Organization for Standardization is recognized around the world as an independent source of best practices for a wide range of industries. Seeing an ISO accreditation on a cable assembly manufacturer’s website signals that they are a credible organization that is committed to creating safe products of high quality.  ISO certification for cable assembly manufacturer

In an industry where product failure can be life-threatening, it’s vital you work with a manufacturer that takes your concerns about safety seriously. If you don’t see any mention of an ISO certification, it’s worth having a discussion about why not. There are also many types of ISO certifications, so it can be valuable to familiarize yourself with any specific accreditations you see.

UL – Underwriters Laboratories

You may be more familiar with UL from the stamp that appears on products like light bulbs and lamps that are meant to function using electricity. UL ratings like these can help consumers determine in what types of conditions the product is meant to perform. This can also be the case for custom cable assemblies. Like ISO, UL can be focused on ensuring the quality and safety of the end product. However, UL also offers certification of the manufacturing process to make sure a company is able to to produce safe products that meet standards.

Additional Certifications for a Cable Assembly Manufacturer

ISO and UL are well-known and offer certifications for a wide range of industries, processes, and products, but they aren’t the only options. If you see certifications you are unfamiliar with, don’t hesitate to ask about them. The team at your cable assembly manufacturer should be ready to discuss their reasonings behind pursuing specific accreditations. There are also industry-specific options (like AS9100 for aerospace) that may be appropriate for your project. Always make sure you follow up any questions you ask the manufacturer by doing your own research.

 

Certifications can be extremely valuable when you are evaluating a cable assembly manufacturer. They not only show a dedication to producing safe products and working environments, but also demonstrate a dedication to staying at the top of industry best practices by maintaining standards that are continually updated. With a little knowledge, you can use this information to make the best choice. When you are ready to talk about your next project, the Meridian Cable is happy to answer all your questions. Get in touch with us, today!