Category Archives: Custom Cable Assemblies

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.

Top 10 Benefits to Creating a Custom Cable Assembly

custom cable assembly manufacturer

Standard cable out of the box is usually mass-produced for a very simple purpose. When the application varies in even the minutest details, these standard cables will often fall short. Even for a simple application like hooking up a home theater system, the different connections from speaker, to power source, to audio source can vary significantly with the myriad of different brands on the market and usually require a custom coax cable assembly. A failure here can lead to a frustrating cinematic experience. Imagine if that failure were to occur during a critical mission with the military or during a large-scale production run in an industrial setting. Failure during these events could prove incredibly costly. And so, custom cable assemblies, crafted exactly for the task at hand, produce a return on the investment time and again. We’ll highlight below our top 10 benefits to creating a custom cable assembly with Meridian.

Top 10 Benefits of Custom Cable Assemblies

1. Ability to Prototype

Prototyping is the process of creating a “test” assembly from which our design staff can run a particular set of cables, connectors, and ancillary components through a multitude of tests in real-life situations to ensure the assembly meets the design requirements. Multiple iterations produced at the same time allow for different prototypes to be tested simultaneously. Seeing the product perform in the real world gives our design staff and clients insight into different attributes that may need to be tweaked. One desired function may not work when different components are put together creating the need for a redesign of an original idea. Also, a prototype will help the manufacturer understand where, when, and how source materials will come together. If these components aren’t feasible, or economically viable, to source given the current configuration, designers can go back to the drawing board way before mass production ever takes place. Prototyping can prove incredibly cost-effective for production in the long-run of product development.

2. Product Testing

Meridian’s custom cable assemblies, whether prototyped or not, will undergo rigorous testing to ensure uniform functionality and quality. At Meridian, we even maintain our own testing laboratory that does nothing but test each product as it comes off the assembly line. Sometimes this requires inventing a whole new way of testing if the cable assembly is a completely customized project. Testing helps to ensure the client receives a product they know they can depend on, in whatever application they are planning on using it in. From military to medical, these assemblies are simply too vital to fail prematurely. Another important element of testing is being able to test the product in the elements; that is, putting the product in the environment it will be used in. Harsh conditions like salt water exposure or being subject to extreme temperatures will increase the need for effective insulators, fillers, wraps, and jacket materials. Testing allows custom cable assembly manufacturers to see how a particular amalgamation of components will stand up to the environment where it will be utilized. 

3. Reduce Overall Costs

Rather than trying to configure an off-the-shelf cable assembly to meet your specific needs, custom cable manufacturing allows you to create the perfect set-up. As we’ve discussed, prototyping and testing help ensure the final product has the form and function required of the cable assembly system, while still being economically viable. Our design staff and in-house engineers love solving our client’s complex problems. They’ll take into account how the cable is being used, the voltage or signal required, and even variables such as length to produce the perfect cable and cable assembly components. Knowing the costs, production times, and functionality of a custom assembly saves an incredible amount of time, which in turn, provides the best utilization of capital for our clients.

4. Perfect Fit

Oftentimes, our clients bring us very specific design criteria for use in their electrical systems. As discussed, these systems are used in an incredible array of industries. With such diversity, finding a premade cable assembly to fit your exact project requirements will be difficult, if not impossible. For example, our molded cable assemblies have a mold that’s created exactly to the project’s specifications. This creates a perfect, stable fit for the assembly to the equipment and provides the protection to stand up to the elements that may be subjecting the assembly and connections. Another example is the ability to color-code cables and wires. Color-coding greatly reduces the chances that an element is incorrectly installed, making sure the custom assembly remains the perfect fit from production through implementation. 

5. Faster Turnaround Time

Utilizing a custom cable assembly means all of the project source materials are known ahead of time. This reduces the chances for sourcing hiccups that can occur from trying to source materials on-the-fly. Also, running the cable assembly through prototyping and extensive QA/QC testing helps ensure the product is the perfect fit for the function to which it is intended. All of which helps decrease the chances that a product isn’t delivered on-time, as planned. Pre-production, our engineers and design staff put together a complete production plan that even takes into account the specific tools needed to complete a job. Tools are reserved from our custom tool cribs in order to make sure they are available at the precise moment they’re needed in the production process, which also eliminates time waste. Meridian is a firm proponent of Kanban production, which seeks to eliminate these types of waste throughout the production process in order to stick to the predetermined project schedule. 

6. QA/QC

Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) lies at the very heart of everything a custom cable manufacturer does. In order to obtain and maintain our ISO 9001:2015 certification, we have to demonstrate a consistent commitment to the improvement of our processes. Demonstrating the integrity of our products, each and every production run, and our commitment to total client satisfaction, allows for production runs to go smoothly, issues to be addressed quickly, and the overall product quality to remain consistently high.

7. Experience in Similar Applications

A cable assembly manufacturer worth their weight will have produced thousands of different cable and wiring assemblies for a variety of different industries and applications. Meridian’s clients benefit from nearly three decades of intrinsic knowledge in custom cable assembly. We produce products that work right from the get-go, with each and every product manufactured off our lines. All of this experience equates to faster turnaround times, better products, and the ability to utilize our client’s budget in the most judicious means possible.

8. Better Materials

By going with a custom cable assembly and cable harness manufacturer, you get the benefit of qualified engineers sourcing the best materials for the actual application you intend the product for. At Meridian, we use UL-certified cables and wires so that we get both a uniform functionality, as well as, uniform quality to our products. This allows the final product to have a known range of specifications and likely failure points, allowing for clients to better plan for asset decay. Bottom line, better materials means better products.

9. Ability to Scale Production

Most projects usually go from concept, through design, to prototyping, testing, and finally roll off in small lots. However, we have the capability and experience to produce incredibly high volumes of cable assemblies, coil cords, molded components, and wire harnesses in our production facilities. Having two, wholly-owned production facilities located around the globe allows us to quickly ramp up production to get our products quickly to clients anywhere they may be.

10.  Control Over the Process

At Meridian, we control the entirety of the day-to-day operations in both of our production facilities. That means complete oversight over the complete production process. We have a fairly fanatical dedication to making quality products. The applications where our cable assemblies find themselves is simply too vital for us to produce anything less than great products, with known specifications, so that operators know they can count on the product wherever it’s being employed. You simply won’t get this level of control over product quality from an off-the-shelf cable assembly.

Why Meridian?

Custom cable assemblies are a vital component to most any electrical system you can think of. We know you have a wide range of choices when it comes to cable assembly companies and cable harness manufacturers. At Meridian, we’ve developed a manufacturing process that utilizes the very best techniques in supply chain management and manufacturing, such as Kanban and just-in-time ordering. After nearly three decades as a cable and wiring assembly manufacturer, we’ve gotten pretty good at the process. This means putting client needs first to deliver a truly superior product, in a cost-effective manner. We value the trust placed in us by our clients so continue to seek ways to improve our processes. When you’re ready to go over your project requirements with a knowledgeable support specialist, call 1-866-866-0544 or email us at sales@meridiancableassemblies.com. You can also utilize our convenient online contact form.

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.

Cost Effective Custom Design Cables

Cost Effective Custom Design Cables

Generally speaking most people don’t associate custom with cost effective, but they don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Most of the time, if anything is custom it costs more than a standard counterpart. However, in many cases, knowing what to ask your cable manufacturer will help you keep costs in line. It’s no different with custom design cables or custom cable assemblies.

What are custom design cables and cable assemblies?

Let’s start with the basics and define what a custom design cable or cable assembly is by defining what it isn’t. If you can find the cable or cable assembly you need in stock, it’s not custom. Companies typically don’t stock custom items because they aren’t purchased often enough to justify the cost of carrying the inventory. So, if you’ve searched and can’t find the cable or cable assembly you need off-the-shelf, odds are you need a custom product.

In the immortal words of Douglas Adams, “Don’t panic!” Just because you need something custom doesn’t mean you need to be robbed. Most times the only difference between a standard product and custom product are a few minor, but important, details. Making those changes doesn’t always have to be expensive.

Getting Started on Custom Design Cables

When you can’t find what you need, start looking for a custom product by describing it using standard terms. For example, we make USB cables for the retail security industry that prevent thieves from cutting the cable and running off with a new cell phone. These cables aren’t that different from a standard product except for one very important feature: If someone tries to cut them, they can’t—at least not very easily. While this feature increases the price, it is NOT by factors of 2, 3, or 4. Since we extrude cable, it’s easy for us to include cut resistance in the design phase. This would only add cost for the added material, and not a penny more because we feel like it.

More Complex Custom Design Cables

If the cable you need is a bit more complex, you can describe it as a combination of standards to get your needs across. We recently created a coil cord for an off-the-road vehicle company.  The cable was custom, but it was clearly described as a combination of RS-232, USB, and 12Vdc power. All three are very standard but generally not found in one cable, not to mention in the form of a coil cord. However, when defined by the standard items, it was quite easy to understand what the client needed. custom design cables

Don’t worry if you don’t know the “standards,” like RS232, USB, OBDII, SAE1850, ISO914 L, CAN Bus, UL8750, and so on. You don’t need to be a standards expert; a good custom cable manufacturer will know that stuff and can guide you. Just describe the items you want to connect, or better yet, describe the kinds of cables you want to combine. Then you can ask what standards the manufacturer will design and build the cable to, so you can decide if you really need that standard. Often the only difference between a cable that meets a “standard” and one just like it that doesn’t is nothing but a testing house approving the cable. If you don’t need this seal of approval, don’t pay for it. If you do need it, then it’s a good idea to spend the extra money. Either way, make sure you know so you can make an informed decision.

How much cable do you need?

Last, don’t be fooled into thinking a custom design cable automatically means producing tens of thousands of feet at a time. A good custom cable company should be able to extrude runs of custom cable of no more than a few thousand feet if necessary. Cable extrusion is a fast process, often running at speeds of 3-5 feet per second. It’s not easy to do small runs, but it is not impossible. Many companies just don’t want to do small runs because they aren’t set up for them.  Find a company that is and your costs will be much lower.

Conclusion

Custom cable design doesn’t automatically mean you have to break the bank to pay for the solution you need. Get in touch with the team at Meridian Cable when you are ready to see how we can help you stay in budget on your next custom cable project.

 

 

Benefits to Working with a Cable Assembly Manufacturer on Prototypes

Benefits to Working with a Cable Assembly Manufacturer on Prototypes

Creating a prototype is often the key to creating a successful custom cable solution.

You probably already know that creating a custom cable with a reputable cable assembly manufacturer is a great way to make sure the finished cable is tailored to the needs of your equipment or product. If you were using an off-the-shelf cable, testing it out on your equipment might be as simple as purchasing one and plugging it in. However, if the cable is custom, it’s a little more complicated.

With all the options available when creating a custom cable, working with a cable assembly manufacturer on prototypes can be incredibly useful. Not only can it help eliminate assumptions when selecting materials, but it can also help you streamline the production of larger quantities.

Real Cables in the Real World

Because a prototype is a full-scale version of the design that is, in many cases, fully functional, producing a prototype will allow you to see and feel how it will function in the real world. This ability to manipulate a physical product can help you make determinations about the functionality that go beyond technical capabilities. For example, being able to test the extension and retraction of a coil cord prototype can reveal design flaws that might otherwise go unnoticed until much later in a project when they are harder to correct.

Faster Turnarounds from an Experienced Cable Assembly Manufacturer

Choosing a cable assembly manufacturer with in-house capabilities means you are often able to have a cable prototype to work with quickly. While the availability of the appropriate materials is always a consideration when estimating the time a prototyping project will take, a manufacturer with extensive experience can often provide you with a more rapid turnaround.

High-Quality Prototypes Can Offer Significant Cost Savings

custom cable assembly

It doesn’t make sense to extrude large quantities of a new cable design design without testing. A prototype allows you to produce multiple iterations of a cable to ensure it is ideal for the equipment and environment where it will function. Thorough testing of a new cable design at the prototyping stage can go a long way toward eliminating headaches further down the road. This may include issues in the product itself or the production process.

Conclusion

Producing a prototype is often a critical step in designing a custom cable assembly, because it allows you and the design team to address issues before they balloon into expensive or even dangerous problems. Working with a custom cable assembly manufacturer experienced in producing high-quality prototypes in a timely fashion gives you the opportunity to create a finished product that is virtually guaranteed to fit the specifications of your equipment. If you’re ready to talk about your next project, contact the team at Meridian Cable. We look forward to hearing from you.

Coil Cord Design: What Questions to Expect

Coil Cord Design: What Questions to Expect

Thinking through what you need before the coil cord design process starts can help you get the ideal cable for your equipment.

Custom coil cord design services allow you to get a final product that is a better match for your needs than an off-the shelf wire. But if you haven’t done some serious thinking about what you really need, you might not get the results you were looking for. Here are a few questions you can ask your team to get a coil cord that is truly customized to the requirements of your equipment.

In what environment will you be using the cords?

One of the first questions an engineer will ask during the coil cord design process is what environmental conditions the wire will need to withstand. Obviously, a cord used in a military or industrial environment has different requirements than one that would be used in a retail setting. Other questions could include: Will the cord be used inside or outside? Does it need to be able to withstand extreme heat or cold? Will the cord come into contact with moisture or oil? These are all conditions that can and should be taken into consideration when designing coil cords.

How long should the coil cords last?

A coil cord that lasts forever might seem like an ideal product, but if higher durability compromises function and/or makes it prohibitively expensive to produce it may not be worth it. In addition to durable jacketing material, there are other elements that can affect longevity. For example, choosing stranded wiring as a conductor can create a cord with a higher resistance to metal fatigue than a solid conductor. However, tinsel might be a better choice if you need flexibility but the finished wire can’t handle a high current capacity.

How dynamic are the coil cords during normal function?coil cord design

A coil cord can be designed with materials like steel, Kevlar, Spectra, or Teflon to make them virtually indestructible. That sounds great, but is that durability worth the added expense to produce for a cord that doesn’t require it? By clearly communicating your cord’s normal, everyday function, a coil cord design team can recommend materials that are the right balance of cost and physical properties for your equipment. A key question will be how many extension and retraction cycles the coil cord will experience in its life.

Conclusion

Custom coil cord design from a reputable cable manufacturer like Meridian Cable is a great way to get a cord that is perfectly tailored to your application. While there are many different elements to take into consideration when creating a custom coil cord, thinking through the questions above is a great way to prepare for initial discussions with the design team. When you are ready to discuss your project, please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.

Safety Considerations for Custom Cable Assemblies

Safety Considerations for Custom Cable Assemblies

Safety should always be the top priority when creating custom cable assemblies.

Sourcing custom cable assemblies from a reputable manufacturer is the best way to ensure your equipment or product is free of safety issues. While there are situations when an off-the-shelf cable assembly makes sense for your budget and the cable’s application, it is essential to carefully consider how using an assembly that is not customized will affect the overall success of the project.

Any time you are dealing with electricity, safety is key. Faulty cable assemblies made from improper materials can cause equipment damage, which can lead to expensive repairs. In addition, you will experience lowered productivity while the damaged equipment is being repaired. That may be the best-case scenario. Low quality cable assemblies can cause bigger problems, like environmental harm and safety issues from toxic smoke or electrical fires.

Ask Questions

The best way to prevent these issues is to make sure you are using a custom cable assembly designed by a safety-focused cable manufacturer. But how can you know a manufacturer is focused on safety? One of the best ways is to be sure to ask about certifications as well as testing procedures when you are discussing your project. An honest conversation about how the manufacturer ensures a safe product can save you more than just headaches. It could prevent lawsuits or even serious injuries.

Safe Materials for Your Custom Cable Assemblies

When going through the design process, be sure to discuss materials that will be used in your custom cable assembly. Choosing the right gauge and material for the conductor is key for functionality and safety. However, making good decisions when it comes to insulation and jacketing can also be the difference between a safe custom cable assembly and one of questionable quality. While there are many components that could affect the safety of custom cable assemblies, talking about conductors, insulation, jacketing, connectors, and strain relief is a great start.

Conductors

Copper is the most commonly used conductor, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the right material to use for your project. Because it is prone to corrosion, it is necessary to consider whether plating or copper alloys might be more appropriate choices. Another consideration is whether your equipment would be better served with a solid or stranded conductor.

Insulation & Jacketing

Clear industry standards exist for the appropriate insulation and jacketing to use in specific applications, so be clear about the conditions your finished cable will be operating under. Does the cable need to perform in extreme temperatures? Under heavy pressure? In wet environments? The answers to all of these questions will help your cable manufacturer choose the right materials.

Connectors & Strain Reliefcustom-cable-assemblies-connector

The terminal points of a cable can be common failure points due to the additional stresses in those areas. While the technical needs of the equipment often drives the choice of connector, additional strain relief can prevent termination failure.  If additional strain relief is needed, the cable assembly designer can add a transition point that alleviates some of the added stress.

Conclusion

Using custom cable assemblies is often the best way to build safe products or maintain safe equipment. When you are talking to a custom cable manufacturer, don’t be afraid to bring up safety. Engineers should be ready and able to discuss how they are ensuring a safe product.

If you are ready to talk about a new project, please get in touch with the team at Meridian Cable. We would love to hear from you.

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!

Hiring a Cable Assembly Manufacturer: What to Think about First

Hiring a Cable Assembly Manufacturer: What to Think about First

So, you need a custom cable, but don’t know what to look for in a cable assembly manufacturer.

One cable assembly manufacturer is not necessarily the same as another. Each has specific capabilities and experience that make them the right choice for designing and manufacturing different types of cable. But how do you even begin the search if you don’t know what questions to ask or information to provide?

Over the years, Meridian’s engineers have come up with a method to quickly determine what kind of cable assembly a customer needs that could be helpful when you are given the task of finding a wire and cable manufacturer.

Determining the General Type of Cable

The Meridian team starts with the simple assumption that all cable assemblies carry power or signal from one end to the other. The first step we take is to find out which the assembly needs to carry, or both. Since we extrude our own cable, we can handle any of these scenarios, but there are some power or signal cables we can’t make. Determining that from the beginning is critical for us and should be for you as well.

Power

Power, for the most part, is easy to determine. The more power a cable needs to deliver, the more conductive material it requires. For example, it’s easy to pass 1 amp of current through a 24 awg conductor that is 1 foot long. However, bad things can happen very quickly if you try passing 20 amps through a 24 awg conductor. We don’t make high power cables at Meridian. If the power transmission requirements are above about 40 amps, we are upfront with the customer about our capabilities. Since we’ve been around long enough to know which companies do extrude high power cables, we will happily share that information.

It should be noted that, with power, often all you need to know is the voltage and current. In many cases, customers don’t have this information, but they do know what is on either end of the needed assembly. Most times, we can make a rough determination of the voltage and current by knowing what devices the assembly is connecting. From there, the design can be narrowed significantly enough to get the process moving.

Signal

Signals, for the most part, are complicated. Sure it’s all data, but new ways of transferring data are created all the time. For example, think of your TV 10, 20, or 30 years ago. (Some of us here at Meridian are old enough to remember TVs 30 years ago.) The number and types of connectors on the backs of TVs have changed radically over the years, but all those connectors pass signals. 30 years ago, it was not uncommon for two wires to come from an antenna on top of the TV or up on the roof. All the antennae cable passed was the image that appeared on the screen — without any data about time, channel, audio, etc. Now, the typical input is an HDMI cable that carries a ton of data — some slow, some fast, but all signals.

It’s vitally important to communicate what types of signals your cables need to carry at the beginning of your search for a cable assembly manufacturer. For example, Meridian is capable of manufacturing a wide variety of cables that carry signals. However, we are not able to make coax cables that carry signals in the high gigahertz range. Having candid initial conversations with clear requirements can save you a lot of time. The good news is you don’t need to know the exact technical parameters or specifications that will be transmitted for cable. Often, knowing the gadgets to be connected to the cable assembly and any standards the signals must conform to helps the Meridian team determine whether we can make the cable or not. If we can’t, we’ll be happy to let you know companies that can.

Questions to Consider before Talking to a Cable Assembly Manufacturer

If you are tasked with finding a cable assembly vendor, here is a simple checklist of questions to think through before you start reaching out:electric cable assembly manufacturer

  1. Can samples be made with off-the-shelf cable? If yes, then you can go to a lot of different vendors. If not then you need a vendor who can extrude cable, like Meridian.
  2. Does the cable need to carry signal, power or both? If only signal or power that makes it a lot easier to find a vendor. If it needs to carry both then a custom cable extruder like Meridian might be needed.
  3. If power is needed; how much? This can be expressed in technical terms (voltage/current) or by knowing what items need the power. For example, a cell phone, data input tablet, fork truck or nuclear power plant.
  4. If signal is needed; what kind? Many signals have technical names/specification numbers. If those are known the problem is solved and if not knowing the devices passing/receiving the signal will go a long way in determining what is needed.
  5. Lastly, how many assemblies are needed? This can be as low as one up to millions. It can be several for prototype, then more for Beta/First Articles/PPAP, and then on to production quantities. All vendors have a volume sweet spot. Knowing the quantity can often help save valuable time ruling vendors both in and out.

Hopefully this very simple guideline helped. (Apologies to any engineers who read this and found some of it is not technically pure. We’re happy to talk more technically…maybe a little too happy.) Obviously, there are many items to consider when designing and producing a custom cable assembly. This basic approach will help make the process of finding the right cable assembly manufacturer a little easier.

At Meridian, we have experienced designing and extruding a wide range of custom cables. If you’re ready to talk about what we can do for you, please get in touch.

Custom Cable Assemblies Basics

Custom Cable Assemblies Basics

Understanding the basics of custom cable assemblies can help you find the perfect solution for your product or equipment.

Custom cable assemblies are all around us, bringing sound, information, and even light into our homes and businesses. When they are working, we don’t spend much time thinking about them. Even when they fail, unless you are an electrical engineer, you may not fully understand how or why they differ from traditional cables. This isn’t a big deal for the layperson, but if you are responsible for replacing a cable assembly for a piece of equipment, a little information about the basics can smooth the process when working with a wire and cable manufacturer.

Wires, Cables, & Cable Assemblies

Wires, cables, and cable assemblies have similar basic purposes, but they aren’t quite the same. When talking to a wire and cable manufacturer, using the right terminology can prevent any miscommunications during the consultation and design process.

Wire – A wire is made up of a single conductor that can be solid or stranded and is insulated with a non-conductive material. While wires with solid cores tend to be inexpensive and produce the best connections, they can be difficult to work with in some situations due to their inflexibility. A stranded core is more flexible, but is more costly to produce and does not have the same carrying capability as a solid core wire of the same gauge.

Cable – A cable is two or more wires that have been bonded or braided together. Unlike wires, cables tend to be insulated, which means they are more protected than standard wires. This extra protection often makes them more heavy duty than a standard wire.

Cable Assembly –  A cable assembly is a group of wires or cables that are bound together and covered by a durable exterior product. They are often made from materials like shrink-wrapped thermoplastic, thermoplastic rubber, or vinyl and come in many shapes and sizes.

Customizing Cable Assemblies

When binding wires and cables together, you have a few choices to make. Because custom cable assemblies are tailored to specific needs, they can be designed to withstand environmental factors, like moisture, heat, friction, and other hazards. They can even come in different shapes or sizes depending on the space where they will be used.  When working with a wire and cable manufacturer, they will work with you to determine a wide range of factors for your cable assembly, such as:custom cable assemblies

  • Conductor Gauge & Material
  • Stranding Sizes
  • Insulation Types
  • Jacketing Materials
  • Wraps & Shields

An experienced cable manufacturer like Meridian Cable is able to offer you a vast range of customization options for custom cable assemblies. Since all of our products are made to order, we are able to design and extrude a cable assembly that is customized to the needs of your equipment and environment. Get in touch to learn more or find out how we can help you design and produce custom cable assemblies that are safe, effective, and durable.