Category Archives: Custom Cables for Prototyping

How 3D Printing is Changing the World of Cable Assemblies And Wire Harnesses

You have probably heard a good deal about 3D printing and how it is taking production industries by storm. However, the technological advances in 3D printing have started to play a significant role in the production of cable assemblies and wire harnesses. Here at Meridian Cable, we have greatly benefitted by utilizing the advancing technology of a 3D printing wire harness.

The remarkable tech for 3D printing wire harness affords excellent opportunities for rapid prototyping and a more efficient overall production timeline. But how exactly is 3D printing beneficial to Meridian Cable’s production? What tech does Meridian use, and what can 3D printers make? Plug in and power up as we explore all about 3D printing wire harnesses and other components. 

Getting Plugged in: What is 3D Printing?

First things first, let us define what 3D printing is. 3D printing is a modern wonder of innovation. A 3D printer is able to construct a component, shell, form, shape, or object from a single machine. Using a computer-aided design (CAD), 3D printers build a three-dimensional object by layering pliable material. They are typically used to create objects out of plastics or other moldable materials. A single dispenser flows back and forth across the printing field to deposit and layer the building material. 

3D printing technology has exploded over the last several years, resulting in a surge of applications for the craft. Because there is so much opportunity to build and create practically anything via 3D printing, it is no wonder that production industries are catching on to its possibilities. 

What Can 3D Printers Build? 

There are numerous examples of what 3D printers can create. The truth is, the list could be pretty nearly infinite. Everything from car parts to cell phone cases can be manufactured by utilizing 3D printing technology. This versatile technology presents a whole world of possibilities. 

In relation to 3D printing wire harness components and other related elements, 3D printing can be used to efficiently create high-quality elements. Some of the items that we have used 3D printing for are:

  • Molds for building wire harness components
  • Housings for cable assembly connectors
  • Fixtures
  • Connector shells
  • Many more components

The versatility that 3D printing offers allow us to build a wide variety of components. 

Benefits of 3D Printing Wire Harness Components

With the advancement of three-dimensional printing comes incredible innovation in how we are able to engineer our components. There are several key benefits that have presented themselves to us as one of the leading cable assembly and wire harness manufacturers in the world. 

A few of the most noteworthy benefits of 3D printing wire harness components are:

  • Cost: The cost of 3D printing is often much less than using other methods. This enables manufacturers to create quality components that cost less for both the business and the customers. 
  • Flexible Customization: 3D printing wire harness housings and other components offer incredible flexibility in what we can create. Let’s be honest; we are all about customization and building exactly what you need. 3D printing provides an astonishing potential for creating customized components. The possibilities for customization are nearly limitless because of 3D printing. 
  • Lightweight components: 3D printed parts (such as housing and fixtures) often means these components are more lightweight than other manufacturing methods. By using plastic or light moldable resin, the finished product is much more lightweight and easy to manage. 
  • Simplified production: Another great benefit of 3D printing is that production is more streamlined for wire harness parts. Because 3D printed components only require one machine to build, they are a much more efficient way of crafting the more minor elements to cable assemblies and wire harnesses. This simplified manufacturing is ideal for creating unique wire harnesses and cable assembly components. 
  • Speedy prototyping: A key bonus to 3D printing is that it enables us to create prototypes for our clients more rapidly than other manufacturing methods. This expediency means that once the design phase is completed by our on-site engineers, the prototype for your wire harness or cable assembly can be completed and tested as soon as possible.

    By fast-tracking, the production of the prototypes for wire harness components, the overall production, testing, and inspection phase moves much more rapidly. 
  • Faster production times: When the prototyping phase moves more quickly, the overall production time can be much faster. As the 3D printed components will be used in the final product, the production for the entire order can be handled expediently. 
  • Ease of reproducing future orders: Once the production of your custom wire harness is complete, it can be easily replicated from the 3D printing files for your order. This means that we can recreate an order for custom cable assemblies and wire harnesses with ease. 

And those benefits are just the tip of the iceberg. As 3D printing technology progresses, it will continue to shape the way Meridian Cable crafts custom cable assemblies and wire harnesses. Though the world is far from fully embracing the possibilities that 3D printing has to offer, we are proud to be on the cutting edge. We fully intend to continue to develop the potential of how 3D printing wire harness components can change the world of production. 

The 3D Printers that Meridian Uses for Prototyping and Production

Over the last several decades, Meridian Cable has been at the forefront of innovation in production and cable manufacturing. The 3D printers that we use are among the most precise printers available. We take pride in the tech that we use to build cable assemblies and wire harnesses. We use three different types of 3D printers, giving us a more diverse range of components and parts that we are able to print. 

The three printers that we use are:

  • Form 1 3D Printer
    The Form 1 printer uses stereolithography to print. This process involves exposing the resin to ultraviolet lights to harden. This process works because the ultraviolet laser hits the liquid resin, which causes the resin to solidify. The printing stage raises and lowers in order to expose the liquid resin to the laser, and the process repeats until the component is completed.

    Powered by specialized software, the Form 1 3D printer is capable of building finely detailed parts and wire harness components. Featuring an auto-rotation, manual maneuverability of parts, and a printing floor view, the Form 1 printer is a truly marvelous piece of equipment. 
  • Form 2 3D Printer
    The second printer that we use here at Meridian is the Form 2 printer. This innovative printer allows us to use up to 20 different materials to build components. This function is easily performed and makes the Form 2 Printer ideal for more complex builds. Once the resin is changed, the Form 2 automatically adjusts to operating correctly while using the new material. This adaptability comes in handy when 3D printing wire harness components that require alternative materials.

Working similarly to the Form 1 printer, the Form 2 functions by using a laser to harden the liquid resin. The benefits of the Form 2 are that it is capable of printing incredibly complex parts and works intuitively with the design software to build components layer by layer. Our Form 2 printer features a large viewing screen to watch the progress of the wire harness components.

  • Fuse 1 3D Printer
    Rounding off the printers we use for 3D printing wire harness parts is the Fuse 1. The Fuse 1 is a powerful printer designed for industrial 3D printing. Designed to be the ideal combination of speed and accuracy, the Fuse 1 printer enables us to create highly complex parts in record time. This ability means that we are able to produce prototypes and final components in unbelievably fast timeframes. Our Fuse 1 is an incredible asset to our 3D printing wire harness parts.

    The Fuse 1 printer operates a little differently than the Form series in that it utilizes SLS printing. SLS printing refers to Selective Laser Sintering, which is a specific process for 3D printing. The SLS process involves coating the printing bed with a powder form and then solidifying the powder with a laser. The printing bed is recoated, and the laser coagulates the next layer of powder on top of the previous one. This process is repeated over and over until the construction is complete.

    Once the printing is complete, we remove the excess powder, and the product is ready to combine with the other components.

    The Fuse 1 Printer that Meridian uses offers unique features for a 3D printer, such as low waste and industrial-strength materials. The lower waste means that more of the resin is put to use to create the part that we are printing. This feature is both environmentally conscious and economical. 

Think Meridian Cable for Your Next Project

As a leader in using innovative technology to build cable assemblies, wire harnesses, and more, Meridian Cable is here to help with your next custom project. Contact us today to utilize our innovation in 3D printing wire harness components. 

Cable Harness Assembly from Prototype through Production

Wire Harness Components

With over 5,000 existing tools at our disposal, chances are good we’ve got everything we need to produce even highly complex and completely customized solutions. However, there are many instances where we’ve had to design a totally new tool or testing mechanism when a solution is a never-before-seen amalgamation. We leverage decades in the industry to produce products for our clients that we know will stand up to whatever application they will be utilized in and also can be delivered within a viable framework, given the time and budget constraints of the project. 

Aerospace, automotive, lighting, and alternative energy are just some of the many different industries we stand ready to serve with our custom solutions to even the most complex problems our clients present us with. While solving problems is something our design engineers are really good at, the solutions are only viable if all the pieces of design and production can meet both the budget and timeline set forth for the project. With strict adherence to kanban manufacturing techniques, just-in-time ordering, and efficient, worldwide logistical support, we are able to deliver full-functional and repeatedly-tested cable assemblies and wire harnesses to clients anywhere in the world.  

Cable Harness Assembly Design and Manufacturing

Our design and manufacturing process follows a set protocol towards maximizing a project’s budget, meeting project milestones and ensuring the absolute functionality of the final product. Here’s a quick snapshot of a few key elements of the process:

  • Needs Assessment: we will examine all of the specifications for your project and seek to understand all of the elements at play for how and where the system will be employed. This is where initial design elements are started to be placed together which will later be developed into working prototypes. 
  • Extruding: our in-house extruding machine can extrude conductors as small as 34 gauge and all the way up to 12 gauge. These conductors make up the building blocks of both cable assemblies and wire harnesses. They can be stranded or braided, filled with insulation, wraps, shields, and other components depending on the project needs. Connectors, overmolds, terminations, and housings help bring the cables and wires together within an electronic system.
  • Prototyping runs: we will usually produce several iterations to not only test a unique combination of components for accomplishing a given task, but will also look at how those components are sourced to see if a given assembly is viable. 

Why Certifications Matter

One of Meridian’s greatest strengths lies in our Quality Assurance program. Each and every product that rolls off our assembly line will be tested through multiple iterations to ensure continuity, integrity, polarity, and functionality. Prototyping allows our design staff to gauge different configurations and sourcing in order to find the most efficient means of solving the problem at hand. 

Maintaining an ISO 9001:2015 is no easy task and certification to which we are extremely proud to have held for nearly 20 years. ISO 9001:2015 requires a company to demonstrate they have advanced quality assurance processes in place and also mechanisms for continual improvement in both product and production, but customer service as well. Additionally, we are an Underwriters Laboratory (UL) certified production facility and predominantly use UL-certified components. UL certification means our products have been independently-verified for structural integrity, functionality, and safety. This allows our design staff to utilize a component with a known specification, that’s been stringently tested, rather than creating a whole new component from scratch.

If your cable or wire harness supplier isn’t ISO certified and doesn’t utilize UL-certified components, they have not made a solid commitment to quality assurance and you will be taking a huge risk with the products they produce.

Cable Harness Assemblies for Industrial Controls

Industrial control systems, or industrial process controls, require a complex array of signals, data, and power to be sent at just the right time in the production process in order to provide the intended function. These systems provide almost complete automation for the operations and performance monitoring functions within many critical infrastructure systems like water, power, and civil transportation systems, as well as in manufacturing settings like a bottling plant. 

Meridian’s custom-built wiring harness and cable assemblies provide the necessary infrastructure for these process controllers to perform at their best. Particular considerations for industrial control systems include incorporating components that ensure the fidelity of the process. For example, engineering in radio frequency interference (RFI) avoidance measures, which can include specialized shielding, helps to avoid costly delays within an industrial control system when a wrong signal is sent/received and causes some crucial function to not be performed. Even small delays in an industrial setting can be incredibly costly. Hermetically-sealed connectors, strain reliefs, and cable stops are all utilized to ensure the system operates as intended cycle after cycle.

Cable Harness Assemblies for the Military

Cable harnessing companies operating in support of providing our military with crucial electronic systems components knows their products will more than likely be deployed in some pretty extreme environments. Not only must they contend with extreme temperature swings, sand, dirt, dust, and mud, but also exposure to water, salt, and corrosive materials must be accounted for in the cable assemblies and wiring harnesses being used for military purposes. Our men and women in uniform count on our products to assist them in everything from navigation to communication, and increasingly are being utilized to empower unmanned systems such as UAVs. Special considerations in design can include incorporating Kevlar into the sheathing material to prevent cutting and aluminized mylar to prevent interference.

In support of their mission, our design team comes together to produce a solution that works within the usually tough parameters set forth by our clients in military contracting. We are adept at meeting project and budgetary milestones to deliver the perfect solution to the complex problem at hand.

Cable Harness Assemblies for Other Industries

Aerospace, automotive, lighting, and alternative energy are just some of the many different industries we stand ready to serve with our custom solutions to even the most complex problems our clients present us with. While solving problems is something our design engineers are really good at, the solutions are only viable if all the pieces of design and production can meet both the budget and timeline set forth for the project. With strict adherence to kanban manufacturing techniques, just-in-time ordering, and efficient, worldwide logistical support, we are able to deliver full-functional and repeatedly-tested cable assemblies and wire harnesses to clients anywhere in the world.  

Ready to Go Over Your Project Specs?

Our team stands ready to review your project’s unique specifications and will deliver a solution perfectly suited to match your needs. Contact us now to start the design process

Ask a Cable Assemblies Manufacturer: Prototyping 101

Ask a Cable Assemblies Manufacturer: Prototyping 101

There are many reasons to create a prototype for your custom cable assembly, but one of most compelling is that it helps you ensure your finished assembly will function as expected.

Prototyping makes it possible to extrude a cable with the appropriate voltage, required wire gauge, and optimal heat rating without any guesswork. Even further, creating a prototype can help you simplify the production process because your cable assemblies manufacturer can work all the kinks out and address any issues before they produce the full run of the final product.

When working with clients, we have run into a few general questions about prototyping that we wanted to take a moment to address.

Is working with a cable assemblies manufactuer on a prototype expensive?

While there is certainly a cost associated with producing a prototype, doing so can help you save money overall. Creating a prototype also helps save time when it comes to choosing the right materials. If you don’t create a prototype, you may be in the position of experimenting with different types of products and wiring systems to determine what will be the best solution for your application. The cost of these experiments can add up.

An experienced custom cable assemblies manufacturer is able to produce a full-scale, fully functional (in most cases) prototype that allows them to determine whether the assembly is feasible and practical from a technical and financial standpoint. If design flaws are discovered, it’s much easier and cheaper to address them at this stage.

Will a prototype be an exact representation of the finished cable assembly?cable cross section

Yes and no. While it is possible to produce a prototype that looks and functions exactly as the finished product, it’s not always necessary. Each prototype is produced to have the level of functionality that is necessary for each project. This allows the manufacturer to isolate the specific design or manufacturing issues for each application. Your project may or may not require a fully functional prototype, but it is certainly possible to create one if necessary.

Are there any drawbacks to prototyping?

Producing a prototype gives a cable assemblies manufacturer the opportunity to test an assembly design in real-world conditions. While you may be focused on a few potential issues, it’s important to remember to test the prototype’s functionality in every way so design flaws can be addressed immediately.

It’s also a good idea to address any issues with ownership of intellectual property in the prototyping phase. In general, it’s much easier to clear up any issues with intellectual property before you have produced the final cable assembly.

Conclusion

Prototyping is a critical stage of the process when working with a cable assemblies manufacturer. Not only will producing a prototype allow engineers to refine their design, but they will also be able to get a handle on any manufacturing issues and test the cable assembly’s overall functionality. This can help you save money and time, and achieve more success over the long term. If you are ready to discuss producing a prototype of your next custom cable, contact the team at Meridian Cable. We look forward to hearing from you.

Custom Cables for Prototyping

Customized cable produced by a manufacturer specializing in prototyping and design can set your product apart.

Custom Cables for Prototyping
Custom Cables for Prototyping

 

When looking for high quality, fairly priced materials for creating a prototype, it can be a challenge to find the right wiring components for your specific product and industry. There is no shortage of options when it comes to custom wiring and it can be a challenge to determine which material will be best for your product and wiring needs. By partnering with a manufacturer on Custom Cables for Prototyping, you and your team will have a knowledgeable resource to turn to when making these decisions. This can be the difference between a successful prototype and one that does not live up to expectations.

Simplifying the Production Process

Consulting with a manufacturer capable of extruding small amounts of specialized wiring to enhance and perfect a product is an important step in the manufacturing process. There are so many choices to be made regarding wiring systems that opting not to work with an engineer, instead of making assumptions about the best type of wiring to use, can be dangerous. To determine a product’s voltage, required wire gauge, and optimal heat rating engineers work with a series of calculations to ensure that they are producing a safe and effective product. If these calculations are not performed correctly or are overlooked, the resulting product could overheat, cause shorts, fires, or even injury.

Reducing Costs by Partnering with a Cable Manufacturer to Produce Custom Cables for Prototyping

Cost is often seen as a barrier to working with a cable manufacturer. However, by working with an experienced cable manufacturing company, you can reduce the costs that are typically spent on experimenting with various products and wiring systems in an effort to determine which one will be most effective. Your manufacturer’s expertise and industry knowledge will guide you and your team to the systems that will be ideal for your product and its various functions. This will save time and the intensive research process that usually goes with choosing wiring materials without the guidance of an engineer.

Custom Cables for Prototyping Your Project

Custom Cables for Prototyping
Custom Cables for Prototyping

By utilizing custom materials, your product is likely to be streamlined and optimized for speedy manufacturing and assembly. This is beneficial if you intend to manufacture your product on a large scale, as much of the planning and manufacturing optimization will have been worked out previously. With a functional prototype of your project, you will be able to assess and make any modifications before it is produced on a large scale. This will cut costs while providing you with a highly customized wiring system designed for your specific product needs.

Testing Your Wire Harness or Cable Assembly

Product testing is another important part of the manufacturing process, assuring that everything works as planned and is durable enough to withstand the product’s intended conditions. Manufacturers utilize a variety of testing methods to assess quality including: advanced life testing labs, pull testing, and measuring the consistency of the product’s voltage. Understanding areas that could be improved on are important to a product’s functionality and acceptance in the marketplace. Product testing is an invaluable step in. ensuring that your product works as planned and does not need further adjustments or alterations before being manufactured on a large scale.

Working with a manufacturer is an important step in designing and producing custom wiring for a new product. By working with a manufacturer, you have the ability to create unique wires and cables that are optimized to work seamlessly with your product. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the Meridian Team to learn more about the options that exist for your next wiring project.

Custom Cables for Prototyping and Refining Your Process