Category Archives: Custom Cables

The Benefits of Low Pressure Molding in Wire Assembly

low pressure molding machine

One of the best methods custom cable manufacturers have for effectively protecting the many components composing cable assemblies is a process known as low-pressure molding. With investments in state-of-the-art machines like our Low Pressure Molding Machine, the LPMS Beta 300, Meridian is able to produce incredibly strong, custom assemblies that are perfectly suited for their intended applications. 

In today’s LiveWire deep dive, we’ll explore the many benefits of low pressure molding in cable and wire assemblies and how you can best utilize this method in your next production run.

What is Low-Pressure Molding?

If you’re sitting at your computer and reading this, right now your PC is using cable assemblies, connectors, terminals, and more to make that action possible. Across from you may be a printer, your cell phone sitting next to you, and outside is your car which may have got you to work this morning. All of these machines require complex cable assembly and wire harness engineering in order to function. 

Yet, each contains parts that can easily fail if they aren’t engineered with additional layers of protection. Abrasion, bending, water, heat, cold—all of these variables require a keen design that mitigates against the forces of nature constantly bombarding your electronics’ sensitive components. Enter low-pressure molding.

Low-pressure molding, also referred to as “hot-melt molding”, is a method of manufacturing that takes the best of two processes in injection molding and casting. Low-pressure molding is ideal for use in sealing custom cable assemblies, while also serving to provide strain relief. By completely surrounding the components, low-pressure molding provides a reliable protection against external forces.

A Closer Look at the Low-Pressure Molding Process

low pressure molding button

Whenever you use injection molding, you’re typically using a type of thermoplastic (basically a material that gets soft when heated and hard when cooled) that gets heated up and injected into a mold at-pressure. This process is great for volume manufacturing and often doesn’t actually create a permanent bond with the underlying material. 

Conversely, low pressure molding does create a permanent bond with the components it’s covering. Let’s look at the process:

  1. Using a hot-melt such as polyamide adhesive, we heat these granular pieces to somewhere between 350 degrees and 460 degrees Fahrenheit. The polyamide adhesive doesn’t really melt per-se, but rather just gets soft. When it’s at the right softness and viscosity, it’s ready for injection molding. These pellets are softened within an integrated melt tank directly on our LPMS Beta 300.
  1. Whatever wire assembly component is getting sealed gets placed into custom molds to be covered by the adhesives. Inside the Beta 300, gears are used to make a pressurized force through which the softened material goes through a heated hose and finally into the injection heads themselves. The Beta 300 utilizes a horizontal-injection system with a single-injection gun for maximum efficiency. Once the material is injected, the component becomes completely encased with a physical bonding of materials.
  1. The actual pressure used in the injection molding for these types of adhesives is far lower than your typical injection molding process. Hitting on the high side of 500 psi is much lower than the 15,000 psi for the upper reaches of injection molding. This gentler approach is ideal for extra-sensitive components such as with medical device technology. As well, the Beta 300 has two thermal zones which means our skilled operators have more control than ever before for precision melting temperatures.
  1. The materials will then cool down quickly, typically in under a minute. The component is then 100% ready to remove and use as desired.

And there you have it, the low pressure molding process in a nutshell. With the capabilities our LPMS Beta 300 provides, we’re able to create the perfect set up for even the most customized wire assemblies our clients need developed. This capability and our expertise is what’s helped set our services apart in custom cable manufacturing.

Benefits of Using Low Pressure Molding in Wire Assemblies

When utilizing a hot-melt polyamide adhesive, you’re starting with a compound that’s solid at room temperature. These are safely developed using renewable resources. Because any scrap material is reusable, these are also incredibly sustainable. 

These types of adhesive are also very safe, without toxic gasses being released into the atmosphere during a manufacturing run. Being both non-toxic, as well as able to be recycled, makes these materials a great choice for green initiatives, such as LEED electrical designs in sustainable buildings. Polyamides also offer greater levels of protection and can be used as an insulating material. 

Because they form an actual bond with the underlying components, the seal is highly resistant to water, dust, chemicals, and other environmental factors. This makes them ideal for extreme hot and cold environments, or where abrasion resistance is required. They even work well when they need to be printed on. 

Finally, while the initial material may cost a bit more than injection molding, there are many cost-savings measures along the manufacturing process that make this a very economical method. For example, molds used in injection molding have to be super heavy duty steel which are quite expensive. With low pressure molding, we can typically utilize lower-priced aluminum molds, or even 3D printed materials which is great for prototyping different iterations. The aluminum also removes heat faster after the process is complete which lowers the overall cycle time. Because heat distortion is also mitigated, you have less loss which means more efficient production runs.

Inside the Design Studio for Low Pressure Molding Applications

You might think that the molds, connectors, terminations, and other tools we use every day are easily-available. But the fact is, most of these are custom designs that we tweak to each individual product. In fact, after decades as leaders in custom cable manufacturing, we have amassed a tooling inventory of well over 5,000 different components at our disposal for a given project. 

Molds are one such tool in our arsenal that require careful design consideration, testing, and even prototyping to make sure we have everything right. We work with some of the best mold manufacturers in the world in order to create the products that help our men and women in the military, power high-tech telecommunications equipment, and a hundred and one other applications. We also have the ability to 3D print mold inserts for low-volume production runs or when the final design needs to be tweaked by successive iterations of tooling.

The low pressure molding sets are made so that the components can be removed efficiently after manufacture, without damaging any of the sensitive components. This requires very advanced engineering that allows the perfect amount of air and heat out, while still being able to be processed quickly. Components are centered within each mold and injected to be set. 

Areas Where Low Pressure Molding Can Be Advantageous

Whenever a fast cycle time is required, and we are seeking to improve the reliability of the data, signal, or power being transmitted within the system, low pressure molding is a fantastic addition to the overall design. That’s not to say, however, that all problems are solved with low pressure molding, but within specific applications our engineers utilize this process to bring about the most advantageous results for our client’s projects.

When looking at connectors, the low pressure molding materials can act as a great overmold for the connector, as well as the cable assembly. This provides advanced protection against water intrusion and other environmental factors. As well, the strain relief provided is another huge benefit. Overall, even the aesthetics of the design are improved with a streamlined component. Low pressure molding is even more reliable than heat shrinking tubing since a physical bond is made.

Other sensitive applications are able to employ low pressure molding to create a very effective overmold, without harming the underlying components. We often use this method when circuit boards or fragile electronic components need to be overmolded. This can also save money by not having to use all of the support elements such as housings and junction boxes, since the overmold performs this function. 

In wire harnesses, low pressure molding can be utilized with various components such as bushings. These low-pressure molded bushings will both hold the cable assemblies in place but also provide necessary strain relief. Low pressure molding bushings are able to provide a better grip on the components that need to stay in place and can be put together relatively quickly to make even the most complicated wire harnesses a better-managed system. That’s because these types of bushings are actually manufactured in place rather than having to be put on to an existing harness. The connections become waterproof powerhouses, ready to provide protection for the cables beneath.

Ready to See How Low Pressure Molding Can Benefit Your Project?

At Meridian, we specialize in the design and production of some of the most customized cable assemblies available today. To do this requires our team to have the best tools and talent available. With the capability of machines like the LPMS Beta 300 making low pressure molding a resource available when needed, our designers can create the best product possible to meet the needs of the project. Contact our team now to go over your project’s specs and to see if low pressure molding might be a useful addition to your overall design.

Common CAN bus Problems: A Troubleshooting Guide

CAN bus systems are essentially high-speed freeways for digital information exchange within a tightly-packed and complex electrical system such as within an automobile. These tight spaces can’t fit a computer so Controller Area Networks (CAN) help bridge the gap to allow microcontrollers and other devices to “talk” to one another. But what happens when there’s an issue with a CAN bus system? Can you work on a CAN bus cable? How do you diagnose CAN bus problems?

To answer these questions and more, today’s LiveWire spotlight deep-dives into the complex world of CAN bus systems. We’ll cover common CAN bus problems and walk through troubleshooting and diagnostics with these intricate systems.

CAN Bus Wire & Cable Systems 101

CAN bus systems are vital components of the communication system within a vehicle, medical device, industrial control system, or other highly-complex yet space-constrained application. Within a vehicle, this allows form the different control modules to all talk to one another at the same time. Vital safety systems like the anti-lock brakes communicating with the engine’s own module, parts of the transmission, and more are then all displaying real-time information to the driver via the instrument cluster. This type of sophisticated communication requires cables and wires to be specifically engineered for the rigorous demands they’ll undergo. 

When CAN bus systems are working correctly, they’ll send and receive the data they are transmitting within a set of frames. Even with a closed system like a vehicle, the data is sent via a code that helps control modules prioritize the data that’s being sent. Within the code that’s coming from a control module, the code being sent has certain values that can designate the priority of a given message. This helps control the flow of data that’s going through the CAN bus system so that really important data, such as something related to a safety system, can be sent and received ahead of data that’s operationally generic. 

Within the code is also all of the data that needs to be transmitted in that instance from one control module to another. Think of your vehicle driving through snow or water and your vehicle automatically rotating tires at different speeds to compensate. This action may seem mundane when you drive everyday, but the intensely-complex actions to get there were all thanks to the CAN bus system crunching the data frames to communicate the proper action to take in the given situation. 

When the data is transmitted from one control module, the receiving module should always run a validity test on the incoming data to make sure it’s valid. This process is called a checksum and acts as a sort of checks and balances for the module sending the data. When the receiving module validates the data, it responds with acknowledgement of the validity to the transmitter and the system continues to operate as it was intended. When a checksum is not returned valid, a host of issues can develop which we’ll cover in the troubleshooting section below.

Different Types of CAN Bus Subsystems

There’s three types of CAN bus subsystems that help make it possible for different data transmission requirements. When performing within their specifications, these systems facilitate different types of communication between control modules simultaneously and without interference. 

The three types of CAN bus subsystems include:

  1. High-Speed CAN bus subsystems: used for speeds all the way up to 125 KB per second. The construction of the CAN bus high-speed wires creates an effect of opposing voltages. These properties are useful to help cancel out RMF.
  1. Medium-Speed CAN bus subsystems: will handle anywhere from 10 KB to 125 KB per second. These systems are usually made with a single wire that can be shielded to combat interference.
  2. Low-Speed CAN bus subsystems: for handling speeds that are generally 10 KB per second and lower via a single wire set-up. For these systems, wire engineers typically create a centralized control module that then controls other modules in the network.

When there’s an issue within the CAN bus system, a myriad of different concerns can occur. With a vehicle, for example, this may mean the vehicle ceases to run at all. Figuring out what you’re dealing with in a CAN bus system failure can be difficult but we’ll cover some common things to look for that may give you a hint at the issue. 

Spotting Issues Within a CAN Bus System

CAN bus systems have a lot of data flowing through their subsystems at any given moment. If the CAN bus wiring components aren’t performing up to spec, there can be major issues at play within the system. Many of the issues related to wiring can include poor-quality wiring, terminations done incorrectly, or using several different frequencies within a single CAN bus. 

Here’s a few different things you can look for as you diagnose a CAN bus system:

  • Make sure to have the perfect termination resistance. You can use a multimeter to measure this resistance present between the CAN low and high systems. An unpowered system typically runs at 60 Ohms and has two separate termination resistors. 
  • Any form of termination resistors must be located at the endline of the CAN bus system. These termination resistors will perform their best when they are located with precision. 
  • In general terms, the CAN bus system network resembles that of a tree. Believe it or not, the dimensions of the “tree” matter and even a slight variation can wreak havoc on the data integrity. This also goes for the lengths of several different CAN bus wires.
  • The majority of CAN bus wires should be twisted pairs. Twisted pair cables will take two different insulated wires and twist them together so as to run parallel to one another. This is used to combat the interference we discussed above.
  • When using a shielded cable on a CAN bus system, it’s important than only one side be grounded. Otherwise a situation called a grounded ground loop can occur and cause interference. 
  • To that, all the different network devices need to share the same ground so that ground loops don’t occur.

These are just some of the many different avenues you can take when trying to diagnose your CAN bus wire issues as the system is complex and subject to a lot of variables. For example, when the electric system has experienced a surge, it can wipe memory and cause malfunctions in the control modules. 

If you have issues that are above your head, contact our team. Our engineers can help diagnose your CAN bus system and suggest the best fix for your unique situation. 

Fixing Common CAN Bus Problems 

Running through the above can help you find the area of emphasis needed to repair CAN bus system issues. Fixing three of the more common problems that can befall a CAN bus system include:

  • Check over the CAN bus wiring

Ensure everything is solidly connected. All the wire junctions should have a strong solder and splices that are secure. You never want to see a junction that has a simple twist or wire nuts keeping it secure. You also don’t want to see things like terminal blocks, as they can end up distorting the bus wires’ signals. 

  • Pay attention to any stripped sections.

Stripping wires on a CAN bus system can easily lead to damaging sensitive components like the insulation. Without the insulation there to perform its job, interference can occur. Look over the system for any signs of junctions or sections that have been stripped and inspect the quality of the work. 

  • Test the termination, voltage, ground, and resistance levels.

The specifications for each of these can vary depending on the manufacturer so always test according to specifications. Within each of these fundamental tests you should find your CAN bus system performing in line. The smallest variations can add up to major sources of interference.

Seems simple but these complex systems rely just as much on quality components from the very first strand of wire onto the final wire harness that organizes the system in its intended environment. Meridian’s engineers sweat the details like these so that our customers don’t have to.

Using an Oscilloscope to Pinpoint CAN Bus Issues

When analysing waveforms with the use of an oscilloscope, you can actually spot the spikes where an error is occurring. An oscilloscope is an electric test that simply displays the system’s signal voltages. This is usually for more than one signal and presented as a function of time. The waveform has properties every wire engineer knows and loves like amplitude, frequency, and interval time. 

Using tools like an oscilloscope can help you spot differences between the mirror images of frequency and amplitude. Certain issues like a termination resistor failure or simply a communication malfunction present between control modules creates characteristic waveforms that a trained eye can easily spot.  

Start a CAN Bus Cable & Wire Order

Contact our team now to discuss the needs of your project and get the process started.

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

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.

Conductor Gauges for Custom Design Cables

Conductor Gauges for Custom Design Cables

The right gauge conductors are key to making your custom design cables as effective as possible.

It’s no secret that creating custom design cables is the best way to ensure your product or equipment meets all of your specifications. Because the conductor gauge directly affects the flow of electricity or signal through the final product, the choice you make is extremely important. Choosing the wrong gauge can result in a less efficient cable that might lead to unnecessary costs. A reputable custom cable manufacturer will help you make the right choice and get the most successful outcome.

Cable Conductor Types

There are two main types of wire: solid and stranded. Solid conductors are a single, solid strand, usually made of copper. Stranded conductors are made up of smaller strands of copper that are twisted together to create a larger conductor. The main difference is that a stranded conductor is better able to withstand bending than a solid conductor. Additionally, solid conductors are less expensive to produce than stranded.

Why Size Counts with Custom Design Cables

custom design cable

For both types, the overall size of the conductor affects the flow of signal and electricity. Signal or electricity flows through larger gauge conductors more easily than it does smaller gauges. We refer to how easily the signal flows through the conductor as resistance. A wire with a conductor gauge that is too small is not providing the right amount of signal to the equipment it is powering. This could result in the equipment not functioning as it should. A too-small conductor gauge could also cause the wire to overheat, which may cause it to fail.

So…Larger Gauges Are Better?

While working with a larger conductor gauge seems like the safest bet, it’s not always the best option for your project. Larger gauges are able to accommodate more current, but they can be more expensive than all but the smallest gauges. In the end, the best gauge for your project is the one that closely matches your equipment specifications. Having an in-depth discussion with your cable manufacturer’s design team about the needs of your product is the most effective way to make sure you end up with a custom cable that functions as expected.

Gauge & Wire Length

When determining the gauge of conductors for custom design cables, the circumference isn’t the only consideration. The final length of the wire also affects the amount of resistance the current experiences. The longer the wire the more resistance there is, which weakens the signal. For longer cables, it may be necessary to use a larger gauge to counteract the resistance caused by the length.

Conclusion

Choosing the right gauge can be a complex process that includes a thorough understanding of the final cable’s uses, length, voltage, and signal type, as well as many other considerations. Working with a cable manufacturer you trust can make all the difference to the success of the final product. The Meridian Cable team has extensive experience with a wide range of custom cable design projects. When you are ready to discuss your next custom cable, please contact us. We look forward to talking with you.      


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.

 

 

Determining the Shape of a Custom Coil Cord

Determining the Shape of a Custom Coil Cord

The shape of a custom coil cord is one of the most important elements when designing this type of cable.

Custom coil cord is known for its flexibility, making it the perfect choice for applications that require a cable that can stretch and retract without putting additional stress on the wire. It has the ability to extend beyond the natural length at rest, which can be a real space-saving feature. These cords are flexible beyond simple extending and retracting in that they can also be pulled, bent, and twisted without experiencing the metal fatigue of a straight cable.

Coiled cable can be used to carry electrical currents as well as data and signal for telecommunications applications. This versatility makes coil cords ideal for use in environments that are often too rough for non-coiled cable. Coil cords are used in everything from equipment on industrial and construction sites to portable electronics, like sound equipment. With so many applications at so many different sizes, the shape of your custom coil cord is key to its successful performance.

Requirements Determine the Shape of Coiled Cable

If you’ve ever seen a telephone cord, you’ll recognize the shape of a coiled cable – curled in the middle with a section of straight cable at each end. While the specifications of the straight sections are important to the overall function of the cable, it is the coiled section that provides the cord with its unique benefits. The retracted length of the cord is how long it is at rest. This is the most common way to specify how long the cord should be. However, it is also necessary to communicate the full length the cord must extend to, so the engineers at your custom cable manufacturer are able to get a full understanding of the requirements of your cable.

The coil’s diameter is a key measurement when determining how far a custom coil cable should extend. In general, a coil with a larger outer diameter with stretch farther than a coil with a smaller outer diameter. When discussing your cable’s specifications with your cable manufacturer, retracted length, extended length, and outer coil diameter will provide a good starting place for the designer regarding the cable’s physical shape.

Fine-Tuning a Cable’s Performance

While you may be able to get pretty close to the final shape of your custom coil cable on your own, the cable’s construction and materials are best selected with the help of an experienced wire and cable manufacturer. Selecting specific fillers and jacketing materials can also add durability to the finished cord. Depending on how tough you need your cable to be, materials can include:custom coil cord

  • PU
  • PTEE
  • TPR
  • SVO
  • SJOW
  • Kevlar®
  • Spectra®
  • Teflon®

An expert cable manufacturer like Meridian Cable, learns everything they can about how your coil cable needs to function. This allows them to make the best recommendations on the materials and physical shape to ensure the finished cable meets the needs of your product or equipment. Rest assured that no matter what your application, a custom coil cord solution can be designed and produced to perfectly match your specifications.

Design Services from Custom Wire and Cable Manufacturers

Design Services from Custom Wire and Cable Manufacturers

New products or pieces of machinery often have unique, specific requirements that can’t be met by stock cable

When developing a new product, the last thing you should be worrying about is whether there’s an existing cable that meets all the requirements for performance, durability, and price. The reality is that there may not be an existing solution that will meet all your requirements at a reasonable price point. And while your engineers may know what your cable needs to do, they most likely lack the experience with different conductors, jacketing materials, fillers, and insulations required to design a cable from scratch. Custom wire and cable manufacturers can provide a level of expertise in the area of electrical engineering that can save time and cost while developing the right cable for your application.

Designing a custom cable can be a challenging process, but a reputable cable and wire manufacturer acts as a partner every step of the way. They will walk you through the process to ensure that they are using the appropriate materials for your precise requirements. In many cases, they can even produce a prototype that allows you to test the cable on your product.

Thorough Consultations Make for Great Designs

The best way to ensure your custom cable meets all of your product’s requirements is to share as much information with your wire and cable manufacturer as possible. The first step in this process is to meet with their engineering team to share all of the specifications, as well as any applicable drawings. Don’t forget to make sure your drawings are created in a common format that can be easily accessed by the manufacturer. This will save both time and frustration for both parties.

As the next step, the manufacturer’s electrical engineering team will review your product’s specifications to ensure they have the capabilities to produce the type of cable you need on your requested timeline. It may be that they do not have the equipment or facilities to produce your cable. At this point, their team should be able to give you an idea of why they are not able to meet your specifications, whether the job requirements are realistic, and possibly make recommendations on how to feasibly produce the cable.

Collaborating with Wire and Cable Manufacturers on a Successful Cable Solution

Wire and cable manufacturers are the experts on customized cabling solutions, but you are the expert on your product. They will continue to hold conversations with you throughout the design process regarding voltage ratings, electrical tolerance, environmental parameters, and flexibility to ensure they choose a conductor material that performs as expected.

Further conversations about the cable’s function and expected environmental conditions will inform recommendations about insulating and jacketing materials. They may ask questions like:

  • Does the cable need to withstand high temperatures?
  • Does it require extra protection, like metal armoring?
  • Are there concerns about signal interference?
  • Does it need to meet spec standards like, UL, CSA, CE, or Mil-Spec?

Keeping Communication Open

Open communication is the key to ensuring positive relationships with wire and cable manufacturers. Designing a custom cable can be a complicated process, but if you provide their team with as much information as possible, it doesn’t have to be frustrating. And don’t forget to speak up if you need help. Experienced engineers, like the team at Meridian Cable, are always happy to answer your questions.

Designing and Maintaining Your Product’s Customized Wiring

Designing and Maintaining Your Product’s Customized Wiring

Collaborating with a custom cable manufacturer to produce durable wiring that meets your product’s specifications.

Like the majority of industrial products, wiring systems must also be designed and maintained properly in order to withstand harsh conditions. If these products are not looked after and properly attended to, the results can be negative–resulting in a large piece of machinery breaking down and causing delays, or something as catastrophic as a fire. To avoid many of the issues that can result from damaged wiring, it is important to gain an understanding of the customization that your product’s wiring requires and of any maintenance that may be needed. The best place to get this information will likely be from your product’s wire and cable manufacturer. When discussing this, there are a few key elements to keep in mind:

Protecting Your Custom Wiring From Corrosion

The majority of wiring is made of copper, which is susceptible to corrosion when used in harsh or damp conditions. Cables that will be buried, for example, must be coated in a thick jacketing that can withstand conditions underground. Aside from this jacketing, this type of wire must also be sealed so that the soil and any materials in it cannot damage the inner conductor.

Water can also corrode copper over time and most of us have seen the green and white residue that often forms on copper pipes. The wiring’s proximity to water should be considered and addressed by your wiring manufacturer. Specialized techniques can be applied in these instances, particularly if the wiring will come into contact with salt water. When possible, wiring that encounters such conditions should be inspected regularly for signs of damage to the jacketing and residue building up around connectors. Damaged wiring, or wiring that shows signs of corrosion, must be repaired to ensure that it continues to function optimally.

The Right Jacketing Material For Your Custom Wiring

color wire
Designing and Maintaining Your Product’s Customized Wiring

The proper jacketing can be the difference between a long-lasting wiring system and a system that falters. With the proper jacketing, a wiring system should be able to withstand and protect the wiring’s vital conductors from damage resulting from motion, environmental factors including animals and insects, and water if necessary. There are so many additional factors that can alter a wiring system’s functionality that it is important to work with an experienced wire manufacturer who understands your industry and product.

Armed with an understanding of your product and its functionality, your cabling manufacturer should be able to choose an appropriate material that will reduce the wear and tear on your product, minimizing the amount of maintenance that it will require. Contrary to what many assume, there are many types of wire jacketing available to protect your product’s wiring system. This jacketing can be made so that it is resistant to cuts and UV rays, crafted so that it is resistant to high temperatures, and more. The innovation in this industry means that you are sure to find a product that is ideal for your custom wiring needs.

Because of the crucial role that wiring plays in modern machinery and communication, it is important that the wiring you choose to utilize is reliable. To ensure that you are receiving high quality wiring that will last, talk to your manufacturer about the options that are available and the level of specialization that your product or industry demands.

 

Creating Custom Design Cables

Creating Your Own Custom Design Cables

Creating Custom Design Cables
Creating Custom Design Cables

Manufacturing custom design cable on a small-scale.

Working with a cable manufacturer to produce custom design cables for prototypes.

When working on a small-scale project or making a prototype, it’s tempting to try your hand at electrical engineering. After all, you have likely contacted a few wiring and cabling manufacturers and found that they only produce large quantities of wiring. This adds an additional layer of difficulty for those Creating Custom Design Cables on a small-scale; however, finding a manufacturer that produces small quantities of custom design cables can prove to be beneficial. The expertise that a custom manufacturer has to offer can eliminate the additional time, and costs, that often arise when choosing to produce your own custom wiring. Some of the unexpected costs and stressors associated with choosing to craft wire harnesses and cable assemblies without consulting a manufacturer include:

Finding Specialized Tools When Creating Custom Design Cables:

While wiring and cabling often seems straightforward, the process usually requires more tooling than expected. Manufacturer assemblies go through various rounds of testing and quality assurance to ensure that the practices and processes utilized will yield a quality product. Cable manufacturing companies utilize a variety of testing materials beyond multimeters to test their products including clamp testing, life cycle testing, capacitor testing, and more.

Aside from this, specialized training and custom tooling are required to create highly customized wiring systems. One example of this can be seen when working with a wire’s connectors. Some of these connectors need to be soldered to the wire, while others require the use of crimp connectors. Crimping tools can be used for this, but the less expensive hand-held ones are known to be fallible – particularly when the user is inexperienced. Incorrectly crimping a connector can lead to loose connections that create air pockets, deformed connectors that are more likely to break or come apart, and a plethora of other issues.

Finding the Appropriate Materials When Creating Custom Design Cables:

Assembly cabling typically requires a level of specialization that is difficult to find when choosing from off-the-shelf options. The jacketing and filler materials used in the custom wire harnesses and cable assemblies created by trained manufacturers can be made to exacting specifications. These specifications can include resistance to certain types of chemicals and oils, adding protection against UV rays, ensuring that the product is heat rated, and a variety of other useful features.

Understanding the Exact Specifications of Your Wiring:

Calculating the wire gauge that your product requires to function optimally is a difficult process that requires an understanding of industry best practices and standards. These vary based on the type of product that you will be producing, the product’s intended industry, the area that the product will be sold in and more. By working with a manufacturer and their team of engineers, you can ensure that your product meets required safety standards early on in the manufacturing process so that major changes will not have to be made down the line.

Working With Wiring Diagrams on Your Creating Custom Design Cables:

Producing a wiring diagram and planning out the way that the wires and cables will run in your product is an important aspect of the design process. This maps out how long the wires or cables will need to be, where the wires and cables will run to avoid interference, and is an important tool for communicating with other manufacturers about the product’s design and layout. Unfortunately though, many often skip this step when crafting their own wiring or cabling systems. This is detrimental as it becomes increasingly difficult to communicate the layout of the wiring, label the products in use, and ensure that the wires do not interfere with one another. An experienced manufacturer will be able to produce an accurate wiring diagram for your product to eliminate this confusion.

At Meridian Cable, our team specializes in creating small batches of customized products. With our experience creating products on a small-scale, we are able to work with our customers to design wiring and cabling that compliments their products and helps them to run as efficiently as possible. If you need a custom cable, cable assembly, or wire harness – don’t hesitate to contact the Meridian Team.

Creating Custom Design Cables – When it’s Time to Work with a Manufacturer