Category Archives: Meridian Cable

Ask a Cable Assemblies Manufacturer: Solid vs. Stranded Cable

Ask a Cable Assemblies Manufacturer: Solid vs. Stranded Cable

Choosing between solid and stranded conductors is one of the first decisions made in a custom cable design.

There are two main choices a cable assemblies manufacturer has for the conductor when designing a custom cable: solid and stranded. The most basic difference is obvious when you peel back the jacketing and look at the conductors. A solid conductor is made of one solid wire that is usually made of a single metal like copper. A stranded cable is made with many small wires (or strands) that are bundled together to create a larger conductor. There are pros and cons to using each type of conductor. We’ve listed a few of those below.

Why would a cable assemblies manufacturer use a solid conductor in my custom cable?

Solid conductors are simpler to produce which can translate to a more affordable custom cable. They are also more resistant to corrosion, which makes them more durable than stranded cables in certain conditions. This means they can be used in some applications that require heavy duty wires. In addition, these conductors can be smaller than stranded versions without compromising the ability to carry current. Their larger wire diameters mean they have a lower DC resistance and lower susceptibility to the effects of high frequencies. Because of this, they support higher data rates and longer distance transmissions than stranded cables.

Are there any drawbacks?

Solid cables are less flexible, which makes them more likely to fail if they are moved or bent frequently. This means they are not a good choice for applications where they will be required to bend or move often.

What are the benefits of a stranded cable?

One of the most obvious benefits of a stranded cable is that it’s more flexible than the solid counterpart. Any stresses that come from being bent or twisted are distributed to all of the strands. This makes a stranded conductor a good choice for cables that are frequently moved, bent, or twisted because they tend to be more resistant to damage and failure in these situations than solid conductors.

If stranded cables are more durable, why not use them for everything?

Cables with stranded conductors are not the best choice for every application. It’s important to work with your cable assemblies manufacturer to make sure the right components are used in your custom cable. For example, stranded conductors are more costly to produce so they may not be the right choice for your budget. However, in certain situations, their flexibility can make them a more economical choice in the long run because they will not have to be replaced as often. They can also be more susceptible to corrosion. So, it’s important to look at all the pros and cons to make the right decision.

Conclusion

There are many choices a cable assemblies manufacturer makes when designing a custom cable. Because the conductor is the component that actually carries the current or signal, it’s important to make the right choice regarding type and materials. You can do your part by being very clear about all of the requirements of your equipment as well as the environment where the cable will be functioning. Armed with this information, your cable assemblies manufacturer will be able to make the best choices for your project. When you’re ready to discuss your next custom cable, contact the team at Meridian Cable. We look forward to talking with you.

 

Talking Materials with a Coil Cord Manufacturer

Talking Materials with a Coil Cord Manufacturer

The right materials can make or break the function of a custom coil cord.

A coil cord manufacturer does more to create a custom coil cord than just curl a straight cord into a spiral. Because they are meant to extend and retract, materials must be somewhat flexible in addition to the technical requirements dictated by the application. With the number of materials available, it’s difficult to choose the right one. Working with a cable assembly manufacturer can help you take the guesswork out of selecting materials that meet the needs of your project.

Conductors Used by a Coil Cord Manufacturer

At its simplest, a custom coil cord has the same basic structure as a standard straight cord: a conductor and some form of insulation and jacketing. The conductors are mostly metals like copper, tinned copper, and – in very special cases – alloys or composites can be used. However, unless you’re launching a satellite, running cable for the power grid, or implanting a gizmo into a human body, basic copper is what will be used.

Copper conductors (or stranding) start life as a rock. Then with the help of a lot of energy, they end up as a rod about the size of a Sharpie®, which is way too big for a coil cord. The majority of copper falls into two groups: those that contain oxygen and those that don’t. Copper with oxygen has improved abrasion and corrosion resistance so it is mostly used in power distribution and transmission. Copper without oxygen is more resistant to embrittlement which can occur when the Sharpie® is reduced to the size of a human hair. So oxygen-free copper is used extensively in cables that need to flex. Coil cords flex a lot, so most conductors or stranding used in them are made from oxygen-free copper. Copper with oxygen can be used to make coil cords, but, even though it’s lower in cost, Meridian will never use it because it fails much more quickly.

Once the copper stranding is the right size, the next step is to decide if it should be plated or not. Below are some choices for plating.

Bare Copper Conductors copper conductors

Copper without any type of plating is an inexpensive conductor material that can be a good choice if time and cost are considerations. However, this type of conductor is susceptible to corrosion and oxidation, which can hinder the connectivity. Since it is not as likely to corrode or oxidize, plated bare copper is more flexible. However, this type of copper is also harder to process after being made into a wire. Since it is bare, and oxygen is almost everywhere on Earth, this type of conductor oxidizes. An oxide layer on copper greatly reduces its conductivity and ability to bond with solder. So while bare copper can be used, and is more flexible, its service life is much shorter. If cost overrides quality/longevity in your application, then bare copper is an option, but the part will have a much shorter life, and that “life” starts the moment it leaves the wire drawing facility.

Plated/Coated Copper Conductors

Coating a copper conductor with a thin layer of “stuff” can offer additional benefits. However, it is also more expensive since it adds an extra step and more material is used. The most common coating on copper stranding is tin. This means the vast majority of copper conductors used in the electronics/telecommunications industry are tinned. Adding tin on top of the copper increases stiffness slightly but vastly improves its resistance to oxidation and corrosion. This improves the life of the resulting conductor greatly and makes processing much easier. The additional protection is especially useful in cables that are used near saltwater or are immediately exposed to air and not covered by some material.

Copper can be coated with other metals besides tin. For serious applications these coatings can be either silver or gold among others. Obviously these can add significant cost, but for some applications they are mandatory. Many medical, aerospace and military applications must have stranding with these types of plating since failure is not an option and extremely long life is required.

Aluminum Alloy Conductors

Aluminum alloys only have about 61% of the conductivity of copper, but they are less expensive and significantly lighter. In general, aluminum has greater endurance fatigue (ability to be bent back and forth without breaking) than copper. So based on its great fatigue resistance, one would think it would be a great choice for a coil cord. However, as noted, aluminum is much less conductive than copper. This is okay if you’re pumping kilowatts of power across a grid, but in most applications, this decrease in conductivity means too much loss of signal or power to make it a good choice for most coil cords.

Coil Cord Jacketing Material

Cable jacketing in a coil cord has two key roles: protection and memory. The jacketing protects the conductors from moisture, flame, chemicals, and other environmental factors. It’s also what gives a coil cord memory and makes it act like a spring. Copper is a “lazy” metal, meaning unlike spring metals, it is perfectly happy to stay where it’s put once bent. So, the jacketing is used to offset the copper’s desire to stay put. 

Coil cords have jacketing on the individual inner conductors and then an outer jacketing that covers all of those the inner conductors together. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polypropylene (PP), and polyethylene (PE) are all good options for inner jacketing material. While PP and PE are a little more expensive, they allow conductors more movement which enhances the cord’s retractability. For coil cords that require high retracting performance, the jacketing on the inner conductors can be polyurethane (PU), thermoplastic rubber (TPR), or thermoplastic elastomer (TPE).

The outer jacket of a coil cord is a little more important since it is the first line of defense from environmental hazards and adds the most to the coil cord’s ability to extend/retract over many cycles. Materials commonly used by coil cable manufacturers include high-elastic PVC, PU, TPR, and (TPE). Each of these has strengths and weaknesses that should be evaluated carefully for the best performance.

Conclusion

A reputable coil cable manufacturer is an indispensable resource when choosing materials for your custom coil cable solution. Make sure you communicate all the requirements for the cable as well as any time or budgetary constraints. The design team should be able to make recommendations for materials that meet your needs while taking advantage of the unique properties of coil cords.

When you’re ready to discuss your next custom coil cord project, contact the team at Meridian Cable Assemblies. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

Discussing Filler Materials with Your Cable Assembly Manufacturer

Discussing Filler Materials with Your Cable Assembly Manufacturer

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

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

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

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

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

Filler Materials for Stronger Custom Cables

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

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

Reduce Friction with the Right Filler

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

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

Conclusion

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

Determining Custom Coil Cord Quality

Determining Custom Coil Cord Quality

There are a few things you can ask about to ensure your custom coil cord has the quality you require.

Many manufacturers are able to produce a custom coil cord to a wide variety of specifications. However, it can be difficult to tell you have a quality product with a quick visual inspection. Each element, from the conductor to the jacketing material, plays a critical role in the performance of the finished product. In addition, some cable manufacturers may attempt to offer a more attractive bid or increase their profits by cutting corners. To make sure you are paying for a quality custom coil cord there are a few things you should be aware of.

The Right Custom Coil Cord Materials

With any type of custom cord, choosing the highest quality materials for the job is key to an application that successfully meets your requirements. But even more important is choosing material that is right for each component.

Coil cords have many of the same requirements as other types of custom cords when it comes to voltage, shielding, and durability. However, the fact that they are designed to extend and retract means that there are materials that would be perfectly acceptable in a standard cord that are not suitable for these applications. For example, braided copper shielding would not be a good choice for a custom coil cord project due to the fact that it would adversely affect the cord’s retractile properties.  Make sure you are asking questions about the materials chosen by the design team, and do your research.

Designing a Coil for Performanceblack custom coil cord

The diameter of a custom coil cord is an extremely important consideration for the performance of the finished product. The size of the coil, specifically the outer diameter size, directly affects the cord’s extended length. In addition, a coil cord with a larger outer diameter is more likely to be able to carry a wider array of signals as well as higher voltages. The inside diameter affects the spring action of the cord. A smaller inside diameter has more “spring,” and a larger inside diameter has less.

Because these physical features of the cord have real consequences when it comes to performance, the quality of the cord depends on how well they match your specifications. Have in-depth conversations with your cable manufacturer, so they know what you need and are able to explain their choices clearly.

Conclusion

Custom coil cords can be the perfect solution for equipment that requires a cable that stretches, retracts, bends, and twists without putting additional stress on the wire. They are also able to carry electricity, data, and signal. Because of their versatility and durability, they can be good options for applications that are too rough or space-constrained for non-coiled cords.

The team at Meridian Cable has extensive experience designing and producing custom coil cords that are tailored to our clients’ specific needs and equipment. If you’re ready to talk about your coil cord project, contact us today. We look forward to talking with you.

Wire and Cable Manufacturers: The Design & Manufacturing Process

Wire and Cable Manufacturers: The Design & Manufacturing Process

Most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the wire harnesses that are literally all around them.

In many cases, these wire harnesses are powering or carrying information to equipment we use every day at home or at our jobs. Since they tend to be hidden away, we often don’t realize how important the design and manufacturing process is to the proper function and safety of our equipment. Luckily, reputable wire and cable manufacturers take their processes very seriously.

At its most simple, a wire harness is a group of wires or cables that have been covered by an exterior sheath. In many cases, they also have their own coverings. In general, they are used to organize a wiring system as opposed to providing protection from factors that could cause damage to the wires.

Wire Harness Design

The first step to manufacturing a wire harness is to identify the problem it is meant to address. Each piece of equipment has certain electrical and geometric requirements. For example, wire and cable manufacturers may be required to design a wire harness that fits into a limited space and meets certain electrical safety requirements. At Meridian Cable, we like to gather as much information as possible at the beginning of the process to ensure the finished harness is tailored perfectly to each piece of equipment.

Assembly Process of Wire and Cable Harness Manufacturers

Once our engineers have a design in hand, we gather the components and begin cutting the wires to the appropriate lengths using a special wire-cutting machine. The next step is to strip the wires and fit them with terminals and connector housings. Then we set up a workbench or assembly board to the design specifications. An assembly board is a full-sized diagram of the harness that shows all components as well as their locations. Only then can we get to work assembling the wires into a harness…by hand.electrical-wires

Since there are many processes involved in assembling a wire harness, it is often more efficient for wire and cable manufacturers to complete it manually, especially for small batches. However, depending on the specifications and complexity of the design, wire and cable harness manufacturers may be able to automate some of the steps in pre-production.

Safety First

Because safety is one of the most crucial considerations for any wire harness, assembly isn’t the end of the process for a reputable wire and cable harness manufacturer. It is important to put the harness through multiple safety checks. Not only are Meridian’s manufacturing facilities UL-certified, but we are also committed to designing only the highest quality products for each and every client.

Conclusion

No matter how simple or complex a wire harness, it must be safe and function as expected. By working with an experienced wire and cable manufacturer, you can ensure your finished wire harness is both safe to install and use, and meets all of your electrical and geometrical requirements. The team at Meridian Cable works hard to make sure all of our clients get a custom harness that fits their needs. Contact us when you’re ready to talk about your next wire harness project.

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.

3 Key Custom Coil Cord Features

3 Key Custom Coil Cord Features

Designing a custom coil cord is a breeze when you, and your wire and cable manufacturer are speaking the same language.

When designing a custom coil cord, you have the opportunity to create a finished product that is perfectly matched to the needs of your equipment. But how do you know what information your wire and cable manufacturer needs to get started?

Every coiled cord has three main sections—coil diameter, retracted and extended lengths, and tangents—you can use to clearly specify the physical shape of your cord. Understanding the specifications of these three sections and what they are can help you and your cable manufacturer stay on the same page during the design process.

Putting the Coil in a Custom Coil Cord

It may seem obvious, but the coiled section of a custom coil cord is its most important physical feature. Without the coil, it’s just a regular straight cord, so it’s important to make sure you clearly communicate what you need from the coils. One of the most important features to communicate is the coil diameter. By subtracting the diameter of the raw cable from the outside coil diameter, we get a mean diameter that represents the center line of the raw cable. This is important, because the larger a coil’s “circle” is the more raw cable is used.

Retracted & Extended Lengths

The retracted length of a custom coil cord is the measurement of the cord when it is not stretched. Most of the time, a cable manufacturer uses the retracted length as the primary way to specify how long the coiled section is.

The extended length of a custom coil cord is how long it is when stretched to its maximum operational length. While this isn’t the primary measurement that is used to identify the coiled section of the cord, it is useful to understand how far the cord needs to extend. In some cases, however, the extended length is the primary consideration for the cord and should be clearly communicated.

Going Off on a Tangent

While the coiled part of the cord tends to get the most attention, the straight sections at each end (or tangents) are also key features that affect the overall function of the finished cord. There are two different types of tangents that are used on custom coil cords: axial and perpendicular. An axial tangent exits the coiled section of the cord along the center line, which allows them to stretch in line with the cable. Alternately, perpendicular tangents exit perpendicular to the coiled section, meaning they exit the final coil at a 90-degree angle. Coiled cords with this type of tangent are easier to manufacture, and are therefore more common.

Conclusion

Working with an experienced wire and cable manufacturer is the best way to ensure your finished custom coil cord meets the needs of your equipment without busting your budget. You can get your projects started on the right foot by describing the basic cable you need with the coil diameter, retracted and extended lengths, and tangent type. When you’re ready to talk about your next custom coil cord, get in touch with Meridian Cable. We are happy to answer all of your questions.

5 Points to Discuss with a Custom Cable Manufacturer

5 Points to Discuss with a Custom Cable Manufacturer

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

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

1. Previous Designs

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

2. Basic Technical Requirements

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

3. Environmental Concernscustom wire

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

4. Connector Types

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

5. Safety Requirements

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

Conclusion

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

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

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.

 

 

5 Facts about Custom Cable Assemblies & Wire Harnesses

5 Facts about Custom Cable Assemblies & Wire Harnesses

Do you know the difference between custom cable assemblies and wire harnesses?

Unless you are an electrician or electrical engineer, you probably haven’t thought much about the differences and similarities between custom cable assemblies and wire harnesses. It’s not a subject that tends to come up in everyday conversation. Unless, that is, you need to run multiple wires or cables from one piece of equipment to another or to a power source. That’s when knowing the difference between wiring and cable and the strengths and weaknesses of each becomes more important.

We put together fives facts about wires and cables to help you understand the difference, and why you should choose a wire harness over a cable assembly in certain situations.

Wires & Cables Aren’t the Same Thing

This fact may seem pretty obvious, but many people use the terms “wire” and “cable” interchangeably. It’s understandable. Wires and cables are similar in that they carry electricity or signal from one place to another. However, there are a few very important differences. Wires are made up of a strand (or strands) of conductive material like copper and are suitable for a wide ranges of applications beyond carrying electricity and signal. They are also one of the components that make up a cable. Conversely, a cable is made of two or more conductors that are insulated. They tend to be better protected than wires and are suitable for applications that require more durability.

Both Are Used to Organize Wires & Cables

The basic purpose of both wire harnesses and cable assemblies is to bundle wires or cables. Bundling wires or cables allows you to keep them more organized, especially in situations where having multiple cables and/or wires takes up too much space or can cause additional wear that is easily addressed by bundling. A few common places you see bundled cables or wires are cars and computers.

Wire Harnesses Have a Thin Layer of Protection

While cable assemblies are more heavily protected with insulation and jacketing material, wires usually have a thin exterior covering made of thermoset or thermoplastic material. This covering is meant to protect the environment or a person handling the wire from the flow of electricity. The jacketing material can also be color coded to aid in keeping systems organized and make it easy to identify different types of wires.

Custom Cable Assemblies Are More Durable

With the additional materials used in custom cable assemblies, a cable manufacturer is able to design the assembly to address exposure to extreme temperatures, moisture, friction, chemicals, and more. They can also take size and flexibility requirements into consideration, so the cable is a perfect fit for your application. A cable assembly may require less maintenance and can also be easier to install since the conductors are bundled. custom cable assembly

Wires Are More Affordable…When They Are Right for the Job

You may be thinking extra protection means a custom cable assembly is always the right choice for your project, but that’s not always the case. In situations that require a small, lightweight option, a wire might be your best bet. Because wires are generally less expensive to produce, it can be a more affordable option — especially if the wire will be used indoors in a relatively sheltered environment.

Conclusion

Understanding the difference between a custom cable assembly and wire harness is an important step when considering what you need for your project. The team at Meridian Cable is able to help you make the right choice for your application, environment, and budget. Get in touch with us when you are ready to get started. We’re happy to answer all of your questions.