When researching which connection solution is best for a job, there are a few key terms to know. Cable assemblies are manufactured and rated with specific characteristics and intended for specific uses. Selecting the correct option for a project is important for operation success and safety, since there is a wide variety of environments and conditions in which they can be rated for use. Since manufacturers use various codes and number references for their components, it is important to understand the basics of cable assembly construction and capabilities, in order to find the right option for the job at hand.
The materials from which the wires in cable assemblies are made are the basis of how the end product can be rated. Different metals can withstand different amounts of abuse, such as bending, stress, heat, and corrosion. They also have different conductivity levels. Depending on the application, the wire of choice may need to be highly efficient at conducting or overly strong.
The construction of cables is defined in strands and ropes. A “strand” of wire is composed of many small gage wires bundled together. Their collective grouping forms a larger capacity conductor than their individual small gage and provides a better conductivity than a solid wire of the same gage. A “rope” is when several strands are wrapped around each other. Ropes are used in situations when the greatest amount of strength is needed.
Another area to know when researching cable assemblies is how well each bends. Bending the wires causes the strands of wire within the jacket to adjust. Without the proper safety steps, there could be kinks, or a failure to hold the tension put onto the cable rope when it is installed for a particular job. The smaller the device the cable is wrapped around, the less effectively that cable will hold its strength.
4. Tension strength
In situations where a great deal of tension will be applied to the wires, it is important to find the properly rated cable assemblies. Sometimes, cables are required to withstand a number of stresses from quickly starting or stopping with heavy loads, bending, stretching, or a combination of stresses. A wire rope is rated for strength according to its quality, thickness, construction, temperature it can withstand, and its ability to resist various types of stress.
Fatigue is the term used in the manufacturing industry to describe the amount of deterioration that the rope has experienced due to repeated applications of stress. By being pulled and bent multiple times, the rope breaks down over time. This process can be prolonged by using a rope with a higher level of internal strands. The more strands present, the more stress that the rope can withstand. However, adding strands increases the overall cost of a rope.
6. Jackets and Insulation
Wires and ropes used to conduct electricity are covered in insulating materials to contain the current and protect the surrounding area. The jacket is the first layer of protection, shielding the conductors from mechanical, flame, moisture, and chemical damage. Within the jacket, surrounding the wiring, there can be some form of insulation. It separates the wires within the cable both physically and electrically, and in some instances can help add strength to the wire.
7. Voltage drop
When electricity is passed through any component for a distance, some of that energy is lost. That phenomenon is known as voltage drop. Some materials provide less voltage drop than others. Sometimes, cable assemblies must also withstand greater stress, so they are built with materials that offer greater strength, but add voltage drop. Many options exist, as cable manufacturers are always looking to improve cable technology, for various uses.