Selecting the Proper Cable Assembly for Your Application
Are you starting a new industrial or commercial project and are worried about getting a proper cable assembly? Don’t worry, because we’ve got you covered.
A cable assembly is nothing but a group of cables combined together in a single unit, used to connect equipment. Also called cable harnesses, it consists of computer connectors and cables that are put together in the orientation as required by the application.
Since cable assemblies help organize different electrical wires and computer connector cables to maximize safety, they are apt for both indoor and outdoor applications. However, choosing a proper cable assembly is crucial for smooth functioning of your unit.
Consider The Following Aspects Before Choosing The Best Cable Assembly for your Application
The Installation Environment
When selecting computer connectors and cables for your cable assembly is the environment, don’t forget to consider where you are going to use it.
Is it a static or a dynamic environment? Understanding the application’s environment will help determine the level of flexibility required in terms of installation and movement.
You want the cable assembly to easily rout or adapt to the structural patterns when installing. When it comes to movement, you want the cable assembly to be robust enough to survive excessive movement.
Static environments can do with less flexible cable assemblies as it does not involve too much movement of cables. However, if you want something for a dynamic application, you will want greater flexibility.
The environment and the flexing needs will further help you choose the right components and design of your cable assembly.
Cable Design and Structure
Whether you are looking for a cable assembly in a static or dynamic environment, it is important to choose the right cable components and design for optimal performance. Don’t forget to look at different elements like the conductor, sheathing material, etc. to make the perfect choice.
Different types of applications need varied numbers of circuits or conductors in an assembly. You can differentiate between conductors on the basis of the conductive material used, plating applied and construction. For now, let’s look at the construction of the conductor.
Conductors used in cable assemblies are either made of a single, solid strand or multiple strands. The latter were introduced as a way to combat the rigidity of the solid wires. So, they offer better flexibility.
If you have a higher flexing requirement, then you can opt for conductors made of more strands. The only downside of choosing this variant is the cost, which can be on the higher side.
Primary Insulation Material
Another consideration when selecting a cable assembly is the insulator material or sheath. The type and thickness of the material solely depends on the application of the cable assembly. You need to address certain aspects of the application, which include:
- The temperature
- Type of signal to be carried by the cable assembly
- Level of voltage
- The harshness of the installation environment
- Fluids the cables can come in contact with
You can invest in materials that can withstand extreme temperatures of -65 degree celsius to 200+ degree celsius and more, as well as chemical exposure. Heavy industrial applications that are dynamic will require tough compounds for better functioning.
To control electromagnetic interference (EMI), shields are applied to cable assemblies. The most popular one is the foil shield, thanks to its low cost and the flexibility it offers. They perform well at higher frequencies.
Other options include braid shield, which has a better flex life and performs well at lower frequencies. Choose the one that best suits your application.
The Outer Jacket
This is the covering that protects computer connectors and cables tied together in a cable assembly. If the application is a harsh environment, make sure the jacket or outer sheath is made of a material that’s tough, provides greater flexibility and is chemical resistant.
PVC remains a popular and cost-effective material option. Depending on your application, you can also pick from urethane, rubber, elastomer as a substitute to rubber, fluorocarbons for better fire resistance, alloy and non-halogen materials.
See if your cable assembly will need a strain relief. It provides a transition point from cable to termination and helps prevent termination failure. They’re available in solid and segmented designs. While smooth or solid designs are less flexible, segmented ones offer great bend relief. Pick the one as per your flexing requirements.
Another important consideration is compliance with the governing laws of the region where the cable assembly is going to be used.
Every region has their own laws that set safety standards regarding cable assembly. For instance North America has Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and Canadian Standards Association (CSA). Check the certifications required in your application’s region.
You might also need to meet specific industry standards. Ensure you comply with the rules and get the necessary certifications for installation.
Electrical Signals and Performance
Find great deals on wide varieties of cable assembly for sale on the best ecommerce marketplace for sellers. As mentioned, you need to consider the type and intensity of the signal your cable assembly will carry, as this will impact the size and material of the conductors used.
When it comes to conductors, copper is a widely used material. For applications requiring better tensile strength, materials that combine copper with steel or alloy are great options. These also offer better flexibility.
Since copper is prone to corrosion when exposed to extreme conditions, tin coatings are used to protect the conductors. You can opt for silver or nickel coating as well if temperature runs high in your application.
Connectors are components that connect cables to the equipment. Depending on the speed and type of signal, you will choose from the various types of connectors available. For instance, if your cable assembly carries power, a crimp connector is the best choice. But, if high speed signals are being transmitted, you can opt for solder or welded options for computer connector cables.
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