Common Cable Manufacturing Terminology

Regardless of the type of electronic product you are trying to manufacture, procuring all of the raw materials necessary can often be quite confusing. This is especially true when the suppliers have a different name or identification code for each part or material.

The unique configuration and selection of materials that compose your custom wiring or cabling help transmit force, motion, or energy in some predetermined manner to achieve a specific end. Here is your guide to custom cable manufacturing terminology to help ensure that no matter the supplier, you are able to get the right wire and cabling equipment to meet your needs.


Generally, when it comes to wiring, you will choose amongst several material options based on the cable’s required strength, flexibility, conductivity and imperviousness to corrosion. Stainless steel is a common choice when corrosion is a major consideration. Galvanized carbon steel is a more likely choice when the cable will span a long distance and thus needs greater strength. Copper is a popular choice for wire as it has one of the best conductors for electromagnetic currents.

Cable Construction: Strands and Ropes

When two or more wires are wrapped or braided around a central wire it is called a ‘strand.’ Typically a strand will be composed of 7, 19, or 37 wires laid concentrically around the central wire. Strands can also be laid concentrically around each other to form what is known as a ‘rope’ of cable. Your choice of strand or rope will depend on your specific parameters for compression strength, flexibility, abrasion resistance, and stretch. Generally cable rope is called for when the use calls for maximum strength, flexibility, and abrasion resistance, especially if it will be used over a pulley.


The strength of a wire rope is determined by its size, construction, and grade, and is measured based on its resistance to different kinds of stresses. These can be direct tension, wherein the rope is stretched from one point to another, stress due to acceleration or suddenly stopping heavy shock loads, stress due to bending, or stress from multiple forces acting on the rope simultaneously. For the sake of convenience, most cable rope or wire is graded based on tension strength alone, since most of these other forces can be converted to tension strength.


Most wires and cable ropes are subject to bending around pulleys, drums, or sheaves. When a rope is bent is bent, individual wires or strands slide in relation to the other strands in the rope. If the cable is not properly lubricated, it may be difficult for strands and wires to adjust to this new changed position. The loss of strength due to depending varies directly based on the diameter of the sheave to the relative diameter of the rope.


The term fatigue in custom cable manufacturing refers to the breakdown of a wire rope under multiple applications of bending loads, particularly over comparatively small sheaves. Fatigue can be demonstrated by repeatedly bending a wire coat hanger back and forth until it eventually breaks.

Abrasive Wear

A cables ability to withstand abrasion will depend on its size, manganese and carbon content, the construction of the rope, and any heat treatment that has been applied to it. Typically cable manufacturers will make the outer wires of a strand larger and less flexible to better withstand abrasion. Additionally wire with higher manganese and carbon content produce stronger wires that are better able to withstand wear due to friction.

Armed with these common cabling terms, you will be better informed when procuring materials to manufacture your next big product.

For more information, contact the friendly professionals at LoDan Electronics today.