Custom Cable Customers, Here’s 9 Terms You Need To Know

Whenever you are in the market for custom cable assemblies, it helps to know a little of the industry terminology. Educating yourself about some of the vocabulary associated with cable assemblies will help you and your cable assembly engineer or account manager best understand your needs and how the assembly will operate within the finished product. Here are nine common terms to know.

1. Cable Conductors – The conductor is the material that carries the electrical signal, power, or grounding current, depending on its application. Often wires are created with copper and coated in a silver or tin material. They can be solid or stranded, and come in a variety of sizes.

2. Diaelectric Material – A dialectric material can be considered as the first insulating buffer between the conductor and the shielding components of the wire. This material works to minimize the loss of signal and maintain the quality and integrity of the signal.

3. Shielding – Shielding is yet another barrier to prevent signal loss and maintain the quality of the electrical signal within the wire. This will typically be composed of foil or braided aluminum.

4. Cable Jacket – The jacket is another form of insulation around the wire that also protects the wire and signals from environmental factors. Typically this material will be constructed from PVC, poly-ethelyne or a composite.

Beyond these basic terms, it may also be helpful to understand the different types of cable, and where they might be most appropriately used.

5. Ribbon Cable – This low cost, flexible wire is best used in internal applications for electronic products, and can withstand repeated flexing. This makes them ideal for printers, scanners, and other common electronic products.

6. Controlled Impedence Ribbon – Similar to a ribbon cable, this wire provides optimal signal conditions. Although it comes at a higher cost, it is a great choice when you need high speed processing with low impedance, and plenty of flexibility and abrasion resistance.

7. Miniature Coaxial – Most of us are familiar with the coaxial cable that delivers our television channels and high speed internet. This wire is used for high speed, single direction applications, such as the above mentioned uses, as well as RF and microwave transmission.

8. Parallel Paired Twinaxial – This type of cable takes the conducting wires from a coaxial cable and pairs them. This is a great choice for high speed transmission of data, or for differential based applications. These are easy to work with and are often very consistent in terms of manufacturing quality and electrical characteristics.

9. Twisted Pair – If your goal is to reduce cross talk, interference, or induction between two pairs of wires, then a twisted pair cable may be your best bet. This wire is composed of two insulated copper wires twisting around each other. These cables are best used for low speed transmission, for instance in analog or digital applications.

To find out more about custom cable assemblies, or to learn how to build one to your exact specifications, contact us now!