If you’ve ever had to replace the sound system in your car, you know what an electrical wire harness looks like. Or if you’ve seen any action movie with a bomb scene, and there are red, blue and green wires all hooked up to the bomb, then you’ve definitely seen an electrical wire harness. With the growing need for technology in everyday life, these wire harnesses are seen in more and more places, and are essential in many and most industries, including the military, oil and gas, medical and many more.
An electrical wire harness is used to connect one machine or piece of equipment to another to transmit signals or information. There are many components that make up an electrical wire harness. The first item that makes up a wire harness is the wire itself. At the center of the wire are a conducting metal, usually copper or copper-covered steel, and more recently even fiber optics. Then there is a layer of polarizing insulation that determines the thickness of the wire, and separates the core from the shield. The shield is usually comprised of fine woven or braided metal sheeting that is wrapped around the wire. This maintains the strength and structure of the wire while still allowing it to be flexible.
Next comes the plastic cover that gives wires their bright colors. This is usually made up of shrink-wrapped thermoplastic material that protects the wire from heat, pressure, moisture, and other hazards it might encounter. What makes a harness a harness is that it takes a group of wires and gathers them together into a bigger bunch and covers them in another shrink-wrapped thermoplastic layer.
There are several reasons why this comes in handy. For starters, it gets all the wires into one convenient package rather than having a messy clump of many small wires. It makes it easier to transport these wire connections wherever they might be needed. It also serves as an extra layer of protection from the elements. There are some electrical wire harness covers that have been tested for being resistant even to flame. As technology continues to improve, wire harness technology is going to continue to make wire harnesses more impervious to damage.
This is particularly useful to industries in which the main objective cannot be completed without the technology that includes wire harnesses, but the harnesses are also exposed to many situations that would destroy wiring in general. Industries like the military, oil and gas, medical and law enforcement industries all depend on wire harness technology that is enforced, and able to deal with harsh conditions.
Basic harnesses are very popular and are generally mass-produced according to one standard schematic. These can easily be found at most electronics retailers nearby, and tend to be cheaper because they are identical and easily installed. The downside is that they may not exactly fit your needs. This is where specialty harnesses come in. There are companies that specialize specifically in custom making harnesses for any are all applications. For example, if you were to replace your car stereo with another generic stereo, you would go with a basic harness. However, if you want an advanced sound system, or other capabilities like GPS and OnStar, you may want to look into a custom electrical wire harness to meet your needs.