Make Sure Your Cables are Protected: Part 1
Posted on Monday, June 23, 2014 by
Having the right cable for your application isn't always enough. Once you've chosen the right cable and designed your device to use it (or vice-versa), those cables need to be protected and organized. At the same time, high stress connection points need to be protected so the device can honestly bear the titles: rugged and long-lasting.
Heat-shrink tubing is a sleeve of plastic, usually, but not always, polyolefin, that goes over a group of wires or a connection point. After having heat applied, the sleeve shrinks to form a tight fit over the wires. This binds those wires together and protects them from any outside effects.
Tubing serves a range of different purposes:
- It supports the connections so the wires don't pull apart under the stresses of day-to-day use.
- It protects potentially fragile wires from possible abrasion.
- It replaces damaged insulation (slide a tube over a nick or cut in the wire).
- It seals and protects connections against moisture, chemicals, or air.
If and when you have a cabling application that needs additional protection, rest assured that you have a broad range of tubing types from which to choose. Some tubes are designed to shrink just a little, while others have a significant response to heat. Shrinkage rates from 1.7-to-1 to 5.6-to-1 are. Some tubing products are coated with an adhesive on the inside to hold them in place, while others have an inner wall that can melt into place. Tubes can have differing levels of temperature resistance and some provide chemical-proofing.
Tubes protect connections, but sometimes an entire cable needs to be sheathed. In other cases, a spaghetti bowl of separate wires that are all going to the same place need to be joined together. In these applications,wire management tools
like sleeving, braid, and tape can come into play.
Stay tuned for Part 2 as we dive into wire management tools for protecting your cables.