As a necessary component in countless applications, custom designed cable assemblies have a major impact on the cost, and therefore the profitability, of any project. Designing a cable assembly that meets both environmental and electrical demands, while keeping costs low, can be a challenging task.
One of the most critical elements of producing any cable assembly or harness is the amount of cable assemblies testing that is done when the product is completed in manufacturing. There are many methods and levels for testing cable assemblies, but all testing has one goal – to ensure that the product meets or exceeds its specifications.
One point that anyone involved with cable assemblies understands is that "every electronic or mechanical component will eventually reach the end of its life cycle". This blog post will define cable assembly obsolescence as the point in an assembly’s life cycle when it is either no longer in a usable state, meaning it is not functioning as it was designed, or there is no longer a use for the cable assembly due to technology changes.
When we think of manufacturing in the 21st Century, we picture automated machines rapidly pumping out new products with ease. So why can't the process of complex wire harness manufacturing become fully automated as well? To answer this question, we need a deeper understanding of cable harnesses and how they are prepared.
A cable harness, also referred to as a wire harness, cable assembly, wiring assembly, or wire loom, is a grouping of wires and/or cables that are used to transmit signals as well as provide electrical power if needed. The wires and cables are joined together using a combination of straps, cable ties, cable lacing, tubing (either shrink tubing or non-shrink tubing), sleeving, electrical tape, conduit, and braided extruded string.
Cable pre-molding, sometimes associated with potting or encapsulation, is used to protect the termination points from the surrounding environment. Pre-molding involves the application of a material around the back section of a connector where the termination points are located.
The major difference between a stranded cable and solid cable is the flexibility. Within this post we will define cable flexibility with regard to ability to withstand continuous movement. Depending on your application, cable flexibility can be a factor when choosing the proper components for your cable assembly or wire harness.
Overmolded cables are full assemblies that seamlessly combine the wire and the connector into a single part. The process of overmolding a cable involves injecting a molten material into a mold cavity, which conforms to the desired shape when cooled. The mold cavity can be built as a simple design with no markings or as a more complex design if you wanted to include a company name, corporate logo, flanges to be used as attachment points, or an extended strain relief area.