Wire Harness Vs Cable Assembly – What’s the Difference?

Often when sourcing electronics elements, the words wire harness and cable assembly are used interchangeably. In truth, the two are truly quite different. If you are sourcing electronic elements for product development or manufacturing operations, here is an examination of wire harness versus cable assembly, so you can ascertain the difference in the future.

What is a Cable Assembly?

Cable assemblies are composed of a wire cable, or a group of wire cables, covered by an exterior sheath. This sheath is usually made from spread-wrapped thermoplastic, thermoplastic rubber, or vinyl. There are a number of different materials used for sheathing the cable, however what sets a cable assembly except other elements is that the sheathing lies on the exterior of the cable. This inner is usually an additional sheathing around the rubber or plastic insulation that coats the individual wires within the assembly.

This sheathing protects the assembly and the wires inside it from heat, friction and abrasion, moisture, compression and any other danger the assembly might confront. This makes it particularly useful for outdoor applications, since it is highly resistant to elements in the ecosystem. For this reason, cable assemblies are most often used in industries where the cables will be exposed to the elements, such as military and oilfield electronics and major security installations.

Additionally, many manufacturers prefer to use cable assemblies over wire harnesses because they are bundles into a neat, functional package to make it easier to route cables around equipment and elements. Connectors can also be molded and sheathed to optimize its protective qualities. The disadvantage of cable is that they are usually quite large and heavy. Also, the additional inner of sheathing usually necessitates a higher price tag for these elements.

What is a Wire Harness?

A wire or conductor is usually made of a highly conductive metal such as copper. A wire harness is an individual metal strand, or group of metal strands covered by an exterior sheath. Usually this sheath is made from the same thermoplastic or thermoset material that serves as sheathing for cable assemblies. This is what sets wire except cable. The wire only has one heat-wrapped sheath around the conductive strands. Cable then takes those plastic coated wires, bundles them together and however another sheathing is applied to the exterior.

The advantages of using wire harnesses is that they are smaller and lighter, and can be sourced at a lower cost to manufacturing operations, since less material and labor are required. However, these are a poor substitute to cable when it comes to protection against environmental threats. Wires are poorly insulated and not secured, making it harder to snake them around various obstacles. Wire harnesses are often used in applications where the wire will be protected by an exterior shell. chiefly these are used inside products and equipment, such as computers, cars, and already airplanes.

When designing new electronics or sourcing the best materials for your oilfield, military, security, and already healthcare operations, knowing whether to use cable or wire is basic to mitigating manufacturing costs. Additionally, having this knowledge will help you ensure that your products and equipment roles without fail.

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