Top Considerations while selecting Cable and Wire Harness Assembly to enhance the performance of your final product!
Do you know what is the key component of any electronic or electrical systems? It is a cable and wire harness but unfortunately, many treat it as an afterthought. While you design your systems, cable and wire harness assembly should be the first thing to be considered in the design phase. Various components are required in cable harness assembly and each component affects the performance of the cable and wire harness assembly.
In the cable and wire harness assembly, either over-design or under-design will have negative impacts on the performance of the finished assembly.
The first thing you need to think of is the environment in which the assembly is going to be used. If it is going to be used in a dynamic installation or a harsh environment, you should be aware that it will be exposed to flexing, and your components of the cable and wire harness assembly should be able to withstand the flex. If it is going to be used in a cleanroom environment, make sure the assembly can withstand the sunlight and moisture.
Use the best materials for meeting the expectations of the assembly installation, for signal transmission over the assembly, and safety certifications that comply with the environment.
Conductors – Based on the application, the number and type of conductors to be included will be determined. There are different options for the conductive material and the most widely used one is copper. Copper retards corrosion and you can also go for copper-clad steel or copper alloys if you want to add strength. You can also use copper along with tin for various coatings. Silver or nickel coatings are used for letting the cable assembly be used in environments of high temperatures. They can be used as a single solid strand or many smaller conductors as they can help in overcoming the rigidity of the wires and make them more flexible.
Primary Insulations – The material, type, and thickness of the insulator of the primary conductors depend on the application where the custom cable assembly is used. Depending on the temperature the assembly will be exposed to, the voltage levels, the type, chemicals the assembly will be subjected to, and how harsh the environments will be, you should choose the appropriate materials. If your assembly needs to work at extreme temperatures, you need more rugged compounds for proper functioning. You may also have to foam them for higher-speed signals.
Different applications require different cable types. For instance, a coaxial cable is used for RF applications, shielded cable for noise-sensitive applications, ribbon cable for insulation displacement contact, and simple equipment wires for simple applications. The conductor wires must be sized properly to ensure that the current and voltage drops are acceptable in all operating conditions.
Cabling of conductors
When pairs of the same cable are in close proximity, the most common problem is the noise. So you can go for twisting of the pairs of cables for countering the effect. The conductors should be cabled or twisted for reducing the noise in the transmission of the signals. It is also aesthetically pleasing.
With several shield options, you can go for metalized foil that has fairly good flexibility and is good at higher frequencies. You can go for a braided shield where there are many small diameter wires braided onto the cable core using special equipment. Although this is costlier than a foil shield, it offers better shielding at lower frequencies and offers better flex life. We also have a spiral shield that offers excellent flexibility with long flex life. You can go for a combination of foil and braid shields which offer excellent protection at all frequencies.
After finishing the cable core construction, an outer sheath is applied that acts as a protective covering. This outer sheath has to be tough for protecting the cable from harsh environments and be flexible for allowing the movement of the assembly throughout the life cycle of the equipment. It has to be chemically resistant and also be semi-conductive. PVC is the most widely used compound and other materials include urethane-based products, elastomer-based products, fluorocarbons, and other alloys that offer low-smoke, low acid generation, and low toxicity.
Among several options available for the cable assembly, you need to check the type and speed of the signal being transmitted. If a high-speed signal is to be transmitted, go for a solder type connection; if a power is to be sent through the assembly, a crimp type should be chosen.
Make strategic use of the cable space for avoiding sensitive parts of the system from being damaged. This also improves the effective use of cable assembly. Cable assemblies have to be routed close to the chassis in the systems where there are vibrations or movements. In high-vibration applications, you should consider including anti-wear measures like cable clips.
Safety is one of the major concerns while designing a cable assembly and wire harness. The key element here is the location where the assembly will be used as the safety certifications and standards vary from a region to region. You need to make sure that the environmental standards are met by your assembly. The regulatory and safety standards that are meant for the enforcement and testing of electrical devices differ. In the USA, we have UL and CSA standards as the regulatory and safety standards. Also, RoHS directives are another environmental standard that limit the use of hazardous substances in electrical products.
Besides these, your cable assembly and wire harness assembly must also meet the industry standards based on the specific performance criteria.
You have to consider a lot many things while designing your cable assembly and wire harness for your application. Be clear about your specifications and design needs before you begin your assembly and manufacturing process. If you disregard any of the factors, the performance of your final product could be affected. We recommend you bring up all the specifications to your CM who has taken up your cable and wire harness assembly needs.
At Technotronix we have 40 years of experience in manufacturing and assembling industry leading products. Equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and skilled personnel we offer products to meet your bespoke requirements. Technotronix can be a trusted Cable Assembly Manufacturer partner for you, which will give you ample smart solutions related to Printed Circuit Boards.