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Author: Technical Cable Applications

The Evolution of Cable Assembly Manufacturing

The Evolution of Cable Assembly Manufacturing

Complexity in cable assembly manufacturing grows incessantly, compelling producers to grapple with intricate designs, precise specifications, and relentless pressure to optimize productivity, while maintaining the quality at the highest possible standard.

Innovation is the linchpin.

Adopting advanced manufacturing technologies and methodologies, including work instruction software, streamlines processes and enhances efficiency, meeting the demands of an ever-evolving industry.

From Handcrafting to Automation

Though cable assembly manufacturing can be an extremely labor-intensive process, cable assemblers are integrating sophisticated automation technologies that bolster consistency, minimize human error, and accommodate the complexities of modern cable assembly production. This evolution supports the aspirations of assemblers and fabricators for heightened productivity, paving the way for unprecedented levels of innovation and customer satisfaction.

Early Manual Techniques

In the initial stages of cable assembly manufacturing, each connection was carefully made by hand. This process was not only time-consuming but also required a high degree of skill and precision, restricting production capacity.

Operators used an array of hand tools, like wire strippers and soldering irons, to assemble cables. Each wire had to be cut, stripped, and soldered or crimped individually, leading to lengthy production cycles.

Early cable manufacture was a meticulous artisanal craft that relied on the steady hands and keen eyes of experienced workers.

Despite advances, these manual techniques established foundational skills and standards that persist in the industry. They underscored the necessity for precision and the value of craftsmanship in creating reliable connections. This groundwork shaped the evolution toward mechanization and automation.

Introduction of Semi-Automated Processes

The advent of semi-automated technologies marked a significant milestone in cable assembly manufacturing, fostering efficiency and consistency.

  1. Implementation of Cutting Machines streamlined the wire cutting process, reducing the variability inherent in manual cutting.
  2. Crimping Machines advanced from manual to pneumatic and eventually semi-automatic operation, enhancing connection uniformity.
  3. Pre-Programmed Stripping Machines offered precise insulation removal, mitigating the risk of wire damage.
  4. Automatic Soldering Stations provided consistent solder joints while minimizing the potential for human error.
  5. Work Instruction Software began guiding operators through the production process, ensuring adherence to specifications and minimizing deviations.

With these machines, operators could oversee multiple stages simultaneously, substantially increasing throughput without sacrificing quality.

Investments in semi-automated systems allowed for scalable production capacities, aligning with the burgeoning demand for cable assemblies across various industries.

The Digitalization Impact

The advent of digital technology has marked a significant transformation in cable assembly manufacturing, introducing a new epoch characterized by unparalleled precision and efficiency. Within this digital realm, work instruction software has emerged as a cornerstone, effectively revolutionizing the transmission of intricate assembly knowledge. By digitizing and centralizing instructions, this software mitigates the risk of human error, propelling the industry towards a future where consistency and quality are augmented by an unwavering adherence to detailed digital directives. Consequently, assemblers and fabricators are empowered to exceed customer expectations with every meticulously crafted product.

Future Trends

Advanced materials, including high-performance polymers, will revolutionize the durability and functionality of cable assemblies, shaping customer expectations.

Connected and automated manufacturing processes, leveraging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), will drive efficiencies and elevate the precision and scalability of cable assembly production, meeting the upsurge in demand for increasingly complex systems.

Digital twin methodologies and predictive maintenance will emerge as standard practices, enhancing product lifecycle management and operational reliability.

How Do We Make Cable Molds?

Cable molding is used for all sorts of power and data transmission cables, and is more prevalent than the average consumer might realize. For instance, many consumer grade HDMI and USB cables have basic molding included to provide protection during connection and disconnection.

If molding is so commonplace nowadays, one might ask, then why are we writing about it? To put it simply, there are a great number of styles of cable molding that differ a lot from each other in terms of usage, and the manufacturing process. The basic molding you’ll find on many consumer grade cables is not sufficient for all applications so overmolded, industrial strength and custom molded cables are needed in many instances. We’ll describe the general molding manufacturing process that we use, and how we customize cable molding for customers based on their requirements and needs here.

Cable Molding Manufacturing
The simplest explanation of how cable molding is made, is that pressure is used to force material into a mold cavity or what we typically call a “die”, with the desired shape the final mold needs to be. Molding machines automate and simplify this process. We use MoldMan thermoplastic machines to overmold cables by the thousands at Technical Cable Applications. We use special thermoplastic material, such as the polyamide Macromelt OM 646, and heat it to up to 475 degrees Fahrenheit depending on what the final molding needs. Our MoldMan machines allow us to time the injection and clamping processes perfectly with up to 2 tons of force!

Custom Cable Molding
If a customer comes to us with a need for their cables to be molded with a custom raceway solution, we’ll identify 3 main things:
What is the application for the cable? Usually we have a cable drawing from the customer but oftentimes additional information is needed to ensure that the molding will be right for the client’s needs and survive the environmental hazards it will be put through.
Do we need to have multiple configurations of molding or just one, and do they have custom dies already or will we need to produce some? Custom molding dies can be created with multiple shapes and configurations, so that we can quickly manufacture multiple different mold shapes. This is helpful when the client needs a few different types of molding, but unnecessary if they just need one type of mold.
What material is best? The most common one we use because of its versatility is the aforementioned Macromelt OM 646. It has a hardness rating of 92A and a very wide range of service temperatures so it is more than sufficient for many applications. However, if a softer or firmer hardness is needed or if the environment where the cables will be utilized is over 257 degrees Fahrenheit, there are many other options for polyamides that will do the job.

Our technicians are extremely knowledgeable about cable molding, and we utilize automated work instruction tools to ensure that every step of the manufacturing process of cables is done properly. You can trust our team with your bulk cable order from prototyping to final production, just send us your cable drawing to get started!

How Do Medical Cables Differ From Other Industries’ Cables?

The medical field is unique in that the individuals who are most close to the equipment, cables and tools used are often in very vulnerable states and therefore all equipment used must be 100% safe and have little to no risk of additional injury in the event of a cable failure. Unlike industries like construction or power where everyone is wearing protective equipment at all times to prevent injury, any equipment used for medical procedures, diagnostics, pain prevention and comfort must be completely free from risk of electrocution or other injury. 

This is compounded by the need for reliability, as cables transferring electronic information from ECG cables about a patient’s brain activity cannot afford to fail and transmit incorrect data, nor can a surgeon’s equipment be expected to fail occasionally during an operation without dire consequences occurring. Meanwhile, medical facilities need so much more than ECG cables as well, as medical equipment can often draw quite a bit of power, and therefore durable power cables are a necessity in most facilities. These cables require additional shielding for the purpose of protecting patients and medical staff from injury.

Another common need that is only becoming more difficult with time as file sizes increase, is transfer of extremely high-resolution MRI and diagnostic images from computer to computer, or worse from a local computer to a cloud server. This requires high speed Ethernet cables that can transfer and upload hundreds or thousands of megabytes per second, so that extremely important data and medical imaging can be viewed right away by experts and save time and hassle during important decision making processes. 

In short, the medical industry has unique components in terms of the needs for safety and has important legal and ethical requirements to consider for any facility or equipment manufacturer. These stringent safety requirements, combined with increasingly more demanding power and file size requirements, mean that it’s best for medical industry leading companies to choose a qualified cable manufacturer for their bulk cable needs.

industrial ethernet cables

When Are Industrial Grade Ethernet Cables Necessary?

Industrial Ethernet Cables

While wireless technology has become commonplace in the everyday consumer’s home, with features like WiFi, 5G cellular connectivity, and even wireless charging for devices becoming highly popular, many consumers’ homes still utilize the classic Cat-6 connector throughout the home. Routers connect to other devices via Ethernet and LAN wires, and many power users still prefer the speed and reliability of wired connections over wireless options. This reliance on wired Ethernet connections increases exponentially for business needs, as just about any company that has even basic servers in-house will need lots of Ethernet wires or even basic assemblies to connect everything together. However, the types of Ethernet and Cat-6 connectors and the materials used for wires or cable assemblies will vary wildly depending on the business facility’s industry, environment and level of hazardous factors involved. Here is a brief guide on the types of scenarios where industrial strength Ethernet cables and wires are needed, and when higher speed but lower durability options are more viable.

The Benefits of Industrial Ethernet Wires and Cable Assemblies

  1. Extreme durability in harsh environments
    Industrial grade cables are typically built with tough materials, larger gauges, and shielded construction to ensure that they will continue working in harsh conditions, whether those conditions are extreme temperatures, liquid resistance, electromagnetic interference etc. This is extremely important for all kinds of industrial facilities that manufacture products using high temperatures, corrosive chemicals or strong vibrations as they can’t afford to have wires or cables failing in those conditions.
  2. Determinism to ensure that data is delivered on time, every time
    Rather than being optimized for speed, industrial Ethernet cables and the protocols they are compatible with provide determinism. This allows engineers to ensure that data packets arrive exactly when they are supposed to. This is necessary because equipment in an industrial or manufacturing setting needs to communicate packets of data at very specific times to ensure that the production line or process does not miss important steps, or fail because one piece of equipment wasn’t able to send its update to the next. While we just manufacture the cables used for industrial Ethernet applications, we ensure that our industrial cables meet all specifications from our customers so that they will be able to provide exactly what’s needed.

The Drawbacks of Industrial Ethernet Wires and Cable Assemblies

  1. More expensive than standard ethernet cables
    Because of the extra strong materials and special construction methods used to protect the transmission of data under harsh conditions, the obvious caveat for industrial Ethernet wiring and cable assemblies is that they are much more expensive to produce than your basic, commercially available LAN wire or cable. This means that unless that extra durability is needed, companies may be able to save with having less durable, but more economical Cat-6 cables used.
  2. Lower speeds than what the fastest standard ethernet wires can support
    Gigabit Internet speeds are now achievable for consumers in large cities across the United States, but to access that speed you won’t want to be using an industrial Ethernet cable. These cables are intended for smaller packet transfer needs and optimized for durability over speed, as the needs for industrial applications rarely require more transfer speed than 100 megabytes per second. If you’re needing to download and upload massive files every day, like extremely high resolution medical imaging or IMAX film footage, industrial Ethernet cables won’t be able to support the speed you need so other options may be best.

We hope this guide was helpful for anyone who is unfamiliar with the difference between industrial and commercial grade Ethernet cables, and what might be best for your needs. If you are with an industrial company in need of a better source for your Ethernet cables, please contact us and let us know what you need. We’d love to see your cable drawing if you have one and find out how we can assist you!

Wire Harness vs Cable Assembly

To those of us who work as cable assembly manufacturers every day here at Technical Cable Applications, as soon as we learn about the application a client is needing, we will typically know whether a wire harness will do the job, and when a more robust cable assembly is required. However for just about anyone else who doesn’t work with cables every day, it’s likely that the terms “wire” and “cable” will seem somewhat interchangeable. It’s also even more likely that your average consumer wouldn’t know the difference between a harness and an assembly as those also sound very similar, and again wire versus cable sounds like you’re comparing the same thing. This will be a quick refresher on the difference between a wire harness and a cable assembly, and when one or the other is most likely to be used.

Wire Harness

Wire harnesses are the most basic way to configure any product or project that needs a couple or more wires strung together to connect one item to another. As long as the wires are in a safe place without extreme temperatures, pressure, or other physical danger, oftentimes this simple configuration of attaching a few wires together to ensure that everything will get the power or data transfer needed is more than sufficient. Wire harnesses are extremely cost efficient and will more than suffice for many indoor applications, or applications where the wires will be protected by a product’s pre-existing external shell or casing, i.e. computer servers or refrigerators.

Cable Assembly

The primary difference between a wire harness and a cable assembly is that a cable assembly will not have single exposed wires, and will always have multiple wires braided together and covered in some sort of protective sheath or coat. Cable assemblies are most important to use when there is no additional protection for the wires from the elements or when the connection has to hang rather than being precisely placed and mounted. This is because the protective sheath will ensure that the cables are protected from damage even if they are visible outside the product or machinery they are powering. Cable assemblies can be encased in all sorts of different types of protective materials for many different applications, so whether your cables need to continue working in harsh outdoor environments, or extremely hot factory/industrial conditions, there is a method and a material for your needs that will protect your cables and keep them working. Some industries use cable assemblies more frequently as well due to their general durability and the fact that protective sheaths can also prevent data loss, which is excellent for the military and medical fields who need both high durability and fast data transfer in emergency scenarios.

Hopefully this guide is helpful for anyone who is not familiar with the nuances between cables and wires. If you’d like to learn more, has an excellent guide they’ve published as well that is more in-depth than what we wrote here. Meanwhile if you are in need of a manufacturer for your bulk cable assembly or wire harness needs, please give us a call or send your cable drawing to us via our contact form so we can get started.



m12 cable

Custom M12 Cables: Tailored Solutions for Automation and More!

In the increasingly fast-paced world we live in today, automation is becoming not just a plus to have for many businesses, but a necessity for improving operational efficiency to meet budget and time restrictions. When not just a few, but all of the biggest players in any industry have begun implementing automation into much of their production, manufacturing, and processes, automation is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. This is the case for leaders in all kinds of industries including robotics, aerospace, logistics & shipping, military, medical and so many more. It’s simply not an option to avoid using automation for companies providing services across the nation or the world, because you will fall behind the competition in terms of efficiency. This includes software applications like artificial intelligence which are now becoming more prevalent, or the types of automation we’ve specialized in providing cables for since our founding in 2002.

One of the most frequently used and important types of connectors that power this automation is the ever reliable, compact and powerful M12 connector and the specialized cables we build that utilize said connectors. There are many variations on the standard M12 connector including the older M5, M8 and RJ45 styles that are all still extremely popular, and even within these types there are hundreds of different styles with the numbers of pins used, materials utilized, type of signal to be carried, and all sorts of other variables. We are experts in all of the possible variations, and even if you can imagine an M12 cable assembly with an exceedingly unusual configuration, we’ve probably manufactured something similar before due to our many years of experience and the plethora of businesses we’ve done orders for.

As a custom M12 cable and cable assembly manufacturer, here at Technical Cable Applications we specialize in crafting custom and off-the-shelf solutions tailored to meet the precise needs of our clients. We are ISO 9001:2015 and UL certified for cable assembly and are extremely experienced with M12 cables and assemblies and all the intricacies of the different kinds of M12 connectors, how they work with other types of connectors that we can also provide, and ensuring that they will be protected and durable for all your needs. You can trust us to manufacture your M12 custom cables order perfectly no matter how complex the specifications are.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to enhance your automation systems with our custom M12 cables that will provide exactly what you need and be built to last. Call us today or submit your cable drawing on our contact page to discuss your specific industry requirements!