Cable Assembly Terminology

Below you will find a list of terms commonly used in cable assembly manufacturing.

Abrasion Resistance:
Ability of a wire, cable or material to resist surface wear.
A.C. Resistance:
The total resistance offered by a device in an alternating current circuit due to inductive and capacitive effects, as well as the direct current resistance.
Active Current:
In an alternating current, a component in phase with the voltage; the working component as distinguished from the idle or wattless component.
A type of cable consisting of insulated conductors enclosed in a continuous closely fitting aluminum tube.
Alternating Current (AC):
Electric current that continually reverses its direction. It is expressed in cycles per second (hertz or Hz).
Alternating Voltage:
The voltage developed across a resistance or impedance through which alternating current is flowing.
Ambient Temperature:
Any all-encompassing temperature within a given area.
American National Standards Institute.
1) A luminous glow formed by the flow of electric current through ionized air, gas or vapor between separated electrodes or contacts. 2) A portion of the circumference of a circle.
Arc Resistance:
The time required for an arc to establish a conductive path in a material.
Area of Conductor:
The sized of a conductor cross section measured in circular mils, square inches, etc.
Armored Cable:
A cable having a metallic covering for protection against mechanical injury.
The American Standards Association. Former name of ANSI.
Abbreviation for American Wire Gauge.
Band Marking:
A continuous circumferential band applied to a conductor at regular intervals for identification.
Bare Conductor:
A conductor having no covering. A conductor with no coating or cladding on the copper.
A protective covering over any portion of a cable or conductor in addition to its jacket or insulation.
A fibrous or metallic group of filaments interwoven in cylindrical form to form a covering over one or more wires.
The joining of ends of two wires, rods or groups of wires with a nonferrous filler metal at temperatures above 800oF (427oC).
Breakdown Voltage:
The voltage at which the insulation between two conductors breaks down.
The point at which a conductor or group of conductors break out from a multi-conductor cable to complete circuits at various points along the main cable.
Cable Filler:
The material used in multiple conductor cables to occupy the spaces formed by the assembly or components, thus forming a core of the desired shape (normally cylindrical).
The twisting together of two or more insulated conductors to form a cable.
Cabling Factor:
Used in the formula for calculating the diameter of an unshielded, unjacketed cable. D=Kd, where D is the cable diameter, K is the factor and d is the diameter of one insulated conductor.
Storage of electrically separated charges between two plates having different potentials. The value depends largely on the surface area of the plates and the distance between them.
Capacitance, Direct:
The capacitance measured directly from conductor to conductor through a single insulating layer.
Capacitance, Mutual:
The capacitance between two conductors with all other conductors, including shield, short-circuited to ground.
Certificate of Compliance (C of C):
A certificate which is normally generated by a Quality Control Department, which shows that the product being shipped meets customer's specifications.
Characteristic Impedance:
The impedance that, when connected to the output terminals of a transmission line of any length, makes the line appear infinitely long. The ratio of voltage to current to every point along a transmission line on which there are no standing waves.
The quantity of electricity held statically in a condenser or on an insulated conductor.
Charging Current:
The current produced when a DC voltage is first applied to conductors of an unterminated cable. It is caused by the capacitive reactance of the cable, and decreases exponentially with time.
Coaxial Cable:
A cable consisting of two cylindrical conductors with a common axis, separated by a dielectric.
Color Code:
A system for circuit identification through use of solid colors and contrasting tracers.
Common Axis Cabling:
In multiple cable constructions, a twisting of all conductors about a "common axis" with tow conductor groups then selected as pairs. This practice yields smaller diameter constructions than does a separate axis construction, but tends to yield greater susceptibility to EMI and ESI.
Composite Cable:
A cable consisting of two or more different types or sizes of wires.
Concentric Stranding:
A central wire surrounded by one or more layers of helically wound strands in a fixed round geometric arrangement.
An uninsulated wire suitable for carrying electrical current.
A tube or trough in which insulation wire and cables are run.
A device used to physically and electrically connect two or more conductors.
Continuity Check:
A test to determine whether electricity current flows continuously throughout the length of a single wire or individual wires in a cable.
Current-Carrying Capacity:
The maximum current an insulated conductor or cable can continuously carry without exceeding its temperature rating. It is also called ampacity.
Any insulating material between two conductors which permits electrostatic attraction and repulsion to take place across it.
Dielectric Absorption:
That property of an imperfect dielectric whereby there is an accumulation of electric charges within the body of the material when it is placed in an electric field.
Dielectric Breakdown:
The voltage at which a dielectric material is punctured, which is divisible by thickness to given dielectric strength.
Dielectric Constant (K):
The ratio of the capacitance of a condenser with dielectric between the electrodes to the capacitance when air is between the electrodes. Also called Permittivity and Specific Inductive Capacity.
Dielectric Strength:
The voltage which an insulation can withstand before breakdown occurs. Usually expressed as a voltage gradient (such as volts per mil).
Dielectric Test:
A test in which a voltage higher than the rated voltage is applied for a specified time to determine the adequacy of the insulation under normal conditions.
Direct Current Resistance (D.C.R.):
The resistance offered by any circuit to the flow of direct current.
Dissipation Factor:
The target of the loss angle of the insulating material. (Also referred to as loss tangent, tan S, and approximate power factor).
Drain Wire:
In a cable, the uninsulated wire in intimate contact with a shield to provide for easier termination of such a shield to a group point.
In wire manufacturing, pulling the metal through a die or series of dies to reduce diameter to a predetermined usable size.
Abbreviation for Electromagnetic Interference.
1) A material used in multi-conductor cables to occupy large interstices formed by the assembled conductors. 2) An inert substance added to a compound to improve properties or decrease cost.
Flame Resistance:
The ability of a material to propagate flame once the heat source is removed.
Flame Retardance:
Ability of a material to prevent the spread of combustion by a low rate of travel so the flame will not be conveyed.
Flat Cable:
A cable with two smooth or corrugated but essentially flat surfaces.
Flat Conductor:
A wire having a rectangular cross section as opposed to round or square conductors.
Designation of cable which meets Vertical Tray flame test for Fire Protection Signaling Systems.
Designation of Plenum Cable which meets Steiner Tunnel Test for Fire Protection Signaling Systems.
Designation of Riser Cable which meets Riser flame test for Fire Protection Signaling Systems.
A flammability rating established by underwriters Laboratories for wires and cables that pass a specially designed vertical flame test. This designation has been replaced by VW-1.
A flammability rating established by CSA for wires or cables that pass a specially designed vertical flame test.
A flammability rating established by CSA for multi-conductor cables that pass a specially designed vertical tray fire test.
A flammability rating established by CSA for multi-conductor cables that pass a horizontal flame and smoke test sometimes referred to as the "Steiner Tunnel Test".
A term used to denote the physical size of a wire.
A conducting connection between an electrical circuit and the earth or other large conducting body to serve as an earth thus making a complete electrical circuit.
An arrangement of wires and cables, usually with many breakouts, which have been tied together or pulled into a rubber or plastic sheath, used to interconnect an electric circuit.
Heat Endurance:
The time of heat aging that a material can withstand before failing a specific physical or electrical test.
A test designed to determine the electrical integrity of an insulation.
High Voltage:
Generally, wire or cable with an operating voltage of over 35,000 volts.
Hook-up Wire:
A single insulated conductor used for low-current, low voltage (usually under 600 volts) applications within enclosed electronic equipment.
The total opposition that a circuit offers to the flow of alternating current or any other varying current at a particular frequency. It is a combination of resistance R and resistance X1 measures in ohms.
A material having high resistance to the flow of electric current. Often called dielectric in radio frequency cable.
Insulation Resistance (I.R.):
That resistance offered by an insulation to an impressed DC voltage, tending to produce a leakage current through the insulation.
Jumper Cable:
A short flat cable interconnecting two wiring boards or devices.
Leakage Current:
The undesirable flow of current through or over the surface of an insulation.
Moisture Resistance:
The ability of a material to resist absorbing moisture from the air or when immersed in water.
National Electrical Manufacturers Association.
Individual strands of tin copper wire stranded together and then covered with a tin coating.
The air return path of a central air handling system, either ductwork or open space over a dropped ceiling.
Plenum Cable:
Cable approved by Underwriters Laboratories for installation in plenums without the need for conduit.
The sealing of a cable termination or other component with liquid which thermosets into an elastomer.
Pulse Cable:
A type of coaxial cable constructed to transmit repeated high voltage pulses without degradation.
Rated Temperature:
The maximum temperature at which an electric component can operate for extended periods without loss of its basic properties.
Retractile Cable:
A cable that returns by its own stored energy from an extended condition to its original contracted form.
Ribbon Cable:
A flat cable of individually insulated conductors lying parallel and held together by means of adhesive or woven textile yarn.
Secondary Insulation:
A high resistance dielectric material which is placed over primary insulation to protect it from abrasion.
The outer covering or jacket of a cable.
A metallic layer placed around a conductor or group of conductors to prevent electrostatic interference between the enclosed wire and external fields.
Shield Coverage:
The physical area of a cable that is actually covered by the shielding material and is expressed in percent.
Shock Test:
A test to determine the ability of a cable to withstand a violent physical concussion such as might occur during handling or use.
A current used to convey information, either digital, analog, audio or video.
Signal Cable:
A cable designed to carry current of usually less than one ampere per conductor.
In flat cables, the distance from the reference edge of the first conductor to the reference edge of the last conductor (in cables having flat conductors), or the distance between the centers of the first and last conductor (in cables having round conductor), expressed in inches or centimeters.
Stability Factor:
The difference between the percentage power factor at 80 volts/mil and at 40 volts/mil measured on wire immersed in water 75oC for a specified time.
A single uninsulated wire.
Stranded Conductor:
A conductor composed of individual groups of wires twisted together to form an entire unit.
Tape Wrap:
A spirally applied tape over an insulated or uninsulated wire.
Tear Strength:
The force required to initiate or continue a tear in a material under specified conditions.
Tensile Strength:
The pull stress required to break a given specimen.
Thermal Shock:
A test to determine the ability of a material to withstand heat and cold by subjecting it to rapid and wide changes in temperature.
Tin Overcoat (TOC):
Tinned copper wire, stranded, then coated with tin.
Tinned Copper:
Tin coating added to copper to aid in soldering and inhibit corrosion.
Bare (untinned) copper wire, stranded, then coated with tin.
Abbreviation for Underwriter Laboratories, a non-profit independent organization, which operated a listing service for electrical and electronic materials and equipment.
A flammability rating established by Underwriters Laboratories for wires and cables that pass a specially designed vertical flame test, formerly designated FR-1.
A unit of electrical power. One watt is equivalent to the power represented by one ampere of current under a pressure of one volt in DC circuit.
A single conductor, typically with a covering of insulation.
Wire Gauge:
A measure of the diameter of sizes of wires. The sizes are expressed by numbers.
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