Looking into multi-conductor cables? Start with this definitive resource of crucial specifications and considerations when selecting multi-conductor lines.
What is a Multi-Conductor Cable?
A multi-conductor cable contains at least two separate conductors within a single sheath, making it a particular case of the twisted cable type. Depending on the setup, these cables can have anywhere from two to sixty individual conductors. They are sold as braided cables with twisted and solid conductors.
Regular wires and lead wires are used to describe products with a single conductor. When more wires are woven into the product, we refer to it as a cable or multi-conductor cable.
Cable construction can change based on electrical performance, operating temperature, and climatic conditions. Multiple shielding options exist for multi-conductor wires. Foil shields, braid shields, and spiral shields are viable options. The function and use of the multi-conductor wire determine whether or not shielding is necessary.
The multi-conductor cable is constructed from annealed twisted tinned copper wire. It is offered in many combinations, including 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, and 24 AWG.
There are three types of multi-conductor cables:
- Non-plenum: Also called a riser cable, these cables run between floors and non-plenum regions. Complete and non-full lines need high tensile strength since they run or hang through open conduits.
- Plenum cables: These cables are designed to work in building plenums and HVAC systems. They have low-smoke PVC or FEP jackets and insulation to withstand severe temperatures and fire safety requirements.
- Shielded cables: The shielded cable’s cover has a shared conducting layer, creating a Faraday cage. This electromagnetic barrier lowers electromagnetic radiation and noise to retain signal clarity.
Which Industries Are Multi-Conductor Cables Used?
- Power Industries: Multi-conductor cables are great for distributing electricity because they can carry a lot of currents and keep the electricity from leaking. Multi-conductor wires are also often used in control cabinets and data processing centers, where they can help reduce electromagnetic interference.
- Industrial Applications: Multi-conductor cables are made for various industrial uses, such as control systems, factory automation, process automation, and machine tools. People can also use it in mining equipment, boats, and other places.
- Telecommunications: Due to its large bandwidth and reduced crosstalk, multi-conductor cables are utilized in telecommunications. These qualities make them perfect for high-speed digital communications. Telephone, fiber optic, and satellite systems use multi-conductor lines.
- Automation Controls: Automation systems require several wires and connections to link components. Multi-conductor cables bundle many wires, which simplifies installation and reduces wiring errors.
- Aerospace: Multi-conductor coaxial cables are used in aerospace. Because of their harsh environment, these wires survive severe heat, vibration, and other stressors. They also carry lots of currents and are electrically resilient.
- Signal and Data Applications: Multi-conductor cables are utilized for data transmission because they have high bandwidth and low crosstalk. These qualities make them perfect for high-speed digital communications. Multi-conductor lines are used in computer networks, data centers, and audio/visual systems.
- Transit Applications: Transit uses most multi-conductor cables. Parallel insulated conductors are bundled into a single wire for powering street cars. This wire is used for lighting, communications, and other vehicle equipment.
Multi-Conductor Cable Insulation & Jacket Materials
The jacket is the protective covering for the conductors inside a multi-wire cable. It shields the wires from danger and stops the current from leaking.
The assembly’s functionality may be significantly impacted by the jacket material chosen. Therefore you should not rush this decision when purchasing multi-conductor cables.
The following is a list of some of the most frequently used jacket materials for multi-conductor cable assemblies:
- PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is a material that is inexpensive, flexible, and long-lasting, making it suitable for use in a variety of settings.
- Polyethylene (PE) is a less flexible polymer but provides increased insulation and resilience to the elements.
- Polyurethane (PUR) is a popular material used in coil cord applications due to its excellent shape memory. Polyurethane is flexible and resistant to abrasion.
- Thermoplastic rubber or elastomer, also known as TPR or TPE, is a material that is both flexible and durable. It is a solution that is more cost-effective than thermosets for applications that take place at low temperatures.
- Chlorinated polyethylene, often known as CPE, is a material that is both lightweight and rigid. It has a low coefficient of friction, making it appropriate for usage in severe settings.
- Thermoset polyolefins (CPE/CSPE) are a hardy material that is resistant to melting and heat, is stable when exposed to ultraviolet light, and possesses an excellent memory.
Advantages of Multi-Conductor Cables
A multi-conductor cable is the best option for connecting several circuits in various situations. Cables have several advantages over running many lines of single-conductor wires, hookup wires, multi-conductor, or multiple-conductor wires.
Most engineers, contractors, and system integrators prefer a multi-conductor cable with a single jacket that protects all of its parts. As a result, fewer hours are spent on the workforce, fewer costly on-site mistakes, no pulling damage, and the installation process are faster.
When multi-conductor or multi-pair cables connect a multi-wire bundle, the wiring is cleaner, more organized, and takes up less space.
The Bottom Line
Multiple-conductor wires come in many forms and have many applications. Get in touch with us if you need assistance locating particular multi-conductor cables. We are the industry leader in the distribution of electrical components and multi-conductor wires.