At first, shopping for cable ties may seem like a straightforward process. I mean, how different can cable ties be?
Well, the truth is, cable ties are made with many different materials and specifications. If you want your cable tie arrangement to stay strong and durable, then you’ll need to consider a number of different cable tie qualities.
How do you shop for cable ties? Just consider the following 5 qualities:
This one’s easy. There are two basic cable tie configurations:
Cable ties are used to bundle cables, wires, and tubing together.
Cable wraps, on the other hand, are used to bundle cables, wires, and tubing firmly, while still allowing for flexibility.
There are many different types of cable tie materials, including everything from aluminum to stainless steel. Picking the right material involves considering your desired tensile strength, temperature range, and other conditions. Here’s a basic explanation of common cable tie materials:
-Nylon: Nylon cable ties tend to be the most common. Nylon ties feature upward-facing teeth which prevent the tape from slipping, making them easy to insert but difficult to pull apart.
-Releasable: Releasable cable ties are similar to nylon cable ties, although they have a releasing mechanism that lets you detach the cables when done. These are typically used for temporary cable arrangements.
-Metal: Metal cable ties commonly feature either stainless steel or aluminum material. The main advantage of metal cable ties is their additional strength: they’re significantly stronger than most other types of cable setups.
-Velcro: Velcro cable wraps are not as strong as the other materials listed here. However, Velcro is ideal for temporary cable arrangements and can be reused multiple times.
Other commonly used materials and designs include cloth, PTFE, and PVC.
When deciding on the right cable tie material, you need to consider the mechanical and tensile strength of the arrangement – including the minimum loop tensile strength. Minimum loop tensile strength is simply a reference mechanical characteristic for a cable tie when the locking mechanism is engaged. The strength of the tie is based on the tensile strength of the material as well as the locking design.
Cable ties also have a defined maximum diameter – which is the maximum amount of cable that can be locked while still leaving sufficient extra tie material.
Different materials also offer different temperature ranges. Check the temperature range of the cable tie and compare it to the minimum, maximum, and ambient operating temperature of your environment.
Finally, consider the compatibility of the material with your application. Ideally, the material will not cause corrosion, excessive wear, or any physical damage to the arrangement.
How much cable do you need to tie? Choosing the right length and width of cable tie is important.
You need to choose a cable tie that can loop and lock fully while still leaving extra tie material past the lock. This extra tie material is designed to prevent pull through.
Cable ties typically come with a few additional features. You may never need to use these features, although they could be useful in certain applications. Here are some of the features you may find on cable ties:
-Mounting head: Mounting head cable ties feature a ring that can be attached to a hard surface or other cables. This can be very useful for larger cable arrangements or for separating different bundles.
-Strain reliefs: Strain reliefs will absorb the forces of push or pull that can be exerted on cable arrangements. Instead of exerting force on the wires and cables, strain reliefs transfer that force to the cable ties.
-ID tags: Some cable tags come with convenient ID tags. You can use these ID tags to log inspection dates or specify the purpose of the cable bundle.
Cable ties, like many components in the MRO industry, are regulated for standardization purposes. There are three common regulators used throughout North America, including NEMA, SA Mark, and UL.
Here’s what you need to know about each regulation:
-NEMA: NEMA is a global standardization system for cable ties. NEMA tests and classifies cable ties to determine their mechanical performance and ability to withstand various conditions. Consult the following chart to determine what each NEMA classification means:
-SA Mark: SA Mark often appears alone on cable ties. Products with indicators C and US or NRTL/C are certified for both American and Canadian markets and meet the applicable US and Canadian standards.
-UL: UL, or Underwriters Laboratories, tests cable ties to meet UL’s strict safety requirements. A UL Listing Mark indicates that Underwriters Laboratories has tested the tie and the tie met its safety requirements.
Cable ties may have one or more of these regulations listed on their product descriptions.
Whether you call them cable ties, zip ties, or tie wraps, we’re all talking about the same thing here. Next time you’re buying a package of cable ties for the job, consider all of the qualities listed above.
Ready to put your cable tie shopping skills to the test? View our selection of cable ties and cable tie assortments by clicking here.