Cable assemblies, wire harnesses and wiring looms are phrases often used interchangeably, but there are, in fact, subtle differences in their construction, performance and the environment to which they are best suited.
First let’s define wires and cables; whilst both wires and cables conduct electricity, a wire is a conductive metal strand such as copper or aluminium which can be wrapped in a protective sheath whereas a cable contains multiple wires within the protective jacket.
What are Cable assemblies, harnesses and looms?
All three terms, cable assemblies, wire harnesses and wire looms are used to describe a collection of multiple cables or wires which are linked or bound together into a single unit.
The benefit of this type of construction is that each of the wires or cables (often combining multiple types and constructions such as data, power, FFC) can be manufactured to precisely the required length and size and they are all grouped together in a precise way which avoids wasted space, unnecessary cabling and makes them quicker and easier to install.
Such assemblies are widely used by manufacturers who will need to produce hundreds or thousands of identical pieces of equipment. They were first popularised by the automotive industry in the 1920s and 30s as the continuous vibration caused single wires and cables to work loose or become damaged. Engineers found that by tying the cables together, they were better secured and protected.
Most modern electronics utilise a harness, assembly or loom in order to manage the internal cabling arrangement.
Here is a guide to the subtle differences between wire harnesses, cable assemblies and looms.
A wire harness consists of a simple wrapper or a sheath, usually made from a thermoset or thermoplastic material, which holds multiple wires or cables in place in an organised manner.
It is generally a low-cost option as its main function is to hold the cables and wires in the predefined arrangement, reducing movement and taking advantage of limited space whilst relying on the cable or wires’ own sheath for protection.
A cable assembly is similar to a wire harness, but the protective sheath is more durable and can be made from vinyl, thermoplastic rubber or shrink-wrapped thermoplastics.
As well as holding the wires or cables in place, it provides additional protection from heat, abrasion, friction and moisture and therefore is used where exposure to environmental factors are a consideration to the design.
Wiring looms are essentially more complex assemblies, combining multiple different types of cables and wires into multiple groups often using multiple binding techniques.
Wiring looms can be simple, combining just a few wires, through to complex masses of cabling, such as those used inside modern cars and aircraft.
Whatever you prefer to call them, Leotronics provide custom wire harnesses, cable assemblies and simple wiring looms for a range of industries across the UK, to both final-product manufacturers and sub-contractors.
Our experienced team can work with your product design team to develop custom cable assemblies designed exactly to your specification.
Contact us to find out more.