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What Are Cable Assemblies and Wire Harnesses?

What Are Cable Assemblies and Wire Harnesses?

Cable assemblies and wire harnesses are used to power electrical devices and transmit signals. The cables and wires are bound together by rubber, vinyl, electrical tape, or other durable materials.

Although the terms cable assembly and wire harness often are used interchangeably, they are different. Understanding the differences is essential for success as a cable assembler.

Differences Between Cable Assemblies And Wire Harnesses 

What Are Cable Assemblies?

Cable assemblies are groups of rigid, structured, durable cables or wires arranged into one unit. This makes the cables or wires’ installation, maintenance, and replacement easier.

A cable assembly typically goes into one panel or port that is plugged into a power source. Then, the cables or wires transmit electricity or push communications.

Whereas some cable assemblies have exposed cables or wires, others have the cables or wires encased in a protective sleeve. The cables or wires often are different colors, striped, or otherwise marked for easy identification.

The sturdy design of cable assemblies makes them suitable for outdoor applications. They can handle large capacities of electrical current, abrasion, heat, moisture, and other environmental conditions.

Keeping the cables or wires together reduces damage from the strong vibrations that cause physical wear. It also protects against dirt, dust, oil, and water. This reduces wear on the cables or wires from the vibrational friction and electrical shorts from damaged spots.

What Are Wire Harnesses?

Wire harnesses are typically designed according to geometric and electrical requirements. A paper or computer-generated diagram shows the assembly preparation and directions.

A wire-cutting machine is used to cut and spool the wire. The machine also might print on or stripe the wire during the process.

The ends of the wire are stripped to expose the metal, then fitted with any required terminals or connector housings. Next, the wires are assembled and clamped together on a customized workbench or assembly board to form the wire harness.

A protective sleeve, flexible conduit, or nylon binder is fitted around the wire. After that, the wire harness is either directly fitted into the equipment or shipped.

Since wire harnesses are not as durable as cable assemblies, they are suitable for indoor applications. The number and size of the grouped wires also limit the load capacity of the wire harness.

How Are Cable Assemblies and Wire Harnesses Used?

Combining cable assemblies and wire harnesses provides a cost-effective way to simplify their installation and improve performance. This benefits industries such as:

  • Information technology: Cable assemblies and wire harnesses are used to save space within laptops. They also help organize thousands of cables within a networking facility.
  • Manufacturing: Cable assemblies and wire harnesses are used to contain wiring to increase safety in facilities. They also ensure reliable connections to technology.
  • Robotics: Cable assemblies and wire harnesses are used to organize and protect robots’ wiring.

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