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Without adequate protection, standard wiring can often be damaged leading to serious consequences. If left unattended, exposed wires can lead to electrical fires, potentially lethal electric shocks, and tripping of the circuit breakers.
In light of all the risks, wouldn’t it be great to have something to cover and secure the wires to prevent accidents from happening?
Cable sleeving does just that. Their primary function is to protect the wires and prevent electrical hazards. Added to that, they are also great for organizing wires and keeping them tidy.
There are several different types of cable sleeving and they all have their specific uses. Let’s delve a little deeper so you can know why cable sleeving is so important. Let’s get started.
Not all cable sleeves are the same. Some are better suited than others to protect the wires depending on the usage conditions and requirements. Here are some of the different types of cable sleeves
Mesh wired sleeves are usually made of expandable polymer yarns. They are also called braided sleeves. These sleeves are excellent for covering irregular-sized wires thanks to their expansive properties. A mesh or braid sleeving can expand up to three times its initial volume.
You can find mesh sleeves made of materials such as nylon, polyester, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), nomex, and polyphenylene sulfide monofilament (PPS). There are specific applications for every material used but more on that later.
A cable wrap is similar to a bandage applied over the wires. Many cable wraps come with Velcro straps that allow for easy application. A wrap-around sleeving might also be made from mesh or braided sleeves.
Wraps are great when you want to cover the exposed wires that require habitual work. They are best used in parts of circuitry that are prone to failure and require repairs.
Alternatively, you can use wraps to quickly cover a damaged part of the wire without needing to remove or disconnect the wires from the circuit. Wrap-around sleeves can be made of PVC, fabric, and braided polymers.
Shrink tubing is one of the most secure types of cable sleeving. Shrink sleeves are thermally sensitive tubes that shrink when exposed to cold or hot temperatures.
The shrinking effect allows them to tightly grip and secure the wires protecting them from abrasion, chemicals, and other physical and environmental damages.
Unlike other cable sleeves, shrink tubes are hard to apply on a wire without disconnecting it from the circuit. They are made of thermoplastic materials such as fluoropolymers, polyolefin, PVC, neoprene, and silicone elastomer.
Spiral wraps are plastic or polymer wraps constructed in a spiral shape. The spiral shape makes it easy to apply or remove the sleeve on the wire without the need to disconnect. Additionally, spiral wraps are harder and stronger than other sleeves such as the braided sleeves.
This makes them an excellent choice for covering wires in parts vulnerable to physical damage. A spiral wrap is slightly flexible and therefore can be used to group wires together, similar to cable ties.
A wire loom is similar to a cable conduit only it is used for smaller jobs such as securing computer or home theatre cables for neatness. They are also called wire harnesses because they form an assembly of multiple wires for handling.
A wire loom is made of the same material as a cable conduit, usually nylon polymers, and plastic. A wire loom is flexible and is ideally used to cover and protect multiple wires that extend over long distances.
They are also good at protecting the wires from chemical, heat, and physical damage while simultaneously insulating them electrically from the outside. There are also split wire looms that can open.
These are general-purpose sleeves that protect wires from abrasion, chemicals, and heat. Kevlar and Teflon mesh braided sleeves are used in military equipment. Additionally, mesh sleeves can be used for pipes, hoses, or bundling up of cables of variable sizes together due to the expansion properties of the wire.
Wraps are best used for wires, cables, and circuit components that cannot easily be taken apart. They are also good for repairing exposed wire parts from environmental damage. Braided wraps provide all the benefits of using a mesh sleeve with the additional benefit of ease of use.
They are utilized in military and electrical repairs. Their primary use is to bundle wires together, while cable ties and braided sleeves can only be applied one time, a wrap can be applied multiple times at any point of the assembly.
Shrink tubes are used to secure an assembly or wire against many types of damage. Electrical setups employ the use of shrink tubes to protect components against moisture, damage, dust, and short-circuiting.
Shrink tubes are generally used to insulate wires, terminals, or splices as well as bundle loose wires together with a protective coating. They are great for ensuring nothing comes into contact with the wire inside, such as solvents or fuel.
Spiral wraps are used for similar applications as cable wraps but they offer better physical protection. The automotive industry employs the use of spiral wraps in vehicles to protect cables. They also protect hydraulic hoses from abrasions to prevent punctures.
Wire looms are similar to conduits, therefore, their applications are also similar. When made of similar materials, a wire loom provides better environmental protection compared to braided sleeves. They are also less expensive compared to braided sleeving in the same diameter and material range.
They can be used as a low-cost option for more physical protection but are limited in material options. Wire looms are often only available in fibreglass, plastic, and nylon.
A cable conduit is a cylindrical hollow pipe-like that is used to bundle the wires together inside. A conduit is used for larger applications such as the grouping of industrial cables and power lines. A wire loom is a cable sleeve that is used for smaller applications. They are both similar but differ in application and size.
A cable wrap refers to any protective coating that can easily be wrapped around the existing cables similar to a bandage. There are braided wraps as well as spiral wraps. A wrap can be applied anywhere on the wire at any time and can be removed just as easily. A cable wrap is a type of cable sleeving.
Cable sleeving is a covering around a wire, cable, or a bunch of them to protect, gather, and secure them against environmental hazards as well as protect you from potential dangers. There are many types of cable sleeves. Tubing, wraps, and looms are subtypes of cable sleeves.
Cable tubing refers to the usage of shrinking tubes to secure, insulate and protect the wire against abrasion and short-circuiting. Cable tubing can be done by heat shrink or cold shrink tubing.
Depending on the type of shrinking tubing used, the tubing will shrink and tightly secure the wires when exposed to hot or cold temperatures. This makes cable tubing very effective at securing irregular-sized terminals, connections, and wires.