Wire Bundle Management: Holding it All Together

By George Allman on 21 November, 2018

stitch-and- lace

Making sure wire bundles are adequately secured or contained is an important step in creating a quality product, even after the necessary electrical or environmental protection has been applied. It is imperative that a wire assembly be secured adequately, and it is also crucial that the bundle fits well within the physical space allotted. This is where various wire bundle management techniques come into play. Wires can be held together using heat shrinkable tubing, lacing, stitching, tie wraps, metal bands, or braided coverings. The style and material used to secure the assembly helps it achieve the best performance possible.

Lacing is a technique in which wires are bound together, typically by hand, using knots of various yarns. Nylon, polyester, or other synthetic yarns can all be used, depending on the specific product being produced. The manufacturer can utilize various types of knots, which differ based upon the product and the workmanship standards required.  For example, some applications require the wire bundle to hold together throughout the life of the product, while others only require the wires to be secured temporarily. The specific fibers and yarns used in lacing can offer various levels of temperature or chemical resistance.

Stitching is a similar technique to lacing, but creates a flat, ribbon-like wire assembly. Fibers are woven in between the wires to hold the bundle in a space-efficient configuration. Many of the same materials used for lacing, such as nylon and polyester, are frequently employed in stitching techniques. Additionally, depending on the specific application or environmental requirement, weaving thread materials may also include Nomex, PEEK, Kevlar, and Teflon. Stitching is an excellent type of bundle management to use when the wire bundle must fit into small spaces.

Tie wraps, also called cable ties or zip ties, are a cost-effective, pre-made option for bundle management. Tie wraps can be made from various plastics or fabrics, and are available in many sizes and widths. This method is most common in commercial applications, offering a substantial level of security while being more cost-effective than lacing or stitching methods.

Metal bands are similar to tie wraps, but require special tools to apply properly to the wire bundle. These bands are usually made out of stainless steel and offer permanent, resilient security to the assembly. Metal bands are excellent for when a wire bundle needs to be secured to a more rigid structure or frame, such as a backshell.

Finally, braided coverings can be used in securing wire bundles. These coverings can either be machine braided in house, or premade as slide-on tubes. Materials often used for this method include polyamide, Nomex,  Kevlar, ceramic, or Stainless Steel. Interestingly, braiding can sometimes offer a more robust covering at a lower cost than other methods.

Whatever a wire bundle may need to do its job well, there are a myriad of securing techniques and materials to hold the bundle together. These options give the assembly resilience and security, ensuring that the cables or jacketing do not experience any unnecessary strain or damage. Applying these techniques appropriately will create a product with the best possible level of performance.

Contact Liberty today with any questions that you may have. 

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Topics: Cable Assemblies, Quality Control, Quality, Materials Performance, Wire Harnesses, Design, Design Challenges

Author: George Allman

George Allman is a Manufacturing Engineering Supervisor that has been with Liberty for 21 years. He works primarily in process and fixture development within Liberty’s Mil/Aero Business unit, and also helps to support new business growth and development in various capacities. He is a member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, serves as an advisor/mentor to local STEM student groups, and is a frequent speaker and contributor at various events within the Additive Manufacturing community.
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