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Custom Cable & Wire Design- 5 Myths of Custom Cable

Posted May 27 2012 1:52pm

There are many misconceptions when it comes to the subject of custom made cables. Many designers shy away from using custom cables due to not knowing what is involved or they have dealt with manufacturers who do not specialize in custom cable designs. Here are five myths that we can clear up.

1. Really expensive - People that are new to designing products often think you need thousands of dollars to have a custom cable made. The truth is for as little as $500 (sometimes less) you can have custom wire or cable made to your specifications. When comparing custom wire and cable to the "off the shelf" custom is obviously more expensive, but we are not comparing apples to apples here. Custom cable is designed to your specific product or application requirements which may require special materials or construction. In the early stages of product development where small prototype quantities are needed, the cost of the cable can be higher than production quantities.

2. Huge minimums - Using a custom wire and cable manufacturer is important. Custom cable manufacturers are set up to run many types of materials and constructions and usually have to set up the machinery for each job. Minimums are small or non existent. Commodity/ off the shelf manufacturers normally are running the same materials and construction over and over, so for this type of manufacturer to stop production to make an unusual cable is costly. If you approach a commodity manufacture, it is not uncommon to be quoted a 10k-15k minimum. Unless you are using an unusual or uncommon material that itself has a minimum buy, you can order small quantities from the custom cable manufacturers.

3. Expensive tooling charges - Custom cables do not normally do not require special tooling. Tooling charges or N.R.E. can be expected for custom printing, unusual shapes and flat ribbon cables which require special dies to maintain wire pitch and extruded shape.

4. Long lead times - Custom cable lead times can vary depending on material availability and construction. On the average hook up wire can have a 2-4 week turn around and cables can run 3-6 weeks. Commodity cable manufacturer lead times for custom cable can run 8-14 weeks or longer.

5. "I need to know all about wire & cable" - Design engineers sometimes shy away from custom cable designs because wire and cable is not their forte. Custom cable manufacturers have engineers and custom wire and cable designers on hand to assist their customers with choosing the right materials and construction. It's like having a wire and cable expert on your team. Cable designs are usually at no additional cost.

Of course there are exceptions to the statements listed above. Lead times and minimums can be affected by material choices and complicated cable designs. When considering custom wire and cable designs for your product, be sure to contact a custom cable manufacturer. Working with a company which manufactures custom cable products enables you to buy smaller quantities, faster turnaround, and you buy a cable specifically made for your application.

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