An Overview of Electrical Cables and its Types

An electrical cable is an assembly of one or more wires running side by side or in a bundle used to carry electric current. The composition of one or more electrical cables and their corresponding connectors is known as a cable assembly. While a cable assembly is not necessarily suitable for connecting two devices, it can be a partial product. For example, a cable assembly can be soldered onto a printed circuit board with a connector mounted to the housing. Cable assemblies are also able to take the form of a cable tree or cable harness, when needed to connect many terminals together. For their myriad applications, there is a broad range of types of electrical cables. This blog will cover some of the most common types and provide details about each.

The most common type of electrical cable is the coaxial cable. This is a type of cable consisting of an inner conductor surrounded by a conduction shield. The two are separated by an insulating material known as a dielectric. Many coaxial cables also feature a protective outer jacket. Cables of this type are transmission lines used to carry high-frequency electrical signals with low losses. They are used in many applications such as telephone trunklines, broadband internet networking cables, high-speed computer data buses, cable television signals, and more.

Another common type of cable is a direct-buried cable, or DBC. This type of cable is a kind of communications or transmission electrical cable designed to be buried below ground without the need for extra covering, shearing, or piping to protect it. Generally speaking, DBCs are built to specific heat, moisture, conductivity, and soil acidity tolerances. While standard telecommunication and power cables feature a thin layer of insulation and a waterproof outer cover, DBCs consist of many layers of heavy metallic-banded sheathing, reinforced by heavy rubber covers, shock absorbing gel, wrapped thread-fortified waterproof tape, and a robust metal core.

Flexible cables, also known as continuous-flex cables, are specially designed to withstand the tight bending and physical stresses associated with moving applications, such as in cable carriers. These cables were developed in response to the repeated failures of cables within cable carriers, despite the carriers themselves not failing. This resulted in the development of highly flexible cables developed with unique characteristics to differentiate from standard cables. The higher flexibility also extends the service life of a cable within a carrier. While a normal cable manages 50,000 cycles, a flexible cable can complete between one and three million cycles.

The final type of cable we will discuss is the multicore cable. This is a type of electrical cable that combines multiple signals or power feeds into a single jacketed cable. Multicore cables have an outer shield surrounding all of the inner conductors. This shield is usually in the form of an extruded PVC or cross-linked polyethylene jacket combined with an aluminum shield under the surface for electromagnetic shielding. Multicore cables can be used for both analog and digital signals as well as power distribution. They are often used to simplify the physical setup of a system and offer a neater connection between two pieces of equipment.


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