You might be surprised to learn that industrial cable has been around for thousands of years. Metal wires are mentioned in ancient texts dating back to 4000 BC, and archeologists have found industrial cables made of bronze used in Pompei!
The construction of industrial cable may have changed a bit over the past few millennia, but many of the properties of these steel wires has remained. Over the years, we have discovered ways to create more sturdy cables by adding iron alloys like Chromium to create stainless steel cables. Cables now also come in a range of sizes, lengths, and diameters to optimize their use for specific applications.
Today we see industrial cable used for all types of purposes – from construction to exercise equipment and everything in between. As a steel cable supplier, we see lots of customers coming to us with questions regarding the different options available. You shouldn’t have to be an expert in all things industrial hardware to be able to choose the right cable for your application – so here’s what everyone should know regarding the basics of industrial cables.
1. How is Industrial Cable Categorized?
First and foremost, we need to explain the differences between wire ropes and industrial cable. While both of these pieces of hardware share many similar properties, they should not be used interchangeably. Yes, industrial cables are made of wires, but they are not the same as wire ropes.
Wire ropes are constructed from wires that are woven together similarly to a fabricated rope. This creates a flexible but strong material that can be used to add support to an object. This is why wire ropes are primarily used for overhead lifting or securement and tie-downs.
Industrial cables on the other hand tend to be much thinner than wire ropes and much more flexible. They can be wrapped around or threaded through hooks and loops to hold items in place and are used for more permanent fixtures.
Industrial cables are categorized by three main components: construction or wire strands, cores, and materials.
Construction of Wire Strands
Just like wire ropes, industrial cables are constructed from strands made of a number of wires wrapped together. The general rule of thumb here is that the more wires in a strand or the more strands in the cable, the more flexible it will be.
Most steel cables are available in either a 7×7 or 7×19 construction. The first number communicates the number of strands used in the cable, while the second demonstrates the number of wires per strand. A 7×7 cable has 7 strands of 7 wires, while a 7×19 is 7 strands made of 19 wires each.
The interior strand of an industrial cable creates a supportive structure for the strands to wrap around. This core may be made of fibers, like hemp or polypropylene, wire strand, or an independent wire rope core (IWRC). Fiber cores are quite flexible, but not very durable and not recommended for heavy-duty applications. Wire ropes or IWRC add strength and crush resistance, making them ideal for construction use.
Another key categorization for cables is the material used to construct the wires. While industrial cables are always made from steel, there are different grades and finishes offered.
Stainless steel cables are made from steel with added chromium alloys for additional strength and corrosion resistance. This is what gives stainless steel its shiny appearance. The amount of chromium determines the grade of stainless steel, as higher grades are stronger and more durable.
You can also find galvanized industrial cables, which are made from alloy steel and coated in zinc. This thin layer protects the steel beneath from damage by abrasion or moisture. This increases the cable’s breaking strength, so it is often used for heavier projects like hoisting or logging.
2. Things to Consider when Purchasing Industrial Cables
Since industrial cables are utilized for major projects and heavy-duty jobs, it is imperative to purchase the right type. Choosing a cable that is not strong or durable enough for the intended application can create dangerous scenarios.
So, before placing a purchase for an industrial cable, be sure to consider the following factors:
This is a ratio that compares the strength of the cable or wire rope to the working load. This helps to create a safety net for additional factors that can place stress on the cable, such as the speed of movement, friction, and types of fittings.
For instance, an industrial cable may have a breaking strength of 10,000 lbs. However, you should not place a load that is 10,000 lbs., as additional factors could cause the cable to snap. If the cable’s safety factor is 5:1, this means that the working load limit is 2,000 lbs. (10,000 divided by 5).
Tension and Fatigue
Frequent movement and abrasion on the wires of a cable will eventually damage the cable, compromising its strength. Be sure to consider the load and stress factors placed on the cable, such as load shock, friction, and constant bending.
Abrasive Factors and Environment
Some types of cables are designed to perform better in specific conditions, such as near water. If the cable will be exposed to moisture, such as on a boat or outdoors, you’re better off going with a stainless steel cable. However, if it needs to withstand frequent abrasion, galvanized is the better choice.
Did you know that industrial cables can stretch? While the length disparity is minimal, some cables stretch further depending on the core used. This is helpful to note if the desired length needs to be exact.
3. Common Uses for Industrial Cable
Industrial cables are quite versatile and can be used for large projects like suspension bridges to small structures like swing sets. You will see cables used in the automobile industry, manufacturing, food and beverage, home décor, and even aerospace and aircraft.
Construction is perhaps one of the most common applications for stainless steel or galvanized cables, as they are used for structural support, rigging, and securement. Most industrial cable suppliers provide hardware that can be used for heavy-duty purposes, which is why Elite Sales offers both 7×7 and 7×19 cables. 7×19 is the strongest type of industrial cable, generally used for pulley systems as it is the most flexible. 7×7 cables are still somewhat flexible but offer greater abrasion resistance.
Ultimately, the most important thing to keep in mind when picking out industrial cable is the reliability of the supplier. You want to ensure that you are not only choosing the right type of cable, but also one made of high-quality materials.
Elite Sales has been offering the highest quality of industrial hardware for years. You can trust that we not only have great advice to offer but hardware equipment that meets your expectations and standards. To learn more about our industrial cable offerings, contact our sales team today.