What are the Materials Used in Industrial Cables?
Industrial cable is used for some of the most demanding applications, from supporting heavy crane loads to connecting railways. Since these cables have to support thousands of pounds of weight, they can only be made from the strongest materials possible.
Current production for cable is increasing tremendously, even though it dipped by about 5% during the Pandemic of 2020. However, by 2027, the market is expected to exceed $282 million in the US alone.
But there are many different types of industrial cables that are designed for specific purposes. Opting for the wrong type could end in disaster, as the cable may warp or even break if it is not specifically designed for that purpose.
There are four main applications where industrial cables are used:
Various materials are used for each of these industries to ensure that the cables are strong, durable, and safe to use. When looking for options from an industrial cable supplier, it is essential to check that you are selecting the type and style optimized for your intended purpose.
Here’s what you need to know about the materials used in industrial cables.
1. Types of Metals
One of the first differentiations between the types of industrial cables is the metal used in its construction. Since these cables are used for added support or stability, they are made from metals that are highly regarded for strength and durability.
Steel is by far the most common material used in industrial cable construction. However, there are various types of steel, with the two main categories being stainless steel and galvanized.
Stainless steel is an alloy, meaning that it is made of several elements. Typically iron, chromium, and nickel are added to the steel, which gives it its unique shiny appearance. This also protects the metal from rust and corrosion. Stainless steel cables are often used in marine rigging and hoisting applications since the metal will not corrode in saltwater.
Galvanized steel is coated in a protective layer of zinc, which gives it a higher breaking strength than stainless steel. However, it is not as naturally resistant to corrosion and cannot be used near water. Galvanized steel cables are commonly used for industrial applications, such as logging, hoisting, and rigging.
Both galvanized cable and stainless steel cables may also come with vinyl coatings. This creates a PVC sheath around the wires, protecting them from exterior elements like water or direct sunlight. They may also be applied to make the wires more visible for safety purposes.
Occasionally, other types of metals are used such as Phos Bronze. This is a brass alloy and is commonly only used for electrical cable construction since this metal is highly conductive. Industrial cable may also be made from bright steel, which means it is not coated and is made strictly from steel. This is a very strong metal, but also prone to corrosion.
2. Wire Strands
Another key differentiation between types of industrial cable is the size and number of wire strands used in its construction. Most industrial cables come in strand groupings of 7×7 or 7×19.
7×7 industrial cables are constructed of 7 strands which are made up of 7 wires each. This makes for a very stiff wire that is ideal for construction purposes. It is also widely used in aircraft and automotive applications.
7X19 industrial cables have 7 strands which are made from 19 wires. This makes the cable more flexible while simultaneously increasing its strength. 7X19 wires are often used in applications that must withstand movement and friction, such as sailboat riggings, pulley systems, and overhead cranes.
Both 7×7 and 7×19 industrial cables are also sold in varying diameters. This is the measurement of the wires used in each strand, which can range from 1/16” to 3/8”.
Every industrial cable has a central core that the wire strands wrap around. This provides the cable with stability, while also allowing for some flexibility. There are three main types of cable cores offered:
Fiber Core (FC)
Fibers like hemp, sisal, or most commonly, polypropylene, can be used in the center of the cable. This is not often the ideal choice for industrial cable and is more often found in wire ropes. The reason for this is because fiber cores are not extremely durable; however, they do allow for extreme flexibility.
Wire Strand Core (WSC)
This uses a singular wire in the center of the industrial cable as the core. A WSC cable is less flexible than a fiber core, has higher heat resistance, and additional strength. However, the singular wire core is not ideal for extreme applications with heavy weights or tension.
Independent Wire Rope Core (IWRC)
An independent wire rope core uses one of the strands as the core. So, in a 7×7 cable, one strand of 7 wires is in the center, while the other 6 are woven around it. This provides a good balance of support and flexibility. It also protects the entire cable from being crushed, making it the ideal option for heavy-duty use.
As with any piece of industrial hardware equipment, choosing the right design is critical. If you are unsure of which material, diameter, strand grouping, or core to get, consult an industrial cable distributor for help.
You can rely on Elite Sales for helpful advice and direction when making any industrial hardware purchases. We carry a great selection of various industrial cable types – and our team is readily available to help you place an order. Contact us online to learn more.