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Electronic manufacturing industry
Cable assembly- electrical connection component in electronics

Have you ever had the chance to fabricate or cut your own Ethernet cable? If not, have you ever cut Ethernet cable? If not, when it is cut and peeled for implementation with a connector, a bunch of small wires will come out as well as some insulation material which have a specific diameter and coloring according to a standard. Depending on the environment, it is important to utilize a specific cable assembly, in this article we will review different type of assemblies, characteristics and properties.

Table of Contents

What is a cable assembly

What is a cable assembly
Introduction of cable assembly

A cable assembly, commonly confused with a cable, is a set of different cables from different signals, specifications and lengths that are grouped and joined with a set of connectors with specific number of positions and ratings (e.g., voltage and current, noise reduction) in a single unit (or main cable) which is assembled in such way in order to provide protection and utilization for a specific environment and purpose as discussed below and assemble them into dedicated equipment with ease through the end node dedicated plug or connector array.

What is the function of cable assembly

A cable assembly is mainly used to connect a set of signals with the use of a single unit and make connections with proper design lengths and ease of applicability. Also, the assembly’s protection must resist harsh environments and manipulation as per its design condition to allow the involved signals to be communicated effectively. It is not just about physical protection, but the utilization of signal integrity tools that allow all of the signals to co-exist on the single cable unit without having noise be an additional problem that might interfere with the overall equipment functions.

What’s the application of cable assembly

The application of cable assembly
The application of cable assembly

A cable unit is a fundamental unit of any electronic equipment. Therefore, a cable assembly must abide to the end device conditions and requirements to be functional. Depending on the sector market, a special assembly in utilized. For instance, fiber optic cable assemblies are widely utilized for high-speed communications along with copper wires for low-speed data transmission (in comparison to the super high speed provided by the optical fiber).

Coaxial cable assemblies are also vital for analog signal transmissions, although being replaced on the commercial markets, the military and aerospace still use them for protected communication channels with harsh noisy environment protection (EMI). Coaxial cable assembly protect a single copper wire with plastic and metallic allow (copper fiber).There are also the commonly utilized USB, HDMI and consumer electronic protocol cables, as well as ribbon cable assembly and flat cables which are commonly used for small display signals. Let us not loose automotive cable assemblies to protect the power train and ECU signals, there are plenty of cable assembly options.

How does a cable system work

How does a cable system work
How does a cable system work

As per the question, a cable assembly is also a cable system, meaning that all the internal wires withing the cable must be able to coexist. There are two main types of electrical signals: power and communications. As for power signals, a cable assembly must be capable of providing the power signals between end nodes attending to the maximum current specifications without heating or power supply noise be transferred along the other cables or channels.

Take as a reference the use of grounding and avoiding ground loops as an efficient method to provide noise reduction in this sense. As for the communication signals, due to some signals being symmetric, the intertwining or twisting (twisted pair) allows for noise cancellation or shielding the cable with special metallic (copper) allow is also useful with single signals (such as in the case of coaxial cables).

What is the process of cable assembly

Depending on the cable assembly, the overall production flow might change slightly. The common cable assembly manufacturing process will follow similar stages. First, the cable assembly design phase will ensure all the internal wires/cables comply to power ratings and noise compliance. From there, a production drawing is sent to the manufacturing area, in which common cable is cut from the reel and custom cable is sent to manufacturing.

After that, the proper termination is done by either manual or ultrasonic soldering. Signal integrity of the cables is tested with the appropriate tools to discard shorts or opens. Insertion analysis and physical strength as well as environment resistance is also tested without discarding the overall cable color matching inspection. Depending on the customization level, additional termination and harnessing might be involved prior to packaging and supply.

What is the difference between cable harness and cable assembly

As stated above, a cable harness or wire harness is commonly mistaken with the cable assembly. A cable harness will group a set of wires with different specifications and signal properties and capabilities that are NOT unified into a single unit with protection as it does happen with a cable assembly. Due to the protection a cable assembly receives, they become suitable for outdoors and harsh environments, while a wire harness can be easily had one of its wires removed in order to integrate it to another sector or handling of the overall end equipment wiring.

Besides, the differences cable assembly and wiring harness assembly have often become a confusing problem.If you want to know about wiring harness assembly, please visit the article on our website- What is wiring harness assembly?

What is the basic component of the cable assembly

The basic component of the cable assembly
The basic component of the cable assembly

As a set of cables, an assembly must provide protection to the internal cables/wires. The basic component for a cable consists of the conductor metal wire/cable which the maximum current rating for the power/communication signal, protected by an insulating layer (plastic) and an optional shielding (depending on the cable, it is not a must). Finally, the overall assembly is covered with a protective film and outside sheathing with flame retardant or chemical corrosion protection where needed.

What is cable assembly drawing

A cable assembly drawing is an essential part of the cable assembly design, since it provides an overall draft of the entire cable signals, end connectors, overall and internal cable thickness and lengths, as well as all the compliance rules and fabrication indications for that specific cable. Depending on the industry, special CAD tools are available, such as SolidWorks for consumer or even Zuken for industrial and automotive compliant cabling.

Conclusion

In this article we discussed the difference between a cable harness and assembly and dive through the main components, applications, and properties for cable assemblies. Hopefully, this article provides reference for general explanation and applications of this electronic equipment components.

With 18 years of experience in PCBA manufacturing, IBE is a professional PCBA manufacturer including PCB manufacturing, PCB design, PCB assembly, electronic components, PCBA testing , and focus on the research and development of laser ranging, new energy, medical devices, automotive electronics, industrial control, consumer electronics, etc.

FAQ

A cable assembly is mainly used to connect a set of signals with the use of a single unit and make connections with proper design lengths and ease of applicability.

The basic component for a cable consists of the conductor metal wire/cable which the maximum current rating for the power/communication signal, protected by an insulating layer (plastic) and an optional shielding.

It provides an overall draft of the entire cable signals, end connectors, overall and internal cable thickness and lengths, as well as all the compliance rules and fabrication indications for that specific cable.

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