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Basic Steps for Wire Harness Building – Part I

August 31, 2015

Basic Steps for Wire Harness Building – Part I

Building a wire harness can be a time consuming and difficult task. There are two basic reasons why a person will choose to create a wire harness – either to improve its overall appearance, or customize it for an application. Every wire harness is different, however, the basics of wire harness construction is pretty much the same. If you take your time, you will find the process to be less demanding.

Steps to Build a Wire Harness :

The following points showcase the basic requirements and steps to build a wire harness.

  • Create a Wiring Diagram: Before any of the wire cutting can begin, you need to create a wiring diagram of your system. This can be performed by using a computer program like CAD. Generally, a wiring diagram consists of two parts – a schematic, and a harness. The schematic will showcase the parts, their locations, and how they are connected. The harness diagram will help you create an exact plan of how all the wires and connectors will be put together. You can also color the diagram to represent different parts. For example, colored circles can symbolize connectors. This will help you to keep things organized, and make the process easier.
  • Collect Your Tools: The next aspect is to collect all the necessary tools to get the job done. You will require the following:
      • Wires
      • Zip ties
      • Heat gun
      • Terminals
      • Connectors
      • Multimeter
      • Wire cutter
      • Crimping plier
      • Heat shrink tubing
      • Wire stripper (manual or automatic)

    The size of the heat shrink tubing used will vary depending on the sizes of the terminals. As wire harnesses are generally used for demanding applications, GXL wire with PVC insulation would be a good choice. This is a high temperature wire, and is ideal for harsh environments. The wire provides resistance to heat, fire, moisture, and chemicals.

  • Strip the Wire: Use the wire stripper to remove a small part of the insulation from one end of the wire. The wires will be attached to terminals, so you need to make sure that the length of the cut is according to the terminal size.
  • Cut the Heat Shrink: Cut the heat shrink tubing of a length a little longer than that of the stripped wire. Insert the heat shrink over an unstripped area of the wire.
  • Attach a Terminal: Take a terminal, place its seam into the crimp pliers, and crimp the terminal slightly. Insert the terminal into the wire, then use the pliers to squeeze the wire and terminal together. Use enough force such that the two parts will be crimped, but not so much that the wire gets damaged.
  • Cover the Wire: Once the above step has been completed, pull the heat shrink over the crimped wire edge and terminal seam. Ensure that the tubing closes tightly over the two parts.
  • Shrink the Tubing: This is where the heat gun needs to be used. Turn on the gun, set it to the required temperature, and allow it to warm up. Direct the gun’s hot air over the heat shrink tubing. The tubing will reduce to the appropriate size, thus protecting the parts.

These are the initial seven steps in the wire harness manufacturing process. The post will discuss the forthcoming points, including joining connectors and installation.

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