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Understanding the Differences between Cables Assemblies and Cable Harnesses

November 23, 2015

Understanding the Differences between Cables Assemblies and Cable Harnesses

When sourcing or purchasing electronic components, the cable harness and cable assembly are used quite often. So much so, many users believe that these terms mean the same thing. However, this is far from true. There are distinct differences between these two products.

Differentiating between Cable Harnesses and Assemblies

A simple explanation of both these products can help you understand why they are different from one another.

  • Cable Harnesses: As you may know, a cable is constructed from a highly conductive metal, for example, copper. A harness consists of an individual or a group of metal strands, which are covered by an exterior sheath. Generally, this sheath is made from a thermoset or thermoplastic materials. Cables harnesses are designed to bundle all the wires together in an organized manner. The harnesses also help protect the various cables.

When comparing cable harnesses and assemblies, harnesses are designed to be smaller and lighter than cable assemblies. The materials can be sourced at reasonable prices, and they require less labor for production. Cable harnesses are the general choice for electronic equipment used in aircrafts, automobiles, and household appliances.

  • Cable Assemblies: Cable assemblies comprise a group of wires, which are covered by a protective exterior sheath. The sheath is designed to cover the rubber or plastic insulation protecting the wires. Exterior sheaths can be constructed from a wide range of materials. These include vinyl, thermoplastic rubber, or shrink wrapped thermoplastic.

The sheathing protects the assembly and wires from environmental elements and contaminants. These can include heat, moisture, friction, compression, and abrasion. Due to this advantage, the sheathing’s protection capabilities makes cable assemblies useful for outdoor applications. Cable assemblies are commonly used in industries where applications are subject to environmental hazards. These include security installations, oilfield electronics, and military equipment.

Understanding the difference between cable assemblies and cable harnesses can help you find the right type of electronic component. This can prove to be extremely beneficial to your equipment, as well as the application.

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