113Industrial cables are designed in different types of sheathing materials to protect wires in applications. Every sheathing is designed to serve a specific purpose. Choosing the wrong cable, or using a cable with insufficient sheathing can be a waste of time, effort, and money. Hence, it is important that you understand the different types of electrical cable sheathing before you choose a wire for your application.

General Cables and Their Insulations

When discussing standard or custom cable manufacturing, there are three types of insulations that are used. These are elaborated in the points in below.

  • Non-metallic Cables: Commonly referred to NM, non-metallic cables contain sheathing produced from cardboard or weighted paper, which is encased in plastic. Generally, these cables are used in applications where the chances of damage are extremely minimal, and they are protected from moisture and water. Application examples include outlets, electrical switches, and other types of building wiring.
  • BX Cable: BX cable wire is wrapped in a flexible metallic sheath. The metal part of the sheath eliminates the need for a ground wire. The flexible part of the sheath allows the cable to be used in tight spaces. For this reason, BX cable are used in applications like basements – areas that contain great amounts of moisture.
  • UF Cables: Underground Feed cables are designed with insulations comprising heavy paper and plastic. While the sheathing design is similar to NM, this insulation is tightly wrapped around the wire. As the name suggests, these cables are used in underground applications like subways, well lamps, and branch circuits.

The type of insulation can make a huge difference to the performance of the cable. By understanding the basic types of sheathing, you will be in a better position to choose the right cable for your application. However, it is always better to consult a cable manufacturer before making a decision.

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