Allied Encyclopedia: Flexible Cables vs. Flexing Cables

Allied EncyclopediaFlexible cables and flexing cables sound pretty much the same, right? Wrong. Confusing the two can lead to costly mistakes when selecting cable. Knowing how to differentiate between flexibility and flexing will help you can make quality cable selections that will last in your application.

The terms flexibility and flex life are spattered across almost every cable spec sheet we see. Because the words sound so similar, it can be difficult to determine which you need to consider for your cable application.

Flexibility is a factor that most comes into play during installation. If a cable must be bent to follow the path of a cable set-up or if it must be twisted to provide a more aesthetically-pleasing installation, flexibility is a major consideration. The cable cannot be too rigid or it will not work for your application. However, these applications do not require the cable to move once they are in place which means that flexing and flex life are not major factors.

That leads us to flexing cables which are used in robotics, manufacturing, and other automated machinery. These cables are expected to move regularly in their applications. Sometimes these cables are even required to move constantly. This continued bending and flexing puts a lot of physical stress on the cable, making it important to choose a durable cable designed to withstand the rigors of such an application. A cable’s ability to weather this movement is known as flex life.

If an inappropriate cable is placed in a flexing application, its jacket and shielding are likely to break down quickly. This can lead to expensive replacements and money lost on unnecessary downtime.

To avoid these problems, simply plan ahead. Consider all of the challenges of your application and all of the movements your cable will be expected to make over the course of its lifetime. If you need a cable to bend during installation only, a standard cable with a decent flexibility rating should do the trick. If you are buying cable for a flex application, choose cable based on the type of movement it will be doing and how often it will be required to repeat that movement. No matter how challenging the application, you should be able to find a cable solution that meets your flexing or flexibility needs.

About awcwire
Allied Wire & Cable is a value-added manufacturer and distributor of electrical wire and cable, tubing, and more. We are a family owned and operated company, serving a wide range of industries, including the military, automotive, aerospace, and telecommunications markets. Allied is headquartered in Collegeville, PA. Additional locations can be found across the US, in Merrimack, NH, Tampa, FL, Pewaukee, WI, and Las Vegas, NV. For more information on Allied, visit our main website at www.awcwire.com.

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