How are cable assemblies manufactured?

Cable assemblies come in many different variations today and are essential components across a range of industries. Some are as simple and straightforward as two wires and two connectors while others can involve a myriad of different pieces. However, no matter how large and complicated – or what size and type – cable assemblies are, the manufacturing process for most of them is likely to be very similar. These are some of the key stages that are involved in the manufacture of cable assemblies.

Stage 1 – preparation of wires and cutting

At this point, the wires need to be prepared so that they will be suitable for the specific requirements of the finished cable assembly. Each wire required for the cable assembly will need to be marked, measured and cut. One of the best tools for this stage in the manufacturing process is a laser machine. This can not only be used to mark the wires but also to cut them.

Stage 2 – the Harness Assembly Drawing

The Harness Assembly Drawing will reveal in detail the way in which the wires involved in the cable assembly are routed from one end point to another, as well as where wires break out from the main bundle. Each wire will be laid out on the Harness Assembly Drawing individually to reflect its position and role and then all will be tied together using tape or string.

Stage 3 – termination of wires

This is a vital part of how cable assemblies are manufactured and can often be the most challenging stage of the process. Each conductor in a wire is terminated at this stage and if there are shields on shielded wires then these need to be terminated too. The termination process for wires requires insulation to be removed and contacts crimped onto the conductors. The crimped contacts are inserted into a connector contact cavity, following the precise guidance in the insert arrangements.

Stage 4 – the testing process

Especially with it comes to bespoke cable assemblies, or those that are going to be used in harsh environments, the testing part of the process is vital. Every wire needs to be tested for its individual application. Automatic testing machines are most often used for this stage in the process. These machines will be looking for issues with continuity, performance, manufacturing errors and insulation resistance, among many other factors.

Stage 5 – the finishing process

After every wire has been tested it will need to be finished before the cable assembly is ready for use. There are a number of different ways in which finishing can be carried out and this will depend on the specifications involved. This stage could include shrinking down tubing, locating cable assembly identifiers and reference designators, as well as carrying out a final inspection. Once the finishing process has been completed the cable assemblies are ready for packaging and shipping.

Every stage in the manufacturing process of cable assemblies is essential to produce the durable, effective and reliable long-term components that are so widely used across industries.