Retractiles. Coil Cords. Slinkies. Curly Cords.

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February 9th, 2018 - There are numerous applications and unique environments that can benefit from a retractile cord rather than a common straight cable. Here are a few examples that we come across quite often:


  • A coil cord may be selected simply because they are more appealing to the eye such as in an architectural lighting application.


High flex life applications

  • If the cable will be used on a robotic arm or a security camera where torsional and rotational movement puts demands on the flex life of the cable, a retractile may be your best option as the coil will relieve much of the stress.

Reduce trip hazards

  • Worried about cords laying on the ground and possibly tripping an employee or worse, a customer? A retractile cord may be a good consideration as the retractile will snap back into place after use.

Hand held tools 

  • Coil cords also work well in many medical applications. For example, if a surgeon needs to use a hand-held tool, a retractile will ensure that the cable is not working against the surgeon’s hand and arm movements.

One size fits all

  • Do you have an application that requires adjustments depending on the operator? Perhaps something needs to be adjustable either vertically or horizontally? A coil cord will quickly allow for adjustments without adding any additional cable to get in the way.

Space Saver 

  • Speaking of cable getting in the way…Working in tight spaces? Utilize coil cords to eliminate the amount of cable that needs to be contained in a cabinet or within a helmet.

Now that we have listed a few examples of when a retractile cord may be preferred over a straight cord, let’s talk about considerations for customizing your coil cord. These are some factors to keep in mind when contacting a Cable Designer as it will help them choose the proper materials.

Environment – Will the cable be exposed to extreme temperature or any fluids to possibly include chemicals?

Retracted vs. Extension lengths – Northwire utilizes a 5:1 ratio. So, if a cable is 5 feet when retracted, it can extend up to 25 feet.

Tangent direction and length – Parallel (tangential) vs. drop (axial).

Overall diameter of the coil or coil O.D. – This will determine what size mandrel is utilized when baking in industrial sized ovens.

Hopefully this article has got you thinking about your end application and whether the cable design could benefit from being coiled. If you have more questions or would like to get started on a custom design, give a Northwire Application Engineer a call at +1 715-294-2121 or submit a quote request. We are excited to partner with you to create the cable and wire solution you have been looking for.