Your Cable’s First Line of Defense: Jacketing

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November 27th, 2017 - A cable’s outer jacket is its primary means of protection against environmental factors and application demands. It is a crucial part of the cable and can be the determining factor for the longevity and durability of the cable and or cable assembly. Choosing a jacket material can seem like a daunting task, but do not fear, we put together a few questions to get you started.

What is the end application, its environment and does it require approvals?


  • End Application – The application is the number one influencing factor when selecting materials for any component of the cable. Certain specifications or characteristics may be determined by the end use. For example, if the cable will be in a medical device, the jacket may need to be Biocompatible and/or Sterilizable, which will quickly narrow down the list of material options.
  • Environment – Material options will differ depending on the environment that the cable and end application will be exposed to such as extreme temperatures or continuous flexing. Furthermore, time, temperature, and frequency of the exposure to the extreme environment will be important to know as well.
  • Approvals – If the cable needs to be UL listed or have a CSA marking, the materials that can be used will be selected depending on those requirements.

Will the connector be over-molded to the jacket?


  • It will be important to consider both the over-mold material and the jacket material as you will want to ensure that they will adhere to each other.
  • In addition to material consideration, shape is an important factor as well. If the cable assembly includes an over-mold, the cable must be round to ensure a clean shutoff and a pressured jacket is preferred over tubed.

Does the assembly process involve jacket stripping and if so, to what length?

  • When evaluating jacket materials, you will want to factor in any downstream processes such as stripping including what tooling will be used as some materials are easier to work with than others. For example, a polyurethane is more difficult to score and strip than a PVC.
  • If the strip length is going to be considerable on the end of the cable, a tubed jacket will offer a quicker, easier strip.

Hopefully this article has got you thinking about the different factors related to your end application and how they might influence the custom options suited for your connectivity solution. If you have more questions or would like to get started on a design, give a Northwire Application Engineer a call at +1 715-294-2121. We are excited to partner with you to create the cable and wire solution you have been looking for.