Buyer’s guide to cost effective cables

It’s easy to accidentally design additional costs into cables. In this article, Nicab offers purchasing professionals five ways to help prevent this.

1 Specification

Beyond volts and amps, what should be considered? Must the cable be branded? There are many great brands but is the extra expense justified? A brand can change its design without notice. In one example the cable OD increased so much it didn’t fit into the connector, forcing an urgent costly re-design. Many generic cables are made to a DEF or DIN specification, guaranteeing a level of consistency.

Other considerations include screening, low halogens and high flex.

2 Obsolescence

So simple but often overlooked. When designing a cable to last, ensure it is not likely to be discontinued. Think about the impact of change, including re-designing the device it is plugging into and the costs involved. Ask the connector supplier to investigate this. It is surprising how often manufacturers withdraw connectors or make significant changes on relatively short notice.

3 Assembly

An often-overlooked element of cable design is how easy the connector is to assemble. Some, such as D-connectors, are relatively easy. However, circular connectors can be tricky, requiring skill and dexterity. This can significantly affect pricing.

From the datasheet, connectors can look easy to assemble but a trial is always recommended. It is easy to assume a cable assembly sub-contractor will have specialist tooling and skills but no one is super human.

4 Colour

Product aesthetics are an important part of the design process. However, matching a red cable to a red product can be expensive. Also, if a cable is internal, how important is the colour? There are examples of cables specified for colour that were unavailable for weeks, pushing back deliveries. Consider purchasing coloured cable in advance for the product’s lifespan to ensure supply.

5 Environment

A good example is material choice. For example, using metal rather than plastic connectors or hoods. Also consider packing options. For example, when purchasing over 100 Neutrik connectors they come loose in a box rather than individually packed in a plastic bag.