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Glossary of Terms Used in the Wire & Cable Industry

:: A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z ::

Glossary 700 Top

Triangle A

Abrasion Resistance
A measure of ability of a wire, wire covering or material to resist surface wear or damage by mechanical means.
Accelerated Aging Test
Test of insulation to measure its compliance with temperature ratings.
Alternating Current (AC)
An electric current that continually reverses its direction giving a definite plus and minus wave form at fixed intervals.
Acronym for Aluminum Mylar. A laminated aluminum and polyester tape used for shielding wires.
The unit expressing the rate of flow of an electrical current.
A substance which prevents or slows down oxygen decomposition of a material.
A substance which prevents or slows down material degradation due to ozone reaction.
American Society for Testing and Materials
American Wire Gauge. The standard system used for designating wire diameter. Also referred to as the Brown and Sharpe (B&S) wire gauge.
Underwriters Laboratories designation for Appliance Wiring Material.

Triangle B

Balanced Line
A cable having two conductors which carry voltages opposite in polarity but equal in magnitude with respect to ground.
Bare Conductor
A conductor not covered with insulating material.
Unit of data transmission speed. One Baud is one bit per second.
Spirally served tape or thread used for holding assembled cable components in place.
Bond Strength
Amount of adhesion between bonded surfaces.
Woven bare metallic or tinned copper wire used as shielding for wires and cables.
Braid Angle
The angle between the axis of the cable and axis of the braid.
Braid Ends
The number of wires used on one carrier on a braider.
Breakdown Voltage
The voltage at which the insulation between two conductors will break down or arc over.
B & S Gauge
Brown and Sharpe Gauge, a wire diameter standard which ultimately led to the American Wire Gauge standard.
Bunched Stranding
A group of strands twisted together in a random manner in the same direction and done in one operation with no regard to geometric position of the strands.

Triangle C

Celsius. A temperature rating system where water freezes at zero degrees and boils at one hundred degrees.
A combination of conductors insulated from one another (multiple-conductor cable).
Cable Core
The portion of an insulated cable under the protective covering or coverings.
Cable Filler
The material used in multiple-conductor cables to occupy the interstices in a cable to make the finished cable round.
Twisting together two or more insulted conductors by machine to form a cable.
Cabling Factor
Used in formulas for calculating the overall diameter of cable. D=fd where D=cable diameter, f=factor, and d=diameter of one conductor.
The ability of a cable to hold an electric charge. Its value is usually stated in Picofarads/foot.
Circular Mil Area (CMA)
The square of a conductor diameter in mils, of thousandths of an inch. Example a 30 AWG conductor has a diameter of 10 mils and a CMA of 100. Used to determine conductor sizes.
Characteristic Impedance
Characteristic impedance of a cable is the ratio of an applied voltage and current. The value is expressed in Ohms.
Chlorinated Polyurethane (CPE)
A synthetic rubber jacketing compound.
Chlorosulfonated Polyethylene (CSPE)
A synthetic rubber jacketing compound manufactured by DuPont under trade name of Hypalon.
Circular Mils
The diameter of the wire in thousandths of an inch (mils) squared. That is, it is the area of a circle 0.001" in diameter. (1 cmil = 0.507E-3 sq mm)
Cold Blend Test
Test to measure a cable's ability to withstand cold temperature.
Color Code
A color system for wire or circuit identification by use of solid colors, stripes or surface operating
An insulating or jacketing material.
Concentric Strand
A wire that consists of a central wire or core surrounded by one or more layers of spiral laid wires.
In a wire or cable, the measurement of the location of the center of the conductor with respect to the geometric center of the insulation. Expressed in percent.
An alloy used in making thermocouples wires. An alloy of copper, nickel manganese and iron.
Continuity Check
A test performed on finished wire or cable to determine if electrical current can flow continuously.
The most widely used electrical conductor in wires and cables. Some of the common types of electrical coppers and copper alloys are:
  • Electrolytic tough pitch copper (ETPC) has a minimum copper content of 99.9%. Annealed conductivity averages 101% with a 100& minimum. Commonly used for wire and bus bars.
  • Silver bearing copper with a 99.9% copper content provides nearly the same electrical conductivity as the ETP copper but offers a higher softening point, greater resistance to creep and higher strength at elevated temperatures.
  • Oxygen-free high conductivity copper (OFHC) has 99.5% minimum copper content with an average annealed conductivity of 101%.
Copper-Covered Steel Wire
A wire having a steel core and an outer covering of copper.
A luminous discharge due to ionization of the gas surrounding a conductor.
Corona Resistance
The ability of an insulation to withstand a voltage without corona.
The calculated percentage of braid shield that covers the underlying cable core.
Phelps Dodge High Performance Conductors trade name for extra high strength copper alloy.
Signal interference between nearby conductors caused by the pickup of stray energy.
Canadian Standards Association
Cubic Capacity
The most important commerical measurement when the cargo is so lightweight that the ship is filled to capacity without being loaded to the load line (freeboard). Capacity is measured in cubic metres or cubic feet (cu.ft.).
Current Carrying Capacity
The maximum current a conductor can carry without heating beyond a safe limit.
Cut-Through Resistance
Resistance of insulation material to penetration by test blade under conditions of pressure, temperature, etc.
The complete sequence including reversal of the flow of alternating electric current.
Triangle D
dB Loss
The loss of a signal in a conductor expressed in decibels.
The largest weight of cargo, bunkers and stores a ship is able to carry. Expressed in metric tons (1000 kg) or long tons (1016 kg). The deadweight tonnage is the most important commerical measurement. Normally the maximum payload for a ship is three to ten percent lower than the deadweight, due to the weight of bunkers and stores, etc.
Decibel (dB)
Unit of express differences of power level.
A term borrowed from the textile industry for sizing yarns. Denier is defined as the weight in grams of 9,000 yards of yarn.
Dielectric Constant
The ratio of an insulations ability to hold a charge with respect to air. Expressed as a unit less number (i.e. 2.1).
Dielectric Strength
The voltage which an insulating material can withstand before breakdown occurs, usually expressed as a voltage gradient (such as volts per mil).
Dielectric Test
Test applying a voltage higher than the rated voltage for a specified time.
Direct Current (DC)
An electric current that flows in only one direction.
Direction of Lay
The lateral direction in which the conductors of a cable are wound.
Double Shield
Two shields, on over the other, used to improve the shield effectiveness.
Drain Wire
In a cable, an insulated wire laid over the component or components, usually under aluminized Mylar and used for a ground connection.
In the manufacture of wire, pulling the metal through a die or series of dies for reduction of diameter to a specified size.
A measuring device used to denote the hardness of plastic. For most flexible plastics, the A or D scale is used.
Triangle E
A material which at room temperature stretches under low stress to at least twice its length and snaps back to original length upon release of stress.
The fractional increase in length of a material stressed in tension.
The number of wires or threads on a braider carrier.
A process, using either chemicals or plasma which roughens the surface of a wire to assist in bonding to or making the wire.
Method of forming plastic, rubber or elastomer material to apply insulation or jackets to a conductor or cable.
Triangle F
Unit of Capacitance. For wire and cable a lesser unit of picofarads is used. One picofarad is one thousand millionths of a Farad.
Fatigue Resistance
Resistance to metal crystallization which leads to conductors of wires breaking from flexing.
Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene
Fourty-foot Equivalent Unit (same as two TEU).
A thread of threadlike structure such as glass yarn.
Flame Resistance
Ability of the material to extinguish flame once the source of heat is removed.
Flat Braid
A woven braid which is rolled flat at time of manufacture to a specific width depending upon construction. It is used as a ground strap.
Flat Cable
Any cable with two smooth or corrugated but essentially flat surfaces.
Flat Conductor Cable
A cable with a plurality of flat conductors.
Flex Life
The number of cycles that a cable can withstand before failure when bent around a specific radius.
Foamed Plastics
Resins in flexible or rigid sponge formed with the cells closed or interconnected. Foamed insulations provide low dielectric contestants and weight savings.
Triangle G
A unit of frequency equal to one billion Hertz.
Used primarily as a coating or plating material because of its electrical properties.
Ground abbreviated.
An electrical term meaning to connect to the earth.
Gross Tonnage and Net Tonnage
The Ship Measurement Convention of 1969 has been in force for new tonnage since 1984, and was made mandatory for all vessels from 18th July 1994. This means a transition from the terms gross register tons (grt)and net register tons (nrt) to gross tons (GT) and net tons (NT). The gross tonnage forms the basis for manning regulations, safety rules and registration fees. Both gross and net tonnage are used to calculate port dues. GT is the vessel's enclosed spaces, while NT is the volume of a vessel's cargo holds.
Gross Tonnage (GT)
= (0.2+0.02 end of proof symbollog10V)end of proofV. where V is the volume in cubic metres of all enclosed spaces on board.
Triangle H
Heat Shock
Test to determine stability of a material by sudden exposure to a high temperature for a short period of time.
Unit of inductance. For wire and cable usually millihenries are specified. A millihenry is 1000th of a Henry.
Hertz (Hz)
A term for replacing cycles-per-second as the unit of measure for frequency.
High Strength Alloy Conductor
A conductor which shows a maximum 20% increase in resistance and a minimum of a 70% increase in breaking strength over the equivalent construction in pure copper while exhibiting a minimum elongation of 5% in 10 inches.
High Voltage
Generally considered to be a wire or cable with an operating voltage of over 600 volts.
A test designed to determine the highest potential that can be applied to conductor without breaking through the insulation.
Hybrid Cable
Cable containing a mixture of conductors and fiber optics.
Triangle I
Impact Strength
Test for ascertaining the punishment a cable configuration can withstand without physical or electrical breakdown, by impacting with a given weight, dropped a given distance in a controlled environment.
Measured in henries. A property of an electric current by which an electromotive force is induced in it by a variation of current either in the circuit itself or in a neighboring circuit.
Insulated Power and Cable Engineers Association
A combination of metals used in thermocouples, thermocouple wires and thermocouple lead wires. Constantan is an alloy of copper, nickel, manganese and iron. The iron wire is positive, the constantan is negative.
The process of cross linking the insulation.
Triangle J
A covering extruded over a cable core or shield.
Triangle K
DuPont® Company registered trademark for Polyimide film.
1,000 volts
1,000 watts
Registered trademark of Penwalt Corporation. Polyvinylidene fluoride (PVF2) is rated at 135°C.
Triangle L
Lacquer Finish
A finish applied over braided wire or cable for protection against fraying, wicking, moisture, absorption, abrasion, etc.
Used particularly in connection with the transportation of trailers. One lanemetre is one metre of deck, with a width of 2.5 to 3.0 metres. The capacity of ships built for the transportation of new automobiles is normally expressed by the number of cars carried, or by the area of deckspace, in square metres.
The twist of a cable. It is measured as the length along the cable of one turn of a conductor.
The ability of a cable to lay flat or conform to a bend.
Litz wire
Wire made from a number of fine, separately-insulated strands specially braided or woven together for reduced skin effect and hence lower resistance to high frequency currents for lower RF losses. The name is Litzendraht wire, German for bundled wire.
Low Noise Cable
Cable configuration specially constructed to eliminate spurious electrical disturbances caused by capacitance changes or self-generated triboelectric noise.
Triangle M
Marker Tape
A tape laid parallel to the conductors under the jacket in a cable, imprinted with manufacturer's name and/or specification to which the cable is made.
Thousand circular mils.
Microfarad, one millionth of a farad.
One millionth of a farad.
A micron is one-millionth of a meter or one twenty-five thousandth of an inch.
Military specification for wire.
0.001" (1/1000 inch) one 1000th of an inch. A unit used in measuring diameter of wire or thickness of an insulation over a conductor.
1000 volts 1000 volts
Triangle N
Newtons per squared mm. Typical measurement for Tensile Strength.
National Electric Code, which covers the use of wire and cable in many applications.
National Electric Manufacturers Association
Net Tonnage (NT)
= (0.2+0.02 end of proof log10(Vc))end of proofVcend of proof (4d/3D)2, for passenger ships the following formula is added: 1.25 end of proof (GT + 10000)/10000 end of proof (N1 + N2/10)), where Vc is the volume of the cargo holds, D is the distance between the ships bottom and the uppermost deck, d is the draught, N1 is the number of cabin passengers, and N2 is the number of deck passengers.
The generic name for synthetic fiber-forming polyamides. Available in two forms for wires and cables: as yarn for wire serving and braid; as an extrusion material (primary for jackets).
Triangle O
Outside Diameter
Unit of electrical resistance. Resistance of a circuit in which a potential difference of one volt produces a current of one ampere.
Triangle P
Percent Plating
Quantity of plating on a conductor expressed as percentage by weight; thus, for the same percentage, as the conductor diameter increases, so does the thickness of the plating.
Picks Per Inch
The number of times the carriers in a braid cross over each other in the same direction along the longitudinal axis for each inch of length.
Planetary Cabler
A cabling machine whose payoff spools are mounted in rotating cradles that hold the axis of the spool in a fixed direction as the spools are revolved about one another so the wire will not kink as it is twisted.
A thermoplastic material with a low dielectric constant. Usually used for coaxial cables. May be "foamed" to yield a dielectric constant between 1.4 and 1.6.
Polypropylene (PU)
A plastic, it is similar to polyethylene but stiffer.
This plastic usually used as a jacketing material and offers good abrasion and is very flexible. Not normally used for insulation.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
A general thermoplastic material composed of polymers of vinyl chloride. PVC is widely used for primary wire insulation or jacketing.
Primary Insulation
An insulation material, applied over a conductor.
Polyvinyl chloride
Triangle Q
A four conductor cable.
Triangle R
Ratio between Gross Tonnage/Net Tonnage/Deadweight
Approximate conversion figures:

1 NT = 1.7 GT
1 GT = 1.5 dwt.

These figures are applicable for tankers and dry cargo vessels up to approximately 25,000 dwt., but not for reefers, ro-ro-ships, passenger ships, etc. For large tank - and bulkships (approximately 100,000 dwt. and above) 1 GT is approximately 2 dwt.
Red Plague
A powdery brown-red oxide of silver formed with water or rocket fuel fumes. It is highly conductive and can flake off and cause shorts in electrical equipment.
Register Ton
Old term for the measuring of ships, not to be used anymore. (One register ton is 100 cubic feet or 2.93 cubic metres).
Ribbon Cable
Flat cable with conductors that have been individually insulated together and "glued together".
RG is the military designation for coaxial cable. The "U" stands for universal.
Triangle S
Semiconducting Jacket
A jacket having a sufficiently low resistance so that its outer surface can be kept at substantially ground potential by a grounded conductor placed under the jacket.
A wrapping applied over the core of a cable or over a wire. Servings may be in the form of filaments, fibers, yarn, tape, etc. Often referred to as a binder.
The protective covering applied to cables. Also referred to as jacket.
A metallic layer placed around an insulated conductor or group of conductors to prevent electrostatic or electromagnetic interference between the enclosed wires and external fields. This shield can be braided or served wires, foil wrap, foil backed tape, a metallic tube, or conductive material.
Shield Coverage
The amount of optical coverage, usually expressed percentage. For most cables the value runs between 85% and 90%.
Silver is similar to gold in corrosion resistance. It costs less than other precious metals. It is very soft when fully annealed but work hardens during fabrication. It provides very good conductivity and solderability. It is widely used as plating or coating.
Solid Conductor
A conductor consisting of a single wire.
Silver plated copper
Spark Test
A test preformed on wire and cable to determine the amount of pin holes or defects in the insulation.
Specific Gravity
The density (mass per unit volume) of any material divided by that of water at a standard temperature. Most insulations range in values of .9 to 1.9.
One of the wires, or groups of wires, of any stranded conductor.
Stranded Conductor
A conductor composed of a group of wires, or of any combination of groups of wires.
(Note: The wires in a stranded conductor are usually twisted or braided together.)
To remove insulation from a wire.
Surface Resistively
The resistance of a material between two opposite sides of a unit square of its surface. Surface resistively may vary widely with the conditions of measurement.
Triangle T
Teflon FEP
Registered trademark of DuPont® Company. Fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP). A 200°C rated Fluoropolymer that can be used for insulation and jacket applications.
Teflon PFA
Registered trademark of the DuPont® Company. Perfluoroalkoxy (PFA). A 250°C rated Fluoropolymer that can be used for insulation and jacket applications.
Teflon TFE
Registered trademark of the DuPont® Company. Tetrafluoroethylene (TFE). A 260°C rated Fluoropolymer that can be used for insulation and jacket applications.
Registered trademark of the DuPont Company. Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), is a 150°C rated Fluoropolymer that can be used for insulation and jacket applications.
Temperature Rating
The maximum temperature at which the insulating material may be used in continuous operation with a loss of 50% of its original properties.
Trademark for Phelps Dodge® Alloy. 135 high strength copper alloy.
Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit. The container carrying capacity of a vessel, expressed in the number of TEUs it can load (standard containers od 20 x 8 x 8 feet).
Tinned Wire
Copper wire that has been coated with a layer of tin or solder to facilitate soldering.
Tinsel Wire
A low voltage, stranded wire where each strand is very thin conductor ribbon spirally wrapped around a textile yarn.
A specified allowance for deviation from a standard dimension, weight or property.
The trasnportation of one ton cargo over a distance of one kilometre.
Triboelectric Noise
Noise generated in a shielded cable due to movement between the components as the cable is flexed.
Twisted Pair
A cable composed of two insulated conductors, twisted together without a common covering.
Triangle U
Ultra High Frequency.
Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.
Unbalanced Line
A transmission line in which voltages on the two conductors are unequal with respect to ground. An example is coaxial cable.
Unidirectional Concentric Stranding
A stranding where each successive layer has a different lay length, thereby retaining a circular form without migration of strands from on layer to another.
Unidirectional Stranding
A term denoting that in a stranded conductor all layers have the same direction of lay.
Unilay Strand
A conductor constructed with a central core surrounded by more than one layer of helically-laid wires, with all layers having a common length and direction of lay.

Triangle V

Velocity of Propagation
The transmission of speed of an electrical signal down a length of cable compared to speed in free space. This is usually expressed as a percentage.
Voltage Drop
The amount of voltage loss from original input in a conductor of given size and length.
Voltage Rating
The highest voltage that may be continuously applied to a wire or cord in conformance with standards or specifications.
Volume Resistivity
(Specific Insulation Resistance) The electrical resistance between opposite faces of a 1-cm cube of insulating material, commonly expressed in ohm-centimeters.
Triangle W
Wall Thickness
A term used that expresses the thickness of a layer of applied insulation or jacket.
A conductor, either insulated or bare.
Wire Gauge
A system of numerical designations of wire sizes. See American Wire Gauge (AWG)
Triangle Y
Yield Strength
The lowest stress at which a material undergoes deformation. Below this stress, the material is elastic; above it, viscous.
Triangle Z
Designation for impedance, expressed on ohms.
Glossary 700 Bottom

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