The Key Elements of Cable Design

On the face of it, except for the advent of Cat5/6 (and now new digital and fibre optic cables), little appears to have changed in cabling over the past two decades. However, the examples given above show how a myriad of subtle advances ‘under the surface’ can work to your advantage. Some of the materials and techniques have been around for a long time but what is new is our ability to mix the materials and techniques to achieve better results.

The key design aspects of cable design are listed below. The design process is essentially about getting the balance of these elements right for economy and intended purpose.

  • Insulation/dielectric
  • Core size and stranding
  • To screen or not to screen
  • Physical spacing between cores and screen
  • Mechanical construction
  • Overall weight and diameter constraints

In the following sections we look at each of these in turn to get an idea of what each aspect contributes and what to look for when specifying a cable.

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