Certain wire and cable companies offer a product at a rate far below their competitors to win business, and purchasers believe they have found a great deal and done their budgets a huge favor. Unfortunately, to get these prices, you sacrifice a lot more than you would believe.
The M17 Issue
M17 cable is one product that is often wrapped up in these issues. When a company is able to offer M17 cable with extremely low pricing, they are most likely importing it from Chinese manufacturers, rather than buying products that are made in the US.
Quality is a major concern. Oftentimes, imported M17 is “knockoff” material that is not constructed to genuine M17 mil-spec standards. It is important to take note of any materials used in “cheap M17” that do not match the call-outs for QPL approved M17 cables. For example, certain knockoff products may feature FEP dielectric, where the mil-spec approved cables would feature PTFE. In this case, the PTFE provides superior electrical performance, which would be compromised in the commercial version.
You may also see tin-plated copper used for conductors and/or shields, rather than the silver-plated copper used in the mil-spec product. Even the jacket material may be substituted. Where a military specification may call for FEP jacketing, you could see a low-temperature compound used in a commercial M17 product.
These material substitutions create a substantial difference in the quality of the finished cables. Mil-spec cables perform better and last significantly longer than the imported commercial versions. With use, the “cheap M17” is likely to break down and require replacement, which leads to increased costs over the long-term. By choosing QPL approved M17, you can ensure that cables meet important quality standards and will last in your application.
What can I do to make sure I’m getting the right M17 cable?
The two main things you can do are:
- Ask if the material is QPL approved. QPL stands for Qualified Products List and identifies materials and suppliers that have been approved by the US government to produce certain parts for military, federal, or airframe applications.
- Take a close look at the cable’s construction to be sure that the materials used are those called out in the M17 military specification.
Allied Wire & Cable is dedicated to providing customers quality products, held to the highest standards. There is a big difference between the mil-spec and commercial-grade cables. We would never label a commercial-grade M17 product as an M17/QPL mil-spec cable. The next time you compare prices for M17, be sure that all sources are quoting the material you expect. Remember, choosing a quality product is worth it; you could end up paying for a "cheap" option for years to come.
To learn more about this cable, visit our M17 coaxial cable specifications.