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m16878 wire

What is MIL-W-16878?

MIL-W-16878 is a mil-spec hook-up wire commonly found in military harness applications and in the internal wiring of electronic equipment. This hook-up/lead wire is popular because of its size, non-flammable materials, and resistance to chemicals. Most of the M16878 military specifications have since been replaced by NEMA standards. However, they are often referred to as M16878 cables by people in the industry. This specification covers unshielded hook-up wires and lead wires used in the electrical and electronic components of equipment.

M16878 Construction

Constructions for this wire can vary greatly. However, all of these mil-spec wires feature a coated copper conductor. Conductors may be tinned, silver-coated, or nickel-coated. Insulation materials also vary greatly between the different slants of these wires. They can feature PVC, extruded PTFE, extruded FEP, XLPE, XLPO, PVC polyamide, or silicone rubber insulation.

M16878 Ratings

Since constructions vary greatly for this type of wire, so do the temperature and voltage ratings. For this wire, temperature ranges fall between -65°C and +260°C, while voltage ratings range from 250V to 5000V. For example, M16878/1 Type B wire features PVC insulation and has a maximum temperature of +105°C. M16878/4 and M16878/6, however, feature PTFE and have maximum temperature ratings of +200°C. This makes these slants more suitable for high-temperature applications. However, the Type E slant is rated at 600V whereas the Type ET slant is rated at 250V.

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M16878 Part Breakdown

Like many other Mil-Spec cables, M16878 hook-up wire can be identified by the letters in its part number. Each letter and number in a part number represents a characteristic. If you learn what they are, you can understand a lot about a cable's construction by its name.

  • Part Identification Number (PIN) and Specification Sheet Number: Each part number begins with M16878, showing that the part complies with the MIL-W-16878 military specification. The number after the slash indicates the spec sheet number. This will identify the conductor coating (tinned, silver-coated, etc.), insulation material (PVC, PTFE, XLPO, etc.), and temperature and voltage ratings.
  • Conductor Material: The letter following the spec sheet number identifies the conductor material to be used. B stands for coated copper. C represents coated copper-clad steel (C.C. Steel) and D is coated high-strength copper alloy (H.S.C.A.). All of the M16878 conductors are coated.
  • Conductor Size: After the conductor material, the next letter in the sequence represents the conductor size in AWG. A is equal to 32 AWG, B equals 30 AWG, C is 28 AWG, and so forth.
  • Conductor Stranding: This letter designates the number of strands making up the conductor. It ranges from 1 strand (A) to 2109 strands (W).
  • Insulation Color Code: There can be up to three digits in this position at the end of the part number. The first digit tells you the color of the insulation. The optional second and third digits identify the colors of any stripes or bands.

M16878/4BBA-0 Type E Wire Breakdown

  • M16878/4: Meets the MIL-W-16878 Mil-Spec. Specifies the silver-coated conductor, PTFE insulation, and 0.010" nominal wall thickness. Rated at +200°C and 600 Volts. Also meets NEMA HP3 Type E specifications.
  • B: coated copper conductor
  • B: 30 AWG conductor size
  • A: solid conductor (single strand)
  • -0: indicates the PTFE insulation is black

From PVC to PTFE, Type ET to Type K, M16878 has varying constructions. Being able to interpret an M16878 part number helps you know what it consists of without opening a spec sheet. To learn more about the M16878 hook-up wire, view our full catalog or contact us today.