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Published on 2/7/2007

AWC eUpdate Newsletter February 2007

Cable Selection Guide

If you are about to embark on your first mission to purchase cable or even if you have purchased it in the past, you may find the task quite daunting. After all, many cable distributors stock thousands of wire and cable products. Your application may require ribbon cable, but which specific ribbon cable should you buy? Wire and cable choices are important because they take varying requirements into consideration, but with so many choices decision-making can become overwhelming at times.

Do you know what questions to ask your engineers or sales reps? Before beginning a search for any wire or cable product, equip yourself with the right knowledge. Background information combined with basic preparation can give you some command during the buying process and help you uncover the best way to select a cable. In the article "Specifying High-Performance Cables: The Devil Is In The Details," by Alpha Wire Company, they evaluate four main issues to be considered before purchasing cable. They include cable shielding, flexibility, chemical resistance, and temperature range.


When purchasing cable, be sure to explore cable shielding. Shielding helps ensure that the electrical process runs smoothly. An engineer will tell you shielding basically minimizes problems of signal exit or entrance caused by interference. Types offered include braid, foil, spiral, or a combination braid/foil shield. Each type has advantages and disadvantages:

Foil Shields:

  • Uses: CATV, MATV, Video, computer I/O cables
  • Advantages: 100% cable coverage, low weight and low cost
  • Disadvantages: High DC resistance and lower mechanical strength

Braid Shields:

  • Uses: Computers to terminate interconnect for process or control applications
  • Advantages: Great structural integrity, flexibility and flex life
  • Disadvantages: Does not provide full coverage, heavy

Spiral Shield:

  • Uses: Microphone, audio cables and retractile cords
  • Advantages: Great flexibility and flex life
  • Disadvantages: Not effective above audio frequency range

Combination Shields:

  • Uses: Video, CATV, MATV, networking, computer I/O cables
  • Advantages: 100% foil coverage, strong and low resistance
  • Disadvantages: Higher cost than other shields

Chemical Resistance

An engineer will tell you that electrical cables possess various levels of chemical resistance, but there may be more to it. You should know which chemicals could present a potential problem in the entire lifespan of your cable. Also consider that oils and corrosive chemical vapors or liquids could potentially enter into the cable connections. Any type of chemical intrusion could lead to cable failure. You might need to add additional sealing to prevent moisture permeation.


Temperature range is another essential factor in the mix of things. What temperatures will your cable need to withstand in order to be effective? You may find out that a cable possesses all the necessary electrical features required for extreme temperatures, but will it be able to adapt to the physical demands associated with that temperature? These are all factors you need to bear in mind.

Flexibility & Flex

You may find yourself selecting a cable with the proper amount of flexibility and of course this is important. A flexible cable can make installation and troubleshooting much easier. However, did you know that "flexing" is a different issue that needs to be addressed as well? Due to the nature of many manufacturing applications, cables may encounter constant flexing. Particular cables are built better for this condition than others, so you should keep this in the back of your head as well.


There may be more to finding the ideal cable than meets the eye. Don't be intimidated by choices. Cable experts at AWC are always available to help you along with the process. A cable exists for just about every environment and application if you know what to look for. Spend some time asking the right questions and consider every angle.

For more information, please see "Specifying High-Performance Cables: The Devil Is In The Details," by Alpha Wire Company. Alpha Wire offers an intuitive online 'Selection Guide,' a tool engineers might benefit from, that can be found on their website at www.xtraguard.com.



Allied is Still Growing: Please Welcome our Newest Members

Allied Wire and Cable increases its sales team yet again with additional sales assistants and a new account representative.

Steve Moore was recently promoted from Sales Assistant to a Sales Representative. He started at Allied in March 2006 in the warehouse. "I would like to thank the leadership in the sales office and warehouse," said Steve. "To be able to progress and do what you're happy doing is something not all companies cater to. I'm glad to work for one that does and am proud to be part of our dedicated sales team."

Allied also welcomes three new sales assistants, Amy Matta and Ashley Smith, to the Pennsylvania office and sales assistant Rebecca Hughes to the Wisconsin office.

Please see our Key People page for more information on AWC's sales team.



Play Allied Wire & Cable Trivia

Allied Wire Quiz Logo

It's time to play "Allied Wire & Cable Trivia" The first 5 people to correctly match these six members of Allied's staff with their personal fact will receive an Allied Prize Pack overflowing with goodies.

Answers should be emailed to trivia@awcwire.com or faxed to 484-928-6700. Please include your full name, company name, and shipping address along with your answers. Good luck!



Libby, Chris, Susan, Gene and Desiree



  1. Libby Achenbach, Sales
  2. Chris Burke, Sales
  3. Susan Howard, Marketing
  4. Gene Evans, I.T.
  5. Desiree McCarty, Assistant
A: Is a Vegetarian
B: Rides a Motorcycle to work
C: Played Professional Basketball
D: Is Expecting a baby in September
E: Has 1-year old twins

Look for the answers in next month's newsletter!