Braided Wire Harness: An Ultimate Guide for Securing Cables

FACTS CHECKED BY  Jose George​

Wire harnesses on heavy-duty equipment undergo a lot of stress daily, and looking for dependable protection is the only option. Such options are braided cable sleeves and convoluted tubing. But today, we will learn about the braided wire harness only.

Custom Wiring Harness from Wiringo
Custom Wiring Harness from Wiringo

What is a Braided Wire Harness?

The wiring harness coved with braided sleeves is braided wire harnesses.

Braided cable sleeves work as cable organizers or protectors; thus, you can also call them wire protection sleeves. Often, these sleeves have interwoven plastic fibers (either polyester or any other plastic), but braided metal sleeves are also very common.

These sleeves protect cables and wires against abrasion, corrosion, moisture, heat, chemicals, and electromechanical waves. 

plastic sleeving for wires

Image: plastic sleeving for wires

Types of braided cable sleeves

As the braided sleeves have different constructions, it serves multiple advantages. 

Split braided wire sleeve

Split braided wire sleeves have a cut along their length and close automatically after installation. Thus, you can call them self-closing braided sleeves. These lightweight sleeves offer abrasion resistance. You can use them in pre-existing cable harnesses, which you cannot disassemble. These sleeves comprise polyester and provide easy access to wire bundles inside.

Split braided wire sleeves

Caption: Split braided wire sleeves

Expandable Braided Sleeving

These sleeves comprise polyester and are very easy to install. Due to their open weave construction, they allow heat and moisture to pass through. As they are expandable, you can put multiple wires into them and still get desired flexibility. You can also find polyphenylene expandable sleeves. However, these are more suitable cable assemblies used in high temperatures. They have high chemical resistance and less moisture stability.

Expandable sleeves

Caption: Expandable sleeves

Fiberglass sleeving

The fiberglass braided sleeving is more durable as they are made of fiberglass braiding material such as Nomex. You can use this high-temperature cable sleeve in several high-performance applications. Due to their high thermal stability, you can also call them thermal protection sleeves. 

Fiberglass braided sleeving

Caption: Fiberglass braided sleeving

What materials are used in the braided cable sleeves?

Several plastics help in the construction of these braided sleeves. Here is a list of different materials with their pros and cons.

Nylon Sleeves

Braided nylon sleeving is a monofilament sleeving. 

As nylon is very light and flexible, nylon sleeves are easy to install and adjust based on the machine’s requirements and operational needs. 

Further, these sleeves can easily mold into any shape and size; thus, you can protect cables that differ in shape and size. 

Nylon sleeves are suitable for the automotive industry due to their highly flexible nature and abrasion resistance properties as automotive wire assemblies undergo extreme wear and tear.

Another advantage of the nylon sleeve is its effectiveness in rebuffing moisture. Thus, it is common in industries that need the protection of cables from water damage. 

Some drawbacks of nylon sleeves are their less stability in high temperatures and their limited resistance against corrosion, chemicals, and Ultraviolet radiations.

Polyester Sleeves

As the name clears, these sleeves have polyester fibers. 

This cable sleeving has excellent abrasion resistance and offers superior thermal and mechanical protection. 

You can expand it up to three times as it is very flexible and thus can fit any oversized or irregular-shaped cables. 

Another benefit of these sleeves is their excellent insulation properties. 

Like Nylon sleeves, they are also less stable at high temperatures and show limited resistance to chemicals and Ultraviolet radiations. 

You can use polyester cable sleeving in various industrial applications like automotive and electronics. 

PET or Polyethylene Terephthalate Sleeves

It is a particular polyester type and lightweight and flexible material, just like nylon. Thus, you can install PET sleeves very easily. 

One significant advantage of polyethylene sleeves is their superior water or fluid resistance. As a result, they are fit for applications exposed to automotive fluids and chemicals like engine fluids or gasoline. 

Further, they also show high resistance to UV rays, high temperatures, and abrasion.

These cables also ensure a long life for cables as they relieve any strain on the cables and prevent breakages and cracks from occurring.

A unique feature of polyethylene is its high expanding potential. You can expand it up to three times its original diameter; thus, it can easily fit over oversized and irregular-shaped cables.  Further, they also quickly adapt to the different shapes and sizes of cables.

Like nylon sleeves, these sleeves are also suitable for various challenging applications as they offer protection against harsh environmental stressors. 

PET sleeves are available in several varieties. Thus you need to pick one that is fit for your application. 

Polyphenylene Sulfide Monofilament or PPS Sleeves

PPS is unbelievably light, even much more than others. 

These sleeves perform exceptionally well in chemicals and solvents and are thus suitable for applications requiring high flame resistance and high-temperature stability. As a result, PPS sleeves are standard in sensitive applications such as aerospace or telecommunication industries. 

Further, due to their inert nature towards strong bases, acids, steam, and fuels, you can also use them in applications having these exposures. 

Its drawbacks include its less flexible nature and limited resistance to UV rays and corrosion.

Nomex Sleeves

These highly expandable and lightweight sleeves are fit for applications requiring heat and flame resistance due to their high melting point

Also, these sleeves offer excellent protection against moisture, solvents, chemicals, and abrasion.

Nomex offers resistance to different acids and radiations such as x-rays, gamma rays, and beta rays. 

However, its resistance against corrosion and UV rays is lesser than others and has limited flexibility.

Benefits of Braided Cable Sleeves

Compared to metal conduits, convoluted tubing, and other covers,  they offer several advantages to industrial and commercial applications.

Flexibility 

You can easily use them in tight spaces, fit them in oversized or irregularly shaped cables and squeeze them into different equipment configurations. 

Improved cable organization

With these sleeves, you can collect an extensive mesh of wires and cables into a compact, neat and clean sheath, giving it a more professional look. Further, the better organization helps you quickly identify and sort cables when needed.

Damage protection 

They protect cables from cuts and abrasions. Further, due to their sturdy construction, they can withstand several physical and environmental stresses.

Allows moisture drainage

Braided sleeves have open weave construction, and thus they enable easy passage for draining moisture. As a result, there is no moisture collection near and around cables which may otherwise lead to cable damage or short circuits over time.

Better cushioning

A sturdy and tight covering of braided sleeves over cable and wires offers extra cushion to protect against shock. This feature becomes important when cables and wires undergo heavy impacts and vibrations in some applications. 

Better heat transfer

Due to their open weave construction, braided sleeves offer better heat transfer. When heat collects around wires and cables, it quickly dispels from the loose weaves of the sleeves. As a result, cables and wires remain protected against fires and electrical issues.

Shrink to irregular shapes

They can easily constrict over deformed or irregular-shaped cables. With this, they cover these cables adequately and provide cushioning.

Expandable nature

Due to extensive flexibility in some braided sleeves, they can incorporate even large cables. Even the jumbo cables can fit into these sleeves when their rigid cable protection fails.

Applications of Braided Cable Sleeves

You can use braided cable sleeving in various industrial and commercial applications. 

Marine

Marine and other offshore applications require braided sleeves as they can perform better in the presence of water and other fluids. You will commonly find them in control panels, switchboards, and vessel engines.

Automotive

Braided sleeves perform exceptionally well in the presence of engine fluids and against abrasion. Thus, they are a preferred choice in the automotive industry, including hybrid vehicles. You can find them in vehicle electronics and engines. 

Military

As braided sleeving shows stability in extreme physical and environmental stressors, they are common in military applications. You will find them in transport vehicles.

Robotics

In the robotics and automation industry, there is a high requirement for precise motion features. As a result, you need flexible cables and wire protection. With braided cable sleeves, cables and wires get extreme flexibility and resistance to withstand conditions that can damage sensitive products.

Rail transportation

Cables hanging down from the undercarriages of rail cars face extreme vibrations, abrasions, wind, and rain. When cables remain protected under braided sleeves, they can quickly drain moisture and stay protected. Also, these sleeves protect them from environmental and mechanical damage.

Mining and heavy construction

Various equipment and machines in the mining and heavy construction industry face extreme temperatures, chemicals, UV radiations, moisture, and chemicals. Braided cable sleeves provide comprehensive protection against all these environmental conditions and thus keep the cables and wires and their corresponding equipment safe.

Manufacturing 

The products have to undergo operational stresses in the manufacturing industry due to machine tools. Braided sleeves make the cable highly durable and expandable, making them suitable for heavy-duty equipment.

Power generation

Several power plants and renewable energy industries need reliable cable systems. In these industries, cables also face heat, moisture, wind, dust, UV radiation, and fire; thus, braided sleeve protection becomes all more important here.

Managing Braided Cable Sleeves

You have to manage the braided sleeves to prevent their unraveling. You have to terminate their ends effectively, which is possible through the following methods.

Electrical Tape

Electrical tapes are the most effective and cost-efficient method to manage cable sleeves. After inserting the cables into the sleeves, tightly wrap the ends of the sleeves with electrical tape. Choose the same tape color as the sleeve color. Removing tape becomes an issue as they are tough to remove.

Cable wraps

Cable wraps are another effective way to secure cable sleeves. Wraps are mainly Velcro wraps that can slip onto the sleeves’ ends to hold them in place. They are easier to remove and can be reused.

Heat-Shrink Tubing

It is the most secure way to manage the sleeves. Slide the tubing down the cable length and apply the heat with a heat gun or blow torch. This method is suitable for the automobile and aviation industry.

How to Determine the Correct Size of the Cable Sleeve

Braided cable sleeves are effective and protective only if you pick the correct size. 

  • First, measure the cable diameter you want to cover with the cable sleeve. Try to take a precise measurement.
  • Secondly, decide what type of fitting you prefer for cable. A tight fit offers better cushioning, while a loose fit allows greater flexibility. 
  • Choose a sleeve slighter smaller than the cable if you want a snug fit. Conversely, pick a slightly oversized diameter of sleeves if you want a loose fit.
  • Finally, add an extra length to the sleeve. When you expand the sleeve, it can contract from its length. So, calculating sleeve length takes a few millimeters more than what you figured.

Conclusion

Industrial environments are pretty challenging; thus, you must pick braided sleeves that are versatile and durable. At Cloom, you can get highly reliable and robust cable assemblies with types of sleeves. Contact us, and our team of professionals will guide you through all the products and help you choose one that fits your application the best.

Get a free Cable Assembly Quote.