Braided Wire Harness: The Ultimate Guide on Braided cable sleeve

Are you working on a project requiring a braided wire harness? It’s understandable with so many braided wire harness options. Here’s some information to help you make a more informed decision.

What are braided cable sleeves?

Often referred to as a protection sleeve, a braided cable sleeve serves as a cable protector and organizer. 

Braided sleeves offer an open weave. Unlike typical cable protection options made of smooth and unbroken metal or plastic, an open weave has several advantages, such as quicker moisture evaporation, easier heat dissipation, maximum flexibility, and easier inspection in case of suspected damage. Also, braided sleeves provide better durability and dependability. 

All in all,  their unique design allows for special functions like fire prevention. Therefore, they offer exceptional protection for wires exposed to extreme industrial environments.

Braided cable color options

Caption: Braided cable color options

Benefits of Using Braided Cable Sleeves

They have proven advantageous, especially for commercial and industrial applications.

Flexibility: 

As previously mentioned, braided sleeves provide superior flexibility compared to other alternatives like metal conduits. For example, braided sleeves can fit through compact spaces, change to different sizes and shapes, and find their way around complex equipment designs.

Constriction Around Irregular Shapes: 

Braided sleeves can constrict around irregular cable shapes thanks to their flexibility. That way, they provide protection and cushioning without creating space that could allow the collection of moisture. 

Better Organization: 

Braided sleeves group numerous wires in a compact and neat sheath, making the design more appealing. In addition, braided sleeves enable quicker identification of specific wires. 

Damage Resistance: 

Their strong design enables them to withstand increased mechanical stress, abrasion, and cuts.

Extra Cushioning: 

Braided sleeves have some extra cushioning in their design to protect the wires from shock damage, especially in cases where heavy impact and countless vibrations are unavoidable.

Moisture Draining:

Water can constrict around the cables. The open-end weave allows for easy slip-through of water, preventing moisture damage.

Effective Heat Transfer: 

Their open weave design also enables heat transfer. Any built-up heat around the cables can easily dissipate, preventing potential issues or electrical fires.

Expansion capabilities: 

Interestingly, braided wire harnesses have remarkable expansion capabilities, which come in handy, especially for large-sized cables that would not ideally fit in a more rigid form of protection.

Materials Used in Braided Cable Sleeves

You have several material options for braided sleeves.

Nylon

The most common material used in braided sleeves is nylon. That’s especially because of its flexibility and lightness. Such capabilities allow for easier installation and adjustment for specific needs and requirements, such as the automotive wiring harness industry.

Also, nylon sleeves can easily conform to various shapes and sizes, offering complete protection in cases with wires of different shadows or sizes.

Moreover, nylon is very effective at preventing the accumulation of moisture. 

Further, nylon sleeves are suitable for automotive applications and cable assemblies as they offer abrasion resistance where cables repeatedly undergo increased tear and wear.

Since nylon protects from various environmental factors, it’s an industry favorite. However, it’s important to note that nylon is less stable when exposed to high temperatures and has limited UV radiation, corrosion, and chemical resistance than other options.

Polyester

The protection is exceptional. 

It’s very flexible and can expand almost three times the original size. Thus, it allows for close fitting around irregular-shaped and oversized cables.

Additionally, polyester braided sleeves offer exquisite abrasion resistance.

Also, extreme resistance to high temperatures and corrosion makes polyester an industry-favorite material, especially for automotive and electronics applications. 

However, polyester sleeves exhibit lower stability under immensely extreme temperatures and limited UV and chemical resistance.

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

Polyethylene terephthalate is a category of polyester that offers flexibility and is lightweight, like nylon. 

PET sleeves are easy to install as they easily adapt to various shapes to serve various purposes.

Also, PET has extreme fluid and water resistance. It’s an ideal option for applications that subject cables to automotive fluids (engine fluids and gas) and cleaning chemicals. 

Further, because the material has remarkable resistance to extreme temperatures, impact, UV light, and abrasion, PET sleeves help ease the strain on stretched cables, averting any breaking or cracking. Hence, PET sleeves can increase the lifespan of the cables.

Moreover, PET is unique for its exceptional high expansion rate of about three times the original size. This quality allows it to fit over cables with irregular shapes easily. 

Because Polyethylene terephthalate allows you various options, it’s best to explore your choices to ensure you find the best fit for the task.

Polyphenylene Sulfide (PPS) Monofilaments

Polyphenylene sulfide monofilaments are among the lightest braided sleeves. However, this should not deter you from using them, as PPS can withstand chemicals and solvents very well. It’s inert to acids, fuels, steam, and strong bases, making it the ideal material for applications involving exposure to such substances. 

Also, PPS is flame-resistant.

Additionally, PPS is ideal for specific applications, such as aerospace and telecommunications industries, because it’s moisture and chemical resistant and can withstand high temperatures. 

On the downside, PPS has lower flexibility capabilities and provides limited corrosion resistance and UV light protection.

Nomex

It is another lightweight material. 

It’s also very expandable and has heat and flame resistance. It has a notably higher melting point.

This material also protects against moisture, chemicals, abrasion, radiation (gamma, beta, and X-rays), and solvents. It offers resistance against various acids. 

However, Nomex has lower flexibility capabilities and offers limited UV light protection and corrosion resistance.

Where to Use Braided Cable Sleeves

Some industries using braided sleeves include:

Marine: 

Interestingly, braided sleeves are popular in the marine industry thanks to their exemplary performance in water and most fluids. These industries use them primarily in control panels, vessel engines, and switchboards. 

Automotive: 

Because of their exceptional resistance capabilities against abrasion and engine fluids, braided sleeves have wide use in the automotive industry, primarily around the vehicle’s electronic system.

Military: 

Military applications often expose cables to harsh environmental conditions, making braided sleeves an excellent solution. They use them primarily in transport vehicles.

Robotics

The automation and robotics industry requires precision and flexibility; hence braided sleeves are the first choice.

Manufacturing: 

Manufacturing equipment is often exposed to increased operational stress and harsh conditions. Braided sleeves are ideal for such situations because of their durability, expandability, and high resistance to several factors.

Power Generation: 

The power generation industry heavily relies on properly functioning cables. Braided sleeves offer a great solution here as they provide flexibility and protection from UV light, moisture, heat, wind, and dust,  especially in outdoor applications.

Rail Transportation: 

The rail transportation industry utilizes braided sleeves to protect cables hanging from the undercarriages constantly exposed to vibrations, harsh element conditions,  abrasion, and high temperatures.

Mining and Heavy Construction: 

The equipment and machinery used in mining and construction are constantly exposed to dust, extreme temperatures, UV radiation, fluids, chemicals, moisture, vibrations, and collision. Hence the use of braided sleeves, as they resist such factors. 

Different Types of Braided Sleeving

Below are different types of braided sleeving.

General-Purpose Sleeving

For projects where the main concerns are durability and easy application, general-purpose sleeving is an excellent solution. This method is easily adaptable because of its expandability and side entry, ensuring the integrity needed for resistance and durability. 

Additionally, this sleeving’s expanding capabilities simplify the application since the sliding cables through the sleeving is simple and efficient. Further, the sleeving can contract, enabling cohesive wire harnesses, despite any inconsistencies in the size of cables. 

You might opt for tight weave options if you want increased abrasion resistance. For situations where disrupting the wire of the hose connection is out of the question, you could opt for side entry sleeving. And for reapplication or installation processes, wrap-around sleeving will do the trick.

Heavy Duty Sleeving

Heavy-duty sleeving offers excellent protection, which is necessary for battling extremely rigorous conditions. This sleeve option is highly cut and capable of resisting abrasion and heat, ensuring that it does not melt, burn, or support combustion. 

Also, heavy-duty sleeves are flexible while maintaining the integrity needed to protect components exposed to a harsh environment adequately. For example, this braided sleeving type can resist bases, fuels, acids, solvents, and salt, preventing any compromises in the hose functions. Additionally, it’s capable of deflecting and containing hose ruptures.

Braided Metal Sleeving

With braided metal sleeving, you get abrasion and cut resistance. Such properties make this sleeving ideal for high-intensity weather, grounding solutions, and where temperature resistance is necessary. 

Metal Braided Sleeve

Caption: Metal Braided Sleeve

Additionally, metal sleeving has exceptional durability and offers RFI, EFI, ESD, and UV resistance. And some have germicidal and antimicrobial properties. Further, braided metal sleeving is flexible, uniquely functional, aesthetically pleasing, and durable, making it ideal for outdoor, aerospace, and automotive applications. 

Remember, it’s best to use virtually indestructible sleeving options, such as stainless steel sleeves, for more demanding projects. Doing so ensures that all the exposed wires are safely tucked in and the project remains rust-free and aesthetically pleasing.

Flame Retardant Sleeving

Flame-retardant sleeving offers a similar solution to a general-purpose one, plus the added benefit of flame prevention. This added property is ideal for automotive, engineering, electrical, and several applications vulnerable to the threat of fire damage. Flame-retardant sleeving mitigates the threat of a flame sparking.

Advanced Engineering Sleeving

It offers the most technologically advanced materials with capabilities that satisfy the most challenging applications while remaining lightweight and pliable.

Also, it has moisture, chemical, abrasion, and temperature resistance and easy application and bacterial growth resistance.

High-Temperature Sleeving

As the name suggests, high-temperature sleeving is highly resistant to extreme temperatures. It not only can withstand extremely high temperatures but also low temperatures, resisting common solvents and chemicals. 

Installing it is a straightforward process, making it ideal for automotive, engineering, and aerospace applications. High-temperature sleeving contains a silica and fiberglass composition that ensures your cables remain cool in temperatures up to 20000F.

Specialty Sleeving

With specialty sleeving, you can handle very specific braided sleeving tasks. It offers options that are easy to edit out of video production, plus noise reduction. 

Also, it’s remarkably reflective. Even bright white comes nowhere close, as specialty sleeving is almost 1,500 times more reflective. Additionally, its sleeving is adequately slim, an added advantage for micro-optics

Further, specialty sleeving makes wires and cables less vulnerable without affecting the project.

Automotive Sleeving

If you’re searching for something with adequate temperature and abrasion resistance required to withstand high-performance automotive conditions, look no further than automotive sleeving. 

That’s because automotive sleeving offers noise reduction, abrasion and temperature resistance, penetration protection, and nonconductivity. 

Choosing the Correct Cable Sleeve Size

For sleeves to serve their purpose properly, they must be the correct size. Below are steps to guide you in picking the right size.

  1. First, measure the diameter of the cable. 
  2. Next, determine the fit. You could pick between a snug and loose fit. Remember that a loose fit allows for flexibility, while a snug fit gives extra cushioning.
  3. After that, you’ll need to determine your sleeve diameter. If you opt for a loose fit, you’ll need a diameter larger than the cable diameter. On the other hand, the diameter should be smaller than the cable diameter for a snug fit.
  4. Lastly, follow up by adding a bit of length for the sleeve because they contract when stretched in diameter. A few extra millimeters should do the trick.

Managing Braided Cable Sleeve Ends 

When using braided sleeves, you must maintain your sleeve frequently to avoid them unraveling at work. To manage the ends, you’ll have to terminate them using one of the following methods:

  • You could use tape because it’s a cost-effective and efficient method of managing sleeve ends. You’ll need to tightly enclose the ends once you’ve inserted the cable wrap. For aesthetic purposes, you might choose matching tape and braid sleeve color. However, as much as tape provides an economical and simple way to manage sleeve ends, removing the tape is often difficult. You cannot recycle.
  • Another quick and effective method of managing sleeve ends is using cable warps. Cable wraps neatly slide onto the sleeve ends, tightly securing them. Additionally, cable wraps easily come off, and you can reuse them. 
  • The final method is using heat-shrinking tubing. This method is more secure but takes time to apply properly. You’ll need to slide the plastic tubing through the cable and apply heat via a heat gun or blow torch. The most common application is in aviation and automotive applications.

Braided Loom Vs. Convoluted Tubing

Convoluted tubing is another popular option. The two technologies both give you pros and cons.

Pros

Braided Technology

  • When you pass the wire harness through the looming machine, you wrap it in braided PVC-coated nylon that ensures flexible protection from vibrations and heat.
  • With copper loom options, the harness is further protected from electromagnetic interference.
  • A braided loom allows the passage of moisture into the machine, especially when it’s exposed to freezing conditions.
  • Nylon is directly braided into the wire harness, creating a clean look free of extra zip ties or tape.
  • Braided technology offers a wide variety of colors that add to the appeal and uniqueness of your brand. If black is your preferred choice, you could opt for tracers that are different colored strands woven into the braid. Tracers help the OEM determine the wire harness supplier and the color code the harness applies.
  • Braided loom increases the lifespan of your harness by providing tightly bound assemblies, offering 100% loading, reducing deterioration and insulation wear, and significantly reducing wire-to-wire movement. Tightly bound assemblies avert the entry of abrasive materials, avoiding damage to the wire insulation. Also, to prevent any harm from moisture to the insulated wires, the braided harness has small holes or openings that enable air and moisture to pass through rather than accumulate. Additionally, the air spaces of the braided wire harness assembly provide improved heat resistance, increasing the lifespan of your harness. Braided harness protection typically lasts 10 to 13 years.

Convoluted Tubing

  • Convoluted tubing offers various plastic options with varying heat and chemical ratings.
  • Convoluted tubing is liquid-tight and capable of accommodating a variety of connector backshells.
  • The various fittings available for various branch configurations maintain the liquid-tight seal.
  • With convoluted tubing, you have a wide array of diameters that enable flexibility of the harness. Also, colored tubing is an option to fit your brand and aesthetic specifications.

Cons

Braided Technology

  • You’ll need to tape the wires together neatly while separating the different branches. 
  • You require a machine capable of handling the wire harness size, which could be labor-intensive. In addition, the laborers must take frequent breaks to avoid neck, shoulder, and back strain. 
  • The equipment poses a noise pollution threat that requires workers to wear headgear for protection.

Convoluted Tubing

  • Covering the harness with convoluted tubing allows the tubing some 20 to 30% free airspace. The free airspace ensures there’s room for wires to move around during vibrations from the equipment moving around. However, it also accumulates dirt and particles, leading to potential damage. Over time the deterioration of the tubing could expose the conductor, resulting in electrical failure. Also, the small airspace leaves minimal room for breathability, allowing engine fluids to accumulate, which could cause erosion of the tubing and insulation in the long run. 
  • Convoluted tubing doesn’t provide thermal protection, especially in extremely high or low temperatures, which could lead to the failure of the harness protective layer. It’s no wonder convoluted tubing protection typically lasts two to four years.
  • You’ll have to fish the harness through the tubing and fittings, which could prove problematic if the design is complex. Further, it would help if you used fittings at branch intersections, zip ties, or electrical tape to secure the tubing since every branch needs a separate piece. 
  • Similar to the braided technology, you’ll need to use tape to neatly group the wires in different branches before attempting to fish the harness through the tubing.
Convoluted tubing

Caption: Convoluted tubing

Conclusion: 

Braided cable sleeves protect cables and wires used for industrial purposes from especially heat, corrosion, chemicals, abrasion, electromechanical waves, and moisture. And there’s a wide range of options available. These sleeves vary in size and material type to cater to all kinds of use, general to industrial. For all your cable assembly inquiries and needs, feel free to contact Cloom Tech, and our team of professionals will handle the task. 

Hey, I am John, General manager of Cloom and OurPCB.

I am a responsible, intelligent and experienced business professional with an extensive background in the electronics industry.

Reach me at [email protected] to get a quote for your projects.

Get A QUICK QUOTE

Fill in your details and we’ll get back to you in 24 Hours.

Get A QUICK QUOTE

Fill in your details and we’ll get back to you in 24 Hours.