Fit To Be Tied: There is a cable tie for every situation, according to industry experts

By Katie Kuehner-Hebert | Mar 15, 2024
Fit to Be Tied: There's a Cable Tie for Every Situation, Experts Say

Not all cable ties fit every application. Many factors go into choosing the correct cable tie for the job.




Not all cable ties fit every application. Many factors go into choosing the correct cable tie for the job.

3M: communicating necessary data

The best cable ties are those that the customer can determine best meet the requirements of their applications, said Angel Perez, U.S. application engineer for 3M’s electrical markets division, Austin, Texas.

“3M tests our products to meet common industry standards, following construction codes as a guide to prove the capabilities and performance of our products,” Perez said.

UL 62275 contains standard classification numbers to help the user identify material type and properties, he said. These include Type 1, 2, 2S, 11, 21 and 21S. Nylon 6/6 is the most common cable tie material used in the electrical industry.

The cable tie classification type, such as 2S and 21S, will include additional qualifications that help the customer determine if the cable tie can be used in applications such as primary support for flexible conduit, flexible tubing or cable.

A good cable tie should provide enough information about the four challenges cable ties face: mechanical, thermal, environmental and fire effects.
— Angel Perez, 3M


“Some classifications are not recognized in some countries,” Perez said. “A good cable tie should provide enough information in the data sheet about the four different challenges the cable ties need to face. Those are mechanical, thermal, environmental and fire effects.”

Cable tie color is one indicator of application location, he said. Black pigment cable ties contain an additive that delivers better UV resistance performance and thus are more commonly used in outdoor applications. Natural color ties are better for indoor applications. Red cable ties are often used for fire and emergency installations.

If the application requirement includes vibration resistance and stronger security, a different cable tie locking mechanism can be used, such as steel barb or dual locking. To support conduit and cables in building construction, cable ties must be classified as type 2S and 21S.

“Not all cable ties are equal,” Perez said. “The installer should pay attention to descriptions, specifications and important listings on the cable ties to ensure they meet the user’s requirements.”

The important things to evaluate are standard listing for confidence on the quality, meeting code requirements, size for correct bundling, material and color, mechanical strength and environmental resistance to temperature, fluids and UV rays, he said.

“Choosing incorrect cable ties can lead to high replacement costs, including material and labor,” Perez said. 

ABB: extreme conditions

The ability of a cable tie to perform under extreme conditions is vital to applications and installations across many different industries, said Morgan Mansfield, product manager for fastening solutions at ABB Installation Products, Memphis, Tenn.

“If a cable tie fails to provide the proper support, or breaks altogether, serious consequences can occur.”
— Morgan Mansfield, ABB Installation Products


“If a cable tie fails to provide the proper support, or breaks altogether, serious consequences can occur,” Mansfield said. “ABB’s Ty-Rap cable tie was invented in 1958 by Maurus C. Logan, who saw a need and found a way to solve a complex aircraft problem with a simple solution. 

“Aircraft wiring was a cumbersome and detailed job at that time, involving thousands of feet of wire stretched on sheets of 50-foot-long plywood and held in place with wax-coated braided nylon cord. Operators had to wrap the cord around their fingers to tightly pull each knot, which sometimes cut the operators’ fingers until they developed thick calluses or ‘hamburger hands,’” he said. “The Ty-Rap cable tie enables consistent, quick and easy bundling of wires and cables without the need for additional tools or expertise.”

It immediately took off in the aircraft industry, he said. Seeing the functionality and value, Ty-Rap cable ties migrated quickly into other applications and industries such as automotive and appliances.

Over the last 65 years, more than 250 different varieties of Ty-Rap cable ties from ABB have been developed for a broad range of demanding applications and environments. Today, Ty-Rap cable ties are used around the world—and even in space—by customers with the most stringent requirements.

“NASA’s Perseverance Rover touched down on Mars in February 2021 equipped with ABB’s Ty-Rap cable ties made of an advanced fluoropolymer,” Mansfield said. “Previous rovers Curiosity, Spirit and Opportunity also used the ties. Other aerospace applications include airplane landing gear, satellites, space telescopes and aerospace and defense for outstanding chemical, high-energy radiation and heat resistance.”

In the automotive industry, ABB’s Ty-Rap cable ties are used in Formula 1 racing cars, helmets and luxury cars, he said. UV-resistant Ty-Rap cable ties secure and organize wires and cables for MotoGP racing bikes, Superbikes and motorcycles. Trucks, buses, agricultural equipment and electric vehicles also use Ty-Rap high-performance cable ties.

“In response to the needs of customers in food and beverage processing, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and other contamination-­sensitive industries, ABB introduced Ty-Rap TyGenic antimicrobial detectable cable ties, the industry’s first two-piece cable tie that is over 99% effective against a broad spectrum of microorganisms,” Mansfield said.

These cable ties combine antimicrobial properties with three-way detectability to help prevent bacterial growth and ensure cable tie pieces don’t end up in products, reducing contamination risk.

Cruise ships, superyachts and deep-sea equipment use Ty-Rap high-performance cable ties and Ty-Rap low-smoke cable ties for reliable performance, flame resistance and low smoke density when burned, he said.

“In food, beverage and pharmaceutical processing, detection is prevention,” Mansfield said. “Many producers use a combination of detection methods such as vision systems, metal detectors and X-ray technology. Cable ties are found at each stage of processing and handling, and throughout facilities, connecting everything from conveyor belts to system wiring. It’s critical for cable ties to provide this visual and metal detectability.”

Heat-reactive cable ties change color to warn of potentially dangerous high temperatures in equipment, while distinctive, blue-colored cable ties have buoyancy for easy visual detection in batters and liquids, he said.

Southwire: standard and specialty cable ties

Although cable ties appear to be simple fasteners, choosing the best type is not always an easy choice, said Jean-Yves Schneider, product manager for wire management and termination at Southwire Co., Carrollton, Ga. 

There are numerous variations of the types of cable ties designed to optimize costs while providing the best quality and performance to meet a customer’s specific application requirement along with the applicable industry standards, Schneider said.

“Southwire provides an extensive selection of standard and specialty cable ties, enabling us to cater to a diverse range of applications,” he said. “While many of our cable ties are made from high-performing Nylon 6/6 resin, we also offer cable ties made out of alternative materials and additives to provide the best solution to our customers.”

All Southwire cable ties are tested to meet applicable industry standards, such as UL 62275 in the United States and CSA C22.2 No. 62275 in Canada, as most of the company’s cable ties are cULus Listed, plenum-rated and classified as Type 21 or Type or 21S, which have the strictest testing requirements. Additionally, Type 21S are permitted to be used as a primary support for flexible conduit, flexible tubing or cable in accordance with the 2017 NEC.

“Southwire’s standard cable ties, designed for single-use applications, are widely utilized for general bundling and securing in common applications,” Schneider said. “They are available in UV black, suitable for outdoor use due to their UV resistance, and in natural and other colors for indoor applications. Colored cable ties are advantageous for color-coding and tamper-proofing purposes. Furthermore, all our standard cable ties are plenum-rated.”

Southwire’s air handling cable ties are also plenum-rated, in addition to being a distinctive burgundy color for simplified identification after installation, he said. The company’s EZ-OFF cable ties are designed to be removed without a cutting device and can be used for multiple temporary fastening applications such as packaging, lighting and signage and banners.

“Southwire’s all-weather cable ties incorporate a rubber additive, enhancing their ability to maintain moisture and flexibility during installation in subfreezing temperatures.”
— Jean-Yves Schneider, Southwire Co.


“Southwire’s all-weather cable ties incorporate a rubber additive, enhancing their ability to maintain moisture and flexibility during installation in subfreezing temperatures,” Schneider said. “This contrasts with other cable ties, which may become brittle and prone to breakage when installed below 32°F.”

The heat-resistant cable ties are well-suited for demanding applications in harsh and high-temperature environments, including aerospace, railway, automotive and solar applications, thanks to their elevated operating temperature of up to 221°F.

“Southwire’s metal detectable cable ties are specifically designed for use in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries to minimize the risk of contamination,” he said. “These cable ties incorporate a turquoise-colored resin infused with metal particles, facilitating visual detection and identification through metal detectors and X-ray machines.”

The company also offers specialty cable ties such as releasable cable ties for temporary and multi-use purposes and Fir-Tree push mount cable ties for use on panels with predetermined mounting holes.

“Choosing the right cable tie ensures trouble-free installation, long-term performance and reliable results, all while avoiding excessive replacement costs,” Schneider said. “Be on the lookout for our new cable ties launching in 2024!” / salita2010 / Serhii

About The Author

KUEHNER-HEBERT is a freelance writer based in Running Springs, Calif. She has more than three decades of journalism experience. Reach her at [email protected].  





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