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A Guide to Cable Ties and Fasteners

Cable ties, often referred to as zip ties, are single use fasteners that help keep cables and wires secured and orderly to prevent damage and limit movement. Cable ties come in a range of sizes, lengths, materials and colours. There are many different applications for cable ties and this can vary from industry to industry, however they are considered an effective method of cable management and wire security.

What are Cable Ties used for?

 

Cable ties, often referred to as zip ties, are single use fasteners that help keep cables and wires secured and orderly to prevent damage and limit movement. Cable ties come in a range of sizes, lengths, materials and colours. There are many different applications for cable ties and this can vary from industry to industry, however they are considered an effective method of cable management and wire security. Standard cable ties are made from a durable material called nylon 66 and function like straps to help keep cables and wiring tidy. Cable ties have many different names which include zip ties, wire ties, zap straps and tie wraps.

The design of a cable tie includes a fixed head which provides the opening for the strap to be pulled through and secured. The strap can be pulled through the head opening until the  fastener is secured tightly to its application. However, once the strap has been threaded, the grips of the tie form a lock which prevents the strap being pulled back through and removed. Depending on the cable thickness, cable ties may require a cutting tool to remove them due to the tensile strength of the plastic.

When were Cable Ties first used?

Cable ties have been utilised since the late 1950s with the aviation industry being the original inspiration due to the problem of bundling the huge lengths of wiring found inside commercial aircrafts. This process involved thousands of feet of cabling which was being manually secured with knotted, wax-coated, braided nylon cord, leaving the workers’ hands with deep cuts and callouses. Since their inception, cable ties have been deployed universally as a method of management for cables, tools, wiring and even car engines. They are also used in areas such as waste management and can be printed with specific text and numbers for clinical or hazardous waste to be tracked and traced during its disposal.

The first cable ties were made from stainless steel, but were then changed to be made from plastic and nylon in the 1970s. The first nylon cable tie had a steel pawl attached, before the first all-nylon cable tie was produced in 1968. This self-locking, one piece cable tie was very similar to the cable ties in present day.

Though stainless steel cable ties are still manufactured, plastic and nylon ties have become more popular thanks to the variety of colours. There are now numerous varieties of cable tie including beaded, releasable, pull tight, parallel entry, and tear-off forms. They’re also available in ladder styles and some can hold ID tags.

Self-fastening and almost indestructible, the design of the cable tie solves a complex problem with a simple technology and is a great product to use as a cable tidy in any environment.

Can Cable Ties be undone once applied?

Believe it or not – yes! Even cable ties that are not designed to be removed can be manipulated if they are applied incorrectly or need to be reused elsewhere! When trying to undo a traditional cable tie, it can be quite simple to undo your original handywork. Just stick or a small pin or thin blade inside the locking mechanism, press down and slide the strap back out.

But bear in mind that single-use cable ties are not designed to be reused, so even though it’s possible to technically undo them and reuse them, the plastic teeth can wear down the more they’re undone and re-tied. Also, manipulating the locking mechanism can damage it, meaning the tie develops a looser grip over time – so refrain from using old ones to tie anything that needs to be tightly secured.

Types of Cable Ties

Standard cable ties are usually a one size fits all but when you need something more specialized, such as heat-proof cable ties, industrial-strength cable ties, or solutions with excellent resistance to UV rays or adverse weather, other options may be more suitable.

Tie TypeSpecification and Application
Standard Cable TiesNylon 66 ties
Self locking mechanism
They’re normally considered as single-use products
Can be purchased in a wide variety of colours and the width of the ties can also vary
UV-resistance and weatherproof features
Stainless Steel TiesWithstands high temperatures
Radiation, vibration and flame resistant
Printed Cable Ties (Marker Ties)Ideal for marking complicated wiring or cable systems that require identifiers to determine what wires are connected to
Allows for tracking and tracing waste bags and providing an audit trail for the disposal process
Releasable TiesReleasable zip ties can be used more than once – also known as re-usable
As adjustable zip ties, they can be opened to add more cables
A releasable cable tie incorporates a lever or button that takes about 20kg of force. Standard colours are white or black nylon, however, some cable ties in different colours are starting to appear on the market, for example, green cable ties for horticultural uses
Heavy Duty TiesIndustrial ties for heavy-duty applications; higher tensile strength
Thick cable
Buckle is preassembled on one end of the strap
Heavy-duty zip ties for outdoor use
More secure fastening
Snaps into pre-drilled holes

Cable Ties Application by Industry:

Automotive:

If your cable ties are going under the hood, chemical and heat resistance should be your priority. In addition to a strong resistance to oil greases and petrol, your cable ties should also have the capability to withstand harsh environments.

Consider our standard cable tie range which is made of heat-stabilized nylon 66, rated UV94 V-2, and serviceable to 239˚F. Stainless steel cable ties can also offer excellent resistant to high temperatures and weathering.

Automotive: recommendations

Standard Cable Ties
Stainless Steel Ties
Releasable Ties
Heavy Duty Cable Ties

Aerospace

The average passenger airplane wields 124 miles of cables, so excellent cable management is essential. For small, tight spaces, small heat stabilised cable ties are ideal solution whereas larger cables may require heavy duty heat stabilized cable ties.

Aerospace: recommendations
Miniature heat-stabilized cable ties
Standard Cable Ties
Heavy duty heat stabilized cable ties

Enclosures and cabinets

An indoor data cabinet can become unruly if proper cable management is not deployed.  Standard cable ties, which are also available in different colours for colour coding wires can help prevent this. Printed cable ties can also prove helpful which can be printed with text or numbering so that complicated wiring systems can be easily identified by their tags.

For an outdoor utility cabinet or any outdoor cable enclosure, stronger requirements may be needed to withstand outdoor environments. We recommend a stronger level of fastener solution such as heavy duty cable ties

Indoor cabinets or enclosures
Standard Cable Ties
Coloured Cable Ties
Printed Cable Ties (Marker Ties)
Outdoor storage and enclosures
Standard Cable Ties
Heavy Duty Cable Ties
Stainless steel cable ties

You can learn more about the industry applications of by reading our article: 7 Industrial Applications for Cable Tie.

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