Engineers and developers know that getting even the smallest details correct is vital to a product’s success. After all, a system is only as good as its weakest link. For this reason, custom designed cable assemblies make a lot of sense. If a cable assembly fails, so does the product. Cable jackets help protect cable assemblies from destructive elements. One of the most common materials for these assemblies is polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC.
There are many varieties of PVC, which means temperature properties, pliability and electrical properties will fluctuate. Here are some things to consider when determining if PVC is right for your application.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
PVC is the go-to choice for cable assembly jacketing because it has an impressive combination of characteristics that make it durable and resistant to many environmental factors. PVC is also one of the most affordable materials for cable jacketing, making it as practical as it is economical. When gauging whether a material is right for your application, always consider the following characteristics:
PVC performs well under moderate mechanical stress. Because flex life is affected by temperature, it’s also worth discussing performance under heat and cold. PVC’s standard temperature range is between -20⁰C to 80⁰C. Premium PVC material will maintain its integrity between -55⁰C to 105⁰C. In other words, PVC generally will perform well in high and low temperatures.
PVC is middle of the road, with satisfactory resistances to:
- Acids and alkalis
- Oil and chemicals
- UV exposure
While PVC does not do well in high-abrasion applications, it is impervious, which contributes to a high IP rating (up to IP69K).
Thanks to the varieties of PVC, this jacketing material is highly customizable, including its appearance. Order in a matte or glossy finish to match the appearance of your system.
National Electrical Code (NEC) Ratings
PVC jacketing offers two ratings issued by the NEC: CM/CMG (communications cable for general purpose use, and CRM (suitable for use in a riser application).
It’s important to note that PVC produces a byproduct — hydrochloric acid (HCI). In a situation where flames are present, this could produce dangerous gases that are toxic to humans and corrosive to surrounding equipment. PVC also is not suitable for high-voltage applications.
PVC is considered a general purpose material that excels in outdoor, wash-down or low-voltage applications. The industries most likely to use PVC include:
- Production and assembly lines
- Food and beverage
- OEM markets
- Application wiring
PVC overmolding is a great option if you’re running on a tight budget and you have a general low-voltage application that requires decent durability, water resistance and flexibility. However, it is always advisable to seek a professional opinion before committing to a cable assembly or connector design. A connector and cable assembly expert has years of experience fitting the right interconnect solution with a wide range of applications.