When shopping for the right connector and cable assembly, many seemingly small details about the product will affect performance, reliability and life span. One such feature is braided wire.
What is braided wire?
Braided wire is a type of shielding that gets built into a cable for two reasons:
- To protect the cable from electromagnetic interference (EMI).
- To increase the flex life and mechanical strength of a cable.
The shielding looks just as you would imagine; several fine wires tightly woven into a meshed tubular formation that wraps around a conductor. Braided wire tubing can also be flattened to achieve a specific width. Overtop is a thin insulating outer layer that covers and protects the braided wire and the internal components of the cable.
The most common materials used for braided wire include tinned copper and silver-plated copper. Customizations are also available for specialized applications, including:
- Nickel-plated copper
- Gold-plated copper
- Pure silver
- Pure nickel
- Gold alloys
Why is braided wire important?
From smartphones and radio waves to natural sunlight, EMI is all around us. Without proper shielding, EMI can interrupt signal strength, causing data loss or complete electrical failure. Interwoven metallic wires can deflect electromagnetic frequencies to protect cable signal strength and reliability, especially low- to medium-frequencies. Additionally, the lattice design of braided wire shielding reinforces the strength of a cable by providing enough flexibility to withstand frequent pulling and bending. Braided wire also creates a low-resistance ground path ideal for short-runs.
What’s the difference between braided wire and foil shielding?
Foil shielding is a metallic tape that can be used as an alternative to braided wire. This type of shielding offers excellent protection against high frequencies and costs less than braided shielding, but without the reinforcement of a lattice formation, metallic tapes tend to fold, buckle, or kink if used in demanding applications. In other words, braided wire is more versatile, protecting a cable from both mechanical stress and EMI. However, the added strength does come at a higher cost.
Despite the many advantages of braided wire shielding, it isn’t always the best fit for your application. Braided wire only provides around 70-90% coverage and adds bulk to the cable design, which may not be ideal for applications that deal with tight spaces or require 100% coverage. If you need shielded cable but aren’t quite sure which product to choose — don’t guess. The consequences of selecting the wrong product are not worth the risk. Instead, contact iCONN Systems for expert guidance and recommendations. Together, we will outfit your product with the exact protections needed to be successful.
For more information on EMI/RFI shielding, download our free whitepaper!