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A guide to cable ties

clock 11 minutes | 07 Mar 2022

Bundled wires and cables in server cabinets

What are cable ties used for?

Also known as zip ties, they’re fasteners that bundle your cables and wires together to keep them organized and prevent damage. They come in different sizes, lengths, materials and even colors. The different uses of cable ties vary across industries, but what they all have in common is that they’re the most effective way to manage your cables.

When were zip ties invented?

They’ve been around since 1958. Who invented zip ties? Scottish-born Maurus C. Logan, who worked at Thomas & Betts. He got the idea while touring an aircraft facility, noticing how difficult and complex the job of wiring was. It involved thousands of feet of cabling manually secured with knotted, wax-coated, braided nylon cord, leaving the workers’ hands with deep cuts and callouses. This is an example of a simple invention having a profound effect on lives.

Cable tie types

First, let’s get a picture of the type of cable ties available. The table below is by no means exhaustive, as there are subsets of cable ties within this table. For example, standard cable ties can be weather resistant, which gives them different applications than their cousins’.

Standard cable ties are a fantastic all-rounder, 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, you can get those too.

Type
Application benefits
Standard cable ties Nylon zip ties
Zip-tie locking mechanism – self locks
Usually single use
Available in UV-resistant nylon cable ties and weatherproof cable ties
Available in different colors for color coding
Heat-stabilized nylon cable ties
Heat-resistant cable ties
Ideal for applications where heat is generated
Greater stability properties in harsh environments
Mounting cable ties
Cable tie and mount all in one for fast installation
Available with different mounting options
Available with tension wings
Belt cable ties
Flexible design
Quick release mechanism
Releasable cable ties Releasable 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
Some styles available in different colors
Push mount cable ties Constructed with a mounting device, making additional fixings unnecessary
Adhesive base or affixed with screw
Fast mounting process
More secure fastening
Snaps into pre-drilled holes
Screw mount cable ties Ideal for fastening to either metal or wooden panels
Can be either screwed or bolted down
Marker cable ties Write-on zip ties – essentially a standard cable tie, but with a tag for writing on
Stainless steel cable ties Withstands high temperatures
Radiation, vibration and flame resistant
Heavy duty strap and buckle Industrial zip ties for heavy-duty applications; max tensile strength of 350 lbs
Steel teeth on buckle grip the strap permanently
Buckle is preassembled on one end of the strap
Heavy-duty zip ties for outdoor use
Double headed cable ties Keeps two wire bundles separated
No need for additional cable ties
Adjustable cable straps - hook and loop Use when you need a temporary bond
Can be fastened and released several times
Ideal for fragile cables
Re-useable


Nylon cables ties used to affix wires in a mechanical application

Cable Tie Materials Explained

Materials play a large role in determining which solution is right for your application. You’ll find durable zip ties in these materials:

Nylon Cable Ties - will zip ties melt?

Nylon produces a high-strength zip tie with good thermal and abrasion resistance. It also resists fuels and most chemicals. Nylon 6/6, the grade most often used for cable ties, meets UL94 V-2 flammability ratings and can operate in temperatures as low as -40°F. Typically, a nylon zip-tie melting point is 185°F.

Nylon cable ties can be heat stabilized for continuous or extended exposure to high temperatures of up to 250°F. The manufacturing process can also produce UV stabilized ties for outdoor use. For example, you can have the same cable tie, but manufactured for different applications.

Example:

Nylon standard cable ties, releasable
Outdoor use
Indoor use
Natural
Black UV stabilized

Examples include:

Polypropylene

If you’re looking for chemical resistant cable ties, consider polypropylene (PE). It resists acids, polyhydric alcohols, neutral salts and basic salts, making it a better choice in this instance than nylon. It does have a lower tensile strength than nylon 6/6, but it’s also more flexible. Polypropylene can also stand up to UV exposure.

Just as you can get the same cable tie formulated differently, you can get the same cable tie in different materials. For example, beaded cable ties are available in nylon or polypropylene.

Examples include:

Low density polyethylene - ideal as temporary zip ties

Low density polyethylene (LDPE) has a high-ductile nature and less-than-average tensile strength. As a material for cable ties, it’s not commonly used. However, it stretches and conforms well to surfaces and has excellent chemical resistance to dilute and concentrated acids, alcohols, bases and esters, so it has its uses. For these reasons, it’s often used for ties that are meant to bundle cables temporarily.

Examples include:

Stainless Steel - high-temp zip ties

Stainless steel cable ties provide high tensile strength. They can also stand extremely high temperatures, from –328°F to 1000°F. There are two types of stainless steel used in cable ties: 304 and 316. Type 304 is used for general purposes, with both indoor and outdoor applications. When corrosion is a threat, it’s Type 316 you need.

Examples include:

Electrical technician examining a cable junction box using zip tie cable management

Zip-tie Uses

Now that you understand the difference in materials, let’s look at applications. It also might help you to read Cable management – the design engineer’s application guide

Aerospace

The average passenger airplane wields 124 miles of cables, so excellent cable management is absolutely critical. The types of cable ties needed vary. For small, tight spaces, miniature heat-stabilized cable ties are a must. For hoses and larger cables, heavy duty heat stabilized cable ties are needed. Push mount cable ties also work well for aerospace and it’s best to go with a heat-stabilized option for thermal endurance.

Aerospace: summary
Miniature heat-stabilized cable ties
Push mount cable ties, heat stabilized
Heavy duty heat stabilized cable ties


Automotive

If your cable ties are going under the hood, chemical and heat resistance should be your priority. In addition to standing up to oil, greases and gasoline, your cable ties should also be able to withstand harsh environments.

Consider push mount cable ties made of heat-stabilized nylon 6/6, rated UV94 V-2, and serviceable to 239˚F. Stainless steel cable ties also offer excellent resistant to high temperatures and weathering.

Other cable ties for automotive applications include standard cable ties and screw or adhesive cable tie mounts, and arrow head cable ties.

Automotive: summary
Push mount cable ties
Stainless steel cable ties
Standard cable ties
Arrow head cable ties


Equipment manufacturing

Industrial generator parts and HVAC components vibrate. If your application is indoors, screw mount cable ties are the ideal solution. Fir-tree mount cable ties add additional stability against vibrations, while providing protection against debris ingress.

For outdoor applications, you need cable ties that can stand up to the weather and a range of temperatures. Weather-resistant standard cable ties work well. You’ll need a heat resistant cable, of course. For this, heat-stabilized cable ties, which also perform in extreme cold weather are the ideal complement.

Equipment manufacturing: summary
Screw mount cable ties
Fir-tree mount cable ties
Weather-resistant standard cable ties
Heat-stabilized cable ties


Consumer appliances and electronics

You’re working with limited space and will need cable ties that resist heat. This goes for consumer electronics too. An excellent choice in these conditions is an arrow head cable tie. Simply push it into your pre-drilled hole. Also look at heat stabilized cable ties. These are exceptionally strong with the additional benefit of being cost effective. Vinyl-coated adjustable clamps are actually ties and combine fantastic flexibility with secure mounting.

For temporary bundling of wires on computers, use hook and loop cable ties.

Consumer appliances and electronics: summary
Arrow head cable ties
Heat stabilized cable ties
Vinyl-Coated Adjustable Clamp
Hook and loop cable ties

You can learn more about other components you might need in our Quick guide: industrial components for consumer appliances.

Enclosures and cabinets

An indoor data cabinet can fall victim to cable spaghetti, which happens when cables become one big mess. Standard cable ties, which come in different colors for color coding, can prevent this. Marker cable ties can also prove helpful, allowing you to write identification information on a tag attached to the cable. Beaded cable ties are another option. You can link them together to get your desired length and some are reusable.

For an outdoor utility cabinet or any outdoor cable enclosure, UV resistance is important. Weather-resistant cable ties are an ideal solution. Beaded cable ties can work here too, if they’re UV resistant. For heavy duty applications try strap and buckle ties or stainless steel cable ties.

Indoor enclosures: summary
Standard cable ties
Colored cable ties
Marker cable ties
Beaded cable ties
Outdoor enclosures: summary
Weather-resistant cable ties
Beaded cable ties
Strap and buckle ties
Stainless steel cable ties

You can learn more about other components you might need in our Quick guide: industrial components for outdoor cabinets and Quick guide: industrial components for your indoor cabinet.


Construction and mining

In the construction and mining industries, a range of cable ties are necessary. Some need to stand up to harsh conditions while others need to handle fragile cables – some should even go beyond the call of duty.

For example, you can secure scaffolding netting and sheeting, and even the scaffolding itself, with heavy duty strap and buckle ties, which are perfect for demanding applications. The steel teeth on the buckle grips the strap permanently while the acetal strap has excellent weatherability. Stainless steel cable ties, Type 316, give you corrosion and high temperature resistance. They’re also weather resistant while providing outstanding chemical resistance.

Construction and mining: summary
Extra heavy duty cable ties
Stainless steel cable ties
Heavy duty strap and buckle ties


How to remove zip ties without cutting

Ties are available as single-use and reusable. You can remove zip ties without cutting if they’re single-use, but it will slow down your processes to open them. To open a traditional tie:

Step 1: Stick a pin or even your fingernail into the locking mechanism.

Step 2: Depending on the mechanism, you’ll either push down or pull it away from the tie’s ribs.

Step 3: Slide the tie out.

We advise you not to re-use a single-use tie too many times. The more you open and retie them, the quicker the ribs, or teeth, will wear down. Another issue is the locking mechanism itself. Its grip loosens over time when you push or pull against it multiple times.

Zip tie alternatives

Some cable clamps can work well as replacements. So, too, can cable straps. Instead of rubber cable ties, rubber straps can give you the flexibility you’re after and handle larger bundles.

Download free CADs and try before you buy

Free CADs are available for most solutions, which you can download for free. You can also request free samples to ensure the solutions you’ve chosen are exactly what you need. You might find The ultimate guide to cable management helpful. If you’re not quite sure which product will work best for your application, our experts are always happy to advise you.

Whatever your requirements, you can depend on fast despatch. Request your free samples or download free CADs now.

Questions?

Email us at sales@essentracomponents.com or speak to one of our experts for further information on the ideal solution for your application 800-847-0486.

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