A guide to cable ties
What are cable ties used for?
Also known as zip ties, cable ties are 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.
Who invented cable ties?
Scottish-born Maurus C. Logan, who worked at Thomas & Betts, invented cable ties in 1958. 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.
In our article, we'll look at the different types of cable ties, common materials and their applications:
There are many different types 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.
|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
Materials play a large role in determining which solution is right for your application. You'll find durable cable ties in these materials:
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.
Nylon standard cable ties, releasable
|Black UV stabilized||
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.
Low density polyethylene (LDPE)
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.
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.
Learn more about the tensile strength of cable ties in our expert guide.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Learn more about cable clamps in our guide, How to choose the right cable clamp.
Download free CADs and try before you buy
Free CADs are available for most solutions, which you can download. You can also request free samples to make sure you’ve chosen exactly what you need. You might find The ultimate guide to cable management helpful. If you’re not quite sure which solution will work best for your application, our experts are always happy to advise you.
Email us at email@example.com or speak to one of our experts for further information on the ideal solution for your application 800-847-0486.