It's a case of mix and 'un'match for cable compatibility

Can cables be mixed and matched? Apparently not, according to at least one leading manufacturer.

 “According to our experience, the cables from different manufacturers are not compatible – and they are also not designed to be compatible,” says Michael Ibarth at Wampfler. “Even internationally standardised cables can vary in geometry and design that do not allow them to be interchangeable.”

A good example, he says, is the medium voltage cables, where every cable manufacturer has its own design philosophies, even for the optical fibres  – some of them using up to three fibres in one hollow core, others using only two, or perhaps going up to four, obviously not allowing compatibility.

“Then there is the different choice of outer sheathing materials. “Whereas traditionally most of the reeling cables have been built out of rubber, more and more cables nowadays are built of polyurethane – totally different in design, geometry and weight, thus not allowing compatibility.

“Also, looking at the performance of different cables from different manufacturers, one can find a huge variation in performance. Cables that seem to be quite similar in their physical appearance can possibly either fulfil the requirements or rail – depending on case-by-case examinations.”

However, there is some room for manoeuvre. Don Nester says Igus’ Chainflex lines of cables, while initially developed to run with its own E-Chain cable carriers, are tailored for use in many types of applications. “We also offer our cables in different performance levels – economy, standard and premium.

“For example, we can cross-reference our servo motor and feedback servo cables to at least six different motor manufacturers and others are possible. We also offer a full line of data and fibre optic cables.”

In general, cable manufacturers are reporting an increasing trend towards fibre optic cables for ship-to-shore applications, largely because of the long distances involved.

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