Electronic technologies are everywhere – from our personal portable devices to the major industrial control systems that run our cities’ infrastructure, modern life relies on electronics. Most electronic and low voltage electrical systems are built around wired circuits, calling for specialized hardware components to route, secure, protect, and restrain all of this wired and cabled circuitry.
Such components are typically referred to as Wire Handling Hardware, used on projects where individual wires and cables are being handled in circuit board, instrumentation, control panel, on-machine, or similar low voltage applications. This category of products is differentiated from Electrical Installation Materials, which covers larger scale projects dealing with full power distribution services across buildings, campuses, and geographic areas.
Wire Handling Hardware
To introduce readers to Wire Handling Hardware, we’ll cover the main types of products below. Many others are available beyond these standard products, and we encourage buyers to discuss custom and niche applications with their hardware distributor.
Fair warning before we begin: the nomenclature for wire restraints is loosely consistent at best across different manufacturers, vendors, installers, and engineering bodies. ‘Clips’, ‘Clamps’, ‘Straps’, and ‘Holders’ are at times all used interchangeably, as are other terms in the lineup. We’ve chosen names that align with manufacturers we distribute, but please confirm descriptions and functions anytime you are placing orders.
One additional note: ‘wire’ refers to a single insulated conductor, and ‘cable’ refers to a bundle of conductors combined within one insulated jacket. Most of the items we discuss below can be described fitting either use-case, such as in ‘wire clip’ versus ‘cable clip’. Generally speaking, the difference will be found in the size and shape of the hardware piece. A ‘wire’ clip will be smaller, sized for a single or few wires, whereas a ‘cable’ clip will be sized for larger diameter cables.
|Clips – these hardware pieces retain single or several wires down to a surface, and wires can be easily inserted and removed from the clip by opening or unlatching its jaws. In this sense, clips are ‘multi-adjustable’.|
|Clamps – similar to clips in their ability to retain one or several wires at a time, clamps fasten down loose conductors and do not allow for easy opening. To adjust the wires in the clamp, the fastener securing the clamp must be removed. Clamps provide a higher level of retention and higher hold-down force than clips.|
|Straps – straps feature the same non-adjustable restraint as clamps, but differ in that they span ‘over’ the wiring or cabling being held. Using fasteners on either side of the wiring, straps provide two points of anchoring which render even higher retention forces.|
|Wire Ties – wire tires are one-way, single-use bands used to bundle up and restrain loose conductors and cables. Some wire tie versions offer adjustable clamp heads and can be reused, though these are not widely popular due to added cost.|
|Mounting Bases – keeping wire runs straight, parallel, and tidy often calls for the use of mounting bases along their runs. Bases offer points where wire ties can be secured, holding wires in place and bolstering the appearance of the wire routing.|
|Grommets – where wires are routed through panel penetrations with sharp edges, grommets are installed to protect the wires from damage and wear.|
|Bushings – also used for penetrations through panels, boards, dividers, and other openings, bushings typically serve to reduce the size of the opening to a diameter more appropriate to the wiring or cabling routing through. Bushings are also available with clamping features, locking wire bundles in place so that they do not pull or twist, similar to a strain relief.|
|Looms – routing multiple wires over longer distances can prove messy, as can any routes needed in free air where anchoring wires down is not possible. Looms are plastic overwraps that conceal loose wires inside, offering a cleaner outside appearance and easier routing. Looms can be solid (must be fed from the ends) or split (wires can be slipped into the loom at any point).|
|Wraps – offering the same bundling effect as looms, Wraps coil over loose wires to hold them together. Wraps are spiral-wound around loose wiring, and offer a distinct feature of allowing individual wires to exit the wrap anywhere along its length, which is great for making up harnesses that have multiple connection points along their run.|
|Twist Locks – similar to the wire ties described above, Twist Locks are reusable bands used to secure wire and cable bundles, twisted at the ends to open and close when needed.|
Do you have a Wire Routing Fastener application but are unsure of which fastener meets your project’s requirements? E&T Fasteners offers expert support and product selection between the above options and more! Contact us to discuss your application, see our Wire Handling catalog here, or to see our entire fastener catalog, visit our product selection here.
Mounting Styles for Wire Handling Hardware
Now that you’re familiar with the Wire Handling hardware options above, let’s next discuss how these hardware pieces are mounted. Again to speak generally, any of the clips, straps, and clamps above can be provided in any of the mounting styles described below. Always be sure to discuss your application with your distributor, as these various mounting methods each will have different size, load, reusability, and retention force capabilities.
|Screw – screw mounting firmly secures fasteners down with positive torque and force, and are reusable.|
|Adhesive – most light-duty, single-use anchoring is done with adhesive mounts. There are available options for varying adhesive strength and size, allowing this style to be one of the most common mounting styles used. Note that environmental and temperature conditions can affect adhesive performance, as can the preparation and cleaning of the mounting surface before application.|
|One-Way Push In – clips and clamps that mount into printed circuit boards, metallic panel boards, and plastic wiring chases are most often provided with One-Way Push In mounting studs. This style does not firmly hold position as there is no real hold-down force, so they are usually free to spin and wobble in their mounting holes. Removing a one-way piece requires having access to the rear side of the mounting surface, and using tools to pinch in the butterfly wings on the stud.|
|Serrated Stud Push In – working very similarly to the above hardware pieces, these Serrated Stud Push In fasteners offer higher protection from pull-out, and higher hold-down forces. The studs can be inserted into their mounting holes to varying depths, giving a degree of flexibility in mounting height.|
|Edge Clip – for routing wiring along the edges of panel boards, circuit boards, or other thin sheet materials, Edge Clip fasteners are used to pinch onto exposed sheet ends securely. Very often, edge clip mounting is used for anchor bases, providing discrete locations for securing a wire tie to hold down loose wires and cables.|
Materials and Options for Wire Handling Hardware
The most common materials for Wire Handling and Routing Fasteners are Nylon and Polypropylene, thanks to their low cost, lightweight, non-conductive, and wide temperature stability features.
In these materials, the most common colors available are Natural, White, and Black.
Many other materials can be offered for certain hardware pieces, such as:
- Delrin / Acetal
- Glass-Filled Nylon
- PVDF / Kynar
- Zinc-plated Steel
- Stainless Steel
Sizes are available for all Standard and Metric wire gauge and diameters, as well as most standard cable and cord sizes.
Special finishes, coatings, and application features are available for select hardware pieces, such as fire-resistant, fire-retardant, UV-resistant, and high-temperature ratings.
E&T Fasteners is here to help you navigate fastener and accessory options. Price quotes, availability, lead times, delivery confirmations, unique application suggestions – whatever your need, we’re here to take your call or email. For support and advice from our fully trained staff, speak with an E&T sales representative today.
About E&T Fasteners
With sales and support teams spanning the Continental US, E&T Fasteners is here to serve your hardware, fastening, and component needs both domestically and internationally. We are a stocking distributor of metallic, plastic, and exotic alloy fasteners, backed by our technical staff directly experienced in your unique applications. We can assist your specifying and selection efforts, providing engineered solutions, record-fast lead times, and stellar customer service from quote through delivery. Please let us know how we can help!