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The Types of Cable Ties

Cable ties, also known as tie wraps and zip wraps, are available for every conceivable need ranging from cable management to retail product packaging. Here’s a recap of each major type, along with some examples of how they are used.

Standard Ties

  • Typical use: cable management
  • Length: 4-60 inches
  • Tensile strength: 18-175 pounds
  • Black ties are doped with carbon black to provide resistance to ultraviolet light, making them preferred for outdoor applications such as tower mounted antenna cable routing and others.
  • Color coding cable bundles facilitates maintenance and upgrades. Standard ties are available in a spectrum of colors, including high visibility fluorescent.

Specialty Ties

Releasable cable ties allow you to release and re-use ties to accommodate adding new cables to a bundle in cases where changes and upgrades are anticipated – for example, during field service or development/build-out operations.

  • Length: 6-14 inches
  • Tensile strength: 50 pounds
  • Color: white or UV-resistant black

Duct strap cable ties are used for securing flexible air ducting to aluminum and other metallic duct work. Their extended length and tensile strength also makes them ideal for securing very large cable bundles.

  • Length: 36 inches
  • Tensile strength: 175 pounds
  • Color: white or UV-resistant black

Ladder ties are ideal for managing small cable bundles. They are also used to bundle merchandise together and for securing product information and pricing tags to retail products. Ladder ties can also be used as bag closures.

  • Length: 7 inches
  • Tensile strength: 40 pounds
  • Color: white or UV-resistant black

Tefzel cable ties are weather, UV, corrosion and radiation resistant. They are extremely rugged and used in applications where high temperatures, radiation or corrosive environments would degrade other tie wraps. Tefzel wraps find applications in nuclear energy, satellite and spacecraft and other extreme environments where durability and ruggedness are required to bundle cables together securely over long periods of time.

  • Length: 4-14 inches
  • Tensile strength: 18-50 pounds
  • Color: aqua blue

Stainless Steel Ties

Stainless steel ties are the most durable and reliable ties available, capable of working in harsh environments where corrosion, vibration and environmental conditions would compromise other ties.

Stainless steel ties are used in three principal applications — banding, clamping and bundling – where strength and durability are needed. Stainless steel ties band items together: For example, an insulation blanket can be wrapped around a pipe or HVAC duct, then banded in place. In a typical clamping application, such as securing the joint of a flexible plastic pipe to a pipe fitting, stainless ties deliver strength and longevity. They are used in bundling applications for cable management, often outdoors, where greater tensile strength and durability are needed.

  • Length: 5-27 inches
  • Tensile strength: 150 pounds

Adhesive Mounts

Adhesive mounts are used to secure a cable bundle wrapped with nylon ties inside plenum spaces of buildings, to walls, ceilings or office furniture. Peeling off a backing paper reveals an adhesive that quickly reaches its maximum holding strength. For greater holding power these mounts can be secured with a self-tapping screw.

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When to Use Metal Cable Ties

Stainless steel cable ties clearly have a greater tensile strength than nylon ties of the same size, making them better suited for securing large loads.

They’re used in automotive, construction, transportation, petro-chemical processing and off shore rigs as well as agriculture, nuclear energy, aerospace, fire protection and communications. .

You’ll find metal ties used to secure pipes, poles, antenna mounts, cables and more where surviving harsh conditions is needed.

Let’s look at a few characteristics of these metal ties.

  • Stainless steel, also known as 304 steel, is an alloy that contains about 18 percent chromium. That’s the ingredient that gives stainless steel its high resistance to corrosion. With that resistance and the strength of steel, metal cable ties are often preferred for outdoor applications.
  • Weathering, UV rays and temperature extremes will compromise nylon ties in time. The chromium content in stainless steel ties actually builds a thin protective layer (of chromium oxide) on the steel that restores itself continually and wards off corrosion.
  • Cable management is one of the most common applications for metal ties. Whether the cable bundle is indoors, outdoors or even buried underground, stainless metal ties last.
  • Vibration can cause slippage, friction and undue wear between mechanical components. The tensile strength of metal ties (150 pounds or better) can clamp components together tightly enough that vibration between components is minimized or eliminated.

TMA’s (tower mounted antennas) used world-wide in the cellular industry are big consumers of metal cable ties. The marine and boating industry as well uses stainless steel ties due to their resistance to corrosion by salt. However when stainless steel is submerged in water, the relative lack of oxygen prevents the oxidation process – reducing stainless steel’s corrosion resistance – and making nylon and other materials more suited for underwater use.

Our metal ties use a self-locking ball bearing head that prevents sand, dust and dirt from interfering with its operation. Metal ties are available in lengths from five inches to 33 inches and tensile strengths from 150 to 485 pounds. They’re rated to operate in temperatures between -112 and 1000 degrees Fahrenheit.

We recommend installing these ties with our MK9SST cable tie gun. If you need further assistance determining your cable tie needs, please don’t hesitate to talk to one of our customer service experts.

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Creative Uses of Cable Ties

Cable ties have found a whole new market among artists, DIY fashion designers and even landscapers and interior designers.

Using the bright, often fluorescent colors available in nylon cable ties, these creative people use them to decorate jewelry, make tie-wrap art, to decorate curtains and restore dead tree branches to brilliant color.

The secret? Thread hundreds of brightly colored cable ties through the work.

Then there are the practical uses that, while still creative, aim to solve everyday problems.

  • Use a tie wrap to secure your hubcaps to the wheels of your car. You’ll not lose another hubcap to a speed bump or pothole.
  • Truckers say reusable cable ties are great for tying up cargo straps and other loose items on their flatbeds.
  • Organize your tools by hanging a pegboard in your garage then running nylon cable ties through the holes to make hangers, custom-sized, to accommodate your wrenches, hammers, screwdrivers and other tools. Likewise, people living in small condos or boats can use cable ties to organize brooms, mops and other cleaning supplies so “there’s a place for everything and everything in its place.”
  • If you’re a woodworker, cable ties come in handy for securing pieces of wood you’ve glued together, giving the glue time to set while it’s under substantial pressure.
  • If the zipper pull tag on your laptop bag or hoodie breaks off, simply thread and secure a small cable tie as its replacement. Better yet, if your laptop or shoulder bag just has too many pockets – and you’re always searching for something in the wrong pocket – use color coded cable ties to differentiate each pocket’s zipper pull.
  • A California artist uses colored ties to weave baskets, challenging the traditional craft of basket-making with her beautiful and brilliant work. (3)
  • Do you have a shrub or tree that growing wildly or in an unruly direction? Wrap it with floral tape then zip together as many black (UV-resistant) cable ties as you need to secure it in the desired direction.

Cable ties supplanted the old waxed string and knot style of cable and wire management many years ago. Today creative people around the world are finding interesting, useful and often beautiful ways to put cable ties into service.

Do you know of any creative ways to use cable ties? Have you employed them in your own DIY projects around the house? Let us know in the comments.

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How to Use a Cable Tie Gun

Cable tie guns (CTG’s) transform a messy bunch cables into a neat bundle – quickly, economically and safely. They’re ideal for any cabling job: installing CAT-5 throughout an entire building, or simply tidying up the mess of cables that connect your PC to its peripherals. Plastic tie wraps – sometimes called “zip ties” – are used in automotive work, many electronic products and even in surgery to gently secure tubing together. They’re used to tie bags and to attach a price and product information tag to a retail consumer product — but most often, to bind a number of cables into a neat bundle.

Manually pulling a cable tie tight then cutting it with a razor knife or side-cutter pliers leaves sharp edges at the cutting point that can abrade and cut your hands as you position and route cable bundles. Manually installing stainless steep tie wraps is even more dangerous and likely to cause injury.

Using a cable tie gun you’ll get a clean cut, flush with the head of the tie wrap with no sharp edges exposed. Using a CTG can save you time and give you a neater, safer installation.

Instructions

Using a CTG is easy. Our entire line of CTG’s feature a tension adjustment that allows you to automatically dial in the tightness needed.

  1. Choose a tie wrap appropriate for the diameter of the cable bundle.
  2. Set the gun’s tension adjustment to the desired setting.
  3. Wrap the tie around the bundle and insert its tapered tail-end through the head.
  4. Slide the tail of the tie wrap into the CTG.
  5. Pull the handle on the CTG. It will pull the tie wrap to the tension setting you’ve chosen. Once that tension is reached the CTG makes a clean cut with no dangerous protrusions or sharp edges. (Note: Some of our cable tie guns have a cutting bar (handle) you operate to cut the tie once the proper tension is achieved).

 

Cable tie guns are indispensable for large cable management jobs yet give even the smallest job a neat, professional appearance. Learn more about our selection of cable tie guns. They’re available in economy models for do it yourself projects and range to pneumatically power professional models for manufacturing and high volume commercial cabling projects.

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