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Why Do Cable Assemblies Need to Be Shielded?

Jun. 06, 2024

When environments are doing their best to reduce the transmission of power, signals, and data through electrical systems, shielded cable assemblies are the right solution needed. We'll explore all the ins and outs of shielded cable assemblies, focusing on how these unique support features can absolutely make or break a custom cable assembly.


What exactly is a shielded cable assembly?

As a shielded cable assembly manufacturer, our cable engineers must figure out the exact requirements needed to design the perfect shielding solution for the assembly. Too little shielding and the system will not provide adequate protection, too much and you could end up with cost and time overruns.


So why is shielding so important in cable assemblies? A few key facts to remember.

Shielding acts as a buffer for the cables and wires within a cable assembly from the damaging external forces that constantly impact the system.

Cable shielding is available in many different sizes, materials, and manufacturing methods in order to provide the most suitable option for the project at hand.

One of the most common external factors that need to be mitigated in our cable shielding designs is electromagnetic interference (EMI).


Shielding cable assemblies are a great way to protect your system from the damaging effects of EMI. Next, we will examine why EMI can be so detrimental to the functionality of your electrical system.

Cable Assemblies

 Cable Assemblies

EMI Makes Shielded Cable Connectors Critical

Whenever a cable harness assembly sends a data signal, some consideration needs to be given to any type of EMI that is affected by the system. EMI comes from external sources and can interrupt the flow of data. EMI can cause a ripple effect that weakens the signal or even disables it completely. EMI is generated by a variety of processes, including natural and mechanical events.


In electrical systems with cable assemblies, the source of EMI can be as simple as a nearby machine or circuit. Cable assemblies can be used in a variety of situations, such as industrial control systems in bottling plants, telecommunications systems connecting data centers, or providing data transmission in state-of-the-art medical equipment. In each of these environments, there can be a variety of electrical "noise" that generates EMI. This EMI needs to be mitigated to ensure that it does not adversely affect the strength of the data transmission, resulting in greater system inoperability.


Shielded cable manufacturers know that insulation and jacketing are well suited to protect cable assemblies from external forces such as heat, moisture and abrasion, but they do little to prevent EMI. This is where cable shielding yields the greatest benefit.


How Cable Shielding Fights EMI

As we just discussed, the best way for shielded cable manufacturers to prevent EMI is to use shielding in their designs. Shielding provides a 360-degree area of protection around the internal conductors of the cable assembly. There are several ways that shielding can prevent EMI and can be adapted to the application. Shielded cable connectors can reflect and deflect EMI where it is most beneficial to dissipate it from the assembly.


As you might expect, each application is unique. This requires the cable engineer to consider the very specific amount and type of shielding to be used. The expected environment, cable type, and cost all influence the decision process for the most efficient design.


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