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Choosing the Right Cable Tie Material for Your Application

Editor’s Note: WireHarness.com was provided this article by our friends are WireCare.com.

You likely know already the many benefits of using cable ties for your cable management projects. One type of zip tie cannot universally be used for every wire application. How do you know which wire ties work best for your project?

Maurus Logan, who invented the cable tie for Thomas & Betts (now ABB), applied for a patent in 1958, calling his history-changing invention a “Cable Bundling and Supporting Strap.” His plastic strap was reinforced with a metal lock to keep aircraft wire harnesses stable. ABB still makes this TY-RAP® nylon and metal barb cable tie. Logan’s innovative design has since evolved with endless possibilities for use, coming in a range of materials and various styles. 

Cable Tie Bundle

Before embarking on a cable management project, you should ask yourself questions to choose the most appropriate wire tie for your application. Among them:

  • Is your application permanent or semi-permanent?
  • What environment will the ties be in?
  • What length and width do you need?
  • What is the tensile strength required for your wire harnesses?
  • Are there specific standards or regulations for the zip ties you’d like to use?
  • Are there special features needed for your ties?
  • Is your application ideal for non-traditional cable ties, like those with hook and loop capabilities?

Let’s start with the first question, whether your application is permanent. If so, a traditional nylon cable tie may work, depending on the application and tensile strength. This type is typically for one-time use. For a semi-permanent application, you should opt for a different zip tie style. Many standard nylon cable ties come in a range of colors for color coding or aesthetics. Some may have UV resistance. While they can grip tightly to cables, this kind of strap can be susceptible to overtightening. Releasable cable ties are the best option if you know wires will need any type of maintenance because they are reusable. They won’t overtighten and are designed for adjustments. They may have a beaded, extended pawl, tab release, or rubber lining with a zipper-style design.

Next, what environment do you plan to use your cable ties? In an office setting? Within a vehicle engine? Outdoors where the straps are exposed to UV light and various weather conditions? Underground in an electrical application? The environment determines the material you should choose for your application. Standard cable ties are just one type appropriate for home or office. A cable tie kit offers a variety for vehicle use, with self-cutting ties, stainless steel ones, screw-mount types, and everything in between. A cable tie in an engine will need to be heat-resistant. Some nylon cable ties are UV resistant, meaning they won’t degrade from excessive heat. The Arctic Cable Tie is designed to resist freezing weather. Stainless Steel cable ties can additionally endure temperature extremes, as well as be placed underground.

How about length, width, and tensile strength for cable ties? Measuring for length or width is simple, but for tensile strength you need to get an exact amount — or estimate — for the load ties will be bearing, including the maximum force. A good rule of thumb is to choose a cable tie with higher tensile strength, with it always better to overestimate the weight. Environmental factors should also be a consideration for tensile strength, with fluctuating temperatures, moisture, UV exposure, and chemicals all concerns.

You may have certain standards to follow for your application to choose your cable tie material, and tensile strength. Military specifications are one example of standards to follow.

There’s also the special features question. We already touched on temperatures, the weather, and the environment as factors in choosing cable tie materials. Perhaps you need something with a luminescence under UV light. A UV reactive cable tie in neon colors, made of a specialized plastic, works for security and identification in low light or total darkness. Maybe you need one with a chemical resistance. There are cable ties designed for aesthetic purposes like these metallic cable ties, but they also have abrasion, chemical, and UV resistance. 

What if you want to choose a nontraditional style cable tie, such as those with hook and loop closures like the VELCRO® ONE-WRAP® Ties? Some are for general use, with others designed for plenum, fire-resistant (FR) spaces. These are equipped for fire safety and standards, with low smoke and flame spread characteristics, even in a building’s plenum spaces. The FR UL Plenum Rated Straps have the same construction as the standard VELCRO® ties, but are equipped with fire-retardant materials — and were tested to meet safety standards.  

Consider these other inventive cable bundling options, which are cable ties, though they don’t necessarily look like traditional ones


RIP-TIE® — Another hook and loop option, there are many types of cable straps available in this product line. Several of them can handle over 2,000 re-fastenings, with some even capable of up to 10,000 release cycles. The sturdier ones are made of heavy duty hook and loop fabric for recreational, industrial, marine, and other applications. The mini version wraps around itself to keep small cables bundled.


Nite Ize® — This product line has reusable rubber ties reinforced with a strong wire interior for use in many applications. It can be used outdoors since it is UV resistant and waterproof, even withstanding salt water.

Wrap-It® — The Wrap-It® products have a heavy duty polypropylene storage strap that can bind hefty cables, ropes, hoses, and more.   

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