The Cable Tie was invented over 60 years ago in 1958 by a man called Maurus C. Logan. Logan was an employee of Thomas & Betts – an electrical company based in Memphis, Tennessee. During his career at Thomas & Betts Logan invented many products but the humble cable tie was to be the most enduring and successful of his creations.
As with any great invention, it is often the simplest that are the best. First introduced in 1958 the Ty-Rap, as it was known back then, received a patent that same year and would soon become an essential tool in industries and homes across the globe. Logan’s talent for creating new and useful components saw him rise to the position of Vice President of Research & Development at Thomas & Betts.
THE LIGHT BULB MOMENT:
The light-blub moment for Logan came when he was touring a Boeing aircraft facility in 1956. He was struck by how cumbersome the task of manually bundling and tieing wax coated cord around thousands of feet of cable bundles had become. Aircraft workers often suffered hand cuts during the process and developed thick calluses on their fingers over the years. Logan knew there had to be a better way. The concept of the cable tie was born and Logan set to work designing his new creation.
A NEW & CHEAPER DESIGN:
At the time they were first introduced, cable ties were named and branded as “Ty-Raps”. Thomas & Bett designed them for use in the aeronautical industry for wire and cable harnesses. In their early days cable ties were manufactured from two parts – a plastic mould and a metal component called a pawl. The pawl was designed to effect the clasping and holding of the tie. This two-part approach was an inefficient and costly process. Manufacturers soon changed to the cheaper alternative of using fully nylon/ plastic ty-raps and discarding the metal pawl component.
THOMAS & BETTS:
Thomas and Betts is a is a company that designs and manufactures connectors and components for the electrical and communication industries. The company was founded in 1898 by two young engineers from Princeton University – Robert Thomas and Hobart Betts. They began by selling conduit to electrical companies during an era when incandescent electric lighting was first being introduced to New York city. Today the company specialises in wire & cable management, cable protection systems, and power connection & control systems. The company was acquired by a Swedish-Swiss multinational corporation called ABB in 2012 for $3.9 billon.
REMEMBERING MAURUS C. LOGAN, 1921-2007:
In the words of his son Robert Logan: “My dad didn’t have a lot of formal education but he was the most ingenious person I have ever met. He never thought the customary way of doing things was good enough and when he looked at anything he thought about ways to improve it. The invention of the cable tie is an excellent example of how he worked.”
When you think of Memphis Elvis and Johnny Cash spring to mind, but now you can spare a thought for Maurus C. Logan. Logan passed away in November 2007 aged 86.
THE ORIGINAL DESIGN:
The original and most common industrial application for the cable tie is found in the electrical and automotive industries. Cable ties were designed back in the day for the harnessing and bundling of elctrical cable and wiring. They help organise masses of cables by grouping them together in bundles and they are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. However, in recent years the cable tie has become an ever present feature in households across the UK – where it is relied on to perform a multitude of everyday jobs.
SIZE & STRENGTH:
Cable ties are manufactured in a wide range of sizes and tensile strengths to accomodate the safe and secure tieing of all shapes, sizes and weights of electrical wires – from the very small to the very big and heavy. These bigger cables require large cable ties with a suitable tensile strength to ensure secure tieing and bundling.
DIVERSITY IN APPLICATION:
They are commonly used in the automotive, electrical, telecommunicative and transportation industries, but they are also very popular aids in the office, home, DIY, biking and hiking where they have found purpose in many varied roles from the bizarre to the highly functional. They are constructed from a robust nylon polymide which makes them suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.
HOW THEY WORK:
Cable ties have a simple design and vary very little in appearance and structure across the globe. They are designed to have on one side a row of serrated teeth which serve to ‘lock-into’ the cable tie head which is located on the opposite end of the tie. To install a cable tie it should be looped around the item or items it is to be used to tie and the serrated end of the cable gently fed through the head on the opposite side. The serrated teeth are designed so that they will move freely through the head as as the strap tightens around its load, but they will not move in the opposite direction and therefore form a locking clasp that holds secure and does not release.
TYPES OF CABLE TIES:
As cable ties have found use in a vast array of industreis and applications manufacturers have begun developing an extensive range of specialist and coloured cable ties. Today cable ties are available in all the colours of the rainbow and some of the specialist ties on the market include: stainless steel, screw mount, double loop, marker, push mount and releasable cable ties.
The material of choice for the standard plastic cable tie is Nylon 66, (aka Nylon 6/6), and it is one of the most commonly produced materials for the plastics and textile industries. On avergae 2 million tonnes being synthesised every year. The compound is an ideal choice for use in cable ties as it has inherently high mechanical strength and rigidity. It is also very stable in environments of extreme temperatures and it is naturally chemical resistant. Additionally ageing has no deteriorative effect on the structural integrity of a nylon 66 cable tie, save for discolouring.
BLACK IS BACK:
Black cable ties are often favoured for outdoor jobs due to their UV resistance. Like all cable ties they are resistant to oils, grease and environmental contaminants. These nylon synthesised cable ties have a low friction coefficient, offer impressive resistance to impact and demonstrate excellent abrasion resistance. They are strong but light, and they are cheap, very cheap. Overall, it is clear to see why the humble cable tie has become such a popular fastening device the world over.
CORRECT STORAGE – COOL & DRY:
To get the best out of your cable ties storage is imperative. Manufacturers advise that you store your cable ties in a cool dry place until they are called on for service. Correct storage protects the cable ties from the potential effects of oxidisation and keeps them in tip top shape so that they can be relied on at a future date. It is recommended that stainless steel cable ties be employed in situations that require secure fastening where exceptional corrosion and the effects of severe weathering are expected. Nylon 66 is weather resistant, but stainless steel steps it up a notch and gives added reassurance that the tie will hold and resist degradation.
SECRET TO SUCCESS:
Really, it’s no secret. The root of the success of the cable tie is due to its vast array of applications and the fact that it is so incredibly cost effective. It can find use in any scenario where the supporting and tieing of cables is required, or more simply in any situation where objects need to be fastened and secured. Once the tie is fastened into position the cable tie is not letting go. When the geared length of the nylon tie is fed through the ratchet head on the other end it is locked in place. They are strong, robust and can be relied on. Sometimes the most simple of designs are the most successful.
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