Think That a Grommet's Just a Grommet?
What exactly is a “grommet”? Maybe you're thinking it's one half of that iconic clay-mation duo, but that would be “Wallace and Gromit.” The actual definition is pretty open-ended: it's basically any ring or edge strip inserted into a hole through thin material. From the eyelets in your shoes that the laces pass through, to the rings in your shower curtain that the hooks slide through, grommets are all around and serve a variety of purposes.
When we're talking about cables, the definition gets a little narrower. In this case, we're typically referring to snap-in desk accessories that allow wires and cords to pass through desk surfaces without getting snagged on any rough edges. While they may seem like mere pieces of plastic or rubber at first glance, you'll find that they actually come in a world of different sizes, shapes and materials, and can carry out a few functions that you wouldn't necessarily expect them to. Given all the choices out there, it's important to know all of your options before choosing a desk grommet to compliment your workspace. Here are some points to consider:
Diameter: How many cables are you planning to run through the grommet?
In this respect, choosing a grommet isn't too far removed from shopping for a pair of jeans, except choosing a desk grommet probably won't make you sad that you never followed through on your New Year's resolution to eat right and exercise more. But much like you'd want to find out if the waistband of a prospective pair of pants is the right size to fit around your midsection, it's important to make sure that a grommet's diameter can accommodate all of the cables you need to run through it.
To find out exactly which size grommet you'll need, loosely bundle all the cables you'll be working with in one hand, and then break out a ruler or tape measure. Measure across the cable bundle's widest point; this dimension is the minimum grommet diameter that will work for your particular application. However, cables always perform better with room to breathe, so always size up a little bit. Giving your cables a roomier space to pass through will prevent signal attenuation, make the cables easier to route in different directions on your desktop, and can even give you some leeway for future additions. The bottom line is that crowded cables are NOT happy cables, so much like you probably wouldn't want to be crammed to capacity in an elevator or a phone booth (remember those?), your cables probably don't want to be squished through a too-small grommet.
Function: Do you need to organize and route your cables, or do you just want to protect them?
The primary function of a desk grommet is to cover up the sharp edges on wood, metal, and glass desk cutouts, so that computer and phone wires can travel through them without being abraded or cut. If protection is the reason why you're looking to purchase a grommet (or several), then you can opt for pretty much any style you want, since as we just stated that's pretty much their main deal. On the other hand, if you'd like some help routing cables around your desktop once they've transitioned through it, your best bet would be to narrow your choices down to Flexible or SoftTop grommets. They'll help you protect your cables, but also let you have some control in where you choose to direct them.
Flexible grommets are covered in a soft, rubber-like, self-healing material that has been radially slit, or cut like a pie (or pizza!), to allow cables to pass through it. Since these slits are flexible and radiate outward in all directions, they let you decide which direction you want each cord to go in, and then they gently grip onto the cables to keep them on the right track. Any unused routing slits lay flat and stay together for a neat appearance.
Much like Flexible Grommets, SoftTop grommets also use a cleverly perforated membrane-like top to route cables. Instead of simple pie-cut slits, this grommet features a unique, stylish cutout that will remind you of the Cingular logo (remember Cingular…no? Okay, just Google it). The three curvy arms of this opening allow cords to be directed in any one of three directions, and add a little hip and modern detailing to otherwise blah work surfaces.
Style: What kind of look are you going for?
Is your workspace strictly utilitarian, or are you the type who likes to snazz up the office every chance you get? When it comes to choosing the perfect grommet, there are a couple of different elements to consider:
- Material: Basic black rubber and plastic grommets are all business, and just the right choice if you're looking for the simplest and least expensive options out there. There's nothing particularly eye-catching about them, but their neutral looks make them go with just about any workstation. As for durability, plastic and rubber grommets are tops, since they're made of tough materials, and feature no fancy finishes that will scratch or wear off. If black is too drab, our plastic grommets are available in a variety of excitingly named colors including Almond, Battleship Gray, and…Beige and Brown. Okay, they're not ALL excitingly named.
- On the flip side, there's something to be said for the polished, sleek sophistication that metal grommets can lend to a desk. Whether you frequently welcome clients into your office and want to make the best impression, or just have an eye for all things shiny, metal grommets can go a long way toward increasing the wow factor of your work surface. It's like brushed aluminum on your car's interior: instant class.
- Shape:Seeing as how it has no tight corners to snag onto cables and wires, the circle has emerged as the natural shape of choice for grommets' inner diameters. But that doesn't mean the outer diameter has to follow suit. For those who prefer something more angular than a circle, there are rectangular grommets available.
Connectivity: Looking for a convenient place to dock an smart phone or plug into USB ports?
We all know that it's a hassle to crawl below your desk to plug into USB ports and electrical outlets, and that there are times when you'd just rather not have to deal with an iPhone® charger cord snaking its way across your workspace. Well never fear: specialty grommets to the rescue!
First, meet the Node, a customizable desk grommet that can be configured to contain power and/or USB connectivity. You can even order it with an open data port, which you can snap a keystone jack into for your networking needs.
But if you wanna get crazy, allow us to suggest the one, the only PowerTap Power and Data Desk Outlet. This puppy not only features three AC electrical outlets, but your choice of either two USB or Ethernet (Cat5) outlets, giving you a major connectivity boost without having to run a ton of cables all over the place. It not only keeps things looking nice, but means nobody who visits your office or conference room will trip over the tangled mess of cords running across the floor. As an added bonus, the face can be flipped over when not in use, maintaining that clean and uncluttered look.
In summary, whether your aim is cord protection, wire routing, cable management or convenient connectivity; whether you're looking for a utilitarian, elegant or technologically advanced solution…there's a grommet for that, and we've got it.